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Health Management Technology News
  March 10, 2014
In this issue:

Laptop theft exposes thousands of hospital records

5 common healthcare transaction deal killers

Capps, Takano, 22 House colleagues urge Obama Administration to leverage Meaningful Use program

Research shows patient experiences can be used to improve healthcare

Study examines effects of pay-for-performance-reimbursing in China's Ningxia Province

Laptop theft exposes thousands of hospital records

Medical records for thousands of patients at Etobicoke General Hospital could be in the wrong hands following the theft of a laptop.

CBC News has learned the personal details of 5,500 patients — including names, dates of birth and diagnostic reports — were on a laptop that was stolen in mid-January from a lab used to test brain activity.

The lab was locked but the laptop was not password-protected — contrary to hospital policy according to Ann Ford, chief privacy officer for William Osler Health System.

"We have a policy for protection and in this instance it just was not protected," said Ford.

The laptop had information on patients who were tested between January 2011 and 2014. The hospital informed patients of the theft over the last two weeks.

Read the full CBC News article here

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5 common healthcare transaction deal killers

When two healthcare organizations begin the process of carrying out a merger or acquisition, they commonly encounter certain "pain points," says Munzoor Shaikh, senior manager at consulting firm West Monroe Partners.

"We know it's going to be trouble or a tough thing to deal with," he says. "I call it the thorn in your side."

If providers put off removing those thorns for too long, what originally seemed like a minor annoyance can turn into a disaster that brings down the whole deal. "There are a lot of these things that get pushed to the side that end up being pretty dangerous," he says.

Therefore, he advises hospitals, health systems and other healthcare organizations to address the following five pain points early on in the transaction process.

1. Reporting systems. Healthcare organizations commonly face financial, clinical or claims-related reporting system issues, Mr. Shaikh says. In a merger, combining two different reporting systems into one can present various challenges. For instance, the two organizations might have different financial and accounting approaches. The IT department or business operations team can find a workaround to address these issues most of the time, according to Mr. Shaikh. However, if they don't tackle the issue early enough, they may become overwhelmed by post-merger integration responsibilities and have difficulty finding time to carry out the solution.

2. Data cleansing. Often, in a transaction, Mr. Shaikh says one of the two healthcare organizations involved will have data cleansing issues predating their agreement they haven't attended to for a long time. "There's a data cleansing debt that builds up," he says. "It slows down the merger, and sometimes prevents the integration of core systems."

In the absence of sophisticated data governance, health IT data (especially that from legacy systems) will need a significant amount of cleaning and reconciling to avoid problems when the data is migrated to a new system, according to Mr. Shaikh. He recalls a merger he worked on involving two provider systems. The new system the data was supposed to migrate to had much stricter data rules regarding discrepancies; subsequently, "the new system just didn't want to take the data," Mr. Shaikh says. The IT department ultimately had to create two instances of the new system, leading to higher maintenance and operating expenses.

Read the full Becker’s Hospital Review article here

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Capps, Takano, 22 House colleagues urge Obama Administration to leverage Meaningful Use program

Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), and 22 of their colleagues wrote a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo expressing their support for leveraging health information technology advances to reduce health disparities. The members provided recommendations to the administration about integrating disparity reduction opportunities in  Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use incentive program and encouraged the administration to look at key tenets of the Consumer Partnership for eHealth’s Disparities Action Plan for guidance.

“As a health care provider, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact on families and communities when they don’t get access to the kind of care they need and deserve,” said Rep. Lois Capps. “We know that reducing health care costs and improving health outcomes depends on tackling the pervasive problem of health disparities.  I hope the Administration seizes this opportunity to help reduce current disparities and make a difference for millions of patients and families.”

“We must use all the tools available to achieve health equity in our country,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “The only way to eliminate health disparities is to fully understand the scope of the problems faced by individuals and communities, especially LGBT people. Breakthroughs in health information technology and improved data collection in the ‘meaningful use’ guidelines can be a powerful tool to improve healthcare for all Americans, and I urge the ONC to make the constructive changes we have identified.”

Read the full press release here

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Research shows patient experiences can be used to improve healthcare

A research project led by Oxford University is showing how patient experiences can be used to improve healthcare - not through targets and surveys, but by getting doctors, nurses and patients talking together about care on the ward.

The new approach has been used in pilot projects at two UK hospital trusts - Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust in London and the Royal Berkshire in Reading. Videos of patients talking about care they received at various hospitals are used to trigger a discussion between NHS staff, managers, patients and family members about the ward where they are. Ideas for change are prioritized and staff and patients work together as partners to introduce them. The research is funded by the UK National Institute of Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme.

The researchers have published the findings of the project in the journal Health Services and Delivery Research.

Many of the changes that come out of the process may be small. But after a year of headlines in the UK that have focused on scandals of poor care in hospitals and social care, the approach brings compassion and dignity to the fore.

Simple examples included putting clocks on the wall where patients in intensive care can see them, where previously they may have had no sense of what time of day it is. Having teeth brushed more often and changing the time for patients' main wash were also important, while more comfortable V-shaped pillows for post-operative patients were also introduced. A lot of the changes involved providing better information to patients.

Read the full News Medical article here

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Study examines effects of pay-for-performance-reimbursing in China's Ningxia Province

Pay-for-performance-reimbursing health care providers based on the results they achieved with their patients as a way to improve quality and efficiency-has become a major component of health reforms in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other affluent countries. Although the approach has also become popular in the developing world, there has been little evaluation of its impact. A new study examines the effects of pay-for-performance, combined with capitation, in China's largely rural Ningxia Province. Between 2009 and 2012, the authors, in collaboration with the provincial government, conducted a matched-pair, cluster-randomized experiment to review that province's primary care providers' antibiotic prescribing practices, health spending, and several other factors. They found a near-15 percent reduction in antibiotic prescriptions and a small decline in total spending per visit to community clinics.

Read the full News Medical report here

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