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Health Management Technology News
May 27, 2014

In this issue:
 

 How technology can transform our healthcare labyrinth

 Poll: Healthcare law still fails to impress

 Can technology improve patient safety?

 Affordable Care Act, spending cuts slow healthcare hiring

 Sodexo drops healthcare benefits for some, blaming Obamacare

 5 recent data breaches caused by cyber attacks, phishing schemes


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How technology can transform our healthcare labyrinth

In 2012, more than 95 million passengers passed through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest in the world. On a clear day, 120 airplanes fly in and out every hour. The airport handled 930,000 take offs and landings in 2012. Can you imagine if each airline, pilot and airport department had its own unique communication platform? The system simply couldn’t function and we as consumers wouldn’t tolerate the chaos and risk to safety.

But that’s not very different from how our supposedly modern U.S. health care system operates. Why has our rat-maze approach to coordinating care continued largely unchanged for more than 60 years? For all but the simplest of healthcare needs, we all find ourselves at some point trying to navigate a maze of health care facilities, doctors, pharmacies, insurance companies, and government programs, with all the associated conversations, paperwork, forms, bills, and files they all require.

According to the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. healthcare system wastes more than $765 billion each year—about 30 percent of our healthcare spending. If we eliminated this waste, over 10 years we could reduce nearly 50 percent of our national debt. The waste is that bad. It’s a huge handicap not only for the lives of every American, but for our overall economy.

Read the full article from Forbes here

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Poll: Healthcare law still fails to impress

President Barack Obama celebrated when sign-ups for his health care law topped 8 million, far exceeding expectations after a slipshod launch. Most Americans, however, remain unimpressed.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that public opinion continues to run deeply negative on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature effort to cover the uninsured. Forty-three percent oppose the law, compared with just 28 percent in support.

The pattern illustrates why the health care law remains a favored target for Republicans seeking a Senate majority in the midterm elections.

The poll does have a bright spot for the administration: Those who signed up for coverage aren’t reeling from sticker shock. Most said they found premiums in line with what they expected, or even lower.

Read the full article from The Washington Post
here


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Can technology improve patient safety?

Since 2000, following a report by the chief medical officer, An organization with memory, a safer NHS has been a key priority. More recently, the Sign up to safety campaign is the latest iteration of the continual aspiration to make the NHS a high reliability organization, one that succeeds in avoiding incidents in a high risk environment. Jeremy Hunt has stated that he aims to reduce avoidable deaths by 6,000 over three years.

In an era where people can manage every aspect of their life from a device little bigger than a credit card, can technology help us achieve those aims?

Reported deaths attributable to harm make up about 0.2% of all reported patient safety incidents, but still total more than 3,000 a year across the NHS. Cutting these by two-thirds is a major challenge. Significant cultural factors need to be overcome first, not least the concept that someone is always to blame, rather than a poorly organized environment.

Technology must be seen as part of the team of caregivers that contribute to patient care. The advantage of this team member is it obeys a rigid set of instructions and behaves consistently. Electronic prescribing has been shown to make prescription errors 50% less likely compared to handwritten ones. However, a recent survey of acute hospitals in England showed that although 69% had some form of e-prescribing, the vast majority of these were for discharge medication or chemotherapy, and only 13% are using it for general ward-based prescribing.

Read the full article from The Guardian here

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Affordable Care Act, spending cuts slow healthcare hiring

In the dark hours of the Great Recession, it was one of the few economic bright spots. Week in, week out, the health care sector was adding jobs _ at a time when construction, manufacturing and retail hiring were mired in quicksand.

Now, health care is a laggard. Health care hiring continues, but it’s rising this year at a stubbornly slow annual rate of 1.4 percent, hit by a sluggish economic recovery, mandatory cuts in government spending and streamlining required by the Affordable Care Act.

That’s down from 1.6 percent in 2013, and 1.8 percent for 2012 and 2011. From 2004 to 2008, the rate of growth in hiring exceeded 2 percent, peaking in 2008, the year the financial crisis began, at 2.7 percent.

“Throughout the recession and recovery, non-health-care jobs were slowly climbing back but health care was pretty steady,” said Ani Turner, the deputy director of the Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending, a nonpartisan research center that studies health care costs.

Some analysts say it’s partly a side effect of the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, which aims to penalize inefficiency and waste. It also intends to slow rising health care costs, which were accounting for a greater share of the nation’s economy every year.

“It can’t continue to grow to 18 percent, 19 percent or 21 percent” of the economy, said Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. “The side effect of that is slower growth in health care employment.”

Read the full article from The Miami Herald
here


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Sodexo drops healthcare benefits for some, blaming Obamacare

Something stinks in college cafeterias managed by French catering company Sodexo, and it has nothing to do with the food.

Campus by campus, many workers are losing their healthcare benefits, as Sodexo recalculates how it classifies full-time employees. The company blames Obamacare, explaining in a slick three-page fact sheet that it needed to re-do its definition of a full-time worker to comply with the new health care law.

Really? I don’t think so. But don’t just take my word for it.

“There’s nothing in the law that requires Sodexo do this,” said John McDonough, a professor at Harvard School of Public Health and former executive director of Health Care for All, the group that pushed for universal health care in Massachusetts. “They are choosing to do this.”

The French giant runs cafeterias for big companies and government agencies, but this new formula largely affects their college employees who work full time during the school year and have summers off.

Sodexo faces steep penalties if it doesn’t offer health insurance to full-time workers. To keep the accounting simple, the company decided to determine who is full time based on hours worked annually, instead of quarterly.

Doing so meant a bunch of workers suddenly became part time and their benefits were cut off in January. Others -- including those at University of Massachusetts-Boston and Suffolk University -- are set to lose health coverage as union contracts are renegotiated. Sodexo has about 4,800 workers on 30 campuses in Massachusetts.

Read the full article from The Boston Globe
here


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5 recent data breaches caused by cyber attacks, phishing schemes

The following is a roundup of recent healthcare data breaches caused by cyber attacks and phishing schemes that have been reported in the last month.

1. More Than 1,300 DeKalb Health Patients' Information Compromised By Cyberattack, Phishing Scheme
Hacking incidents at Auburn, Ind.-based DeKalb Health compromised the personal and health information of more than 1,000 of the system's patients.


2. CHI Suffers Second Data Breach This Year
Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives filed a federal lawsuit against an unknown hacker to allow the government to submit a request to Microsoft to get information on email accounts used by the hacker to potentially access patient information at Tacoma, Wash.-based Franciscan Medical Group hospitals.


3. UC Irvine Notifies Patients of Data Breach Caused By Computer Virus
University of California Irvine's student health center notified patients their personal and health information was compromised when its computers were infected with a keystroke logger virus.


Read the full report from Becker’s Hospital Review here

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Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction

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