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Health Management Technology News
  April 3, 2014
In this issue:

Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

Why technology is no longer a barrier in the NHS

Sound off on today's healthcare companies and trends!

Maryland to overhaul healthcare exchange with help from Connecticut

Online doctor visits pegged as future of health care

What’s next for healthcare

IMS seeking $1.4 billion in IPO promising no healthcare shakeup

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Why technology is no longer a barrier in the NHS

The relationship between IT and the NHS has often been one fraught with misunderstanding and disaster.

Take the infamous IT programme, Connecting for Health, as an example; it aimed to make accurate patient records available to NHS staff at all times but was abandoned in 2013 after costing the taxpayer nearly £10bn. Successful IT is built around patient care, not technology, and if you get this right, clinicians will be demanding it, not resisting it.

As Richard Vize, healthcare commentator and journalist, said at the Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network's first data management seminar, which he chaired: "IT has a chequered and rather inglorious history [in the NHS]".

The ongoing care. data debacle is further testament to the health service's failure to embrace technology.

Yet, efficiency through the use of technology continues to be a major ambition for the NHS. The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has set the health service a target of becoming paperless by 2018. And with flatline budgets and increasing demand, many now recognise that technology can help frontline professionals deal with their heavy workloads as well as empower patients.

But what are the barriers to implementing technology and improving systems? And how can clinicians be persuaded to take the time out of their already busy lives to learn to use new innovations?

Are the large scale IT systems of the past redundant? And is the future a group of disparate networks working on common standards rather than the big systems we associate with a more monolithic national health service?

Read the full article from The Guardian here

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Help us rank the healthcare industry’s “best” suppliers in key product, service and technology areas. We will report your shared opinions in an upcoming issue of Health Management Technology.

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Maryland to overhaul healthcare exchange with help from Connecticut

The board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange voted Tuesday night to overhaul its troubled healthcare website by adopting the smooth-running technology platform developed by Connecticut. Maryland has spent about $125.5 million operating and building its exchange, but in late February the state severed its $193-million contract with prime technology contractor Noridian Healthcare Solutions after struggling with technical problems that led to thousands of lost and stuck applications, as well as long wait times for frustrated consumers.

Top state officials considered repairing the system at a cost of $66 million, according to a memo provided to the board, but believed the final product would still not “provide a stable, sustainable system.”

They also ruled out a move to the federal exchange at an estimated cost of as much as $53 million, because they did not think the federal portal could adequately support their state plan.

The partnership with Connecticut, top exchange officials said in the memo to board members, would allow Maryland to reuse existing software licenses as well as $8 million worth of hardware components. Exchange officials estimate the upgrade using the Connecticut technology platform will take about 6 months and cost about $40 million to $50 million.

“We have paid about $55 million to Noridian for development, hardware and software licenses,” read the memo from Maryland’s health secretary, top information technology official and acting exchange director. “The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange can seek to recoup these expenditures through litigation against our original contractors.”

Read the full Los Angeles Times article here

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Online doctor visits pegged as future of health care

It's being called the 21st century house call.

Known as Telehealth, it's a way for patients to connect with board-certified doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, live and online.

"It brings health care home," said Dr. Roy Schoenberg, the cofounder and CEO of Boston-based American Well, the creator of the technology. "Anyone of us can download the app or go to the website, select a physician that they choose and they like and engage with them immediately."

Compare that to the average wait for an appointment in Boston -- 44.5 days, according to Merritt Hawkins, a national health care search and consulting firm.

"All of these 30-something million people who can now afford health care (through the Affordable Care Act) are going to start taking advantage of it. So physicians' lines are going to be longer. Appointments are going to take forever," said Schoenberg.

NewsCenter 5 first told you about American Well in 2009, when Telehealth was only available in Hawaii. Four years later, it's now live in 44 states, including Massachusetts.

"This is changing, literally, on almost weekly basis. It's growing so fast. It's really unbelievable," said Schoenberg.

Read the full WCVB report here

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What’s next for healthcare

The first open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has just ended, and consumers, insurers and federal officials now face many immediate chores and challenges that will help determine if the law works as intended.

Many questions about the law’s potential impact on the health care system remain, and here are some preliminary answers.

Q. How many people have actually paid for the insurance plans they selected?

A. The Obama administration has been reluctant to provide data, saying it did not have solid figures because consumers pay premiums to insurance companies, not to the government.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said Wednesday that 80 percent to 85 percent of people buying its products on insurance exchanges had paid by Feb. 1. That is consistent with reports by other insurers.

If 15 percent of the 7.1 million people signing up fail to pay premiums, that would reduce the number gaining coverage to six million.

The federal government says it will probably need a couple of weeks to tabulate data on the age and other demographic characteristics of new policyholders.

Q. Will premiums shoot up next year?

A. Several insurers have said they will probably seek double-digit increases in premiums next year. However, at least four factors may counter this impulse.

Competition, which could be intensified by the entry of more insurers into the market in some states, will tend to hold down premiums. Consumers showed a strong preference for the lowest-cost health plans this year.

Federal and state officials can negotiate with insurers if they believe proposed prices for 2015 are excessive. Even if new policyholders this year are sicker and older than insurers expected, they may not use as much health care as experience suggests. Many of the new policies have high deductibles, which will discourage overuse of health care by people eager to avoid high out-of-pocket costs.

In addition, the law has several mechanisms intended to stabilize premiums for several years. If one insurer enrolls a disproportionate number of sick people, the government and other insurers will help defray the costs.

Q. Will more states expand Medicaid?

Read the rest of the New York Times article

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IMS seeking $1.4 billion in IPO promising no healthcare shakeup

Companies using technology to try and shake up the health-care industry have been rewarded with sky-high valuations. IMS Health Holdings Inc. won’t be one.

IMS, a 60-year old company that sells data on prescription use to drugmakers and analysts, is asking investors to buy shares in its initial public offering at as little as one-seventh the earnings multiple its digital peers fetch. The company and backers including TPG Capital are looking to raise up to $1.37 billion in the sale today, making it the second-largest U.S. IPO this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Companies including Castlight Health Inc. (CSLT) have excited investors with Internet-based business models that promise to help bring down costs, for example by letting customers find doctors and compare and estimate treatment expenses online. IMS, which touts the breadth of its health-care information and consulting services, won’t see the same type of hype, says B Riley & Co. analyst Gene Mannheimer.

“There’s definitely recognition that change has to happen in healthcare, so the market is rewarding innovative, disruptive models,” said Mannheimer, a health-care technology analyst in Los Angeles. “I would caution that IMS is not one of those health-care disrupters.”

Read the full Bloomberg article here

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