Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., stressed the importance of EHRs to patient care and interoperability within the health care industry during a Senate hearing Wednesday for his nomination as HHS secretary. However, meaningful use requirements have led to productivity losses and hindered positive health outcomes, Price said, and he recommended implementing fewer reporting requirements that emphasize outcomes instead of provider actions.
A former employee of Covenant HealthCare in Michigan inappropriately accessed the records of 6,197 patients, compromising personal information including full names, medical record numbers, diagnostic and treatment information, health insurance information, home addresses, birth dates, driver's license numbers and Social Security numbers. Although no reports of identity fraud, specific misuse of patient information or theft have been received, the provider will offer identity theft protection and credit monitoring to affected patients, and it has already terminated the employee, officials said.
The HHS Office for Civil Rights will collect $2.2 million from MAPFRE Life Insurance in Puerto Rico as settlement for HIPAA violations following an August 2011 incident involving a stolen USB drive that contained protected health information, as well as the insurer's "failure to conduct its risk analysis and implement risk management plans ... and a failure to deploy encryption or an equivalent alternative measure on its laptops and removable storage media until Sept. 1, 2014," OCR said. The theft affected 2,209 individuals, and compromised information included names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth.
MedAware's algorithmic software was used in a study by Harvard Medical School researchers to screen EHR data for outliers that would suggest medication errors, and the alerts generated by the software were valid in identifying possible errors 75% of the time, with 75% of those errors being potentially life-threatening. The researchers said existing clinical decision support systems are not adaptable or patient-specific enough to detect more than a small number of errors.
Advances in health information technology will continue regardless of congressional action on the Affordable Care Act, and the law's repeal might be an opening for introducing new data policies that will improve health care, industry leaders say. The meaningful use program, reporting requirements and interoperability are among the areas health IT leaders say are ripe for reform.
Engineers at Binghamton University have developed a way to use information from electrocardiographs as a password for individual electronic health records. The technique, presented at the IEEE Global Communications Conference, could enhance security at minimal cost, lead researcher Zhanpeng Jin said.
The new Center for Digital Health at Stanford University School of Medicine will support collaboration between biomedical faculty and Silicon Valley technology companies developing digital health tools. The center will provide infrastructure and resources, connect faculty with private-sector technology developers, provide training to physicians in digital health medicine and offer educational programs for employees in the tech industry.
Clinicians at Johns Hopkins Medicine will work with Under Armour on the company's health and fitness applications, providing clinical and science-based guidance on sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition, according to a news release.
The future of value-based care depends on health care providers' ability to obtain and use data, and though the tools are improving, usability is frustratingly limited, wrote outgoing National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Vindell Washington and CMS acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. They reviewed accomplishments and suggested a potential framework for further progress in a blog post.
About 370,000 Maryland residents have enrolled in health insurance through the state's exchange, and acting executive director Jonathan Kromm says enrollment is likely to meet last year's level of more than 400,000 Marylanders. A coalition including exchange officials, the NAACP, church groups and other advocates is pushing to boost enrollment before the Jan. 31 deadline.
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