Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits

  • After holding a series of state health care forums, the Obama Administration holds another White House forum -- this time White House healthcare reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle will lead the forum which can be viewed online here. Modern Healthcare reports on a teleconference that Ms. Deparle held with the AARP:

    Fielding questions during the teleconference, Nancy-Ann DeParle said the Obama administration was working with Congress on a new plan to set up an insurance exchange, which would offer a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan that would allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
    Yesterday, the Lewin Group released a report on the public plan option. The Boston Globe summarized that report as follows: "A public health insurance option for middle class families could help cover the uninsured but it may well put private insurers out of business, a respected consulting firm concluded in a study released Monday." A copy of that report is available here.

  • The ever popular Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)conference is being held this week in Chicago. HIMSS is jazzed up over the stimulus funding for health information technology. The Kaiser Healthcare CEO George Halvoron gave a keynote speech attacking fee for service medicine ("merely sells 'pieces of care' to consumers") and paper records ('incomplete, inaccurate and inaccessible') according to an HIT News report. (The publication's website has wall to wall HIMSS conference coverage.)

  • In the brave new HIT world, the National Health Information Network (NHIN) will serve as a patient registry to link up the regional health information organizations (RHIOs). I still can't figure out how the NHIN will work without a universal patient indentifier other than the Social Security Number. In any event, Government HIT News reports that

    The Federal Health Architecture project released into the public domain the code for Connect, a software gateway that will let organizations outside the federal government share health information via the National Health Information Network. Any public or private sector organization can download the Connect software and tie into the NHIN once it goes into full production. The source code and its documentation are available at http://www.connectopensource.org/
    That's cool.
  • CMS has released a general equivalence mapping fact sheet to help HIPAA covered entities and their business associates with the massive project of converting from the International Classification of Diseases 9 code set to the ICD 10 code set.

  • The American Medical Association laid off about 8% of its staff (100 employees) according to the Chicago Tribune.

  • Here's the top tidbit. The Dallas Morning News reports that

    Nine people accounted for nearly 2,700 of the emergency room visits in Central Texas during the past six years at a cost of $3 million to taxpayers and
    others, according to a report from the nonprofit Integrated Care
    Collaboration, a group of hospitals Of the nine patients, eight have drug
    abuse problems, seven were diagnosed with mental health issues and three
    were homeless. Five are women whose average age is 40, and four are men
    whose average age is 50.

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