Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Nailbiter, Reports and Studies

The Washington Post reports tonight that the government funding issue has not been resolved and signs point toward another extension of the continuing resolution, perhaps into the new Congress. The witching hour occurs at the end of Saturday December 18.

The AMA News published an interesting report analyzing why diagnostic errors happen. The article concludes with the appearance of our old friend Common Sense.

While research continues into figuring out how to track and ultimately prevent diagnostic errors, experts said physicians could benefit from the simple step of opening clear lines of communication with their patients.
"This problem is going to require a partnership with the patient," said Dr. Schiff, noting that doctors should tell patients if they are uncertain about a diagnosis and ask them to report symptoms that could signal a misdiagnosis. "Diagnosis is not just something that doctors make and patients consume. Diagnosis is something that they produce together."

HHS Secretary Sebelius and Attorney General Holder announced today that
CMS will issue a solicitation for state-of-the-art fraud fighting analytic tools to help the agency predict and prevent potentially wasteful, abusive or fraudulent payments before they occur.  These tools will integrate many of the Agency’s pilot programs into the National Fraud Prevention Program and complement the work of the joint HHS and Department of Justice Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT).
Good luck with that effort.

It's worth keeping an eye on the AHIP Research Center for useful studies and reports. Recently that Center released a "comprehensive study of financial activity in health savings accounts (HSAs). Data collected from three large banks contain detailed account information of more than 1.2 million HSA accounts open as of December 31, 2009." The report shows that consumers use HSAs primarily to pay their medical expenses, not as a tax advantaged savings vehicle.

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