Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Tim Murphy, R-Pa., sent letters to HHS Secretary Tom Price and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier asking for information about their response to the recent NotPetya malware attack and asking Price about "policies, plans, and procedures for addressing potential drug shortages or other associated consequences caused by cyber infections such as the NotPetya malware strain." The lawmakers are concerned about a report Merck released in July stating that the cyberattack had disrupted operations and some of those disruptions were continuing.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is notifying 3,275 patients in Spokane, Wash., that a computer missing from inventory may have contained their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. The VA will offer free credit monitoring for one year.
Ten new health care technology startups chosen for Cedars-Sinai's Techstars accelerator will receive $120,000 in seed money and mentoring from physicians, researchers and executives. The startups will apply technologies including artificial intelligence, voice recognition, microfluidics and natural language processing to patient engagement, clinical trials, personalized care plans, triage and blood collection, among others.
Allowing EHR system vendors to charge fees for data exchange under HITECH and HIPAA rules would improve interoperability by giving vendors an incentive to invest in data transmission capabilities, writes Brookings Institution Non-Resident Fellow Niam Yaraghi. "If it was legal to directly charge a data exchange fee, other innovators would compete to provide exchange services at a lower cost and higher quality," Yaraghi writes.
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is offering Pager's artificial intelligence-powered interface to subscribers who want to connect with health care providers via video consultations or scheduled appointments.
The NIH issued a $2.1 million grant to HealthRhythms for clinical testing of a smartphone-based behavioral health platform. The platform passively collects data on physical activity, sleep, social interactions and other daily patterns and applies a proprietary algorithm to suggest specific actions to combat depression or anxiety in users.
The ONC wants to free health IT vendors to focus on interoperability by allowing them to declare that they meet at least 30 of 55 certification requirements rather than undergoing testing. The ONC will also relax health IT surveillance policies and will cease checking to ensure certification bodies are conducting random audits, according to an ONC blog post.
Nevada's Silver State Health Insurance Exchange will be up and running and the consumer-facing portal, Nevada Health Link, will be easier to use for this year's Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, exchange Executive Director Heather Korbulic said. Exchange officials said the Affordable Care Act marketplace is likely to remain intact for 2018 even if Congress passes a bill to repeal the law, but aggressive outreach is needed to get the state's remaining eligible but uninsured residents enrolled in a health plan.
Gemalto's Breach Level Index report showed that a total of 918 data breach incidents were reported globally in the first half of this year, up by 13% from the second half of 2016, with the health care sector having the most breaches at 228 and the US experiencing 781 incidents. Researchers also found that the number of records breached in the first half of 2017 increased by 164% to 1.9 billion records compared with the second half of last year.
Health IT Now sent a comment letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma urging the agency to add occupational, physical and speech-language therapy to telehealth services eligible for Medicare reimbursement and to include diabetes educators in the list of providers allowed to bill for telehealth services. The group also asked the CMS to address telehealth-related barriers to physician licensure and expressed concerns about the lack of tools to help providers comply with the Appropriate Use Criteria program.
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