Healthcare and Technology news
48.3K views | +3 today
Follow
Healthcare and Technology news
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scoop.it!

Bipartisan plan calls for Medicare SGR repeal, replaced by payment updates, value-based care

Bipartisan plan calls for Medicare SGR repeal, replaced by payment updates, value-based care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

 

Congressional lawmakers on Thursday unveiled a bicameral, bipartisan agreement to repeal Medicare's physician payment formula and replace it with a system that would provide stable payment updates for five years and shift Medicareto a system based on value versus volume of care.

 

The deal is the product of three congressional committees—Senate Finance, House Ways and Means and House Energy and Commerce—working to eliminate Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula and offer incentives for Medicare-participating physicians to move to alternative payment models.

 

Called the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act, the legislation would permanently repeal the SGR and provide an annual update of 0.5% from 2014 through 2018. The 2018 payment rates would be maintained through 2023 so physicians have time to receive additional payments through a merit-based incentive payment system.

 

Still to come are details on how lawmakers would cover the agreement's cost to repeal and replace the SGR, which is about $126 billion over 10 years, according to a GOP aide.

 

“This proves that the two parties and the two chambers can work together when policy is put before politics,” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, said in a statement. “We are, however, only half way there. We only have agreement on policy,” he continued. “We still have to figure out how to pay for it, and I am under no illusions about how difficult that may be. We are going to do our best. We've already done more than most people thought was possible."

 

Starting in 2018, payments in the new system would be adjusted based on performance in the new incentive-pay system, referred to as MIPS, which would consolidate three current incentive programs: the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), which provides incentives for physicians to report on the quality of care measures; the Value-Based Payment Modifier, which adjusts payment based on quality use of resources; and meaningful use of electronic health records.

 

The new MIPS would apply to doctors of medicine or osteopathy, dental surgery or dental medicine, podiatric medicine, chiropractors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Other professionals who are paid under the physician fee schedule may be included starting in 2020 if viable performance metrics are available then.

 

Meanwhile, the agreement provides a 5% bonus to providers who receive a significant portion of their revenue from an alternative payment model that includes a quality-measurement component and risk of financial losses or a patient-centered medical home. Participants in the program would have to receive at least 25% of their Medicare revenue through an alternative payment model in 2018-2019, and the threshold would increase over time. The policy also provides incentives for private-payer alternative payment models. And it establishes a technical advisory committee to review and recommend physician-developed alternative payment models based on criteria developed through an open-comment process.

 

The SGR was established in 1997 to control physician spending, but since 2003, Congress has spent about $150 billion to provide short-term fixes to spare physicians from a huge Medicare payment cut each year they say would compromise how they treat patients and do business. If Congress passes legislation to permanently eliminate the SGR, Medicare-participating physicians would avert the 23.7% payment cut scheduled to kick in April 1.

 

In a statement, Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, president of the American Medical Association, congratulated lawmakers for finding common ground on a contentious issue that has bedeviled lawmakers for years.

 

“This legislation is the product of months of unprecedented bipartisan, bicameral work to reach this landmark agreement to build a stronger Medicare program,” Hoven said in her statement. “Throughout the legislative process, the bill authors have been receptive to AMA's recommendations to improve the policy.”

 

Members of the committees that drafted the deal praised one another for agreeing on policies that could finally push Medicare's dated physician payment system into the 21st century. The announcement came on the same day the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) as ambassador to China. Many have said Baucus wants to fix the SGR before he leaves Congress.

 

“Congress has spent a decade lurching from one 'doc fix' to the next, creating a new, unnecessary threat to seniors' care each time. Enough is enough,” Baucus said in a statement. “This proposal would bring that cycle to an end and fix the broken system. Our bill makes Medicare's physician payments more modern and efficient, and it will protect seniors' access to their doctors,” he continued. “This bill is the product of years of hard work, and I hope Congress comes together to pass it.”

 

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Busting a credit card hacker

Busting a credit card hacker | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
In 2007, Ukrainian Maksym Yastremsky was the most prolific credit card hacker in the world. He'd stolen over 40 million cards from mostly U.S.-based retailers. He'd cost credit card companies over $11 million.

In 2008 he was arrested in Turkey after the U.S. Secret Service infiltrated his network. Here's how they did it:

Flashback to 2004, when the Secret Service -- which handles currency crimes -- got wind of a criminal ring using stolen credit cards to buy high end electronics in the Los Angeles area.

Rather than bust the ring outright, they struck a deal. The ring leader would introduce an undercover Secret Service agent to the source of his stolen credit cards under the guise that the agent was a new partner in the criminal ring. Naturally, the idea was to move up the food chain, and ultimately nab the cyber criminals at the heart of the hacking underworld.

"So what I ended up doing was communicating via instant message and I started talking to people in South East Asia," said the undercover agent, in an exclusive interview with CNN.

Tracking a cyber criminal

As part of the ruse, the agent explained that he needed all the tools to start a new ring that used phony cards to make purchases -- the machines to make the cards, the special plastic to make them out of and, most importantly, the stolen card numbers. For those, he was connected with Yastremsky.

"He had the most recent, the largest credit card data," said the agent. "Often times I knew about the breaches before they were being reported. These people were my friends online and they were selling me their new databases as they were getting them straight from the breach."

Yastremsky worked with a variety of hackers to steal the data -- sometimes placing malware directly on the networks at major retailers. As soon as you'd swipe your card, the criminals would have your info.

Related: Target to invest in chip-based cards

To solidify the burgeoning relationship -- and to help build the criminal case -- it was decided that the agent would meet with Yastremsky in person. Up until then their meetings had only been online, and Yastremsky was known only by his internet handle -- Maksic.

"We met numerous times in South East Asia, and several times in the Middle East," said the agent, who still works for the Secret Service. "It was business and a mixture of just, of being a friend. We wore towels, beachwear, hung out at the beach, rode wave-runners, went parasailing."

When the Secret Service decided it had enough information, a plan was hatched to make the arrest. It would take place in Turkey, with the help of Turkish police. The Secret Service agent and Yastremsky were there together staying at a resort, and the plan was to go out clubbing that night.

"We just came back home and when we came back to the hotel, the police were in place and they arrested us as we walked back onto the resort," said the agent, who was also arrested to maintain cover. "I did the first thing that came natural -- I just started lying to the police."

Related: Hackers attack Yahoo Mail accounts

During his whole time undercover, the agent said he never really felt threatened.

"They just seemed like regular individuals, people that you would see on the street, people that you would see on the subway," he said. "None of them came off as looking like a mafia figure or the next big criminal."

Yastremsky is now serving 30 years in a Turkish prison on charges related to the credit card thefts.

Since 2008 there have been many new instances of credit card theft -- most recently the 40 million credit cards that were compromised through a breach at Target.

While it seems like such cases are on the rise, the Secret Service says that's not necessarily the case.

"It's probably a bias to say they are coming fast and furious," said Ed Lowery, head of the criminal investigative division at the Secret Service. "It just so happens we have three that have all come to light in recent history."

-- With reporting from CNN's Drew Griffin, Patricia DiCarlo and Elizabeth Nunez.


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Most cancers in our world pandemic are preventable -- here's how

Most cancers in our world pandemic are preventable -- here's how | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Editor's note: CNN conditions expert Dr. Otis Brawley is the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, a world-renowned cancer expert and a practicing oncologist. He is also the author of the book "How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America."

(CNN) -- The World Health Organization is sounding the alarm: cancer is rapidly becoming a global pandemic.

In its World Cancer report, the U.N. agency notes the disease causes one in eight deaths worldwide. It's estimated 14 million were diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and 22 million will be diagnosed by 2032.

The most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide are cancers of the lung, breast and colon. The most common causes of cancer deaths worldwide are lung, liver and stomach cancer. In certain areas of Africa and Asia, cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in women.

What's behind the increase? Aging and growth of the world population, as well as the spread of cancer risk factors into low- and middle-income nations.

WHO: Imminent global cancer 'disaster'

Otis Brawley

WHO urges cancer prevention, govt. role

Cervical cancer prevention

Could that caramel color cause cancer?

Those include use of tobacco, obesity, lack of physical activity and poor diet. The report refers to those as "an industrialized lifestyle;" they cause about half the cancer deaths in the United States and Western Europe.

At the same time, cancer death rates have declined by about 20% over the past 20 years in the United States and Western Europe. This is largely because of prevention activities, especially a decrease in smoking.

Tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries is causing cancer death rates to increase. Other cancer-causing habits common in the West, such as nutritionally poor and high-calorie diets that promote obesity, are increasing in low- and middle-income countries as well.

These countries also have inadequate medical and public health infrastructures. In economically developing countries, cancers are often diagnosed at a late stage when eliminating the disease is no longer possible.

People often suffer because palliative care is inadequate. Narcotics are not available for palliative care in more than two dozen countries and are difficult to get in many others.

China, world's leading tobacco user, moves to ban indoor public smoking

The report emphasizes that governmental and nongovernmental international organizations need to be serious about cancer prevention activities in low- and middle-income countries. The report also illustrates that prevention efforts need to be re-emphasized in developed countries such as the United States.

