viernes, 13 de diciembre de 2013



Healthcare News

A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards

December 12, 2013

News Highlights     

  • FDA Supports Development of Innovative Genetic Tests

  • Specimen Labeling

  • Utah Study: Unnecessary Pap Tests Still Common

  • New Test Uses Sugar and Gold to Detect flu Strains

  • Next-gen Sequencing Now: A Restless Wave

  • Brain Cancer 'Diagnosed in 30 Minutes' With New Test

  • At-Home Seizure Tests Promising

  • Measles Cases in U.S. Rise; Most Unvaccinated, CDC Says

  • Mandatory Immunizations for Clinicians, Staff, IDSA Says

  • USA's Health Improving; Hawaii Ranks First, Miss. Last

  • Meaningful Use Deadlines Delayed for 1 Year

  • Healthcare News

    A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
    from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards


    December 12, 2013

    View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive

    FDA Supports Development of Innovative Genetic Tests

    Over the past decade, the FDA has cleared and approved several innovative genetic tests that have allowed health-care professionals to personalize patient care. Just recently, we cleared four diagnostic devices for gene sequencing that will allow labs to sequence a patient's DNA, giving physicians the ability to take a broader look at their genetic makeup in a way that has not been previously possible. Compared with earlier gene-sequencing technologies, these next-generation sequencers are faster, more cost-effective and, most importantly, provide more information.

    Source: Web Site Icon

    The Road Toward Fully Transparent Medical Records

    Forty years ago, Shenkin and Warner argued that giving patients their medical records “would lead to more appropriate utilization of physicians and a greater ability of patients to participate in their own care.” At that time, patients in most states could obtain their records only through litigation, but the rules gradually changed, and in 1996 the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act entitled virtually all patients to obtain their records on request. Today, we're on the verge of eliminating such requests by simply providing patients online access. Thanks in part to federal financial incentives, electronic medical records are becoming the rule, accompanied increasingly by password-protected portals that offer patients laboratory, radiology, and pathology results and secure communication with their clinicians by e-mail. One central component of the records, the notes composed by clinicians, has remained largely hidden from patients. But now OpenNotes, an initiative fueled primarily by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is exploring the effects of providing access to these notes. Beginning in 2010, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (which serves urban and suburban Boston), Geisinger Health System (in rural Pennsylvania), and Harborview Medical Center (Seattle's safety-net hospital), more than 100 primary care doctors volunteered to invite 20,000 of their patients to read their notes securely online.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Specimen Labeling

    "The Informed Patient" section of The Wall Street Journal, Hospitals Overhaul ERs to Reduce Mistakes, lays out a frightening picture of patients dying from misdiagnoses due to errors and oversights and that diagnostic errors account for 37% to 55% of cases in studies of closed malpractice claims. Lab test results are at the heart of much of this information on which diagnoses and treatment decisions are made, but it's not always the lab that should take the blame. The June 2012 issue of PSO Monthly Brief states, "Only 7% to 18% of lab errors occur in the lab, during analysis. Some 11% to 47% occur after the test is completed, and a whopping 45% to 71% of lab errors occur before the test is even performed."

    Source: Web Site Icon


    What's a Normal Lab Result for a Transgender Patient?

    Transgender patients on hormone therapy should have their own laboratory reference ranges, researchers say. "We realize that since information regarding this population is lacking in medical education, many providers may never have considered the unique challenges that accompany their care," Dr. Tiffany K. Roberts from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, told Reuters Health. "While the interpretation of many laboratory values does not change for transgender individuals undergoing hormone therapy, there are a number of important values for which the interpretation does change," Dr. Safer said.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Utah Study: Unnecessary Pap Tests Still Common

    Millions of American women, including those who have had hysterectomies, continue to be unnecessarily screened for cervical cancer, says a University of Utah researcher. It’s a decade long problem that hasn’t improved much, despite clear and consistent guidelines against “Pap” tests for these women, said Deanna Kepka, a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and assistant professor in the U.’s nursing department. Kepka co-wrote the study on a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the National Cancer Institute. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Next-gen Sequencing Now: A Restless Wave

    For clinical laboratory directors who are planning to adopt next-generation sequencing to help with the diagnosis of cancer and guidance of therapy, there are degrees of involvement, too, from commercial multigene panels that can be run on smaller, less expensive platforms to whole exome or whole genome sequencing, which require more powerful instruments and bioinformatics expertise. Ordering out is also an option, now that reference laboratories are adding NGS testing to their menus. Elaine Mardis, PhD, professor of genetics and molecular microbiology and co-director of The Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, makes the case for broader clinical application of NGS, including whole exome and whole genome sequencing: “With a panel of genes or whole genome sequencing we are able to look at more alterations that might be driving the patient’s cancer than with non-NGS methods, so the inquiry is significantly broader for lower price and faster turnaround time.”

