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PCORI announces $90 million to study treatment alternatives   08/19/2014
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute yesterday announced up to $90 million in funding to study practical comparative questions faced by patients, clinicians and other health care decision makers. Any research organization, including university/college hospital and health care systems, may submit a letter of intent to apply for up to $10 million in funding to support large clinical or observational studies that compare alternatives to prevent, diagnosis, treat or manage a disease or symptom; improve health care system-level approaches to managing care; or eliminate health or health care disparities. Proposed studies must address clinical choices faced by patients, their caregivers, clinicians or delivery systems and include patient, professional, payer or purchaser organizations as partners. Letters of intent are due Oct. 1.
Partners seek to increase U.S. organ transplants by 1,000 per year   08/19/2014
The Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice, a partnership that includes the AHA, this month announced the collective goal of increasing the number of organ transplants by 1,000 in each of the next five years. Nearly 29,000 organs were transplanted last year. Among other actions, the partners will promote the education and training of health care professionals to build a culture of donation and transplantation in each hospital, and foster and share best practices to increase the number of lives saved through transplantation each year. “The Community of Practice is committed to a national culture of donation and transplantation where each individual has the opportunity to donate and the intention of those who are designated donors is honored 100% of the time,” the group said. “This culture will result in more lives saved through successful transplantation each year.” According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, more than 123,000 transplant candidates are currently waiting for an organ.
Reminder: HHS webinar on financial concerns of health care disaster recovery   08/19/2014
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response will host an Aug. 21 webinar on preparing for health system financial sustainability after a disaster. Among other topics, the webinar will review the conditions needed for HHS to waive certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements; Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement; and Small Business Administration disaster loans. To register for the 90-minute webinar, which begins at 2 p.m. ET, click here.
AHA submits comments on proposed CY 2015 home health rule   08/18/2014
AHA supports the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposal to eliminate the requirement for a narrative explanation as part of the face-to-face encounter to certify a Medicare patient’s eligibility for home health care, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said today in a comment letter on the proposed home health prospective payment system rule for calendar year 2015. AHA also encouraged the agency to only require a new face-to-face encounter for home health treatment of a new condition in the same 60-day period. Among other comments, the association opposed three proposals to establish new procedures for auditing medical necessity that would base audits of one provider on the medical record of another provider, and strongly urged CMS to withdraw the proposals “to avoid violating providers’ accountability boundaries.” AHA voiced support for CMS’s proposal to base the home health therapy reassessment schedule on calendar days rather than the schedule of therapy visits, but recommended that the agency consider a longer reassessment interval. If proposed in the future, the association said it would not support limiting coverage for insulin injection assistance based solely on diagnosis codes. Among other comments, AHA offered principles to help inform CMS’s future consideration of a home health value-based purchasing program.
Free AHA webinar Sept. 11 on 'pursuing the Triple Aim'   08/18/2014
AHA’s Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative will host a free Sept. 11 webinar showcasing one health system’s strategic pursuit of the “Triple Aim” of improving population health and patient care while reducing per capita cost. For more information and to register for the 60-minute webinar, which begins at 2 p.m. ET, click here.
Health system reports cyber attack   08/18/2014
Community Health Systems today announced that a cyber attacker was able to copy and transfer certain non-medical data for about 4.5 million people from its computer network. In a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission, the Franklin, TN-based health system said it believes an “Advanced Persistent Threat” group originating from China used highly sophisticated malware and technology to attack the company’s systems in April and June. CHS said it was informed by federal authorities and its information security consultant that the intruder has typically sought valuable intellectual property, such as medical device and equipment development data. However, in this instance the transferred data was related to the company’s physician practice operations and affected about 4.5 million people who were referred for or received services from its affiliated physicians in the past five years. CHS said the data is considered protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act because it includes patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers and social security numbers. The health system said it is providing appropriate notification to affected patients and regulatory agencies, and will be offering identity theft protection services to individuals affected by the attack.
Hospital prices unchanged in July   08/18/2014
Overall hospital prices were unchanged in July, and were 1.6% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals were unchanged for the month, and 1.5% higher than in July 2013, according to the BLS' Producer Price Indices, which measure average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. For hospitals, this translates into actual or expected reimbursement for a sample of treatments or services. The PPI for hospitals measure changes in actual or expected reimbursement received for services across the full range of payer types. This includes the negotiated contract rate from the payer plus any portion expected to be paid by the patient.
CMS extends review period for Open Payments system   08/15/2014
The Open Payments system is again available for physicians and teaching hospitals to register, review and dispute financial payment information received from health care manufacturers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. The system was taken offline Aug. 3 to resolve a technical issue. To account for system down time, CMS is extending the time for physicians and teaching hospitals to review their records to Sept. 8. “We have identified the root cause of the problem and have instituted a system fix to prevent similar errors,” said CMS Deputy Administrator Shantanu Agrawal, M.D. “We strongly encourage physicians to review their records before the deadline and before the data are posted publically to identify any discrepancies.” The public website will be available Sept. 30.
Contractor issues progress report on Partnership for Patients initiative   08/15/2014
Hospitals participating in the federal Partnership for Patients program have clearly reduced early elective deliveries, readmissions, adverse drug events, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and central line-associated bloodstream infections, while saving $3.1-$4 billion since 2010, according to a recent interim report by the Health Services Advisory Group and Mathematica Policy Research. The evaluation of the program’s progress as of February found mixed results, depending on the data source, for six other targeted adverse events: venous thromboembolisms, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, other obstetrical adverse events, pressure ulcers, surgical site infections, and falls. Subsequent versions of the report are expected to contain more definitive conclusions, the authors said. The AHA/Health Research & Educational Trust Hospital Engagement Network is a national partner in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services initiative.
Hospital corrections to HAC, readmissions data due next week   08/15/2014
Hospitals that are unable to review their readmissions or hospital-acquired conditions data on QualityNet due to technical difficulties accessing their hospital-specific reports should submit a ticket to the Help Desk before the preview period ends, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. Hospitals may preview and submit corrections to their readmissions data through Aug. 19 and their hospital-acquired conditions data through Aug. 21. The data are used in calculating fiscal year 2015 payment penalties under the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program and Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program.