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Health Management Technology News
  May 7, 2014
In this issue:
 

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 Big Data: Filling in gaps, one patient at a time

 Molina Healthcare warns of data breach

 NaviNet wins national recognition from Becker's Healthcare as great place to work

 Big ambitions and flawed technology tripped up state exchanges

 What’s holding undocumented immigrants back from seeking healthcare?

 Significant decline in deaths after Massachusetts’ health reform


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Big Data: Filling in gaps, one patient at a time

Imagine this: you go to the movies but instead of seeing an entire film, you only see a few pictures projected on the screen – there’s no dialogue, no drama, no context. Would the movie make sense? Likely not, because there were important pieces of missing information and until you fill in those gaps you have an incomplete picture.

This is exactly how many physicians have to make clinical decisions – they have incomplete pictures of their patients’ health and are being asked to make informed decisions based on those snippets of information. The complete picture lies within Big Data.

Providers have successfully gathered an abundance of patient information – stacks of historical data from medical charts, X-rays and lab results. But it doesn’t tell the doctor what’s happening with a patient when they are plugged into a monitor at a hospital.

When a patient is being monitored, a nurse will typically make rounds every 4-5 hours or so to check the patient’s vital signs and document their results. After several rounds, when enough readings are plotted on a chart, the results begin to tell a story about how the person is responding to treatment.  If the information were to be plotted as points on a chart, they could paint a very smooth, steady picture. But that picture could be misleading.

Between each vital signs check, there could be vast changes in the patient’s physiology that went unrecorded. For all we know, in between those nurse visits, the patient could have undergone a physiological shift, but the doctor is never seeing it and, therefore, cannot take it into account when trying to improve the course of treatment. When this real-time data is discarded, so too is the opportunity to improve the precision and confidence in the care we are delivering. By incorporating this previously undocumented information, we would gain a much richer perspective and likely come up with a very different definition of what is “normal” for that patient.

Read the full HMT exclusive article here  

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Molina Healthcare warns of data breach

Molina Healthcare is warning former members about a data breach after addresses and possibly Social Security numbers went out on postcards.

According to a letter sent out by Molina Healthcare, that data breach was discovered by Molina Healthcare of New Mexico March 24, but it appears people are just now learning of it.

Molina said it contracting with a printing company, which printed postcards that had information about benefits offered under the health insurance marketplace. According to our media partners at the

Albuquerque Journal, they were sent to more than 5,000 former members.

The postcards did not have names, but had addresses and possible Social Security numbers.

Read the full report from KOAT here  

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NaviNet wins national recognition from Becker's Healthcare as great place to work

NaviNet, Inc., America's largest healthcare communications network, has been named one of Becker's Healthcare's 2014 "150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare." The 2014 Great Places list is a compilation of hospitals, health systems, ambulatory surgery centers, physician groups, vendors, and other healthcare organizations that provide excellent work environments and outstanding benefits to their employees. NaviNet is among the first and one of the only healthcare IT companies on the list. Becker's recognized the firm for its effective all-company communications through monthly Town Hall meetings, employee recognition, a variety of health benefit options, and work-life balance.

"NaviNet is truly honored to be named to this list by Becker's Healthcare, one of the most respected journals in the industry, and to be included with so many other outstanding companies," stated Frank Ingari, CEO of NaviNet. "It is a privilege and a joy to work with such a talented, spirited, and mission-driven group of individuals, especially as we look forward to the release of NaviNet Open."

"NaviNet's engineering culture has been driven by its valued customers over the past dozen years or so," said Charles Digate, senior vice president, sales, marketing, and business development. "Intense cross-company collaboration to ensure the success of each customer makes NaviNet a special place to work, where the team focuses their efforts in the same direction, leading to a celebration for each success."

The 2014 Great Places list was developed through nominations and editorial research. The winning organizations were chosen for their robust benefits, wellness initiatives, professional development opportunities, and work environments that promote employee collaboration and satisfaction. Other winning organizations include such luminaries as athenahealth, Epic, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Intermountain Healthcare, and Mayo Clinic. This is the first year nonprovider organizations were included on the list.