But cancer doesn't have to be inevitable. There is plenty you can do to lower your risk.

Don't use tobacco products

If you smoke, stop. It is never too late to quit. There are health benefits within 24 hours of the last cigarette.

Stay trim without being underweight

Avoid excess weight gain at all ages. For those who are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.

Limit intake of high-calorie foods and drinks as keys to help maintain a healthy weight. Keep a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods.

Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you get to and maintain a healthy weight. Limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat. Eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.

If you drink alcohol, limit your intake -- no more than one drink a day for women or two for men.

Anti-smoking efforts have saved 8 million lives

Get regular physical activity

Adults: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.

Children and teens: Get at least one hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least three days each week.

Limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching TV and other forms of screen-based entertainment. Doing some physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one's level of activity, can have many health benefits.

Get vaccinated

Several of the leading causes of cancer are caused by infections that can be controlled through vaccination. The hepatitis B vaccine is now a standard vaccine for children in the United States and Europe; adults who have not been vaccinated should consider it.

The human papillomavirus vaccine is commonly given to girls and prevents infection with the virus that causes most cervical cancers. There is increasing evidence it might prevent some head and neck cancers, and some experts recommend boys be vaccinated as well.

Avoid unnecessary sun exposure

Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats when possible. Use sunblock when sun exposure is absolutely necessary. This will reduce your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.

Those with the opportunity, living in areas where it's available, should participate in screening for certain cancers. Screening for cervical, breast and colon cancer can save lives.


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Strong Healthcare CFO Leadership: What Does It Take Today?

Strong Healthcare CFO Leadership: What Does It Take Today? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it


In 1982, Chuck Weis took his first steps inside the financial department of Sinai Health System, a safety-net provider on the South Side of Chicago. He was Sinai's assistant controller at the time, but his public accounting background helped him ascend into the CFO role only four years later.


Mr. Weis has led Sinai's fiscal strategy as CFO since then, a tenure he is proud of thus far. To paint a quick picture, 60 percent of Sinai's patients have Medicaid, and another 13 percent have no insurance whatsoever. That type of payer mix generally sends gasps throughout a room, he says, but he has remained with the organization because its safety-net mission is "woven into the fabric" of everyone there, from the board on down.


Mr. Weis says the top executives he has worked for also place great trust him. "What I've always said working at Sinai: My role has really been to be the financial right hand to Sinai's three CEOs over the course of those 31 years," Mr. Weis says. "Ruth Rothstein, Ben Greenspan and now Alan Channing — all have different management styles, but all have the mission of Sinai in their foundation. And they really looked at me for financial acumen and relied on me."


Often in the healthcare space, the big-picture management issues fall onto the CEO's plate. And it makes sense. The CEO is the face of the organization and is viewed as the standard of how others should perform or behave within the organization.


Today, as hospitals and health systems work through shifting reimbursement models and growing calls for increased transparency and clinical quality, the CEO simply doesn't have the room to take on every big-picture management issue. More than ever, the hospital C-suite has to become a high-functioning collaboration, and the CFO plays a crucial role.


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Motion CL910 Tablet PC

Motion CL910 Tablet PC | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Motion CL910 Tablet PCSource: Motion Computing, Inc.

The Motion Computing CL910 Tablet PC is durable, lightweight and purposefully built for mobile business. Running Microsoft ® Windows ® 7 Professional and powered by the Intel ® Atom ™ N2600 Dual Core Processor, the CL910 delivers increased performance while maintaining a battery life of up to seven hours.

Request Information

Light, Powerful, Connected and Ready for Business

The Motion Computing CL910 Tablet PC is durable, lightweight and purposefully built for mobile business. Running Microsoft ® Windows ® 7 Professional and powered by the Intel ® Atom ™ N2600 Dual Core Processor, the CL910 delivers increased performance while maintaining a battery life of up to seven hours. A bonded display with 180 degree viewing angle provides superior outdoor viewability and lowered power consumption. Weighing just 1.85 lbs (.84kg), the CL910 provides the capabilities, applications, accessories and connectivity mobile workers need for on-the-go productivity. www.MotionComputing.com

Support Your Workflow, No Matter How Your Work Flows

Every Motion CL910 comes out of the box ready to work helping each user to work faster, smarter and more effectively, providing the capabilities and ergonomic ease of use mobile workers need to be more productive in today’s decentralized work environments.

Extended Battery Life

The CL910 works up to a full seven hours on just one battery charge (2*) , so workers don’t have to waste valuable time re-charging. In addition, Motion’s industry-leading charging technology provides a work-to-charge ratio that reduces downtime.



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Group in hot water over massive breach | Healthcare IT News

Group in hot water over massive breach | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

An Alberta, Canada-based medical group has come under fire this week after it announced that the health records of some 620,000 patients have been compromised in a data breach reportedly undisclosed for months.

 

Medicentres Family Health Care Clinics, a 27-clinic medical group in Western Canada, failed to notify federal officials until Jan. 22, some four months after an unencrypted clinic laptop was stolen from one of the clinic's IT consultants.

 

The laptop contained 620,000 patient names, dates of birth, health card numbers, medical diagnoses and billing codes, officials said.

 

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne has requested a formal investigation into the incident, under the Health Information Act. He announced Thursday that Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton has indeed launched an investigation into Medicentres Family Health Care Clinics.

 

"Privacy of patient records in Alberta must be paramount," said Horne in a Jan. 23 statement. "I am extremely upset that a privacy breach of this nature could have occurred in the province of Alberta and believe that the 620,000 Albertans who have been impacted by the events of last fall should have been immediately informed that their personal information had been put at risk."

 

According to officials at Medicentres, the group notified the Edmonton Police Department and the privacy commissioner immediately after discovering the laptop had been stolen Oct. 1.

 

"Medicentres also takes its responsibility to protect personal health information seriously," read a Jan. 22 company statement."We apologize to all of its patients for any concern this may cause."

 

Contrary to HIPAA in the U.S., which requires covered entities and business associates to provide notification to individuals affected by a privacy or security breach, Alberta's Health Information Act does not require healthcare entities to to provide notification following a breach.

 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Don't be a statistic!  Get your laptops and tablets encrypted today and protect yourself.  Contact inquiry@technicaldr.com to learn more.


The Technical Doctor Team

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

ICD-10: Get ready for the big change

ICD-10: Get ready for the big change | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

ICD-10: Get ready for the big change

The shift to ICD-10 is more than just a compliance exercise – it represents a monumental transformation for healthcare in America. Just how prepared are we?

According to a recent National Pilot Program Outcomes Report, professional coders were only able to achieve 63% accuracy when submitting ICD-10 codes.

The transition to ICD-10 virtually impacts every member of the healthcare continuum including providers, payers and health IT vendors. Amongst these, providers have the most to lose. If claims are not submitted correctly, providers will not be paid and with just a few months until ICD-10 comes into effect on October 1, 2014, a provider’s ultimate goal should only be planning and training.

Why so complicated?

ICD-10 greatly increases the specificity of diagnostic codes. The number of outpatient diagnostic codes will increase by almost 44,000 – a fivefold addition.

For healthcare organizations, shifting to the new system will require training for coders, billers, and providers in the documentation requirements, as well as changes to existing billing software or potentially upgrading it.

Experts recommend practices to secure a line of credit ahead of the transition that they can draw on, as the transition to ICD-10 is expected to affect cash flows temporarily.

Seize the opportunity

Providers need to accept ICD-10 as an opportunity to ensure better care with more elaborate documentation, rather than get frustrated by the large number of codes. Their Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution should have the capability of allowing them to create lists of their most frequently used diagnoses codes to help them document conditions along with the co-morbidities rapidly and properly.

Boosting reimbursements

Since it will be easier for practices to document co-morbidities, ICD-10 has the potential to boost overall reimbursements. However, practices that do not document properly may see a 1-4% reduction in reimbursements under the new coding system.

One way to reduce the financial impact of the transition is to have an external chart reviewer analyze your documentation process now and determine what changes you may need to ensure compliance with ICD-10. This can be done with just 10 to 50 charts that represent a large proportion of your patient volume. Ideally these charges should be high-value and more likely to be denied.

Name a point person

An important first step is to name a “point person” to lead the transition. The practice manager or chief coder may be the ideal person for this job.

Work with your health IT vendor

Start by contacting your software vendors to learn about their plans for ICD-10 upgrades.

EHR vendors are aware of the conversion deadline and should already be working to update their software to conform to ICD-10. The need for timely communication between vendors and practices is pivotal.

Implementation cost

Most researchers suggest the implementation cost for small (one to two providers) to medium (five to ten providers) practices will range from $80,000 to $300,000 based on their requirements. For larger practices with a hundreds of providers and support staff, this cost can go up to $3 million.

Training

There are many options available for staff training, but vendors are the best place to start. Practices should consider sending an experienced coder for specialized training, while other staff members can get up to speed with less-expensive online resources. The amount of training providers may require can depend on how they select their codes.

