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Health IT in the News

by athenahealth Blogmaster,

Ha! Of course! There are inaccurate medical claims flying around out there you say? Preventing such errors is why we exist! As you’ll see in the article, there’s a 20 percent error rate in medical billing, a mistake rate among payers and doctors that in most lines of work would make short work of the erroneous. There were two points in the article worth noting because, well, they make our point. One: “The problem is not just doctors, health plans say, but physicians who have yet to upgrade to electronic means of submitting their claims.” And two: “Improving claims processing could save patients money and improve medical care by reducing hassles physicians have when they are forced to haggle with health plans over payments or other issues.” Sound familiar? Here’s more coverage of the report from Health Data Management.

According to this story from Minnesota, while health IT is meant to improve care and make sure it’s delivered efficiently, it has some downside. It turns out that all the benefits of EHRs, electronic prescriptions and patient portals may be lost on those who are tasked to make it happen. “Behind the scenes, hospitals are struggling to implement the systems. Rural communities worry the mandate, which can cost millions of dollars to meet, could further strain small-provider finances, forcing them under or leading them to join larger health systems…” Blame is placed on the federal measures under the HITECH Act that are forcing doctors to adopt and achieve Meaningful Use of an EHR by 2015 or face cuts in Medicare reimbursement.

Speaking of Medicare, it turns out there are some potentially very helpful preventative services available to the public but no one seems to be using them.

As local coffee shops fall to a Seattle-based chain with its own strange words for simple ideas like small, medium and large, so too falls the local physician to big hospital systems. This storyline keeps popping up and it’s got localized issues attached—just like when the generations-old hardware store gets steamrolled by some big-box purveyor out on the highway. But for a doctor at least there’s a place to land. Uncle Jimmy and cousin Bob just go out of business and profits go elsewhere. “In 2008, about half of physician practices were hospital-owned, according to an industry group. A survey last fall by another industry group found that 74 percent of hospital leaders planned to hire more doctors in the next 12 to 36 months. Most want primary-care doctors.”

This comes from the ‘this could get ugly’ file. According to MGMA, almost half of all practices have not yet begun the conversion of their financial software to the ANSI 5010 standards. The other half of the story? There’s only half a year left to comply. MGMA’s survey said only 2% of the practices they polled have finished implementation and practices report back that many are waiting on their vendors to meet the deadline. At athenahealth we’ve been proactive and our clients are going to transition just fine. Learn more about ANSI 5010 in this on-demand webinar.

Finally, don’t forget to vote for the most influential person in health care. It should not take you too long because the list is alphabetical and there’s no need to scroll past the letter “B”.

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Ideas, insights and analysis to help physicians, medical groups and health systems stay informed and profitable in today's challenging health environment.

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