"It is a professional highlight to be part of a 300-plus-person company that has come together to change the landscape of healthcare," stated Steven Rotman, vice president of human resources. "Employees at all levels have taken teamwork and pride in the organization to new heights and, in return, have created a work environment that is second to none."

Read the full article from marketwatch.com
here
 

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Big ambitions and flawed technology tripped up state exchanges

Among the states that looked to expand health coverage to nearly all their citizens, Massachusetts was an early front-runner.

The state passed its own health care law back in 2006 mandating near-universal insurance coverage. That law became a model for federal action. And after the Affordable Care Act went through in 2010, Massachusetts had a head start in bringing health coverage to the uninsured.

Yet Massachusetts threw in the towel Tuesday on the problem-plagued online marketplace that was supposed to make health insurance shopping a snap.

The state concluded the Massachusetts Health Connector can't be salvaged, WBUR's CommonHealth reported. So the state is looking at a two-track fix involving an off-the-shelf website making use of technology that worked in other states and HealthCare.gov, the federal site, as a backup.

Massachusetts is the latest state that was gung-ho on health overhaul to concede that it had failed to make it simple for people to enroll online. Oregon, after botching its exchange, decided to switch to HealthCare.gov. Maryland, another eager adopter of the Affordable Care Act, is turning to Connecticut to right its failed exchange.

Read the full article from National Public Radio
here
 

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What’s holding undocumented immigrants back from seeking healthcare?

More than 8 million people have enrolled for health care under the Affordable Care Act, far exceeding original goals. But the country’s nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants are largely without health care and don’t qualify to apply for it at HealthCare.gov. Their needs are caught between health care policy and immigration reform, two deeply partisan issues.

Some critics of the law argue that it further excludes undocumented immigrants — one of the fastest growing populations in the country — while others say opening access to this population would put an undue financial burden on public and government institutions, especially hospitals.

A new study published by the journal “Health Affairs” examines how often undocumented immigrants in California used health services to see if these conservative talking points held true.

“We looked at emergency rooms, because some say that emergency rooms are over or misused by some groups versus others,” said the study’s primary author, Nadereh Pourat, director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Read the full article from PBS.org here  

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Significant decline in deaths after Massachusetts’ health reform

In the first four years after Massachusetts instituted comprehensive health reform in 2006, mortality in the state decreased by 2.9% compared with similar populations in states that didn’t expand health coverage, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. They estimated that Massachusetts’ health reform law, which provided near-universal coverage, has prevented approximately 320 deaths per year—one life saved for each 830 people gaining insurance. The study—which provides new scientifically rigorous analysis of whether health insurance expansion can save lives—appears May 5, 2014 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Given that Massachusetts’ health reform was in many ways the model for the Affordable Care Act, it is critical to understand the law’s potential implications for population health,” said Benjamin Sommers, assistant professor of health policy and economics at HSPH and lead author of the study. “What we found in Massachusetts after reform was a significant reduction in deaths from the kinds of illnesses where we expect health care to have the biggest impact, including infections, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.”

Sommers and colleagues—including senior author Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at HSPH, and economist Sharon Long of the Urban Institute—looked at changes in mortality rates for adults ages 20-64 in Massachusetts before the state’s health reform (2001 to 2005) and after (2007 to 2010). They compared the changes in Massachusetts counties to changes in demographically similar counties in other states that had not enacted health reform during the same period. Data came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau.

The researchers found that the decline in mortality was concentrated among causes of death most likely to be preventable or treatable with timely health care, and they found that Massachusetts counties with lower median incomes and a higher percentage of uninsured adults before the law was passed—areas likely to have experienced the greatest increase in access to care under reform—gained the largest health benefits. In addition, the decline in mortality was nearly twice as large for minorities as it was for whites.

The results also showed that after the expansion there were fewer adults in Massachusetts without insurance, fewer cost-related barriers to care, more outpatient visits, and improvements in self-reported health.

Read the full article from Harvard School of Public Health here  

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