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Health IT in the News

by athenahealth Blogmaster,

  • Imminent incentive payments for Meaningful Use of EHRs take top billing this week. Health Data Management is reporting that the first checks will be cut any day now, putting up to $18,000 in the bank accounts of many “eligible professionals” around the nation. This is exciting news for us because athenahealth has guaranteed – and worked very hard to back it up -  not just that our doctors will achieve Meaningful Use of EHRs but that they get the incentive money they deserve. We have a client in rural Ohio poised to get his check. In addition to running a busy practice, he works in several local nursing homes and the county jail. He attested in April and he tells us he’s planning to buy some much-needed new laptops for his practice when he gets his check. Stay tuned for news on that soon, we hope! In the meantime, if you are doctor who expects to get a check soon, how do you plan to use the money?
  • After serving his two years as ONC, Dr. David Blumenthal is back at Harvard. In this interview he talks about the likelihood and timing of a nationwide health information network, the need for innovation in health IT and of course, Meaningful Use of EHRs. He’s quoted in the article saying “U.S. EHR adoption is a ‘solvable problem’," and noted that new doctors and nurses coming into the health care workforce are well-schooled in EHR use. Likewise, “with more than 36,000 physicians having applied for meaningful use money so far, and 10,000 more doing so each month, the former HIT coordinator predicted that EHR saturation will come to the health care system.”
  • That may be the case—and we hope it’s true—but the HHS inspector general has just released a report urging greater security for EHRs against hackers, fraudsters and identity thieves. Washington Post coverage makes the point that ONC has had to balance encouragement of EHR adoption with security concerns. We are all over the issue. Back in March, our general counsel wrote a blog post about the importance of protecting information in the cloud. Look for more blogposts here about how we protect information in the cloud.
  • In more news from HHS, the agency issued a regulation on May 19 to “bring transparency [and] lower costs to consumers by requiring review of large insurance rate hikes.” After Sept. 1, any “proposed increase of 10% for most individual and small group health insurance plans” gets an independent review. And check out related stories on insurance rate increases from HuffPo and Businessweek.
  • Nothing gets the attention of the public like a catastrophe, such as, well, a zombie attack. In a social media play that whizzed around twitter and various blogs this week, the CDC released guidance on protecting your home in the event of a ‘zombie apocalypse.’ The larger point is about disaster preparedness for events like hurricanes and using zombies was a clever way to get some attention and make sure you have a  “utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio” handy. Maybe the undead can be used to push wider EHR adoption?
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