FCC approves new program to support rural health care broadband   12/12/2012
The Federal Communications Commission today voted to revise and make permanent its universal service support pilot program for health care. The new Health Care Connect program will provide up to $400 million annually to support broadband access across the country, particularly for rural health care providers. In changes supported by the AHA, the program will encourage state and regional networks that include both rural and urban participants. Both lease and construction options will be allowed. "We are excited to see many of the key components of the pilot program made permanent, and hope that the new program helps bring reliable and affordable broadband to all areas and fosters the development of expansive telehealth networks across the country," said Chantal Worzala, AHA director of policy.
Difficulty accessing after-hours care linked to ED use   12/12/2012
Patients who have difficulty accessing their primary care provider after-hours are more likely to end up in the emergency department or go without care, according to a study published online today by Health Affairs. Based on a 2010 survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change, the study found that one in five people who attempt to contact their primary care provider after-hours find it very or somewhat difficult. The rate was higher among people who are uninsured (42%), covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (31%), or report poor health (52%). About 38% of people who had difficulty contacting their primary care physician after hours reported visiting a hospital ED in the past 12 months, compared with 30% of those who had little or no difficulty. They also were more than twice as likely to report having an unmet medical need. About four in 10 people reported that their primary care practice offered extended hours, such as at night or on weekends.
HHS website offers provider tips for secure use of mobile devices   12/12/2012
The Department of Health and Human Services has launched www.HealthIT.gov/mobiledevices, a website offering information to help health care providers protect and secure health information when using mobile devices. Created by HHS' Office for Civil Rights and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the website describes steps providers can take to determine their mobile device security needs and develop policies and procedures to address them. It also includes answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and posters and educational materials to help raise awareness of risks and educate staff on safeguarding health information.
MO hospitals provide $1.1 billion in uncompensated care   12/12/2012
Missouri hospitals provided a record $1.1 billion in uncompensated care in 2011, according to a new report from the Missouri Hospital Association. The report "demonstrates hospitals' ongoing commitment to delivering care to members of their communities who are unable to pay," said MHA President and CEO Herb Kuhn. "However, it also signals the need for a better system - one that ensures Missourians have expanded access to insurance. Extending health insurance to additional Missourians would help these individuals manage their health more effectively, provide increased access to services in the most appropriate venue and reduce the cost of health care for all Missourians." The report also looks at the economic impact of the state's hospitals, which includes employing more than 142,000 people.
Physicians, state agency join DE hospital organ donation campaign   12/12/2012
Delaware physicians and public health officials today joined a Delaware Healthcare Association effort to register 28,000 more residents as organ donors by May 2013, the association announced today. DHA launched the campaign in April with the region's organ procurement organization, encouraging donors to register online at DonateLife-DE.org. Joining the effort today are the Medical Society of Delaware and the Delaware Health and Social Services agency. "The joint partnership among hospitals, physicians, public health, and the region's organ and tissue transplant organization is unprecedented," said DHA President and CEO Wayne Smith. Part of the national Workplace Partnership for Life hospital campaign, the initiative has registered 10,000 new donors to date. AHA is a partner in the national campaign, sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration.