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Systems serving low-income patients struggle under readmissions penalties

Hospitals with limited resources continue to struggle as they try to implement programs that drive down readmission rates, and federal penalties could potentially make matters worse, write the authors of a report published in the Joint Commission's Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Socio-economic factors such as homelessness and lack of transportation were commonly cited in interviews the researchers conducted with executives and frontline staff at eight U.S. safety net hospitals.
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Mentally ill shouldn't be treated in ERs: civil rights panel

Hospital emergency departments need to do more to identify and transfer mentally ill patients to appropriate facilities for care, a new government report says, but it falls short of recommending how healthcare providers can address a continuing shortage of available inpatient beds in mental health facilities.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently published findings from the fact-finding body's March meeting that examined enforcement of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, passed in 1986 to address the practice of patient dumping.
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Calls for repealing Obamacare will fade after this election cycle, pundits predict

2:30 pm, Sep. 30 |

This is the last election cycle in which Republicans will try to reap political advantage by promising to repeal Obamacare, agreed Dr. Avik Roy, a conservative healthcare policy expert, and Chris Jennings, who played a key role on healthcare issues in two Democratic administrations. The pair spoke Tuesday at a conference in Washington sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans.

Roy pointed to recent stumbles by Republican Senate candidates in Kentucky and Arkansas in seeking to explain their stance on popular provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as evidence of how politically tricky the issue has become.
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Abstract world of healthcare IT gains human dimension at AHIMA

A pair of emotionally charged presentations turned all the often-jargon-filled talk about IT, computing power and medical records into very human stories Monday during the opening session of the American Health Information Management Association's 86th annual convention and exhibition in San Diego.

AHIMA President and Chairwoman Angela Kennedy recalled a personal story of her efforts to compile an accurate medical record of her adopted daughter, who was diagnosed with a genetic medical condition, to illustrate the need for health data accuracy and governance of medical records.
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Call Intermountain a consultant on Cerner's big-bucks military EHR bid

When Cerner Corp., the Kansas City, Mo.-based electronic health-record developer, announced last week that Intermountain would be helping a consortium of IT firms, including Cerner, in its bid to win a 10-year, estimated $11 billion deal to replace the Military Health System's multiple EHRs, the most obvious question was what exactly would be Intermountain's role in the bid.

Consultant is “probably the single best word” to describe Intermountain's role with Cerner, Intermountain Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Stanley Huff said in an interview after the announcement.
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Industry skittish about Open Payments database launch

With less than a week to go before the CMS unveils a new database describing payments made by industry to doctors and teaching hospitals, anxiety is high for the many people and organizations with their reputations on the line.

The Open Payments Program database is a requirement of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a provision in the Affordable Care Act. It's scheduled to become public for the first time Sept. 30.
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ACOs struggle with advanced IT, interoperability, survey shows

Many accountable care organizations are struggling with advanced IT functions and interoperability, a survey of 62 ACOs conducted in July and August 2014 by Premier and the eHealth Initiative shows.

“Most ACOs are still at the stage of basic care-coordination capabilities,” said Bryan Bowles, Premier's vice president of population health solution management, Wednesday on a call discussing the survey. “The challenges of blending disparate data have hindered uptake of more advanced functions.”
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Diabetes progress limited, raising questions about social factors, study finds

While new evidence appears to show the diabetes rate among U.S. adults beginning to level off after being on the rise for years, rates among certain minority groups as well as the poorly educated have continued to increase, raising questions as to the role social factors may play in determining such health disparities.

The overall diabetes rate among adults was relatively unchanged between 2008 and 2012, rising slightly from 7.9 per 100 persons to 8.3, according to a new study published online Tuesday in JAMA.
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Online reviews influence parents' choice of pediatricians

1:30 pm, Sep. 24 |

More parents are using online reviews to choose a pediatrician for their children, but few parents ever write a review themselves.

About 74% of parents participating in the National Poll on Children's Health conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., said they were aware of online physician-rating sites, and 28% reported that they used them to select a primary-care doctor for their children.
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Public wants more Medicare benefits, not less

7:15 pm, Sep. 23 |
Tags: Tags: PolicyMedicare
Budget-hawk policymakers and pundits determined to cut and restructure Medicare may have a hard time bringing the American public around to their preferred approach, judging from a new report on public attitudes from the nonpartisan Center for Healthcare Decisions.

The center conducted 82 three-hour guided discussions in California over the past year with 810 participants in small groups of eight to 15 people, including seniors, young adults, healthcare professionals, and community leaders. The center used an interactive tool called MedCHAT and a public deliberation process to help participants consider 12 categories of Medicare coverage. The participants had to eliminate or restrict benefits if they wanted to establish new ones.
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