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Health Management Technology News
  June 5, 2014
In this issue:
 
 Healthcare is our other Afghanistan

 Hartford HealthCare cuts 350 jobs

 Why Apple's HealthKit could transform healthcare in very short order

 Obama keeps foot on the gas for healthcare enrollment

 Healthcare payments: Channeling their inner online banking

 15 recent healthcare lawsuits, settlements

What you need to know about ICD-10
Download this white paper on switching from using ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes for all medical services. The deadline for completing the switch is October 1, 2015, which will be here sooner than you think. Healthcare facilities need to start planning their communication strategy now to be fully prepared to meet the upcoming transition.

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Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction
Hospital reimbursements are now influenced, in part, by patient satisfaction scores. Read about seven areas to target in your hospital for happier, more satisfied patients.

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Healthcare is our other Afghanistan

Bob Shrum, John Kerry's presidential campaign adviser, did history a service when he acknowledged that the Kerry campaign in 2004 raised Afghanistan to the status of "the right war" as an implicit criticism of the Iraq war without Democrats seeming indiscriminately antiwar and antimilitary. Barack Obama adopted the good war/bad war patter and wedded himself to Afghanistan, a war he clearly didn't believe in and wasn't committed to. The spin continues today. Bringing home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last American captive and an alleged deserter, might have served a practical purpose in closing one more door to our continued involvement in Afghanistan. A goal might also have been fostering a tacit understanding with the Taliban to lay off U.S. forces as they make their exit, after which Afghanistan is no longer our problem.

But why the celebratory involvement of Mr. Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and others? Why not leave it to lower functionaries to announce in non-exclamatory fashion the prisoner exchange? The blowback the White House is now reaping suggests either an administration sinking in cynicism or—worse—an administration that no longer knows what its own hidden agendas and private reasonings are.

The same is true in the Veterans Affairs scandal. Mr. Obama cannot be blamed for the unworkability of the VA health-care program. Government never will be able to satisfy demand for a valuable service given away free or nearly free. That would be true even if the department did not suffer all the infirmities of a politicized bureaucracy captured by organized labor. As long as the system takes anything like its present form, Secretary Sisyphus will have endless employment.

Read the full article from The Wall Street Journal
here
 

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Hartford HealthCare cuts 350 jobs

Job cuts by Hartford HealthCare mean the loss of at least 75 positions at MidState Medical Center and the Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Hartford HealthCare officials cited declining government reimbursement, fewer patients with private insurance and fewer inpatients as driving the need to reduce costs.

The network has five hospitals in the state, including MidState, in Meriden, and the Hospital of Central Connecticut, which has campuses in Southington and New Britain.

Throughout Connecticut, Hartford HealthCare eliminated the equivalent of 350 full-time positions, according to a statement by Jeffrey Flaks, the organization’s chief operating officer.

The reductions follow $200 million in non-staff cuts, said Lucille Janatka, Hartford HealthCare senior vice president and the network’s central region president.

“In many cases, we have eliminated vacant positions or have already notified employees whose jobs have been affected. Most of those affected who have not yet been notified will be contacted this week,” she said in a statement.

Read the full article from myrecordjournal.com
here
 

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Why Apple's HealthKit could transform healthcare in very short order

As expected, Apple did announce a health and fitness app that will ship with iOS 8 during the WWDC keynote, albeit one dubbed simply Health rather than the anticipated Health Book name. The Health app, also as anticipated, will offer a broader range of functionality than most health and fitness trackers and is designed to aggregate health information from a range of sources including other iOS apps, wearables, and smart medical devices like Bluetooth-equipped blood pressure cuffs and glucose monitors.

Also as I speculated last month, Apple's Health app website notes that the app includes an emergency card feature that can be accessed from an iPhone's lock screen, though the site doesn't provide details on how such emergency access will function.

Although Apple’s Craig Federighi introduced the Health app and announced HealthKit - the platform that allows iOS developers, the makers of fitness wearables, and connected medical device manufacturers, to exchange data to the Health apps - the announcement was buried in the middle of the iOS 8 preview and demo section and was surprisingly brief given the potential of the HealthKit platform.

The brevity was particularly striking in comparison to Samsung's Voice of the Body event last week, during which Samsung announced its own mobile health platform - including the wrist worn Simband that could integrate an array of sensors to deliver vital sign monitoring, integration with its various devices, and a cloud-based health and fitness aggregation and analysis platform. The scheduling of Samsung's event has been widely presumed to be an attempt to steal Apple's thunder regarding mobile health in advance of Apple's developer conference.