It is also advisable to have your coders take refresher courses in anatomy and physiology relevant to your practice, because ICD-10 requires more precision and specificity.

If you outsource coding, ask your vendor about ICD-10 readiness and insist on more than blanket reassurances of ICD-10 compliance.

Finally, start testing

The only way to know if you are ready is to run some tests with ICD-10 data. You can submit test claims now if the clearinghouse or payer(s) participates. Double coding a small subset of your charts now will show you where your problems are.

The sooner you can start testing the better, so you can identify issues and start fixing them or develop contingency plans to be fully prepared in time.

- See more at: http://blog.curemd.com/icd-10-get-ready-for-the-big-change/#sthash.QirDc5XW.dpuf

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Are you prepared for ICD-10?  Technical Doctor can help you with training!  Contact inquiry@technicaldr.com for more information today!


- The Technical Doctor Team

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Mock cyberattacks coming to healthcare | Healthcare IT News

Mock cyberattacks coming to healthcare | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As cyberattacks targeting healthcare organizations reach record heights, a new partnership initiative has set its sights on getting the industry's threat response on track and ready to go.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has teamed up withHITRUST to launch CyberRX, an industry-wide effort to simulate cyberattacks on all types of healthcare entities, officials announced Monday.

 

The results will be used to evaluate industry response and threat preparedness against attacks and attempts to disrupt healthcare operations. The initiative will also gauge HHS' level of coordination and response time to industry events.

  

Officials say the simulated cyberattacks, slated to kick off in March, will target the information systems, medical devices and other technology sources owned and operated by providers, health plans, prescription benefit managers, pharmaceuticals, and HHS.

 

"We have been coordinating and collaborating with HITRUST to enhance the resources available to the healthcare industry," said Kevin Charest, HHS chief information security officer, in a Jan. 13 statement. "Our goal for the exercises is to identify additional ways that we can help the industry be better prepared for and better able to respond to cyberattacks. This exercise will generate valuable information we can use to improve our joint preparedness."

 

Twelve organizations will participate in the initiative, including Children's Medical Center Dallas, CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, Health Care Service Corp., Highmark, Humana, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint.

 

Following the two-day-long attack simulation, the findings will be analyzed and used to identify areas for industry improvement, and a following exercise will take place in summer 2014.

  

WellPoint vice president and chief information security officer Roy Mellinger said the exercise represents a "crucial step" in preparing the industry for these types of attacks, which will only increase down the road. "It will allow organizations to evaluate and improve their processes and identify gaps in what is needed industry-wide and from government," he said in a statement.

 

According to a 2013 Ponemon Institute/HP study, cyberattacks cost healthcare organizations on average $5.44 million annually, up nearly $100,000 from 2011.

 

And, Ponemon officials point out, cyberattacks aren't just some hypothetical event for which an organization should prepare. They're a reoccurring reality nowadays. Organizations were reported to have experienced an average of 122 successful attacks per week, with a total resolve time totaling 32 days.

 

"The threat landscape continues to evolve as cyberattacks grow in sophistication, frequency and financial impact," said Frank Mong, vice president and general manager, solutions, enterprise security products at HP, in an Oct. 8 statement announcing study findings.

 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

As real cyber attacks increase, it is imperitive that your practice is HIPAA compliant.  Have you had a risk assessment done yet?  If not, email inquiry@technicaldr.com for information on how to get this done now.


- The Technical Doctor Team

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

What Will 2014 Bring for Mobile Healthcare?

What Will 2014 Bring for Mobile Healthcare? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Though medicine is not the first industry that we think of when it comes to companies who can utilize mobile technology, this year will see a huge mobile transformation for the world of medicine.

While most other industries have already been heavily influenced by the mobile revolution, healthcare has largely avoided this transition to same aggressive degree. Most experts believe, however, that the healthcare arena is growing tired of missing out when it comes to embracing new technologies, and are pleased to see that some segments within the industry are open to change this year.

With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, it is now easier than ever for patients to be connected to not only information about their health conditions, but also directly to the doctors and caretakers who can help them regulate those conditions. For example, some researchers believe that the same technology that is used to monitor the heart rates of patients can be used on the mobile scale to keep track of at-risk patients while they are on the go.

Standing in the way of these new innovations is the FDA, which continues to articulate concerns about not only the viability but also the safety of turning mobile devices into “mobile medicine.”

Early this year, it is expected that the FDA will hold a hearing to discuss the ramifications and benefits of increasing mobile technology – a reality that is happening as we speak regardless of the FDA’s lingering, and some say unfounded, concerns.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Technical Doctor team members are experts in this field!  Put the #1 medical IT support firm to work for you today!  Contact us at inquiry@technicaldr.com to learn more.

-          The Technical Doctor Team

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

5 Hot Healthcare Technology Innovations To Look For In 2014

5 Hot Healthcare Technology Innovations To Look For In 2014 | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
5 Hot Healthcare Technology Innovations To Look For In 2014

By Jared Jacobs

Over the last year, there have been some significant developments in healthcare technology and the way in which providers are able to deliver the appropriate care to their patients. Based on these trends and developments, it is possible to determine what technologies and changes could be expected in 2014.

These innovations include everything from simple advances that improve communication between doctors and patients, to developments that could very conceivably revolutionize certain medical practices. If you’re following the industry, or are simply fascinated by the huge strides likely to happen next year, keep your eye on some of these developments.

Printing Technology
Printing technology, in this context, is not about producing more forms and documents. This is about printing biological material that allows doctors to design customized implants in the middle of a surgery. A couple years ago, some manufacturers had already used 3D printers to create bone structures. The industry has gone beyond that, this month, with the introduction of the BioPen.

This new tool, developed by researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia, will let the doctors control exactly where they deliver live cells and growth factors – meaning they can “draw” the bone right back onto the site of an injury to help speed recovery.

Printing technology doesn’t stop there, though. Another breakthrough announced in the month of December was 3D tissue printing. Instead of printing bone materials through a special pen, researchers have used inkjet printing technology to print cells taken from the eye. This represents the first time that anyone has been able to print out central nervous system cells. Both of these advances are still in their initial stages, but expect some huge developments in 2014.

Connected Services
Big data and mobile devices are coming together to make it easier for doctors to gather and record important patient information and access it whenever necessary to make better diagnoses. The move to electronic health records has not been an easy one, but there is a huge potential there to make sweeping changes throughout the industry.

Next year there will likely be a lot more integration of tablet computers in the doctor’s office and in the hospital because they provide simple and immediate access to important information. At the rate data is produced these days, it will require a powerful and effective interface to sift through it all and find the things that are relevant. Where will it go from here? Keep your eyes on wearable technology – anything that makes access even easier.

New Uses for Old Objects
It was recently reported that the treatment costs for fungal infections was more than $3 billion USD in 2010. Projections suggest this could increase to more than $6 billion in 2014 because many common fungal strains are becoming resistant to the drugs and other therapies normally used to fight them.

Now, in Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), some researchers were able to take the common polyethylene terephthalate bottle (PET bottles) and use a polymer synthesis to transform it into novel small molecule compounds that self-assemble into nanofibers. They were able to use these fibers to selectively target the unwanted fungal cells without harming the mammalian cells around it. Watch for the application of this technology to spread like, well, a fungus.

Alarm Hazards
Some developments aren’t about new, groundbreaking technology. They’re about improving the current system to improve the patient experience and deliver better care. According to the ECRI Institute, one of the biggest safety goals for 2014 is improving alarm hazards. Their research showed that after 98 alarm-related events over the last three and a half years, 80 patients died while 13 others suffered permanent loss of function.

New technology, such as better mobile devices and information delivery systems, can help eliminate alarm fatigue and reduce the risk of alarms simply not alerting the right people when they should. An alarm needs to reach the right people in order to be effective, and there should be a lot more technology developed to improve the distribution of these signals.

More and Better Robotic Surgery
The use of robotic surgery has increased dramatically in recent years, but it has been a challenge to train surgeons to use them well. Over the next year, as these machines become even more prevalent, there will be a bigger push to develop new applications and train more doctors to use these machines.

One of the promised benefits of this technology, though, is the ability to have a doctor perform the surgery from across the country – or even further away. Watch for new developments that increase the remote capabilities, so that if there isn’t a doctor nearby who is ready to handle the procedure, the hospital can virtually bring in a qualified surgeon.

There were a lot of major breakthroughs in 2013, and next year looks like it will hold just as many advances, innovations, and surprises. Whether it’s about building on some previous technologies or creating something completely unique, there is some real potential for great things on the horizon.



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

OCR Warns Electronic Data Most Vulnerable

OCR Warns Electronic Data Most Vulnerable | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
OCR Warns Electronic Data Most Vulnerable

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Office for Civil Rights advising providers to conduct security risks protecting patients’ electronic data

Iliana Peters, a privacy specialist with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights, says providers hoping to meet 2014 MU standards - or even simply updating software - should be running security risk assessments to test for vulnerability. At the American Bar Association's Health Law Section's Annual Washington Health Law Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, Peters said, “Every time you change your software, do a risk analysis.”

