Meaningful Use: No Fraud Allowed

If you’re visiting our blog, there’s a good chance that you see the value in Meaningful Use and Syndromic Surveillance. While EHR compliance is providing insight and information that is incredibly valuable—it’s also enabling providers to receive incentive payments.

The federal government wants to make it very clear that it will not tolerate any cheating by those receiving the payments.

A recent posting on EHR Intelligence focuses on what the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services calls an unwelcomed trend. “There are troubling indications that some providers are using this technology to game the system, possibly to obtain payments to which they are not entitled. False documentation of care is not just bad patient care; it’s illegal,” according to the article.

Learn more about the Obama administration’s warning to hospitals by reading the full New York Times article on the topic.

Sustainability and ROI – Keeping Tabs on your HIE

Large amounts of federal money have been pouring into states to fund HIE creation. But what is the return on this investment? A recent survey indicated that only 50% of HIEs intend to even try to demonstrate or track their ROI! With financial sustainability continuing to be the number one concern for HIEs, demonstrating value should be a top priority.

But ROI is only one issue plaguing HIEs—there’s also the issue of sustainability. Kansas is an example of sustainability gone wrong. Its HIE recently voted to dissolve and turn operations over to the state.  While the initial federal grant provided needed startup funds, the HIE could not create a workable plan to cover the estimated $400,000 in annual operating costs.

Situations such as Kansas’ highlight the potential for additional problems, especially in locations where the state HIE is also being utilized to meet Federal Meaningful Use requirements. The failure of an HIE in one of these locations would be challenging for hospitals and medical centers—which would then fail to maintain their Meaningful Use 2 certification and lose federal reimbursements.

Healthcare professionals and facilities currently working with an HIE would be wise to keep a close eye on the financial viability and sustainability of the HIE they are working with.

Tracking the Hantavirus – Affirming the Importance of Community Health Surveillance

This week, officials from Yosemite National Park reported that a ninth person had contracted the hantavirus after staying in the park. Over 260,000 park visitors have now been notified to watch for and report the onset of hantavirus symptoms.

Hantavirus is carried in the urine and feces of deer mice and spreads when humans inhale it after it mixes with dust. The virus is not known to spread from person to person, but it can incubate for up to six weeks after initial exposure.

Early symptoms include flu-like issues such as headache, fever, muscle aches, shortness of breath, and coughing. It escalates into hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and kills more than one third of those infected. Blood tests early on to detect the virus, followed by medical care, can increase the chances of survival.

The hantavirus outbreak affirms the value of community health surveillance systems, such as HMS’ EpiCenter and EpiStart, that constantly monitor reports of illness and provide real-time outbreak alert notifications to public health professionals.

Our goal is to provide public health with the tools needed to ensure the health of the communities they serve—and to provide an early detection system that helps to prevent the spread of disease.

To learn more about our surveillance systems, which fulfill Meaningful Use Syndromic Surveillance mandates, please contact us.

CMS Releases Stage 2 Meaningful Use Requirements

Recently, CMS released the requirements for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. These requirements amended the compliance dates set forth in Stage 1, allowing providers more time to meet Stage 2 criteria. Now, a provider that attested to Stage 1 in 2001 will attest to Stage 2 in 2014—not 2013.

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Tracking the H3N2v Virus

In the past few weeks, the H3N2v virus has been in the news—a new swine flu that has already resulted in one death in Ohio.

The virus, which is transmitted from pigs to people, caused the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to warn people with serious health problems to avoid contact with pigs.  This includes people with heart disease, asthma, chronic lung disease, or those with a weakened immune system.

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Health Surveillance: Putting the Focus Back on Community

Topics for our newsletter are often born around the watercooler—derived from informal conversations about timely issues that have a significant impact on Public Health Professionals. Recently, a watercooler topic in the HMS office was “Community Health Surveillance.” So much time is spent discussing syndromic surveillance that the community element of it seems to have been lost—or forgotten.

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HMS Blog Talk: HIEs

HIEs have been getting some big press coverage recently. Tennessee recently decided to abandon its plans for a statewide HIE, while Nevada just went live with a service that enables HIE participants to share diagnostic quality images.

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