Google Named Partner In Bid For Defense Department’s EHR Contract

Google has been identified as part of PricewaterhouseCoopers-led group bidding for the Defense Department’s $11 billion electronic health-record contract. The bid proposes to build a system on open-source software derived from the Veterans Affairs Departments’ EHR system, VistA. Google is expected to provide services in infrastructure, including cloud, security, storage, networking, and enterprise searching capabilities. Additionally, Google’s search services will allow providers to query EHR data extensively. For example, a physician could query it for all patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, and then search for correlations between patients with the disorder and other factors that led to an improvement or decline in health.

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EHR Incentive Program Blog Series Part VII: Attestation

In our last EHR Incentive Program blog series post, we’ll look at the final step: attestation.

Attestation is a legal statement that you have met all the thresholds and requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. The process of attestation happens through an internet-based CMS system that allows you to enter certain required information, including 15 core objectives, 5 out of 10 menu objectives, 3 core (or 3 alternate core) clinical quality measures, and 3 out of 38 additional quality measures.

So, where do you go to attest? For the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, you will attest through the same system where you initially registered. Click here to go to the CMS EHR Registration and Attestation system. During the attestation process, you will enter data and answer questions on the core objectives, menu objectives, and clinical quality measures.  There is an attestation guide to help you through the process. Click here to download it.

After you attest, you will find out immediately if you have successfully achieved the core and menu objectives of the program. If you are not successful, you can edit any information that was incorrectly entered and resubmit your attestation. You may also resubmit for a different 90 day reporting period with new information. If you are successful, CMS will perform internal checks to make sure you are eligible for payment. You will receive your EHR incentive payment approximately 4-8 weeks following attestation.

The attestation process for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program is similar. First year participants are required to demonstrate the ability to adopt, implement, or upgrade certified EHR systems. This can be done by submitting the CMS EHR Certification Number obtained from the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) for your certified EHR through your state Medicaid agency site. Second year participants are also required to attest through you state internet-based portal, but you will only attest to meeting meaningful use requirements (as well as having met all other eligibility criteria).  For more information on your state’s internet-based portal, click here. States are required to issue Medicaid incentives payments within 45 days of completing all eligibility verification checks.

This post concludes our EHR Incentive Program Blog Series! Click here to see EHR Incentive Program FAQs from CMS.

Final Rule Fails To Promote Home Health EHRs

The final rule for the Medicare home health prospective payment system for CY 2015 includes language on the use of electronic health records by home health agencies. In the final rule, CMS says that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will continue to promote the adoption and implementation of certified EHRs but doesn’t explicitly state that HHS encourages their use in a home health setting.

Last month, the proposed rule on Medicare and Medicaid Conditions of Participation for Home Health Agencies encouraged “home health providers to use-and their health IT vendors to develop-ONC-certified HIT/EHR technology to support interoperable health information exchange with physicians, hospitals, other long-term and post-acute care providers, and their patients.” The final rule also states that the ONC expressed in the 2014 Edition Release 2 final rule an intention to propose future changes to the ONC HIT Certification Program that would permit the certification of health IT for other health care settings, including long term and post acute care and behavioral health settings.

In a meeting of the HIT Policy Committee’s certification and adoption workgroup, the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) submitted a written comment which argued for the establishment of voluntary EHR certification criteria. PHA representatives stated that even if these criteria were put in place, EHR adoption among home health providers could start to “level off or even decrease” since they are not eligible for the monetary and technical assistance provided under the HITECH Act.

Click here to see the final rule.

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Hackers Targeting Healthcare Providers

According to security experts, your medical information is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market. Last month, FBI warned healthcare providers to guard against cyber attacks after one of America’s largest hospital operators had been broken into, stealing the personal information of 4.5 million patients. Security experts warn that these cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare industry. Hackers sell names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information, sometimes using this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can that can resold. They may even combine a patient number with a false provider number and file  made-up claims with insurers. Because medical identity theft is not immediately recognized, criminals have more time to use the stolen credentials. With the shift to electronic medical records, experts predict more cyber attacks.

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CMS Finalizes EHR Meaningful-Use Rule

CMS has finalized a rule allowing hospitals and eligible professionals more flexibility in how they meet meaningful-use requirements for the electronic health-record incentive program. The rule gives providers a longer timeline and more flexibility in meeting the incentive goals laid out by the stimulus program first created in the 2009 HITECH Act. The rule changes the beginning of the third stage of meaningful use for the first cohort of adopters from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017. Additionally, providers struggling with adoption of 2014 certified EHRs will be given more flexibility. The finalized rule has received some criticism from stakeholders who appreciate the flexibility of the rule, but believe it offers little relief.

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90% Of Providers Lose Their Patients’ Data

According to privacy researchers at the Ponemon Institute, 90% of healthcare organizations exposed their patients’ data or had it stolen in 2012 and 2013. The healthcare industry has had 204 incidents so far this year; 2.1 million records have also been lost. This number does not include the 4.5 million names and Social Security numbers taken from Community Health System’s computer network. On black markets, illegally purchased medical records can lead to large sums of money-about $50 a record. Criminals use medical records to fraudulently bill insurance or Medicare, or use patients’ identities for free consultations and to obtain prescription medications. Most providers fail to take the extra steps to protect these digital files, making it easier for hackers to steal them.

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Study: EHRs Help Predict & Reduce Mortality Rates

According to a new study published by HIMSS Analytics, hospitals with greater electronic health record capabilities can better predict and decrease mortality rates. Researchers used data from more than 4,500 acute-care facilities on 32 different procedures and condition-based groups and found mortality was “evaluated as an outcome in 19 of them.” Using HIMSS’ Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM), they then determined a predicted mortality rate and compared it to the actual mortality rate to see if a hospital performed better or worse than expected, and compared it to each hospital’s level of EHR adoption. Researchers found that hospitals using a more advanced EHR predicted mortality rates for most conditions better. Additionally, the authors found decreased mortality rates for several conditions and suggested that other elements such as organization culture and process issues could affect patient outcomes regardless of EHR capability.

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