Fierce EMR reports “Providers seem to be having a particularly difficult time complying with HIPAA's security rule, leaving patient records in electronic form the ‘most vulnerable.’ The vast majority of security breaches reported to HHS have involved the compromise of electronic protected health information in EHRs, laptops, and mobile devices, added OCR privacy specialist Anna Watterson, who also spoke at the summit. OCR's pilot HIPAA audit program found only 11 percent of audited entities in ‘good HIPAA compliance shape,’ Peters said.”

Compliance is essential since, as Peters said, the ORC has "significantly stepped up enforcement and that aggressive enforcement will continue.” Other recommendations include:

  • store electronic records on a secure network
  • train work force members on safeguarding patient data
  • encrypt all data

This comes after the OIG released a report which “concluded that the OCR had not assessed risks, established priorities, or implemented controls to provide for periodic audits of covered entities to ensure their compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule.” According to Data Guidance, this report makes it likely the OCR would begin cracking down on providers in its investigations.



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Why the MU extension is failing physicians | Medical Practice Insider

Why the MU extension is failing physicians | Medical Practice Insider | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The industry seemed to sigh in relief when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), alongside the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), extended meaningful use Stages 2 and 3 earlier this month. But aside from a bit of breathing room, some experts are saying that the move doesn’t really offer much else.

“The extension in my opinion will not greatly impact adoption trends,” Keith Blankenship (pictured), vice president of technical solutions for Lumeris, an accountable care delivery innovation company, told Medical Practice Insider.

According to Blankenship, the extension was not designed with provider adoption in mind. It was put in place to allow CMS and ONC to hone their efforts to enhance patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange in Stage 2. All of the 2014 deadlines for meaningful use, in fact, must still be met.

“In reality, the extension and flexibility really only applies to the transition to Stage 3 meaningful use,” he said, “and perhaps some back-end Stage 2 software deployment.”

Valuable changes will not be made by trudging forward on thinning ice, Blankenship argued, but by magnifying EMR necessity and how physicians will be paid. “In order to really impact adoption trends, we need to take a step back and focus on the extension of Year 1 meaningful use, and then help physicians see the long-term return on investment for EMR adoption by changing current reimbursement models,” he added.

The average loss for a practice five years after EMR adoption is $44,000, according to a Health Affairsstudy. This needn’t be the case, however, if the right incentives are put into play — on the proper playing field.

“In a value-based model, physicians are paid for outcomes. Technologies that integrate data and provide a more complete view of a patient’s medical history enable positive outcomes. With these technologies, physicians can close gaps in care, coordinate care throughout the continuum, note medication adherence and truly manage populations,” Blankenship explained. “However, physicians are not incentivized to achieve positive outcomes; [instead] they are incentivized to see as many patients as possible in a small amount of time.”

While CMS data shows that EMR adoption rates have nearly doubled among physicians in the past three years, meaningful use of EMR systems is still painfully low. Blankenship finds that only 12 percent of physicians have attained meaningful use, a statistic that will persist if “physicians are not paid for outcomes or value, but for the volume of patients they see.”

Thus, it’s time for regulators to get their priorities — and incentives — straight, an alignment that physicians themselves can hasten by simply being aware of their adoption reality and speaking up about it, he commented.

“Physicians are realizing that the investment in technology in fee-for-service medicine will produce no long-term return on investment,” Blankenship concluded. “Meaningful use has helped draw attention to much-needed technological advancements, but the only way we will successfully move forward to Stage 2 is to incentivize physicians to deliver positive health outcomes for patients and populations.”

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Technical Doctor team members are experts in this field! Put the #1 medical IT support firm to work for

you today! Contact us at inquiry@technicaldr.com to learn more.

- The Technical Doctor Team

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Humanizing Health IT

Humanizing Health IT | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
From The Editor | November 20, 2013
Humanizing Health IT

By Ken Congdon, editor-in-chief, Healthcare Technology Online

Follow Me On Twitter @KenOnHIT

In the almighty quest to secure Meaningful Use (MU) incentive dollars, it’s often easy for a healthcare provider to lose sight of the primary reason they are implementing all of these technology changes — the patient. This sentiment came through loud and clear during a recent interview I conducted with Richard Ong, CIO of St. Vincent Health System in Erie, PA (part of the Allegheny Health Network).

St. Vincent is no stranger to health IT adoption. This health system consisting of a 427-bed hospital and vast outpatient network was one of the first in Western Pennsylvania to successfully attest for Stage 1 MU (with both its McKesson inpatient and its Allscripts outpatient system). The provider has also been recognized as one of 2013’s “Most Wired” hospitals by the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Click here to view video excerpts of Ken’s interview with Richard Ong.

For St. Vincent, the pursuit of MU has been about much more than capitalizing on stimulus funds. The health system has worked hard to ensure its MU strategy aligns with corporate goals and patient outcomes. “When it comes to EHR MU, we’re not just in the business of electronically capturing the pieces of patient data that are required,” says Ong. “Simply, transforming a paper form into an electronic one isn’t going to revolutionize healthcare, and it isn’t going to have much of an impact on the patient. It’s what you do with that electronic data that matters. You need to rationalize and understand the real economics of this data. How can this data help us achieve our corporate objectives? How can we leverage the data in downstream hospital systems? And most importantly, how can this data ultimately benefit our patients?”

Richard Ong, CIO, St. Vincent Health System

According to Ong, taking this approach to MU is the quickest path to success and measurable outcomes. However, to Ong, EHR results are only part of the equation. You must be loud about your wins — both to your physicians and your patients — to maximize the impact your technology investments have on your ecosystem.

“A patient is never going to celebrate the fact that and EHR provides a physician with quick access to their chart or that it allows the healthcare staff to quickly generate a variety of reports,” says Ong. “However, patients will take notice if they understand how an EHR helped reduce their length of stay, allows them to get their lab results quicker, or alerts a clinician of a possible medical condition or prescription contradiction.”

According to Ong, it’s the physician’s duty to notify his or her patients about the care advantages EHR systems provide. However, in most instances, he feels the physicians need to be adequately educated on these benefits first — and that’s the responsibility of the hospital’s IT leaders.

“A lot of physicians are skeptical of EHR benefits and actually oppose the technology,” says Ong. “Our IT staff constantly demonstrates the advantages our EHR is providing using tangible metrics. Showing physicians how the EHR is helping them and their patients helps generate clinical buy in and support of the technology. It also helps to motivate the physicians to share this information with their patients. When patients can see how EHR tools impact their care, that’s when healthcare transformation will really take off.”  



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

ACO Experiment Nets Uneven Results For Providers

ACO Experiment Nets Uneven Results For Providers | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
ACO Experiment Nets Uneven Results For Providers

By Christine Kern

CMS data shows over 50 percent of organizations joining ACO initiatives did not reduce health spending targets in initial year

Just over half of the 114 organizations that joined a Medicare accountable care effort in 2012 failed to reduce health spending below targets during their first 12 months trying to do so, newly released CMS data shows. Preliminary results highlight the uneven progress made to date by hospitals and doctors coordinating treatment and reducing unnecessary care to reduce healthcare costs.

Late last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius stated in a CMS press release, “Accountable Care Organizations are delivering higher-quality care to Medicare beneficiaries and are using Medicare dollars more efficiently. This is a great example of the Affordable Care Act rewarding hospitals and doctors that work together to help our beneficiaries get the best possible care.”

“This program puts the control in the hands of physicians and allows them to take the lead in an innovative way to deliver the right care to the right patient at the right time,” said the executive director of the Palm Beach ACO and South Florida ACO, Kelly Conroy in the same CMS release. “We are honored to be a Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organization, and after 18 months in the program, can proudly say that we have seen measurable success. We are so impressed with our participating physicians’ enthusiasm towards the cultural shift, and it demonstrates that physicians are primed for the future of medicine.”

Yet the initial findings are showing a much less enthusiastic return on investment. Modern Healthcare reports the inconsistent preliminary results are similar to the mixed performances in Medicare's smaller test of accountable care. The CMS Innovation Center's Pioneer ACO model, also launched in 2012, saw nine of 32 organizations exit the program after its first year. Nine of the remaining 23 organizations saved money, according to an independent audit.

Medicare officials are not discouraged by the numbers. Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator for the CMS, said the performance to date has increased officials' confidence in accountable care's ability to lower Medicare spending and improve the quality of care. Leaders anticipated that the first year would require investment and reorganization among ACOs to save money in later years, he said. “We have built the ACO program for long-term savings.”

Preliminary data reveals that Medicare will keep $128 million from the first year of the shared-savings program, while successful ACOs will share another $126 million. Final results will be published by the CMS later this year.

Industry experts question the findings, however. Dr. Kavita Patel, managing director of the Brookings Institution's Engleberg Center for Healthcare Reform, said “It's good news that there's savings. Period. “However, we must ask how and why ACOs did not save money. “We can learn more from what's happening in the remainder of the organizations.”


