Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Midweek potpourri

Shocker! Healthcare IT News reports that "A majority of respondents to a new survey from Edifecs, which develops technologies for regulatory compliance and data exchange, says an ICD-10 postponement would do little to improve readiness – but could have significant adverse effects." Unquestionably delaying the compliance date for some covered entities but not others will increase costs for health plans. What will be the American Medical Association's next target for disruption?

Speaking of the AMA, the AMA News reports that health insurers are branching out into businesses that don't have minimum loss ratios / profit ceilings -- a trend that the FEHBlog has been following with interest.

Kaiser Health News discusses another trend of interest to the FEHBlog -- health insurers are opening retail stores in shopping malls. The stores are "a reaction to the shift from wholesale to retail in insurance sales," says Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change. "In wholesale sales, employers were the buyers. Now insurers are recognizing that retail will be more important." Retail has been a sales focus in the FEHBP for over 50 years.  Not surprisingly therefore, Robert Krughoff, Walton Francis, and Robert Ellis have written in the Health Affairs Blog about how health insurers can learn marketing lessons from FEHBP Open Seasons.

Modern Healthcare reports that spurred by OPM's requirement that FEHB plans offer "blue button" technology to their members, Health Level Seven announced that "by April 2012 it will have a file conversion tool and user's guide to adapt its Continuity of Care Document message transport specification to the Blue Button format developed by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department."

Finally, Drug Store News reports that "The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced it will hold a public hearing on March 22 and 23 to discuss how technology can expand which drug products can be switched from prescription to over-the-counter status."  The FEHBlog recalls when a public outcry, rather than the manufacturer, pushed the FTC to move the antihistamine Claritin to over the counter status. Over the counter drugs typically are not covered by health plans so conversions can bend the health care cost ruler down.

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