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Private Payers Need to Join Humana, CMS With EHR Subsidies

Posted on June 30, 2011 I Written By

Ever since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act became law in February 2009, giving birth to the phrase “meaningful use,” I’ve wondered when private insurers would follow the federal government’s lead and start offering financial carrots and sticks for using and not using EHRs. After all, one of the purposes of the Medicare and Medicaid incentive program was to address the fact that payers tend to reap the greatest financial gains from hospitals and physicians adopting EHRs, even though most if not all of the cost of acquiring the technology falls on the provider.

Federal officials have made it clear all along that “meaningful use” is just that, the meaningful use of the technology. The government was not simply going to write checks so providers could go out and buy technology. As the country’s largest purchaser of  healthcare services, CMS wanted some value for its money (not exactly something you hear every day when it comes to government spending).

I’d been hearing for years that major commercial health insurers also were willing to share some of the savings from EHR adoption, but not until the largest payer of them all, Medicare, did so first. The private sector usually does follow Medicare’s lead when it comes to major policy shifts. Medicare now has done so, but private payers have been mostly silent. Mostly.

This month, as InformationWeek reports, Humana teamed up with Allscripts Healthcare Solutions to offer physician practices financial incentives for purchasing Allscripts EHR systems. The deal is similar to one Humana cut last year with Athenahealth. A few Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, notably in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have led similar programs at the state level, with eClinicalWorks the main partner.

But unless I’m forgetting something, Humana is the only big payer that has jumped into the game. Where are the UnitedHealthcares, Aetnas, Cignas and WellPoints of the world?

Payers, it’s time to make good on the lip service you gave years ago and start passing on some of the savings you will realize from Medicare, Medicaid and hundreds of thousands of providers spending billions of dollars on EHR technology and health information exchange efforts.

 

Meducation SMART app Wins Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School Health App Competition

Posted on I Written By

If the winner of this contest is any indication of the level of development necessary for success in future competitions, developers better bring their “A” game.  The Meducation SMART app provides a great range of abilities that make it a truly dynamic tool.

From the official press release:

“The SMART (Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies) Platform Apps Challenge tasked developers with creating web applications that would interface with an electronic medical record (EMR) or personally controlled health record (PCHR) and demonstrate value to patients, physicians, or public health researchers.”

So what exactly does the Meducation app do?  It helps patients to better understand the medications they are taking through proper instructions, warnings, and, for more complicated medications, even has video demos. The medications available are pulled directly from the patient record so you get the information that is relevant to you.

Another useful feature that is becoming more important is that it can translate into 12 different languages, including english.  What I mean by that is the instructions are given at a 5th-6th grade level so they are easy to understand for almost anyone.  This makes it far less likely for patients to get confused and risk their health through misuse.

For the official press release for the contest please go here.

For more information about the Meducation SMART app please visit their contest page.