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Opinion: What we need from our surgeon general

Opinion: What we need from our surgeon general | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Editor's note: Nathaniel P. Morris is a student at Harvard Medical School. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Obama administration's nominee for surgeon general, will visit the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday for his Senate confirmation hearing.

Many may not even know we need to appoint someone to the position, but they shouldn't fret. They're not alone. The role of "America's doctor" has declined over the last several decades to near-irrelevance.

At a time when Americans have fallen behind on key health metrics across the board, the nation's leading spokesman for public health has less influence than ever before. The office has endured everything from political interference to undersized budgets, making it impossible to carry out the job effectively.

Have you ever heard of Boris Lushniak? How about Regina Benjamin? The recent surgeons general aren't exactly household names. But with each changing of the guard, we can -- and should -- hope for a leader who revitalizes the post.

Nathaniel Morris

Perhaps Murthy might do just that. At 36 when nominated, he stands to be the youngest surgeon general ever appointed. He's already accomplished quite a bit, from co-founding a clinical trial operations company to helping start Doctors for America, a national health care advocacy group.

Some observers, including myself, have raised concerns about his partisan ties to the Obama administration. Still, if confirmed, Murthy should do everything he can to strengthen the impact of the office.

In November, right after Murthy's nomination, I published four initiatives in JAMA Internal Medicine for the next surgeon general to pursue.

These recommendations do not come close to addressing all of our health needs, but they have the potential to restore the profile of the surgeon general and improve our public health:

Help Americans understand health care system

Dr. Vivek Murthy is the surgeon general nominee.

We haven't stopped arguing about the Affordable Care Act. Yet countless surveys show that most Americans don't understand the legislation, let alone the health care system at all.

As recently as last month, more than 30% of Americans surveyed still weren't familiar with the law. "Jimmy Kimmel Live" shamed people on the sidewalk for thinking Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were different. And, whether it's insurance terms or broader trends in health care costs, the public doesn't seem to have a clue what's going on.

That's where the surgeon general comes in. Americans need a public figure who can transcend the partisan fray to explain the intricacies of health care. A national tour is in order. Nonetheless, whether on television or Facebook, the surgeon general could spread awareness about navigating health care: a system that functions best when its patients are informed.

Surgeon general links colon cancer, diabetes to smoking

Change the way we look at obesity

Obesity remains one of the greatest threats to American health, but our attitudes toward this issue are profoundly lopsided. In our culture, being overweight represents a failure of will power, a tendency toward sloth. Public health campaigns point to personal responsibility as the answer to this crisis. If we would just get off the couch and eat healthier, everything would be solved.

It's time we re-evaluate how we look at and tackle obesity. Rather than narrowly concentrating on notions such as individual will power, we must address the systemic causes of obesity -- fast-food advertising to children, federal legislation that subsidizes processed foods and undeveloped food tax policies, among others.

Organizations such as the Institute of Medicine have already shifted their focus toward these kinds of structural determinants. By translating the message to the public, the surgeon general can lead the charge.

Is obesity the next smoking?

Stand up for vaccines

Enough is enough. Though dozens of peer-reviewed studies have refuted the extreme claims of the anti-vaccination movement, the idea that vaccines are inherently dangerous somehow persists.

States such as Oregon and Colorado have seen thousands of parents exempt their children from immunizations. Katie Couric ran a national television program stoking fears about the safety of human papillomavirus vaccines. Last year, congressional representatives introduced the Vaccine Safety Study Act to evaluate whether vaccines cause autism -- apparently, it's a bipartisan issue now.

Americans have to understand the science is clear. Vaccines are among the most powerful public health tools in the history of human medicine. Without them, we expose others and ourselves to terrible, needless suffering. The surgeon general should release a report defending the facts and get the message out.

Give an annual 'State of American Health' update to Congress

Our leaders in government -- and the broader public -- need to keep abreast of the most pressing health issues of the day. But we don't have a unified approach to fulfill that goal. The surgeon general should introduce an annual "State of American Health" report, with testimony to Congress.

This yearly update could highlight recent scientific findings to results from prior initiatives, specific policy proposals to expectations for the months ahead. The report should be a nonpartisan, independent analysis of the nation's health. With this platform, the surgeon general should remind us that our prosperity depends not only on economic policy and national security but also public health.

Whether or not the next surgeon general follows these recommendations, one thing is obvious: Americans have become older, fatter and sicker, yet the nation's doctor has disappeared.

The brand of the surgeon general remains intact, and Americans trust this figure for guidance. But we need an outspoken, independent leader to bring public health to the forefront of our national conversation.

Dr. Murthy, are you up for the job?


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Patient Experience: What happens when the phone rings?

Patient Experience: What happens when the phone rings? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As long as the Harvard Business Review continues to not ask me to write an article for them then I will continue to refuse to do so.


True story.  Flying yesterday at thirty-six thousand feet I was able to exchange a look of terror with the passengers on the other plane.  A near-miss is defined as being within a thousand vertical feet of the other plane and within three nautical miles.  We were so close to the other plane that we felt our plane move from the plane’s slipstream.


Enough of my problems.


I was in the hospital’s cafeteria watching people before my meeting about reinventing patient experience with one of the hospital’s executives.  Two people stopped by my table to tell me how much they liked my socks.  It occurred to me that if my socks were noteworthy enough to warrant comments from two strangers that they may be the wrong socks to wear to meet with the executive.  I was wearing sensible shoes, so at least I had that going for me.


So, I did some work for an organization that felt it needed a call center.  And for that call center they wanted to talk about ACD’s, IVR’s, CRM, and a suitcase full of other technical things.  I thought the best way to be of service would be to stop at Costco and buy them the call-center-in-a-box startup kit.  Maybe I’d also get them the all-in-one-EHR.


This is what happens when someone reads something they shouldn’t, something which they believe gives them instant credibility on a subject of which they previously knew nothing.  I watch one of those shows about goofy problems in the ER, but even so I remain hesitant about thinking I am the right guy to insert a chest tube.  I did buy some scrubs and a white jacket just in case someone feels the need to pull me in on a procedure.


When I asked why they felt they needed to design a call center their reasons were legion.  Too many numbers, too much wait time, too many dropped calls, too many call backs.  They want job descriptions, training manuals, a system for scheduling the people who were taking the calls, and they want scripts written for every conceivable type of call.  Call-center-in-a-box.


I asked what business problem they were trying to solve, a question which branded my immediately as a heretic.  Burn him at the stake the pink-faced call center director shouted.  All I could think of was that I was glad I had not worn my fancy socks.


If they proceed along this course they will have a very efficient call center—phone rings, it is answered, both parties disconnect.  Rinse and repeat.

I am not a fan of efficiency.  Efficiency is about speed, and speed kills.

I once did some work for one of the largest telecommunications firms in the US.  They wanted a call center strategy.  I told them that they should close all of their call centers, and then I closed my laptop.  (I sensed that they wanted a little more detail so I went to the white board.)


They told me it cost about thirty dollars to answer each call, and they received millions of calls.  I then had them create an exhaustive list of the reasons people called.  I was the scribe—in consulting lingo we refer to the in the work plan as facilitation because you can charge more for facilitating than you can for writing.


We created a pretty substantial list.  We then worked through each of the reasons on the list.  For an item to remain on the list, the people in the room were asked to defend why a customer should have to call about that item.


They learned that phone calls fell into one of three areas; people needed something, people had a question about something, or people had a complaint.  They learned that whatever it was people needed should have been handled at some point upstream in the process.  They learned that the information that was needed could have been provided at some point upstream in the process.  And they learned that complaints arose from something that did not happen correctly at some point upstream in the process.


Of the few items that remained—I gave in on some to make them feel better—I asked which of those could be handled through a customer portal.


Each item that is addressed at some point upstream in the process takes the cost of the call from thirty dollars to zero dollars.  The same is true with handling an item in the customer portal.  Eliminating a call ensures there are no call-backs, no waiting time, and no abandoned calls.  It also ensures that everyone gets the same answer, the same right answer to the same question.


It also ensures and insures the brand.


Your hospital gets hundreds if not thousands of calls each day.  Your hospital has dozens of phone numbers.  Each phone number is answered differently by people with different skills and experience and having different objectives.  People are placed on hold, transferred, given other numbers to call, and given the wrong information.


The other thing this hospital wants to do is to have one phone number people can call; a noble idea and a very bad idea.  They want it to handle two-dozen different call origination types, everything from getting information about how to donate to what hours the cafeteria is open to how to schedule an appointment.


In effect, they want their call center to be the same as their web site.  Their web site has more than fifty clickable links, everything from getting information about how to donate to what hours the cafeteria is open to how to schedule an appointment.


There should be a number for patient stuff and a website for patient and prospective patient stuff—a customer portal which is not even close to what EPIC and Cerner mean by patient portal.  There should also be a number or numbers for other stuff and maybe, just maybe a single link on the customer portal for all of the other stuff.



Designing patient experience so that the experiences on the web and on the phone are similar is only beneficial if those experiences are remarkable. Designing a call center experience that mimics the lack of functionality of your website is a waste of money.