    Source: Web Site Icon


    ACP Advises Against CKD Screening; ASN Objects

    In a new clinical practice guideline, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recently recommended against screening for chronic kidney disease (CKD) in asymptomatic adults without risk factors (Ann Intern Med 2013;159:1–13). The guideline committee based this recommendation, rated as weak with low-quality evidence, on an extensive scientific literature review dating back to 1985. “The potential harms of all the screening tests—false positives, disease label, and unnecessary treatment and associated adverse effects—outweigh the benefits,” said ACP President Molly Cooke, MD, in a statement.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    New Test May Help Predict Survival From Ovarian Cancer

    By counting the number of cancer-fighting immune cells inside tumors, scientists say they may have found a way to predict survival from ovarian cancer. The researchers developed an experimental method to count these cells, called tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes (TILs), in women with early stage and advanced ovarian cancer. "We have developed a standardizable method that should one day be available in the clinic to better inform physicians on the best course of cancer therapy, therefore improving treatment and patient survival," said lead researcher Jason Bielas, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle. The test may have broader implications beyond ovarian cancer and be useful with other types of cancer, the study authors suggested.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Brain Cancer 'Diagnosed in 30 Minutes' With New Test

    Brain cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer death in the US population. Current methods can diagnose the cancer within 2 to 3 days, but researchers say they have created a new technique in which the disease could be diagnosed in just half an hour. Using a combination of infrared lighting and protein biomarkers, the investigators were able to diagnose the presence of glioma serum - a marker of the primary brain tumor. When the researchers transmitted infrared light directly at the serum, the light had the ability to detect its molecular vibration, meaning the researchers could determine whether the gliomas may be cancerous or not. The researchers say this test can achieve a diagnosis within 30 minutes.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    New Test Uses Sugar and Gold to Detect Flu Strains

    Researchers have created a new test that uses sugar and gold nanoparticles to detect the influenza virus within 30 minutes, and it can even distinguish between human and avian strains. This is according to a study published in the journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry. The research team, led by Prof. Robert Field of the John Innes Centre and Prof. David Russell of the University of East Anglia in the UK, says the new flu test is based on previous work that uses "optically-based molecular recognition systems."

    Source: Web Site Icon


    New Technique Diagnoses Cancer From Bodily Fluids

    Harvard researchers contributed machine learning techniques to improve UCLA diagnostic tool. A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles, have demonstrated a technique that, by measuring the physical properties of individual cells in body fluids, can diagnose cancer with a high degree of accuracy. When cytopathologists screen for cancer in pleural effusions, they perform a visual analysis of prepared cells extracted from the fluid. Preparing cells for this analysis can involve complicated and time-consuming dyeing or molecular labeling, and the tests often do not definitively determine the presence of tumor cells. As a result, additional costly tests often are required. The method used to assess the cells in the UCLA–Harvard study, developed previously by the UCLA researchers, requires little sample preparation, relying instead on the imaging of cells as they flow through microscale fluid conduits.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    ADHD: Brain Iron May Be Marker

    Low Fe levels in the brain may signal the presence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers reported here. In a small study of children and adolescents with ADHD, those who'd never taken any drugs for their condition had significantly lower levels of brain iron as seen on magnetic correlation field (MFC) imaging compared with controls and with those being treated with drugs for the condition, according to Vitria Adisetiyo, PhD, of the Medical University of South Carolina, and colleagues.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    3D Mammography 'Significantly Increases Breast Cancer Detection'

    Regular mammograms are crucial in helping to prevent deaths as a result of breast cancer. But new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that 3D mammography is significantly more effective for breast cancer detection and leads to fewer patient recalls. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

    Source: Web Site Icon


    At-Home Seizure Tests Promising

    Technologies to provide instant at-home detection of life-threatening seizures and that could allow epilepsy patients to monitor their own drug levels are on the horizon, researchers said here. A clinical trial of the seizure detector, worn on the upper arm to alert patients and others nearby that a generalized tonic-clonic seizure is underway, is expected to conclude next month and an FDA marketing application will follow immediately, said Michael Girouard, RN, president and CEO of Brain Sentinel, the San Antonio company developing the device.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    BD Diagnostics Receive FDA Clearance for StaphSR Assay

