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Primary care doctors to get Medicare bonuses MEDICARE AND MEDICAID

The cloud saves PACS service during hurricane

The U.S. Depart- ment of Health and

Human Services (HHS) launched a new initiative on Sept. 28 to help primary care practices deliver higher quality, more coordinated and patient-centered care. Under the new program, Medicare will work with com- mercial and state health insurance plans to offer additional support to primary care doctors who better coordinate care for their patients. This collaboration, known as the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative, is modeled after innovative practices developed by large employers and leading private health insurers in the private sector. The voluntary initiative will begin as a demonstra- tion project available in fi ve to seven healthcare markets across the country. Public and private healthcare payers interested in applying to participate in the initiative must submit a letter of intent to CMS by Nov. 15, 2011. In addition to the usual Medicare fees that these practices would receive for delivering Medicare-covered services, CMS will pay participating primary care prac- tices a monthly fee for supporting activities such as: • Helping patients with serious or chronic diseases follow personalized care plans; • Giving patients 24-hour access to care and health information; • Delivering preventive care; • Engaging patients and their families in their own care; and • Working together with other doctors, including specialists, to provide better coordinated care.

ICD-10, seriously? CLAIMS AND CODING


Not even fl ood con-

ditions and a four-day loss of electric power, telephone and Internet service at its hurricane Irene-devastated Ridgefi eld, Conn., headquarters in late August could keep CoActiv Medical from maintaining its seven-year 100-percent up- time service record. The company’s national PACS (picture archiving and communication system) medical facility clients were unaware that the CoActiv headquarters was closed for several days with full utility outages due to the storm. “When we left our Ridgefi eld offi ces on the Friday be- fore the hurricane, we forwarded all of our phone lines to our night and weekend answering service, which contacts our national network of on-call PACS and IT engineers for our 7/24/365 support,” says Ed Heere, CoActiv president and CEO. The company reports that its headquarters lost all utility services and almost fl ooded at 4 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28, as Irene blasted through the area. Because CoActiv’s EXAM-VAULT Archive datacenters, which support its vital healthcare services, are located in hardened, cloud-based, remote Tier-IV centers in Connecti- cut and New York, CoActiv client hospitals and medical of- fi ces in the hurricane-devastated region and throughout the country enjoyed complete service throughout the extended outages. Company engineers and support personnel worked from remote commercial and residential locations when necessary to weather the adverse effects of the event.

Learn more about CoActiv solutions at

After a Sept. 13 article in the Wall Street Journal

poked fun at the sometimes head-scratching detail of ICD-10 (including actual codes describing injuries that took place while crocheting or being struck by a parrot), Wendy Wittington, M.D., MMM and chief medical offi cer at Anthelio Healthcare Solutions, decided to create her own list of reasons to take the federally mandated coding system update to heart. About 18,000 ICD-9 codes used to describe medical services and facilitate billing to insurance companies will be converted to more than 155,000 in-depth entries in the ICD-10 system. The deadline to complete the change is Oct. 1, 2013. Five reasons to take ICD-10 seriously today, as outlined

by Dr. Wittington: 1. ICD-9 was developed in the 1970s. A lot has changed

in medicine since then, and the current system has run out of enough codes to describe the work physicians do every day. 2. ICD has roots dating back to the 1700s and was never intended to have anything to do with the way doctors get reimbursed. 3. The U.S. is the only developed nation still on ICD-9; most of Europe has been on ICD-10 for years. 4. ICD-9 doesn’t allow for meaningful comparative ef- fectiveness research or for the development of protocols that are sorely needed to manage patients in an increasingly complex system.

5. What the public may not realize is that this decision has been put off for so many years already that it has reached an urgency level that leaves little room for more delays.


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