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Mixing Physical, Mental Health Data Lowers Readmissions

Posted on January 14, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Ordinarily, it makes sense to treat psychiatric records with particular sensitivity, given how private these issues are for most patients.  Also, one might assume that medical doctors simply don’t need access to psychiatric records — and if so, why increase the risk of a  HIPAA breach by giving them needless data access?

Apparently, however, these assumptions may be working against patients, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins. A new study by researchers at the university found that in some cases, keeping mental health records separately from physical health records in an EMR as a privacy measure may actually decrease quality of care.

To examine this issue, researchers at Johns Hopkins surveyed the psychiatric departments at 18 of the hospitals ranked most highly by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals of 2007, according to blogger Melissa Le Furge. The survey concluded that less than 25 percent of the hospitals allowed non-psychiatric physicians to have full access to patients’ mental health EMR data.  Not so surprising, given the current state of practice.

What’s really interesting, though, is that at the hospitals that allowed non-psychiatric clinicians to have access to mental health records, patients were 40 percent less likely to be admitted within a week of discharge than industry baseline.

Melissa notes that there are many reasons why this might be:

Depression and other mental illnesses sometimes make it difficult for patients to follow physicians’ instructions after a heart attack or stroke and are less likely to take proper care of themselves…[Also,] being uninformed about medications prescribed by a psychiatrist can cause the primary care physician to prescribe medications that create adverse reactions.

Segregating mental health records may make sense from a social standpoint, but perhaps it’s not good medicine. At minimum, this issue deserves further study.

CDC Launches New Mobile App

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

It was only a matter of time before the CDC developed a mobile app — and it looks like it is jam-packed with features. Unfortunately for me, it isn’t compatible with my mobile device, but I was able to read enough about it, to make me wish I could download it. The CDC is one of my go-to websites, so I’m sure the mobile app is just as good.

Available for most Android and iOS devices, this is free for all. Some of the features include:

  • CDC Health articles: These are written by “subject matter experts and health communicators,” and are on a variety of topics. 
  • Disease of the week: This feature has quizzes, prevention tips, images and videos pertaining to a certain topic. I like to think of this as “convince yourself that you have this disease” of the week. Okay, not really. But I could see myself doing that.
  • CDC Vital Signs: This contains information that relates to public health topics, and “calls to action” about them. It has information on everything from seatbelt use to HIV testing to obesity.
  • Newsroom: Simple enough, this contains press releases from the CDC. They often release important information, so this might be helpful to have on hand.
  • Podcasts

For those accessing the CDC app from a tablet, it has been optimized to work better there. It can be used on the iPad, and the Google Play Store tested (and fount it to work well) on the Google Nexus 7″, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1″, Amazon Kindle Fire, Motorola Xoom 10.1″, Samsung Galaxy 1, 7″, and the Samsung Galaxy 2, 7″.

From what I can tell, this is a great resource. For anyone that follows the CDC on a regular basis, this is a must-have. I think it would be interesting if the CDC would add some kind of notification system — if there’s an outbreak of illness or disease on someone’s area, they would be instantly notified. That could end up causing widespread panic, but I think it could be a great feature. Overall though, I wish I could download this app to my phone, because it does have a lot of different functions.

As I mentioned, this is a free app available for both Android and iOS devices.