Given all the flash and hype surrounding Samsung's event and Apple's apparent downplaying of its Health app and HealthKit, it's very easy to make the case that Samsung succeeded in doing so. But things aren't always what they seem.

Read the full article from citeworld.com here  

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Obama keeps foot on the gas for healthcare enrollment

As President Barack Obama took to the podium on April 17 to announce that eight million people had signed up for private health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, a sense of finality hit the White House briefing room.

Six and a half months had passed since the start of Obamacare's implementation. A technological crisis had produced a political one. And the experience that followed had been both emotionally draining and professionally vexing. That it ended with the administration exceeding expectations made it seem like the ideal time to stop and take a breath -- and perhaps even celebrate. A few days later, the White House's health care team did just that over drinks and snacks.

But for others inside the administration, the end of the open enrollment period in mid-April provided no break at all. If anything, the race to get Americans health care coverage had just begun.

"Outreach is never over," said Marlon Marshall, the deputy director of the White House office of Public Engagement. "We've always continued."

In practical terms, Marshall, 34, is the White House official most responsible for convincing people without health insurance that coverage under Obamacare is right for them. And between now and mid-November, when open enrollment is set to begin again, there are many more people he is hoping to reach.

Special enrollment remains ongoing and, as with other elements of the health care law, many of those eligible for coverage don't understand all the details. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) remain available to everyone eligible throughout the year. But people can also enroll if they've had a "qualifying life event" -- meaning they've gotten married or divorced, had a baby, adopted a child, placed a child up for adoption, moved residences, gained citizenship, left incarceration, graduated from college or lost their health coverage. In most cases, once such an event occurs, a person has a 60-day window to get coverage.

Read the full article from The Huffington Post
here
 

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Healthcare payments: Channeling their inner online banking

The Affordable Care Act might have made health care easier on some levels, but it has made patient billing more complicated than ever. One provider has found a way to “trick the system” and actually enable online billing and payment just like consumers are accustomed to paying any other bill online.

That provider? PatientPay. Company CEO Tom Furr sat down with MPD CEO Karen Webster earlier this week to discuss his organization and the long lasting, positive impact he hopes to have on the health care industry.

At its core, PatientPay software helps health care groups accelerate the collection of out-of-pocket expenses from patients. According to Furr, most health care providers use a practice management software for their billing process – which generates an entirely paper based bill 98 percent of the time. Instead, PatientPay instead steps in, and “tricks” the practice management system into not sending out a paper bill but digitizing on instead and sending it to patients through a more cost-effective mean – typically email. Patients can then easily pay those bills online, just like any other bill payment that they make.

“We’ve gone to really extensive efforts to make sure this is a great user experience,” Furr said. “But it’s driven by the practice, because the practices are the ones that are most interested in making all of this stuff electronic because it reduces their cost to process these payments, which is extremely expensive.”

PatientPay does not sell directly to physician offices, but instead works with practice management systems that can then incorporate the software into their larger offerings.

Read the full article from pymnts.com here  

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15 recent healthcare lawsuits, settlements

The following is a roundup of lawsuit updates, court holdings and settlements that involve the healthcare industry.

1. Dallas Physician Convicted in $3M Medicare Fraud Scheme
A federal jury in the Northern District of Texas convicted Joseph Megwa, MD, for his participation in a $3 million Medical fraud scheme.

2. LabMD Files Appeal in Federal Lawsuit Against FTC
Atlanta-based LabMD filed an appeal of a Georgia federal court's dismissal of its lawsuit alleging the FTC does not have the power to broadly regulate data security.

3. Appeals Court Upholds $6.1M Fraud Judgment Against BCBS of Michigan
A $6.1 million fraud judgment against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

4. $89M Judgment Entered Against Florida Oncologist in False Claims Act Case
An $89 million judgment was entered against Wasfi Makar, MD, for violations of the False Claims Act.

5. Supreme Court Will Not Review Athens Regional Medical Center Discrimination Suit
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a discrimination and retaliation case against Athens(Ga.) Regional Medical Center brought by Joe Barnett, a former employee of the medical center.

6. Class-Action Suit Filed Against Health Care Service Corporation Over Misused Profits
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Chicago-based Health Care Service Corporation, a Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer, alleging the company has not upheld its nonprofit mission by improperly spending more than $5 billion in profits.

7. Calloway Labs Settles False Claims Act Case for $4.7M
Woburn, Mass.-based Calloway Laboratories agreed to pay $4.7 million for submitting false claims to Medicare and West Virginia's Medicaid.

Read the full article from Becker’s Hospital Review here  

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What you need to know about ICD-10

Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction

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