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Can the Internet and Social Media Help the Development of Healthcare?

Can the Internet and Social Media Help the Development of Healthcare? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In a world frantically scrambling to adapt to the changing digital landscape, how has healthcare fared? Has the Internet and social media helped or hindered its development? Should the public turn to the Internet for medical advice? I enlisted the help of some leading voices in the field to unravel these questions and shed some much needed light on the topic.


Information technologies have already prompted a massive shift in the way medical information is accessed, with its capacity to transfer important knowledge from health professionals to the wider public. Social media, in particular, is a perfect vehicle for this.

As the tentacles of social media permeate into everyday life, doctors and healthcare organisations alike can leverage this power to circulate valuable information about health problems as well as self-care and prevention techniques.


As Lee Aase, Director at Mayo Clinic Social Media, confirms:

“By engaging in public, knowledgeable professionals can offer help and insights on a scale that was previously impossible. And by bringing their science-based perspective they can hopefully counter some of the bad information that has been so harmful to public health”


“The Journal of Internet Medical Research have suggested that 60% of adults used the internet to find health information”

It’s exactly this ‘bad information’ that makes searching online for medical advice fraught with dangers. For the more Internet savvy, this may not pose a problem, but, for the less educated, and the elderly, finding credible information on the web may be a troublesome task.

The reality is that anyone can publish on the internet, regardless of quality, which means that you could be confronted with information that is conflicting, confusing, or quite simply wrong.


From a runny nose to something more serious like a suspicious lump, people are heading to the web more and more; but, with more than 70,000 websites disseminating medical information, where should you visit?


According to Dr. Sarah Jarvis, clinical consultant at Patient.co.uk, your doctor can advise you on trusted sites to visit. Here in the UK, sites which have been awarded The Information Standard by the NHS, are particularly useful as medical resources:


"Patient.co.uk is fully accredited, and all the articles on the site are written by GPs, for GPs and their patients. They also provide full references to back up their content. Of the 11 million people who access the information onsite every month, almost a million are GPs and practice nurses – a ringing endorsement of the quality of the information."


However, can even the most reputable sites compare to the value of a face-to-face appointment with your GP? Dr. Leana Wen, physician and author of When Doctor’s Don’t Listen believes that the Internet should only be used to accompany a visit to the doctors:

"Don't use the Internet to make your diagnosis, but rather use it to formulate better questions to ask your doctor. Internet search engines can't replace seeing your doctor, because symptoms alone don't make your diagnosis--your history and physical exam do."


This is true; the benefits of a physical diagnosis cannot be completely replaced by a search online. However, the Internet and social media have other abilities that can improve healthcare, namely it’s capacity to bring patients with similar diseases together. Through Twitter chats and Facebook groups, like-minded patients can connect with one another for mutual support and knowledge sharing. Introducing trained medical professionals into these conversations will undoubtedly make these discussions more helpful.


“Doctors should always exercise caution when using Twitter as it can often lead to a conflict of interest, but as long as it’s used in responsible manner, Twitter can be the perfect platform to educate the public on a wide range of health issues.”Healthexpress Chief medical Advisor, Dr. Hilary Jones


Facebook is particularly good at grouping patients together.

In one simple click, you can become an active member of a community alongside others with similar interests.

These groups supply valuable opportunities to talk to one another while offering important information on breakthrough studies, news and advice for a specific condition, all of which will feature on a daily newsfeed.


A perfect example of a successful social media campaign can be observed with Diabetes.co.uk, a community website which has successfully built a global network to help people with diabetes worldwide. As well as promoting awareness for Diabetes, their social media platforms unite people with similar worries so they can share their stories and seek support.


In fact, the benefits of an extended support network on a persons health has been confirmed by several studies. Researchers from California carried out a large-scale study in 1979, which concluded that people with relatively low levels of social interaction died earlier than those with strong social networks.


By using social media, people are more likely to partake in social interaction and support. The possibilities have moved beyond the restraints of face-to-face contacts to an unlimited pool of people with shared interests and concerns.

As Medical Expert for NBC and regular on air guest for Fox News, Dr. Kevin Campbell testifies,

"Support groups are extremely valuable for patients--social media allows for patients from geographically diverse regions to interact in real time without even leaving their own homes."

“Social media connects. Social Media informs both patients and doctors. It enhances knowledge. It facilities communication. In healthcare, is there anything more powerful than knowledge and human connection?”Dr.John Mandrola, cardiologist

As well as improving doctor/patient relationships, Dr. Campbell believes that social media can develop relationships within doctors’ circles themselves. Doctors can now consult each other from anywhere in the world, meaning that ideas can be more easily disseminated, thus improving research and patient care.


However, many healthcare institutions are worried that the use of social media by their doctors may compromise patient privacy while threatening a doctor’s professional reputations. This has lead to many organisations devising their own guidelines for their doctors. Dr. John Mandrola, a cardiac electro physiologist and regular Twitter user, has created his own ‘Rules for Doctors on Social Media.’


There may be some risks to consider when integrating social media into a healthcare model, but the overwhelming power of social media as a tool to educate and distribute medical information cannot be ignored. If social media is to revolutionize healthcare and improve public health on a global level, health professionals must be actively involved in the process to guarantee that the information is completely reliable. With a community of doctors and specialists already discussing ethical problems and how to overcome these obstacles, the future of social media in healthcare is in good hands.



Read more: http://www.healthexpress.co.uk/blog/general-health/internet-social-media-healthcare.html?7144277=1#ixzz2qet0Nzw1 
Follow us: @healthexpress on Twitter


Via Plus91
more...
Nevermore Sithole's curator insight, January 23, 2014 3:09 AM

Internet ,Social Media and  the Development of Healthcare

Blanca Usoz's curator insight, January 23, 2014 4:13 AM

Redes sociales que conectan en salud

Anthony Carnesecca's curator insight, January 24, 2014 2:40 AM

This article brings up an interesting point about whether vital areas of our lives, such as medicine and health, should fully utilize social media platforms to advocate and push for consumers to act in certain ways.

Scoop.it!

Big Data Reduces Infections

Big Data Reduces Infections | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Big Data Reduces Infections

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Real-time data collection increases staff hygiene, prevents the spread of infection

CDC reports nearly two million patients contract hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) each year, and 90,000 die as a result. Now, OhioHealth and IBM are working to put a stop to the bad hygiene that often causes it. Using RFID, monitors at hand washing stations link to staff ID and detect when a member enters and leaves a hospital room. It is also able to tell if they use the hand washing station while they are in the room, data that is digitally streamed to a central location to produce reports.

In a pilot study, the rate of proper hand washing has increased from 70 percent to more than 90 percent at one of OhioHealth’s eight hospital campuses, according to Health IT Analytics. This 20 percent increase is impressive, even more so when compared to “a relatively poor 50 percent national average rate.”

"OhioHealth is always looking for smarter ways to protect the health of our patients," said Michael Krouse, Sr. VP & CIO OhioHealth, OhioHealth on Medical Xpress. "Superbugs like MRSA can live for hours on surfaces, and we want to do everything we can to protect our patients from these kinds of serious infections. Working with IBM, we will gain additional insights that will help us consistently achieve total compliance with hand-washing standards and fight back against these bugs."

HAIs are estimated to cost the U.S. healthcare system $4.5 billion in related medical expenses every year. “Analyzing hand-washing data gives stakeholders deep insights into the compliance levels of different departments, shifts, job roles, as well as variations based on other social behavioral factors,” writes Medical Express. “The real-time information is used to alert hospital personnel when proper hygiene habits are not being followed so that corrective action can be taken to reduce germ exposure to patients.”

"Hospitals everywhere are grappling with ways to prevent infections, and we believe OhioHealth's forward-thinking approach will raise the bar for the entire industry," said Dr. Sergio Bermudez, an IBM research scientist. "Innovative organizations like OhioHealth are leveraging the power of technology to provide smarter care for their patients to improve quality while reducing cost.”



Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

What antivirus do you use?

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

No Obamacare penalty for few in some niche government plans: IRS

No Obamacare penalty for few in some niche government plans: IRS | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Obama administration on Thursday said people enrolled in some small, government-sponsored healthcare plans will not face a penalty under Obamacare in 2014, even though their coverage does not meet the healthcare reform law's minimum requirements.

In proposed rules released by the Internal Revenue Service, the administration said narrowly defined government coverage including programs limited to family planning or tuberculosis-related services through Medicaid do not meet minimum essential coverage standards.

Ordinarily, President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would require someone who lacks minimum coverage to pay a penalty.

But the IRS is proposing that individuals in certain plans pay no penalty for failing to have minimum essential healthcare for this year. These individuals may be eligible for a premium tax credit to get healthcare coverage on a state or federal health insurance marketplace, the proposed rules said.

The exemption includes people deemed medically needy due to crippling healthcare costs, enrollees in special Medicaid demonstrations and military personnel enrolled in programs with limited eligibility.

