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Health Management Technology News
  June 6, 2014
In this issue:
 Senate confirms Burwell as new secretary of HHS

 Future of medical work: The computer will see you now

 Healthcare must prioritize operational analytics

 Worker fatigue cause of healthcare mistakes, study finds

 More healthcare is better healthcare: Medical myth or reality?

 Robotic Simulation Olympics get children excited about medicine, technology

 10 payers with the lowest denial rates

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.

Read the white paper.   Sponsor

Senate confirms Burwell as new secretary of HHS

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the White House’s budget director for the past year, as the 22nd secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

On a bipartisan vote of 78 to 17, senators approved Burwell to lead the government’s largest domestic department, ending a quick confirmation process that was devoid of the bitter partisanship surrounding the 2010 Affordable Care Act and the changes it is bringing to the U.S. health-care system.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), whose committee recommended Burwell to the full Senate, said moments before the vote that Burwell attracted what he called “a choir of bipartisan support” because “she is really that good, she is really that capable, and she is really that qualified.”

Read the full article from The Washington Post

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Future of medical work: The computer will see you now

As IBM's Watson supercomputer was defeating human Jeopardy champions before a national TV audience in early 2011, one group of professionals was paying close attention.

"Our phone was ringing off the hook with calls from doctors" after the appearance, seeking information about the technology, says Claudia Fan Munce, who runs the company's venture capital investment program.

Watson's question-and-answer prowess looked similar to what primary-care physicians do every day: make a diagnosis based on a quick interview of a patient and an analysis of a medical chart.

An accurate diagnosis is a well-educated guess, given the extensive training of U.S. medical doctors, who get it right about 80% to 90% of the time.

But it's also a decision based on human analysis, so not a sure thing.

A 2004 Harris Poll conducted for the National Patient Safety Foundation found that one in six patients had experienced such an error.

Given the price of corporate health care plans, large employers could save a lot of money if their workers were misdiagnosed less frequently.

Read the full article from USA Today here  

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Healthcare must prioritize operational analytics

For healthcare CIOs, trying to make operational improvements through better data analysis should be paramount. Optimizing use of expensive resources, improving access for patients, and cutting wait times and red tape are high on the agenda of any hospital executive committee.

There is no shortage of examples of ways to make operational improvements. For example, some health systems have streamlined scheduling to shorten the time it takes for a patient to get in to see a specialist, or for diagnostic procedures such as an MRI or CT scan. Some have collected data on patient no-shows, which are often as high as 20%, to develop ways to overbook and stem the loss of revenues and wasted resources that no-shows can cause.

Others have reorganized the design of their health system to move services such as outpatient surgery into ambulatory surgery centers that can operate efficiently and effectively at lower cost and with increased patient safety.

Many of these projects would not have been easy even five or ten years ago. Now, data collection and analysis techniques have advanced to the point where providers can rapidly implement operational improvement projects, measuring things such as how long it takes from booking an appointment to getting in to see a provider, or the time and steps it takes to get an MRI. However, many health systems are surprisingly still behind the curve in this area of using data to improve operational performance.

Read the full article from Information Week

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Worker fatigue cause of healthcare mistakes, study finds

Health care worker fatigue contributed to more than 1,600 incidents reported through the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS), with 37 considered harmful and four resulting in patient deaths, according the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.

An article released Thursday from the PPSA's June advisory examined data from June 2004 to August 2013, and found there were 1,601 events reported in which health care worker fatigue was cited as a factor. Medication errors were most common, making up 62.1 percent of the errors, the article said. Errors related to a procedure, treatment or test was the next most common, at 26 percent.

Though the overwhelming majority of the errors did not result in harm to the patient, there were four deaths among the 37 incidents classified as harmful.

"Recent literature shows that one of the first efforts made to reduce events related to fatigue was target limiting the hours worked," said Dr. Theresa Arnold, manager of clinical analysis for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. "However, further study suggests a more comprehensive approach is needed, as simply reducing hours does not address fatigue that is caused by disruption in sleep and extended work hours."

Read the full article from Pittsburg Business Times here  

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More healthcare is better healthcare: Medical myth or reality?

The U.S. spends nearly $3 trillion a year on health care, significantly more than any other nation.

In fact, America’s annual health care spending is greater than the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of every other country except China, Germany and Japan.

Yet our measurable health outcomes – from infant mortality to life expectancy – aren’t any better than nations spending much less.

I’ve written about this paradox before, pointing to a few factors that drive up health care costs. They include the perverse financial incentives of health care’s fee-for-service payment model, the unjustifiably higher costs of devices and drugs in the U.S. and our systematic investment in specialists over primary care physicians.

But these are just a few of the reasons.

In the coming weeks, I will write about four common myths that contribute in powerful ways to our high health care costs and lagging clinical outcomes. Each represents a major opportunity to improve quality, personalize medical care and make health care more affordable.

Let’s kick things off with myth No 1: More visits, tests and procedures lead to better health.

It seems logical that doing more would lead to better clinical outcomes. Sometimes that’s true. But more often than not, that assumption is far from factual.

Here are three common clinical practices that reveal the surprising truth behind this myth:

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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Robotic Simulation Olympics get children excited about medicine, technology

The Lehigh Valley Health Network is looking for America's next top doctor. You didn't have to go to medical school to compete in the Lehigh Valley Health Network's fourth and final qualifying round of the third annual Robotic Simulation Olympics at the Da Vinci Science Center on Wednesday. Close to 30 participants from two different age classes competed in the event.

The junior group, which was comprised of children ages 11 and under, competed in the Jack Challenge. Children competed on the dual robotic console, as they were able to sit in in a surgical cart, look through stereoscopic viewer and use a control panel to maneuver the robotic operating arms to pick up different colored jacks and place them in the right colored petri dish. Parents watched their children on the vision cart that showed images in 3D.

Individuals 12 years and above in the senior group competed on a robotic simulator as they tried to stack blocks and dominoes within a time limit.

Gordon Riggeway, who competed in the jack challenge, said the robotic machine administered motion perfectly.

"It tilts and rotates as your hands move," Riggeway said.

Jay Vat, who is a college senior, says he envisions many more robotic surgeons in operating rooms across the country, a development which would help to reduce human error.

Although the competition is not robotic surgery, gynecologist Martin Martino said he started it because of the similarity between video games and the robotic systems.

"I think it would be great to give the kids the ability think about being involved in math, science and technology and get them to dream about being something different and using their video game skills to good use and I thought what better way than to let the robots come out and see the kids play and they are phenomenal at it," Martino said.

Read the full article from

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10 payers with the lowest denial rates

Cloud-based software services provider athenahealth has released its 2014 PayerView Report, which leverages the company's data to provide insight into provider-payer relationships and ranks healthcare payers based on various metrics.

Denial rate is one of those metrics. According to the report, here are the 10 payers with the lowest percentages of claims requiring backend rework.

1. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon — 2.9 percent

2. Premera Blue Cross of Washington — 3.1 percent

3. HealthPartners — 3.1 percent

4. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island — 3.2 percent

5. Healthsource (a Cigna subsidiary) — 3.4 percent

Read the full article from Becker’s Hospital Review here  

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June 2014  HMT digital book

White Papers

What you need to know about ICD-10

Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction

Click here to read the white papers

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