    BD has received FDA clearance to market the BD MAX™ StaphSR Assay for use on the fully-automated BD MAX™ System. The assay, with eXTended Detection Technology, accurately detects Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) DNA directly from nasal swabs, including mecA dropout mutants and new strains of MRSA that may not be detected by other assays.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    PathGroup Expands Footprint with Two New Dedicated Laboratories

    PathGroup, one of the largest private providers of pathology services in the United States, announced that it has opened two new state-of-the-art facilities dedicated exclusively to molecular and cytology testing. The new laboratories are adjacent to PathGroup’s current laboratory in Nashville, Tenn. The two additional testing sites have the capability to perform molecular assays for oncology, including Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), as well as infectious disease and women’s health diagnostics. The new space also includes a CLIA-validation laboratory for test development and implementation.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    23andMe Suspends Health-Related Data Interpretation for New Customers

    Direct-to-consumer testing firm 23andMe has decided to comply with the US Food and Drug Administration's wishes and discontinue providing health-related genetic data interpretation services to new customers. In a Nov. 22 warning letter, signed by Alberto Gutierrez, director of FDA's Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, the agency asked 23andMe to "immediately discontinue marketing" its Personal Genome Service "until such time as it receives FDA marketing authorization for the device." The agency gave 23andMe 15 days to respond to its letter and explain why the company had failed to garner FDA's okay for its Personal Genome Service.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    23andMe to Refund Some Customers' Money

    The Mountain View-based 23andMe has decided to offer refunds to customers who recently paid $99 to have the company analyze a portion of their DNA and calculate their risk of developing about 250 medical conditions. The move comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered 23andMe to stop marketing its consumer-oriented DNA test kit and analysis service, saying the company had failed to prove that they were safe, effective and reliable. The FDA expressed concern that some customers would make potentially life-threatening medical decisions based on 23andMe's controversial look at some of the DNA found in a person's saliva. Such analysis involves using chips from Illumina of San Diego.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Myriad Genetics Sues LabCorp

    Myriad Genetics has filed a lawsuit against Laboratory Corporation of America alleging infringement of 11 US patents covering its BRCA 1 and 2 testing franchise. The suit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, followed LabCorp's launch of its Comprehensive BRCAssure BRCA 1/2 Analysis for identifying patients with BRCA mutations who are at risk of developing breast, ovarian, and other cancers. LabCorp said the analysis includes full gene sequencing of BRCA1/2 genes and duplication/deletion testing, with a variant of unknown significance rate of less than 5 percent.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Partnership to Address Shortages in Lab Technicians

    The Northwest Illinois Collaborative (NWIC), an organization composed of hospitals in the northwest Illinois region, and Weber State University are announcing a new program to help address critical shortages in medical laboratory technicians. The program will allow employees at the five hospitals involved to take classes online to earn degrees from Weber State in medical laboratory science. The NWIC includes Rockford Memorial Hospital and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, FHN in Freeport, Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital in Dixon and CGHMC in Sterling. NWIC President Julie D. Mann, MBA, said: “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12,400 graduates will be needed annually to staff the nation’s medical laboratories. However, on a national basis, less than half of the necessary laboratory personnel are graduating.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Medicare Gets Lower Rates for Lab Services, Finds New Study

    A new study from Avalere Health refutes government claims that commercial plans pay lower rates for lab services than Medicare. Instead, the study found that Medicare rates are almost always lower than average rates paid by private plans. The study, commissioned by the American Clinical Laboratory Association, included 2012 prices paid by non-government health plans in over 450 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States for 56 million covered lives. For example, commercial payers paid an average of $20.26 for a complete blood count (CBC). Medicare's price is almost half at $11.02.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Researchers Sequence Mitochondrial Genome From 400,000-Year-Old Hominin

    Mitochondrial genome sequences from a 400,000-year-old hominin found in a cave in Spain indicate that the ancient individual belonged to a mitochondrial lineage most closely related to that of the Denisovans — archaic Neandertal relatives that roamed eastern Eurasia. An international team, led by Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Director Svante Pääbo, used specialized DNA extraction and enrichment methods to sequence a nearly complete mitochondrial genome from the ancient individual's thigh bone — believed to be the oldest non-permafrost sample successfully sequenced so far.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Study Suggests RNA From Single Nuclei Sufficient for Sequencing

