Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill to improve healthcare quality, contain costs and bring greater transparency to the relationships between providers and healthcare-product manufacturers.
The new law will establish a medical-home demonstration project aimed at reducing healthcare costs through preventive, coordinated care of patients. It will also require the University of Massachusetts Medical School to expand its residency slots for students committed to primary-care medicine and working in underserved communities.
Under the legislation, hospitals and community health centers will be required to adopt computerized physician order-entry systems by 2012 and electronic health-record systems by 2015. Hospitals must also report all healthcare-associated infections, and state payers will no longer reimburse providers for certain so-called "never events" such as wrong-site surgeries.
The new law also seeks to bring greater transparency to industry-gifting practices by requiring pharmaceutical and medical-device companies to disclose any payments or gifts of more than $50 to doctors. -- by Shawn Rhea