Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mid-week update

OPM recently asked FEHB plans for data on hospital readmissions.  Policymakers think that reducing readmissions is a key to improving health care quality, as reflected in this new NCQA report. As the FEHBlog has noted Medicare began to penalize hospitals for high readmission rates last month. Psychcentral reports on a new readmissions study conducted by the University of Wisconsin
The study found some significant associations between social environmental factors, and suggested some pathways by which these effects occur. Patients’ functional ability — their ability to take care of themselves — was influenced by their living arrangements and by the type and frequency of informal care they received. The greater the difference between the patients’ clinical condition and functional status, the greater the risk of rehospitalization.
Shocker. Family and other informal support systems help patients avoid hospital readmissions.

The AMA News reports that
A study in the Fall edition of Perspectives in Health Information Management found that of those who were willing to use a personal health record, 65% self-reported a high health literacy level. For those who were not willing to use a PHR, 38% self-reported a high level of health literacy.
Shocker. Only 7% of patients use a PHR, according to this study.

Doctors are interested in this study because PHR use is a factor that the government considers in deciding whether doctors and hospitals have lived up to bargain that they cut when they took free electronic health records from the government.
Under stage 2 of the Medicare incentive program for the meaningful use of electronic health records [which kicks in next year], physicians must ensure that at least 5% of their patients access, download or transmit their medical records. [Can you say Blue Button?] For stage 1, physicians were required to provide electronic copies of health records to at least 50% of those who requested them. Seventy percent of physicians who received incentive payments for stage 1 said they did not have any patient requests for records.
Personal health records containing actual medical records no doubt will be more useful than personal health records containing health plans claims data. The FEHBlog notes that his internist has a new electronic medical records system but he does not recall being offered a personal health record. The FEHBlog will inquire.

On a related note, Modern Healthcare reports that "the American Hospital Association T wants to work with the government to ensure that the sellers of electronic health-record systems are producing systems that comply with federal law and don't lead healthcare providers to submit bills that later get them in trouble." Government Health IT reports on a Congressional hearing held today that was trigged by news reports about perceived hospital abuse of their free electronic medical record systems.

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