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Can an app mimic the effect of medication?

MEDCITY News, May 20, 2014

Apps may be able to contribute to achieving behavioral health objectives. This article describes a crowdfunding campaign that uses an app to set short term goals for happiness.

It’s pretty much the worst news a biotech company can get when they’re told that a placebo was more effective than their drug. But one company that’s kicked off a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo wants to change how we think of placebos. Serial entrepreneur Daniel Jacobs developed a virtual sugar pill — an app of inspiring image-laden videos — with the idea that it can be used to help people accomplish their goals from happiness to weight management if viewed just a couple of minutes daily.

PlaceboEffect is conducting a study with University of California San Diego. According to the website, participants take one “placebo” each day for 30 days. Each day, people rate their happiness and choose an achievable goal for feeling happier in the next 24 hours. It also lets users track and share their progress. Read More


Need A Doc? These Companies Will Hook You Up In A Hurry

Kaiser Health News, May 7, 2014

The Internet brings concierge medicine to the masses!

Last year, Don Sommers was diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, a painful condition that restricts blood flow to the limbs — in his case, causing a blockage in his left leg that persisted despite several surgeries. His doctors told him his options were up.

“I was emotionally and physically really distraught,” said Sommers, 66, a retired chemical engineer. “I was getting to the point where I thought I really would lose my leg.” Read More

Telepsychiatry Brings Emergency Mental Health Care To Rural Areas

Health News from NPR, May 7, 2014

Telemedicine is becoming more available and spreading into different areas of medicine. This program brings mental health care to areas too remote to be otherwise served, and also takes away the barriers of patient travel.

North Carolina is facing a very big mental health care challenge — 28 counties across the state do not have a single psychiatrist. That’s despite the fact that in recent years, emergency rooms in the state have seen more patients with mental health, developmental disability or substance abuse problems.

So the state is trying telepsychiatry. When a patient comes into an emergency room, they can be connected via a two-way video connection with a psychiatrist. A recent study by the nonpartisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research found that the method is having some success in providing more timely treatment. Read More

States vary in physicians’ use of electronic health records, 3/20/14

BEI Commentary: Nationwide adoption of EHRs is approximately 50% of all physicians; states vary considerably in adoption rates with Maryland and DC below average.

Less than a decade ago, nine out of 10 U.S. doctors updated their patients’ records by hand and stored them in color-coded files. Today, nearly half of all office-based physicians type their clinical notes into computers and maintain electronic files that include patients’ demographic information, complaints, procedures, test results, and prescribed drugs.

This greater use of electronic health records is supposed to help doctors and hospitals better coordinate their patients’ care and allow them to meet the cost-containment goals in the Affordable Care Act. Nationwide, 48 percent of office-based doctors used electronic records in 2013, up from 40 percent in 2012 and 11 percent in 2006. Read More

Local doctor finds advanced technology useful when interacting with patients

NV Daily, 3/16/14

BEI Commentary: Even with EHRs, the doctor-patient relationship remains very important, as noted by this local physician

With the recent push toward electronic medical records, a local doctor has conducted a study to find out how the patients themselves feel about the updated technology. He found that it all goes back to the relationship.

Dr. Bill Kerns of Front Royal Family Practice led a research team of physicians, looking into how patients want to engage with their electronic records.

Kerns found that the technology can be useful — so long as it enhances the relationship between physician and patient. Read More



US Health Information Breaches Up 137%

Advance Health Network, 3/15/15

BEI Commentary: Just how bad is HIT security? 7 million. That is how many patient records were breached in 2013, an increase of 137% over 2012. As BEI says, and is also emphasized in the article: encrypt your data.

More than seven million health records in the United States were affected by data breaches in 2013, an increase of 137% over the previous year, according to the annual breach report by Redspin, an information security company based in Carpinteria, California.

Since 2009, there has been a rapid rise in the adoption of electronic health records in the US. There have also been 804 breaches of health information affecting nearly 30 million patient health records reported to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as required by law. Read More



Electronic health records can be used to predict sepsis risk and mortality

HealthCanal, 3/14/14

BEI Commentary: EHRs are very good at looking at patient data and providing recommendations for algorithms determined by evidence based medicine. Here is a success story in that regard from UC Davis. How can you use your EHR in a similar manner?

UC Davis researchers have found that routine information — blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature and white blood cell count — from the electronic health records (EHRs) of hospitalized patients can be used to predict the early stages of sepsis, a leading cause of death and hospitalization in the U.S.

They also determined that just three measures — lactate level, blood pressure and respiratory rate — can pinpoint the likelihood that a patient will die from the disease.

UC Davis researchers have shown that electronic health records can bring precision to the early identification of sepsis. Read More

Mostashari backs payment plan that replaces SGR, 2/9/14

BEI Commentary: There is legislation proposed that would end the Meaningful Use program.  While the program would go away, HIT incentives would not.  Use of HIT would be baked directly into how physicians are paid.

Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the former head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, is gung ho on a major change to the federal health IT incentive payment program incorporated in the proposed Medicare payment system for physicians to replace the sustainable growth-rate formula.

The legislation,  unveiled Feb. 6 with bipartisan support, would eliminate penalties for noncompliance with Medicare meaningful-use criteria by 2017. The Medicare portion of the EHR incentive payment program, created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has already paid out about $4.1 billion to more than 218,000 physicians and other eligible professionals to adopt and meaningfully use EHRs. Read more

MU attestation extended by one month

Heathcare IT News, February 7, 2014

BEI Commentary: CMS is extending the Meaningful Use attestation deadline by one month.  Not sure why, but no one is complaining!

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is extending the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program 2013, the agency announced today.

“We are seeing extraordinary interest from healthcare providers participating in the Electronic Heath Records Incentive Programs, and to help ensure all eligible healthcare providers are able to receive their incentive payments, we are extending the attestation deadline for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program by one month for professionals,” CMS officials said in a statement. “Additionally, hospitals that may have missed their reporting deadline have an opportunity to submit their attestation retroactively.” Read More


Security, Security, Security…..Encrypt your Drives by Default

Voice of the Doctor, January 27, 2014

BEI Commentary: We will keep saying it over and over until it is common practice – encrypt your hard drives (especially your laptops). Read about this practice in Canada that had an unencrypted laptop stolen that contained PHI for 627,000 patients.

In this latest release Medicentres Family Health Care Clinics, a 27-clinic medical group in Western Canada had an unencrypted clinic laptop 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. Read More


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