    A team from the J. Craig Venter Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and elsewhere has shown that it's possible to glean gene expression and transcript sequence information from individual nuclei by sequencing the miniscule amounts of messenger RNA present in the organelles. The approach, described in the early online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, hinges on the same sorts of complementary DNA synthesis methods already used for single-cell RNA sequencing. By applying such approaches to single nuclei from mouse neural progenitor cells or cells from a mouse brain sample, researchers showed that they could generate RNA sequence profiles similar to those found in individual cells or bulk samples from the same cell types.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Radioimmunotherapy Shows Promise for Curing HIV Infection

    New York researchers have found that radioimmunotherapy (RIT) offers a strategy for curing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, according to a study highlighted at the RSNA 2013 meeting. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) keeps the number of viral particles in a patient's bloodstream very low, greatly improving the prognosis for those infected with HIV. But despite the therapy's success in reducing the burden of HIV in the body, dormant infected cells remain, blocking the possibility of a permanent cure. Lead author Ekaterina Dadachova, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and colleagues investigated whether radioimmunotherapy could destroy remaining HIV-infected cells in blood samples of patients treated with antiretroviral therapy. The team applied radioimmunotherapy to blood samples from 15 HIV patients treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy at the Einstein-Montefiore Center for AIDS Research.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Research Can Help Throw Mosquitoes off the Scent

    Why does the mosquito change its track and fly towards skin? How does it detect our skin? What are the odors from skin that it detects? And can we block the mosquito skin odor sensors and reduce attractiveness?  Recent research done by scientists at UC Riverside can now help address these questions. They report in Cell that the very receptors in the mosquito’s maxillary palp that detect carbon dioxide are ones that detect skin odors as well, thus explaining why mosquitoes are attracted to skin odor – smelly socks, worn clothes, bedding – even in the absence of CO2. The new finding – that the CO2-sensitive olfactory neuron is also a sensitive detector of human skin – is critical not only for understanding the basis of the mosquito’s host attraction and host preference, but also because it identifies this dual receptor of CO2 and skin-odorants as a key target that could be useful to disrupt host-seeking behavior and thus aid in the control of disease transmission.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Scientists Use Weather Forecasting Methods to Predict Flu Season Peak

    By adapting techniques used in weather forecasting, scientists were able to predict the timing of last year's flu season up to more than two months before its peak. The team of scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Policy carried out their study in 108 cities across the country. Their findings were published in the journal Nature Communications. "Having greater advance warning of the timing and intensity of influenza outbreaks could prevent a portion of these influenza infections by providing actionable information to officials and the general public," said lead author Jeffrey Shaman, in a statement.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Diseases on the Move Because of Climate Change

    Valley Fever is one of multiple diseases experts say are spreading in part because of climate change. They include a brain-eating amoeba showing up in northern lakes that were once too cold to harbor it and several illnesses carried by ticks whose range is increasing. Each year, more than 150,000 people in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah are infected, and Arizona and California have the most cases, according to the CDC. The incidence of laboratory-confirmed cases rose from 2,265 in 1998 to more than 22,000 in 2011.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Measles Cases in U.S. Rise; Most Unvaccinated, CDC Says

    The USA is experiencing a spike in measles, with 175 confirmed cases and 20 hospitalizations so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's about three times the usual number of cases of measles, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said. The USA has seen nine outbreaks this year, with the largest in New York, North Carolina and Texas. More than 98% of measles patients were unvaccinated, Frieden said. "This isn't the failure of a vaccine; it's the failure to vaccinate," Frieden said.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    HIV Virus Returns After Cure Hope Rose

    Boston researchers are reporting the return of the HIV virus in two patients who had become virus-free after undergoing bone marrow transplants, dashing hopes of a possible cure that had generated widespread excitement. The rebound of the virus shows its persistence, and that it can hide in places in the body where it’s hard to find, said the lead scientist, Dr. Timothy Henrich of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But he said the team has gleaned significant clues from the cases for designing next-generation treatments to battle the virus, which causes AIDS.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    H7N9 Cannot Infect Humans Easily: Study

    The H7N9 bird flu virus has not yet acquired the changes needed to infect humans easily but it would not be wise to dismiss its potential risk, according to a U. S. study published in the journal Science. In contrast to some initial studies that had suggested that H7N9 poses an imminent risk of a global pandemic, the new research found, based on analyses of virus samples from the outbreak in China earlier this year that H7N9 is still mainly adapted for infecting birds. "Luckily, H7N9 viruses just don't yet seem well adapted for binding to human receptors," said senior author Ian Wilson, professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), a California- based medical research facility, in a statement.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Drugs Need Labels for Newborns

