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

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 Why Delaware’s healthcare premiums have increased by 100%

 Harmony Healthcare IT partners with ZirMed to provide ICD-10-ready solution for users of medical manager

 Health care workers wash hands more when patients are watching

 Earliest enrollees in health care use more HIV, hepatitis C drugs

 India, China among top spenders on IT in healthcare in Asia Pacific

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Why Delaware’s healthcare premiums have increased by 100%

The evidence of insurance premiums spiking under the Affordable Care Act continues to mount, with new research from Morgan Stanley showing the highest increases in the individual and group markets in years.

Morgan Stanley’s  health-care analysts conducted a proprietary survey of 148 brokers and found the average increases in the small group market are above 11%, and 12% in the individual market. What’s more, certain states are experiencing premiums five to 10 times higher than last year’s prices. In Delaware,  premiums are up by 100% on average while New Hampshire prices were 94% higher.

It’s not yet clear how high premiums will increase in 2015, but Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted in Congressional testimony last month that they would increase, and some analysts are projecting double-digit hikes next year.

The average premium for a mid-tier silver plan in 2014 was $328 per month without government assistance. Subsidies are available for those making up to 400% of the federal poverty level, which is about $45,00 for an individual and $94,000 for a family of four.

Read the full Fox Business article here  

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Harmony Healthcare IT partners with ZirMed to provide ICD-10-ready solution for users of medical manager

Harmony Healthcare IT (HHIT), a health information technology firm in South Bend, IN, formally announces its relationship with nationally recognized health information connectivity and management solutions provider ZirMed to provide an affordable ICD-10-ready claims submission solution for users of Medical Manager software.

“Studies have shown the total cost of implementing ICD-10 for small practices to be in the tens to hundreds of thousands with software upgrades accounting for over one quarter of that spend,” says Rick Adams, General Manager of HHIT. “Our solution allows Medical Manager users to comply with the mandate at a fraction of the cost since we bypass the need to upgrade their billing software.”

On behalf of its customers using versions 9 through 12 of Medical Manager, HHIT has submitted test transactions to ZirMed. These transactions meet all ICD-10 requirements based on ANSI guidelines, and are ready for successful transmission to payers. In addition to access to ZirMed’s claims management solution, Medical Manager users can incorporate ZirMed’s complete revenue cycle management suite, including eligibility, electronic remittance, patient statement e-delivery, lockbox services, patient portal access for billing inquiries, online bill pay, management of automated payment plans, analytics, and paper EOB processing.

"Our partnership with Harmony dates back years,” says Mary Hardy, director of business development and partnerships. “They have found a real niche in the marketplace by offering high quality support solutions for users of Medical Manager. Our revenue cycle solutions are a big part of what makes successful billing from Medical Manager possible without the need for expensive software upgrades or long-term contracts. And never before has this been more important than now, with the looming ICD-10 deadline of October 1, 2015.”

Read the full press release here  

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Health care workers wash hands more when patients are watching

Next time you're in the hospital, keep an eye out for hygiene practices: Health care workers are more likely to wash their hands if patients are asked to monitor them, according to a new study. It details an 11-month pilot project at the Family Practice Health Center at Women's College Hospital in Toronto. Patients were asked to observe and record the hand hygiene habits of their health care providers, who were aware that they were being watched.

During the project, nearly 97 percent of the health care workers washed their hands before direct contact with their patients, according to the study in the April issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

The researchers also found that 58 percent of health care providers said they changed their hand hygiene practices, 88 percent said they were more motivated to wash their hands and 33 percent said they had more conversations with patients about infection prevention and control.

"Involving patients as the monitors of their health care providers' hand hygiene seems like an obvious, simple choice, and yet most hospitals in Canada don't use this method -- many opt for the often costly and time-consuming alternatives such as having their colleagues monitor and audit," study co-lead author Jessica Ng, manager of infection prevention and control at Women's College Hospital, said in a hospital news release.

Read the full CBS News article here

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Earliest enrollees in health care use more HIV, hepatitis C drugs

Offering a first glimpse of the health care needs of Americans who bought coverage through federal and state marketplaces, an analysis of the first two months of claims data show the new enrollees are more likely to use expensive specialty drugs to treat conditions like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C than those with job-based insurance.

The sample of claims data — considered a preliminary look at whether new enrollees are sicker-than-average — also found that prescriptions for treating pain, seizures and depression are also proportionally higher in exchange plans, according to Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits management company.

Whether that trend holds true across all insurers — and continues to be the case with the millions who signed up after the first two months of the year — will answer one of the biggest questions facing insurers and proponents of the health law: What is the proportion of sick versus healthy enrollees? The answer is key to whether premiums rise in coming years because insurers need a large number of healthy enrollees to offset the costs of treating the sick.

Experts caution that the findings are limited to two months’ data and don’t reflect the surge in enrollment that took place in March and April.

“This is a snapshot of the population early on,” said Julie Huppert, Express Scripts’ vice president of health care reform. “The hope is the young and healthy come into the system in the later weeks of the enrollment period.”

Read the full St. Louis Post-Dispatch article

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India, China among top spenders on IT in healthcare in Asia Pacific

India and China along with three other nations accounted for almost 90 per cent of the IT spending in healthcare sector in the Asia Pacific region last year, research firm IDC has said.

According to IDC Health Insights, Australia, China, India, Singapore and South Korea represented close to 90 per cent of Asia Pacific region's IT spending in the healthcare sector last year.

IT spending in the sector across the region - excluding Japan - is expected to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8 per cent till 2018.

For the same period, healthcare sector in China is expected to clock the fastest growth, rising at a CAGR of 11.7 per cent, the study said.

While the Asia Pacific nations are very disparate when it comes to infrastructure, IT maturity and healthcare systems, every country - developed or developing - is looking to create a sustainable healthcare system, IDC said.

"The spending pattern clearly demarcates the developing and the mature economies in the region. There emerge two clear groups of countries when it comes to IT maturity," IDC Health Insights Asia Pacific research manager Sash Mukherjee said.

Read the full article here  

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