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Health Management Technology News
  May 6, 2014
In this issue:
 

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 Home health tracking

 If healthcare usage is surging, where are the healthcare jobs?

 Target's Chairman and CEO out in wake of breach

 Federal healthcare web sites are more Big Brother than the Kremlin

 Health subcommittee explores how 21st century technology can improve healthcare and help patients

 Massachusetts ditches RomneyCare health exchange


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Home health tracking

The march toward a value-based healthcare system is increasing recognition that the home must become the third locus of care. The good news is that telehealth capabilities are up to the challenge.

A growing body of research demonstrates that remote patient monitoring reduces readmissions and lowers multiple risk factors for patients with chronic diseases, and how the right program, matched to the right patient, can go beyond patient engagement to patient activation.

Although we’ve made great strides in providing turnkey telehealth solutions for a wide variety of clinical applications, the market is demanding evidence-based guidelines on how to thread these solutions into standard practice. These guidelines leverage advanced analytics that provide clinical decision-support tools for use with remote monitoring data, enable better patient selection and determine optimal telehealth interventions by clinical profile. Machine learning draws on multiple data sources, including: remote biometric readings, self-reported symptom and behavior information, medication adherence, sleep quality, movement patterns around the home, and EHR and claims data. These improved analytics will illuminate who the best candidates are for different telehealth programs, which remote patient monitoring data elements and patterns are useful in detecting problems upstream of adverse events and how this data is best embedded into existing care management workflows to facilitate more proactive disease management.

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If healthcare usage is surging, where are the healthcare jobs?

You may have thought the headline number from last week's report on the U.S. economy was its weak overall growth in the first quarter of this year (0.1% at an annual rate).

But for health economists, the big news was the huge surge in household healthcare spending. That popped at an annual rate of 9.9%, the sharpest growth since 1980.

It makes obvious sense to attribute the surge to the Affordable Care Act, which kicked into full gear in the January-March period measured by the Bureau of Economic Analysis figures. Yet healthcare experts are pondering the figure with suspicion and perplexity.

Among the questions they're asking is: If healthcare spending is rising so fast, why is healthcare job growth flat? As Austin Frakt of Boston University puts it, the data "suggest that Americans recently poured a lot more of the national economy into health care without moving the needle on the rate of growth in real, human resources (jobs) devoted to delivering care." How can that be?

There are a few possibilities. One, raised by Peter Orszag, former Obama Administration budget director, is that productivity in the healthcare field has surged to unprecedented levels, allowing more services to be delivered by the same cadre of healthcare professionals. But Orszag raises the possibility only to knock it down as implausible, at least not in that magnitude. Nor does the spending result from higher healthcare prices -- those are still coming down.

The more likely explanations involve the inherent murkiness of preliminary quarterly statistics in general, and the especially murky basis for the BEA's health spending figure. Quarterly numbers almost always get revised as new statistics come in -- that's why this first run is always billed as "preliminary."

Read the full article from The Los Angeles Times
here
 

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Target's Chairman and CEO out in wake of breach

Target's massive data breach has now cost the company's CEO his job.

Target announced Monday that Chairman, President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel is out nearly five months after the retailer disclosed the breach, which has hurt its reputation among customers and has derailed its business.

The nation's third-largest retailer said Steinhafel, a 35-year veteran of the company and CEO since 2008, has agreed to step down, effective immediately. He also resigned from the board of directors.

A company spokesman declined to give specifics on when the decision was reached.

The departure suggests the company is trying to start with a clean slate as it wrestles with the fallout from hackers' theft of credit and debit card information on tens of millions of customers. The company's sales, profit and stock price have all suffered since the breach was disclosed.

Read the full article from Yahoo Finance here  

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Federal healthcare web sites are more Big Brother than the Kremlin

Tracking Internet users has become commonplace on commercial sites, but should the government allow private companies to plant cookies on your computer and gain insights into your browsing on sensitive government health sites?

Consider for example AIDS.gov, which reminds visitors that “This is an official U.S. Government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

When I visited a few days back, the plugin Disconnect.me found 18 trackers there, including several from Google, Google’s advertising subsidiary DoubleClick, and AddThis, a social bookmarking widget that helps marketers target their advertising.

The government insurance portal HeathCare.gov has 10 trackers. By following cookies planted on your browser, these private companies discern patterns of interest from your browser and decide how to place advertising or other messaging.

“I wasn’t aware that the government shared information from AIDS.gov users with private companies. I think it is highly inappropriate,” says Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest provider of U.S. HIV/AIDS medical care.

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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Health subcommittee explores how 21st century technology can improve healthcare and help patients

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today held a hearing, “Telehealth to Digital Medicine: How 21st Century Technology Can Benefit Patients,” to explore how advances in technology can be harnessed to advance our nation’s health care system and help more patients. Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) also announced that the subcommittee is seeking input and feedback in this effort, calling for all ideas to be sent to: telemedicineideas2014@mail.house.gov. The deadline for submissions is June 16, 2014.

Announcing the effort, Pitts commented, “We will be looking for specific policy and legislative ideas on how the federal government can support technology adoption in our health care programs for the express and explicit purpose of reducing costs and increasing the overall quality and efficiency of the programs. We are also looking for ways in which the federal government currently inhibits the use or adoption of such technologies by all players in the health care system – be they insurer, provider, or patient. The more specific and targeted the policy, the greater chance it will hold for Congressional support down the line.”

Pallone added, “Telemedicine has the potential to serve a large portion of the United States by expanding the reach of medical resources while reducing cost and increasing quality. Our committee is in a unique position to help move our country’s health care system into the 21st century, and I am glad that we are taking this opportunity to come together to discuss how to expand access to these services for all Americans.  Telemedicine holds great promise and I am eager to gain further input from stakeholders and the public about how we can encourage and support this innovative approach to improving health care.”

Read the full article from politickernj.com here  

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Massachusetts ditches RomneyCare health exchange

RomneyCare’s pioneering health insurance exchange is headed for the scrap heap. Bay State officials are taking steps this week to junk central parts of their dysfunctional health insurance exchange — the model for President Barack Obama’s health care law — and merge with the federal enrollment site HealthCare.gov.

The decision is part of an expensive plan that would occur alongside a parallel, last-ditch attempt to still build a working state system.

The state on Monday announced the hiring of hCentive, a Virginia-based contractor that helped construct the Kentucky and Colorado exchanges. The company would rush to build a viable state exchange in time for the next enrollment season, which begins Nov. 15.

But officials aren’t sure it’s possible to make that happen in less than six months. Given the narrow timeframe, they intend to simultaneously start shifting the Massachusetts exchange, known as the Connector, to HealthCare.gov.

A move by Massachusetts to the federal exchange would represent a symbolic blow for local Obamacare supporters. Massachusetts built the model of a state-run exchange in 2006, a result of the health care reform effort by then-Gov. Mitt Romney. The RomneyCare exchange, which helped the state provide health coverage to more than 97 percent of residents, became the template for the Obamacare version.

Massachusetts is the second state to begin that transition. Late last month, Oregon opted to scrap its $200 million system and join the federal exchange.

Read the full article from Politico here  

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Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction

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