The announcement comes on the heels of an administration decision to offer hardship exemptions to people who had their individual policies canceled last year because they fail to meet Obamacare's standards for minimum coverage. That decision was part of the administration's response to a public outcry that devastated Obama's poll numbers and worried Democratic lawmakers.

But Thursday's proposed rules, which would affect a small but undetermined number of people, have been in the works since at least last August, when the IRS published regulations on the individual mandate.

Obamacare requires most Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by March 31 or pay a 2014 penalty of $95 or 1 percent of annual household income, whichever is higher. The penalty is scheduled to rise in subsequent years.

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Consumers now call for meaningful use | Healthcare IT News

Consumers now call for meaningful use | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Meaningful use -- it's not just for healthcare providers anymore. Patients are paying attention to what meaningful use of electronic health data entails and why it's important; they're understanding, and now they want it. 

 

The federal government's ambitious plan to drive health IT adoption worked its way into the conversation Jan. 7 at the Digital Health Summit, a two-day workshop in the midst of the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas.

 

"It's not about the physician (any more) – it's about everybody but the physician," said Samir Damani, the founder and CEO of MD Revolution.

 

In keynotes by Epocrates' Abbe Don and Lygeia Ricciardi, director of consumer eHealth for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the meaning was clear: Consumers want control over their health information, and devices and solutions that help them do this and show what they should be doing will take precedence over any doctor with a kindly disposition and less-than-accommodating office hours.

 

The concern for doctors, said Christopher Wasden, managing director for PricewaterhouseCoopers, is unless they adopt mHealth technology that improves their patients' health and wellness, those patients will go somewhere else for their healthcare.

 

That consumers are flocking to mHealth devices like wearable health and fitness monitors is evident. Those devices are giving them the data that used to reside solely with doctors, and allowing them to take charge of their health and wellness. mHealth is allowing them to monitor their health in real-time, take steps to improve their health or prevent a medical issue, and deal in a more proactive manner with chronic conditions or health concerns brought on by aging.

 

mHealth devices that can do this are, therefore, meaningful. To Don, vice president of consumer experiences forEpocrates, they fulfill four goals: They "give me my … data," they make it beautiful or at least relevant to me, they allow me to act on that information, and they give me a unified view of my healthcare needs and concerns.

 

It's therefore important for doctors to adopt mHealth tools that show value to their patients, such as wearable sensors and monitors that fit into the fabric of their lives and don't make healthcare a chore. That was the focus of a panel session on wearable sensors, a market expected to gross $12 billion in four years and one taking up a considerably larger section of CES Exhibit Hall space this year. Some of those sensors are now helping to detect potential concussions in athletes, providing real-time biometric feedback, even helping diabetics constantly manage their blood sugar levels.

 

"We're really trying to deploy computing onto the body," said David Icke, CEO of MC10, which has developed a remote sensor that fits into a skullcap to help detect hits to the head that could result in a concussion, and is now getting ready to market a skin-based sensor that looks like a Band-Aid and collects biometric data.

 

That panel – and others during the first day of the summit – pointed out that while consumers want their data, physicians can and should be on hand to make that data useful to them. The doctor is like the conductor of an orchestra in that sense, managing all the different sections of instruments into one cohesive symphony.

 

And the government is getting involved, too. During her keynote, Ricciardi pointed out the benefits of the Blue Button program, giving consumers one simple button that they can push to collect all their healthcare data. Launched initially by the Veterans' Administration, it's now being extended into the public realm, with participation from healthcare providers, payers, labs, pharma, even retail pharmacies.

 

To help that process, Ricciardi announced the beta launch of the Blue Button Connector, a website that will give consumers all the information they need to take advantage of the Blue Button program. She said the site is being rolled out slowly and carefully.

 

"We've been spending a lot of time on websites lately," she pointed out.

 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Are you on track for Meaningful Use?  Do you have an EMR that is ready?  Technical Doctor can assist in selecting an EMR system and provide ongoing support once it is implemented.  Contact inquiry@technicaldr.com for more information.


- The Technical Doctor Team

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

HIPAA, accountable care among top 2014 priorities for HIT professionals

HIPAA, accountable care among top 2014 priorities for HIT professionals | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Forthcoming federal regulatory efforts and the increased use of business intelligence tools remain top-of-mind issues for hospital executives and healthcare professionals on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board entering 2014.

For instance, Neal Ganguly (right), vice president and CIO at Edison, N.J.-based JFK Health System, told FierceHealthIT that for many facilities that spent last year trying to figure out how to support a "robust" accountable care environment, 2014 likely will be a continuation of those efforts. In addition, he said, despite an overwhelming scope and high costs, business intelligence will be even more important this year than it has been in the past.

"There is a clear need to prioritize BI initiatives into more manageable and attainable project horizons," Ganguly said.

Donna Staton (left), CIO at Fauquier Health System in Warrenton, Va., echoed Ganguly's sentiments on the latter, adding that such tools are becoming "differentiators" in terms of readmissions management and care improvement. "This quickly separates the haves from the have nots," Staton told FierceHealthIT.

Attorney David Harlow, principal of the Boston-based Harlow Group, said he thought that by virtue of its long [and expanded] reach, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule will be a top priority--if not the top priority--for providers and executives throughout 2014.

"HIPAA has an effect on all sectors of the healthcare information ecosystem: healthcare providers, EHR vendors, big data analytics shops, researchers, marketers app developers, web developers, entrepreneurs creating new sectors, and patients, too," Harlow (right) told FierceHealthIT. "I hope that [by the end of the year] we see no more stories about unencrypted mobile devices with millions of patient records on them being stolen."

Despite the increased privacy enforcement, Joseph Kvedar (left), director of Partners HealthCare's Center for Connected Health, said he thinks there will be an uptick in consumer adoption of connected health.

"I believe that tracking all facets of individual health and wellness, remote monitoring for chronic disease management and mobile health devices and apps will increase exponentially in the year ahead," Kvedar told FierceHealthIT. "Physicians and healthcare providers will also increasingly 'prescribe' health tracking for their patients as a means to improve overall quality of life and treatment outcomes, creating accountability for patients."

Several healthcare organizations have been advocating that Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program include the "full panoply" of patient health data, including PGHD from remote monitoring systems. In addition, last month, the Health IT Policy Committee also reaffirmed that its objective--"patients [should] have the ability to electronically submit patient-generated health information"--should be part of Meaningful Use Stage 3, publishing a report from a technical expert panel convened at the request of the Office of the National Coordinator.




Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Need expertise in this area?  Technical Doctor can help.  Contact the #1 medical IT support team at inquiry@technicaldr.com to get help today!

-          The Technical Doctor Team

more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Tablet-Based Mobile Carts Drive EHR Engagement

Tablet-Based Mobile Carts Drive EHR Engagement | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Tablet-Based Mobile Carts Drive EHR Engagement

By Matt Rossini, JACO, Inc

As health systems and eligible healthcare professionals transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 Meaningful Use to meet the 2014 reporting deadline, they are often faced with having to find innovative solutions to satisfy the new objectives and reporting requirements.  Some of the core objectives of Stage 2 specifically address engaging patients with their medical records. For caregivers the challenge of utilizing Electronic Health Records (EHR) which is also often referred to as Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to document all of their clinical activities can be taunting enough. Adding processes that involve patient engagement to their already complex workflow activities can feel like an unattainable goal.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use Patient Access Objectives require healthcare providers to give patients the ability to view their health information online and to make records available for download and transmission to other caregivers. Today’s industry leading EHR software companies provide simple and secure patient portals to access health record information.  They will work with their clients to develop patient discharge packages with detailed instructions on how patients can access their personal information.  Now in a perfect world, every patient would return home and access their provider’s website, create a login and view their health records. As one can image, the percentage of patients taking the time to access their medical records is still very limited, yet some organizations are making some solid headway to improve results.  

Healthcare providers are always trying to discover new ways to engage patients to actively participate in their healthcare records and access the additional education resources that are made available to them. Numerous EHR providers have built in patient messaging capabilities in their software allowing a provider to send out automated phone calls, email and text alerts. Electronic messages typically provide links back to the provider’s patient portal and prompt users to create logins to access their records.  Most healthcare organizations are now directing patients to their patient portals as their sole means of accessing information such as blood work and test results.  Even with all of the automated electronic communication systems up and running, healthcare professionals are still finding patient engagement adoption results lag behind their expectations.  What healthcare professionals are find is that patients will often fall into the same old patterns of assuming that if something is wrong,  their provider will just contact them to address the situation, and therefore there is little motivation to access the information.

Some healthcare organizations are taking a more proactive approach to increase patient engagement with their EHR. By offering patients computer access during their appointments and hospital stays, caregivers have discovered a powerful tool for facilitating patient EHR access.  In environments such as a physician’s office or medical clinical providing patient computer terminals in a waiting room or during the registration process can be rather easy to implement, where as a hospital implementation can be far more complex.  For patients that are heading into the hospital to receive urgent care or to attend a stressful appointment, healthcare professionals do not necessarily have the initial time or appropriate environment to review patient EHR access until some initial care is provided.  However, depending on each patient’s unique experience during their visit to the hospital there are often numerous opportunities to engage a patient. Time should be set aside by caregivers to communicate the value of their EHR patient portal and to clearly explain to patients how they can actively participate in managing their own care.

