EHR meaningful use, information exchange rising, but digital divide remains   08/05/2013
Just 37% of eligible hospitals received a Medicare incentive payment for Stage 1 meaningful use of electronic health records in 2012, the second year of the program, according a study published today in Health Affairs. While that’s up from 17.4% in 2011, the increase was not uniform across all hospitals, reinforcing concerns that a “digital divide” persists. “Our findings suggest that as Stage 2 criteria are implemented, policy makers should pay particular attention to smaller and critical access hospitals to ensure that they are able to meet the meaningful use standards,” the authors conclude. “Without the full participation of these hospitals, the nation will not be able to achieve the larger policy goal of sharing data across providers and ensuring that clinical information follows patients wherever they receive care.” AHA staff were co-authors on the study. According to a separate study in Health Affairs, about 58% of hospitals exchanged some information with providers outside their organization in 2012, up from 41% in 2008. However, rural hospitals were significantly less likely to exchange information with other providers. The study did not require that the information exchange be consistent with the meaningful use requirements for exchange and cannot, therefore, be predictive of hospitals’ ability to meet meaningful use.
CMS issues FY 2014 hospice payment update   08/05/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Friday issued a final rule increasing Medicare per diem rates for hospices by 1% ($160 million) in fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct. 1. The increase includes a 2.5% marketbasket update, minus reductions of 0.1 percentage point for updated wage data; 0.6 percentage point for the fifth installment of CMS’ seven-year phase out of the hospice wage index budget-neutrality adjustment factor; 0.5 percentage point for productivity and 0.3 percentage point required by law. The rule also makes 2014 and subsequent changes to the hospice quality reporting program, as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and provides an update on the agency’s work to design future hospice payment reforms, mandated for completion in October but still in process.
AHA: Leapfrog calculator for cost of hospital errors 'seriously flawed'   08/05/2013
In a letter to the editor published today in Modern Healthcare, AHA said the Leapfrog Group’s online calculator for the cost of hospital errors lacks the rigor needed to draw accurate conclusions about the safety and costs of hospital care. “The tool seeks to identify additional costs attributable to hospital errors and assumes hospitals with higher grades on the Leapfrog [Hospital Safety] scorecard have lower costs,” writes Nancy Foster, AHA vice president of quality and patient safety policy. "Leapfrog provides no evidence demonstrating that a high Leapfrog grade is correlated to lower costs. Moreover, the tool's methodology treats several very different kinds of cost data – total cost, charges incurred and estimated additional cost – as if each represents additional costs that are attributable to medical errors. Lastly, Leapfrog fails to recognize that patients with multiple medical conditions are more likely to require additional treatments thereby reaching an incorrect conclusion about what makes caring for such individuals more costly. Without additional reference points or validation, the methodology of this new tool is seriously flawed and provides unreliable information for purchasers and patients.”
CMS to host call on Health Insurance Marketplace education, outreach   08/05/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host an Aug. 7 informational call on its Champions for Coverage program, and Health Insurance Marketplace materials available to all who want to help with community education and outreach. For more information or to register for the Wednesday call, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, click here. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, individuals and small businesses can purchase health insurance through the Marketplace, or health insurance exchanges, beginning Oct. 1. In the meantime, prospective enrollees can create a Marketplace account, while enrollment assisters can begin to access training videos on the Marketplace application and enrollment process as they become available.
HPOE announces guide, webinars on valued-based contracting   08/05/2013
A new guide from the AHA’s Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative provides a primer for hospitals and health care systems as they transition to value-based contracting arrangements. “Health care is experiencing dramatic change as the nation’s delivery system transitions to a value-based system from the fee-for-service approach that has been in place for the past half century,” the guide notes. “In the evolving business model, hospitals, health care systems, physician groups and other health care providers will take on more risk, and be responsible for delivering defined services to a specific population at a predetermined price and quality level. New care delivery networks and value-based arrangements are emerging in communities nationwide. While the pace of change varies in different communities, health care organizations must be proactive or risk being left behind.” To further support the transition to value-based contracting, Kaufman, Hall & Associates and AHA Solutions will present a two-part HPOE webinar on value-based contracting. To register for the free webinars, on Aug. 15 and 27, click here. HPOE is the AHA's strategic platform to accelerate performance improvement in hospitals.