One of my favorite traditions during the busy holiday season is to make lists: for presents, for holiday meals, and for the endless “to-dos.” This year I decided to throw in a Naughty and Nice list for the healthcare and healthcare IT world – just in case Santa needs some help. So, in no particular order, here is an arguably incomplete list highlighting a few highs and lows from 2105:
The Naughty List
Data hackers – Hackers hit healthcare hard this year with more 720 data breaches, led by the February Anthem breach that impacted 78.8 million patient records and up to 18.8 million non-patient records. The top seven cyberattacks left more than 193 million personal records open to fraud and identity theft, according to 10Fold Communication. Unfortunately we’ll likely see the data hackers make the naughty list again in 2016.
EHR Implementation costs – Brigham and Women’s Hospital blames its first budget shortfall ($53 million) in 15 years on unexpected costs associated with its switch to Epic. Lahey Health also attributes some of its $21 million loss – and layoff of 130 employees – on its Epic rollout.
Adventist Health System – Adventist agrees to pay $118.7M to settle allegations of improper compensation to referring physicians. Whistle-blowers claim the health system paid physicians above fair market value and issued bonuses to employed physicians based on a formula that improperly took into account the value of their referrals to Adventist hospitals.
U.S. healthcare costs versus outcomes – The US continues to spend more on healthcare than other high-income nations, but is not achieving better outcomes, according to a Commonwealth Fund report based on 2013 data. The US spent about 17% of the GDP (an average of $9,086 per person) on healthcare, which is about 50% more the other countries; we also scored last in terms of rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality. It’s past time for the US to get off the naughty list.
Meaningful Use – Critics of the Meaningful Use program were not appeased when CMS released the final rules for Stage 3 in October. Despite some simplifications and increased flexibility, a host of professional and medical organizations continue to call for a program overhaul, pointing to low Stage 2 attestation rates, competing priorities, and concerns with software usability and record interoperability. To be continued.
The Nice List
Geisinger Health System – In November Geisinger CEO David Feinberg, MD announced the health system would refund patients their co-pay if they were dissatisfied with their experience, based on kindness and compassion. If Starbucks, Zappos, and Nordstroms can flourish with similar policies, why not healthcare?
Leidos, Cerner, and Accenture – The Department of Defense named Leidos the prime contractor for its $4.3 billion EHR to be deployed across the Military Health System. The Leidos/Cerner/Accenture team beat Epic/IBM and Allscripts/CSC/HP for the highly coveted and largest EHR contract in history. Christmas arguably came in July for the winners.
ICD-10 – After multiple delays and doom and gloom predictions, the industry went live on ICD-10 on October 1. Providers are being paid and the sky did not fall. For now anyway.
OpenNotes – A Geisinger Health System analysis of the OpenNotes initiative finds that giving patients access to doctors’ notes in their EHR can boost medication adherence. Almost 80% of patients taking hypertension medications adhered to their drug therapy when participating in OpenNotes compared to 75% of patients taking the same medication but did not have access to their doctors’ notes. Let’s hear it for transparency!
Telemedicine – Telemedicine continues to gain widespread acceptance and is forecasted to grow exponentially over the next few years. Providers will conduct about 800,000 telemedicine consultations in 2015 and more than half of all US hospitals now have a telemedicine program. The number of patients using telemedicine services is predicted to grow to 7 million by 2018, up from 350,000 in 2013.
Want to give Santa a hand? Share your recommendations for the Naughty and Nice list.
Michelle Ronan Noteboom
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