So the question comes, how does an organization provide patient computer access when a health system has so many unique departments with complex workflows, never minded the constraints of staff resources and physical floor space?

Rather than designing fixed computer terminals to provide patient access, Healthcare IT professionals and clinician team have started to implement tablet computers into their EHR workflow. Although for most health systems tablets have their limitations for carrying out standard clinical EMR workflows, they do seem to have a place in some specific applications. Many organizations are starting to make use of tablets for activities such as patient registration, physician rounds, telemedicine programs and many more applications.  Tablet PCs offer so much flexibility for caregivers, yet they also present lots of challenges as well.  In terms of how caregivers can utilize tablet computers for patience engagement, let’s take look at how organization can address the following: tablet access,  device recharging and security.

In terms of accessibility, tablet computers are often assumed to be the ideal solution because of their compact and lightweight design. Even though a tablet is easy to handle, they can be far more challenging to manage when administering care.  Primary EHR computer devices tend to require dedicated mobile computer carts or wall mounted solutions, so that devices can be properly managed during treatment, tablets by design do not lend themselves to being secured to a device. Tablets need the flexibility to be readily accessible and at the same time detached from their docking location, regardless of whether or not they are integrated in a tablet specific mounting solution or they are located in designated storage location. 

Every healthcare organization has a unique operational environment and culture, so there is no one-size-fits-all perfect solution when deploying any new Healthcare IT solution.  Tablet mounting solutions need to compliment the original attributes that make a tablet so attractive to deploy, they are lightweight, compact and designed for mobile use.  Traditional mobile computer carts and wall cabinets are generally too excessive in size and physical weight to compliment a tablet PC.  New designs in mobile carts that cut down on both footprint and physical weight to properly manage a tablet can help address tablet access. If designed with a compact base and slim-line profile, healthcare workers are able to easily stow a dedicated tablet mobile cart at a nursing station, position them in designed-in hallways alcoves or utilize them as in-room solutions with limited intrusion to floor space.

By planning dedicated tablet mobile carts used for patient engagement, clinical workflow experts can start to implement new processes to introduce patient’s to their health record at both the appropriate time and place in the care delivery process. Tablet computer cradles that securely hold a tablet to a mobile cart can provide the fast and easy access caregivers need.  Nurses can easily remove the tablet from its dock, so they can access their medical records during their appointments or hospital stays. With some EHR patient portals available on smartphones, healthcare professionals are also able to demonstrate access on a tablet while patient use their smartphones to access their personal records and view information such as lab results, view upcoming appointments, schedule new appointments, refill prescriptions and message securely with providers.  By educating patients on all of the powerful tools that are available to them, healthcare organization will not only comply with their meaningful use objectives; it will also help rein in costs associated with managing a patient’s information and scheduling.

As a logical alternative to dedicated tablet mobile carts, healthcare IT professionals and nurses may want to deploy tablet wall mount enclosures. Given the compact profile of a tablet, wall mounted holders can fit virtually anywhere in a healthcare setting. Tablet wall mounts can be placed at nursing station, in a patient’s room or strategically placed in a hallway to improve workflow efficiency.  By making the tablets easy to access clinicians and their support staff are able to integrate the patient health record engagement into their routine patient activities.

Today’s tablets are built with long-lasting energy efficient batteries that provide great runtimes, but just like any PC device that’s not plugged in, tablets requires routine charging. By providing dedicated recharge locations for a tablet mobile cart, clinical workflow engineers are able to plan for routine device charging. In the case of a wall mount station, tablets can be returned to the secure wall mount and docked for recharging.

One of the biggest challenges with deploying tablets is addressing security concerns. Tablets are an easy target for theft.  Tablet mobile carts and wall mounts need to be designed with secure locking features that not only hold the tablet to the mounting device, yet also prevent any part of the mounting device from being tampered with. Combination locking systems and tamper proof designs are an essential part when evaluating different solutions for implementing tablets.  

Utilizing tablet computers to engage patients with managing their own care is only one way in which healthcare providers will see tremendous value in tablet EHR adoption. There is no question that tablet computers will continue to be rapidly adopted in everyday EHR workflow activities. As the industry leaders in EHR software continue to develop their platforms for tablet use, nurses and physicians will start to use tablets in specific aspects of clinical charting, monitoring patient health, sending for medication and other clinical workflow needs. For more information on how you can utilize tablet computers to improve your patient engagement objectives, please contact JACO, Inc. for more information online at www.jacoinc.com or by phone at 800-649-2278. JACO is a proud partner of CDW, More Direct, PC Connection, EPlus, Flexible Business Systems, Insight, PDS, SHI and many other Healthcare IT solution providers.



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Document Management Helps Cleveland Clinic Take Epic One Step Further

Document Management Helps Cleveland Clinic Take Epic One Step Further | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Document Management Helps Cleveland Clinic Take Epic One Step Further

Edited by Jennifer Dennard, Healthcare Technology Online

Systemwide integration of a document management solution helps Cleveland Clinic derive more value from its EMR.

Ninety-two-year-old Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit, multispecialty academic medical center offering more than 4,450 beds systemwide. Its staff includes more than 3,000 physicians and scientists and 1,785 residents and fellows in training, who handle more than 5.1 million patient visits each year. Dr. Robert White, associate chief medical information officer, explains how enterprise document management has improved workflows across the organization and helped the clinic realize more value from its EMR.



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Combine Mobile Carts And Tablets For Better Communication

Combine Mobile Carts And Tablets For Better Communication | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Combine Mobile Carts And Tablets For Better Communication

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Mobile carts are now being combined with tablet technology for computer access on the go

Matt Rossini of JACO, Inc. asks, “How does an organization provide a patient computer access when a health system has so many unique departments with complex workflows, never mind the constraints of staff resources and physical floor space?” His answer: “Rather than designing fixed computer terminals to provide patient access, Healthcare IT professionals and clinician teams have started to implement tablet computers into their EHR workflow.”

Health IT Outcomes reported earlier on the same subject writing, “Tablets give everyone in the hospital the opportunity to have technology in their pocket, rather than scrambling for limited workstations that can’t support an ever-growing staff.” A HealthLeaders Media article quotes Mark Laret of UCSF Medical Center as saying his facility plans to expand the use of tablets to, “patient self-registration, MyChart sign-ups, providing educational content in waiting rooms and patient rooms, patient questionnaires, etc.”

Rossini further explains the value of combining carts and tablets, suggesting tablet cradles to hold the tablets on mobile workstations or wall mounts. “Nurses can easily remove the tablet from its dock, so they can access their medical records during their appointments or hospital stays. With some EHR patient portals available on smartphones, healthcare professionals are also able to demonstrate access on a tablet while patient use their smartphones to access their personal records and view information such as lab results, view upcoming appointments, schedule new appointments, refill prescriptions and message securely with providers.”

The always present concern is security, and providers may want to use secure locking features for tablets in wall mounted devices to avoid theft and security breaches.

It’s not surprising that adding tablets to mobile workstations is the next logical step as studies show physician adoption of tablets for professional purposes almost doubled from 2011 to 2012. This sudden increase is due in part to MU requirements for engagement. “Utilizing tablet computers to engage patients with managing their own care is only one way in which healthcare providers will see tremendous value in tablet EHR adoption,” concluded Rossini.



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Pregnant nurse: I was fired for refusing flu vaccine

Pregnant nurse: I was fired for refusing flu vaccine | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

(CNN) -- A pregnant nurse tells CNN she was fired from her job after she refused to get a flu shot for fear of miscarrying.

"I'm a healthy person. I take care of my body. For me, the potential risk was not worth it," Dreonna Breton told CNN Sunday. "I'm not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem."

Breton, 29, worked as a nurse at Horizons Healthcare Services in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she was told that all employees were required to get a flu shot. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advises that all health care professionals get vaccinated annually.

She told her employers that she would not get the vaccine after she explained that there were very limited studies of the effects on pregnant women.

Breton came to the decision with her family after three miscarriages.

Photos: Flu under the microscope

CDC: More states reporting widespread flu

The mother of one submitted letters from her obstetrician and primary care doctor supporting her decision, but she was told that she would be fired on December 17 if she did not receive the vaccine before then.

Horizons Healthcare Services spokesman Alan Peterson told CNN affiliate WPVI that it's unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized and that pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu.

The CDC website states that getting a flu shot while pregnant is the best protection for pregnant women and their babies.

"I know that the CDC says to get it, and that's fine, but it was our choice to avoid the flu vaccine and the unknowns that come with that," Breton said.

Breton offered to wear a face mask at work, a practice that is used if employees are exempted for religious reasons. The hospital did not approve, according to Breton.

Breton has no interest in taking legal action, she said. She stated she only wants the company to reevaluate their policy on vaccines for pregnant employees and to continue working as a nurse.

more...
No comment yet.