    Federal legislation encouraging the study of drugs in pediatric patients has resulted in very few labeling changes that include new infant information, according to a study by Matthew Laughon, of the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues. Study findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, indicate 11 (46 percent) of the 24 neonatal labeling changes made clear the drug was approved for use in neonates on the basis of safety and effectiveness. Researchers then found that most of the studied drugs were not used in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), with 13 (46 percent) of the 28 drugs studied in neonates not used and eight (29 percent) of the drugs used in fewer than 60 neonates.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Mandatory Immunizations for Clinicians, Staff, IDSA Says

    The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society recommend that all healthcare employers (HCEs) require universal immunizations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a policy statement. Included with the mandated immunizations are those against measles, mumps, and hepatitis B.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    NYC may Mandate Flu Vaccines for All Daycare, Preschool Students

    A flu shot may soon be required for all New York City daycare and preschool kids. New York City health officials will decide Wednesday whether to adopt a proposal that would require all children under 5 who are attending one of these childcare facilities to receive a flu shot by Dec. 31 of each year, before flu season peaks. “A lot of people have a misconception that the flu is just like the common cold and nothing that needs to be worried about,” Dr. Jay Varma, deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told CBS News. “In fact, flu is common and can be very serious for children under the age of 5,” he said. Varma estimates the mandate would prevent more than 20,000 cases of flu in young kids. 

    Source: Web Site Icon


    More Helpful Fatty Acids Found in Organic Milk

    Whole milk from organic dairies contains far more of some of the fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart than conventional milk, scientists are reporting. The finding, published in the journal PLOS One, is the most clear-cut instance of an organic food’s offering a nutritional advantage over its conventional counterpart. Studies looking at organic fruits and vegetables have been less conclusive. Drinking whole organic milk “will certainly lessen the risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said the study’s lead author, Charles M. Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. The research was largely funded by Organic Valley, a farm cooperative that sells organic dairy products. But experts not connected with the study said the findings were credible — though they noted that the role of milk in a healthy diet and the influence of fatty acids in preventing or causing cardiovascular disease are far from settled.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Report: VA Doesn't Adequately Protect Patients From Error-prone Doctors

    Patients at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals do not have adequate protection from doctors with a history of subpar treatment, according to a new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Of the four unnamed VA hospitals inspected by the GAO, none were in full compliance with all required procedures for peer review of patient care that leads to adverse outcomes, according to the report. In addition, inspectors found the VA failed to pursue several cases that potentially required disciplinary action.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Report: Physician Quality not Disclosed in Most States

    When it comes to providing consumers with easily accessible information about physician quality, a report out gave most states grades of ‘D’ or ‘F,’ often because they compile data only about primary care doctors, not specialists. Washington state and Minnesota were the only states that got an A from the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, a nonprofit group that designs programs aiming at boosting health care quality and affordability.  California received a ‘C,’ and the rest of the states got either ‘D’s or ‘F’s. The report scored states on several factors, including the percentage of doctors they rated, whether those ratings included information about patient outcomes and consumer experiences and how easy it was to find them through an Internet search.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    USA's Health Improving; Hawaii Ranks First, Miss. Last

    An annual measure of the nation's health status finds evidence that Americans made "a notable shift" toward better health in 2013.Important gains were seen in more than two-thirds of the measures analyzed for the 2013 America's Health Rankings report, released, including:
    • A decline in the smoking rate, down from 21.2% of the adult population in 2012 to 19.6%. Seventeen states had significant drops in smoking, the largest being in Nevada, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Vermont.
    • A drop in physical inactivity, defined as not doing any physical activity outside work for 30 days, down from 26.2% of the adult population in 2012 to 22.9% in 2013. The prevalence of physical inactivity varies from a high of 31.4% in Arkansas to a low of 16.2% in Oregon.
    • A leveling off of the obesity epidemic as the percentage of adults who are obese — defined as roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight — holds steady.
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    Specialists Notch Victory in New CMS Rule on Quality Reporting

    Medicare has agreed to allow specialist medical societies to determine the quality measures physicians will report when the new reporting system goes into effect on Jan. 1. The rule represents a major victory for the specialty societies, which had protested a common set of quality measures that many said favored primary care and family physicians over specialists. CMS in 2015 will begin imposing penalties on physicians who fail to report to one of these new "qualified clinical directories," which will satisfy requirements for participating in the agency's Physician Quality Reporting System.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Meaningful Use Deadlines Delayed for 1 Year

    Responding to comments from healthcare providers, healthcare associations, EHR developers, and other industry stakeholders, federal officials announced that the timeline for “meaningful use” deadlines is being pushed back one year. Senior officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT posted a joint letter on the website with proposed new dates. The new timeline will give provider organizations an extra year to demonstrate that they have met the Stage 2 criteria of the federal incentive program for meaningful use of electronic health record systems. Stage 2 will be extended through 2016, while Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for provider organizations that have completed at least two years in Stage 2 of the meaningful use timeline.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    ONC Creates Safety Guide for Providers Using HIT

    Though the use of health information technology has the potential to improve patient care, the risks it poses prompted the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS to create a safety guide for providers. Developed by the not-for-profit ECRI Institute under an ONC contract, the publication—How to Identify and Address Unsafe Conditions Associated with Health IT (PDF) Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon—provides guidance directed at healthcare and patient-safety organizations for identifying, monitoring and reporting on unsafe conditions related to health IT and especially electronic health records. That report, along with the ONC's Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan (PDF) Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon, released in July of this year, draw attention to the need for more reporting of health IT errors and safety events.

    Source: Web Site Icon


    10 Key Recommendations That Will Shape the Next Generation of HIE

    The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) Foundation, a leading authority on the use of Health IT to improve healthcare information exchange, in partnership with industry leaders, has released the 2013 WEDI Report. The culmination of a nine-month public-private effort with more than 200 subject matter expert volunteers, the 2013 WEDI Report will serve as a new roadmap for Health IT over the next decade.
    Key Report Areas of Recommendation
    The 2013 WEDI Report identifies four critical areas of focus:
    • Patient Engagement:
    • Payment Models:
    • Data Harmonization and Exchange:
    • Innovative Encounter Models:
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    How Carolinas HealthCare Uses Quality Patient Data to Boost Disease Management

    "Most electronic health records were designed to replicate paper charts, without much thought to what could we do with the data once it is available electronically or how it could be used for population analytics," Dulin says. Analyzing integrated clinical, claims and administrative data enables the institution to better track outcomes and provide valuable feedback to clinicians to improve care. "Data integration can help providers ensure that we're developing and deploying best practices for population health," says Allen Naidoo, vice president of advanced analytics at Carolinas HealthCare. "This offers us the ability to make more informed decisions for patient care."

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    Hospitals Expected to Press Devicemakers, EHR Vendors to Make Their Products 'Talk'

    The typical hospital bed in an intensive-care unit is surrounded by as many as a dozen medical devices that monitor the patient, track blood pressure and heart rate, dispense medications and perform other vital functions. Many of the devices have the capability to transmit data they gather directly to the patient's electronic health record.  For example, an “interoperable” infusion pump that gathers data about when a patient received fluids or insulin could transmit that data to the patient's EHR, preventing medication errors and creating a detailed record of the patient's clinical treatments and how the patient responded to medications. Experts say that would improve quality of care and lower costs.

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    Report: HIPAA is a Hindrance to Health Care Info Sharing

    The primary law safeguarding the privacy of personal medical information is an impediment to the use of big data in improving health care for the individuals it is intended to protect, according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center. The Washington, D.C., think tank characterized the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) as too far-reaching and too "often misunderstood, misapplied and over-applied in ways that may inhibit information sharing unnecessarily."

    Source: Web Site Icon


    Every Saudi's Choice to Have Genetic Code Mapped to Transform the Kingdom's Healthcare

    Saudi Arabia's national funding agency, and Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ:LIFE) announce The Saudi Human Genome Program – a national research project to study the genetic basis of all disease in the Kingdom and throughout the Middle East and use the findings to offer the ultimate personal care in Saudi Arabia. Through a network of an initial 10 genome centers across Saudi Arabia, the ambitious program using the Ion Proton™ DNA sequencer, will focus on sequencing 100,000 human genomes over the next five years to study both normal and disease-associated genes specific to the Saudi population, with five further genome centers to be created in the future. This genomic variant data will be fully analyzed and used to create a Saudi-specific database that will provide the basis for future development of personalized medicine in the Kingdom and represents the most comprehensive effort to identify the disease-causing genes for the population of a country and Arab peoples.
    Source: Web Site Icon

    Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.

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