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WebMD Introduces New Allergy App

Posted on April 3, 2013 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.

WebMD sure is trying to make a name for themselves in the mHealth world. In addition to the other apps they released last year, they just added another app to that suite. This time, it focuses on allergies.

I think that everyone probably knows someone that has some kind of allergy, or even suffers from one themselves. My husband has seasonal allergies, and my son has several food allergies. While this app is geared more toward people who suffer from allergies themselves, I think just about anyone could benefit from it.

The app features a few different sections, which include:

  • Allergy Forecast: Allergy levels specific for your location that are regularly updated. You can also look up the “allergy forecast” for places you are visiting.
  • Personalized Forecasts and Tips: After indicating which allergies you and/or your family suffer from, the app will give you tips on how to manage those allergies.
  • Allergies 101: This includes WebMD’s library of allergy related resources — articles, photos, and videos. It focuses on seven categories: Outdoor, indoor, skin, drug, food, insect bites and stinks, and latex.
  • Timely Alerts: This helps you plan your days, and know if certain triggers will be worse, according to the allergy forecast.

The part of this app I think makes this one everyone should download is Allergies 101. You never know when you will be around someone when they have an allergic reaction to something, and being able to quickly access information may be important. As a parent, and especially because I have a child with allergies, I feel it’s important to be able to access that information at a moment’s notice. It would be easier to go straight to this app, rather than messing around with Google.

It’s fun to see WebMD coming out with new apps fairly regularly. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of WebMD, and I love using their apps.

This app can be downloaded for iOS for free here.

Hospitals, Representative Ask For Extension of EMR “Safe Harbor”

Posted on 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.

Right now, it’s legal for hospitals to give doctors EMRs under certain circumstances, despite the existence of the Stark law banning payments intended to induce referrals.  Specifically, hospitals won’t face anti-kickback enforcement if doctors pay 15 percent of the cost of EMRs donated by hospitals.

But the Stark law exception established by CMS, plus a “safe harbor” rule established by the HHS Office of the Inspector General, are both due to expire at the end of 2013. This will take place despite the fact that Medicare incentives for EMR adoption will continue through 2016, notes iHealthBeat.

Hoping to address this state of affairs, the Federation of American Hospitals has made the renewal of EMR exceptions to the Stark law its top recommendation in a proposed list of safe harbors, reports Modern Healthcare. More recently, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) wrote a letter to the chief counsel to HHS’ OIG to extend those exceptions soon.

Extending these safe harbor provisions at least through the life of the Meaningful Use program seems necessary and wise. After all, it’s hard enough to get smaller practices up on EMRs even with the promise of incentives. Letting hospitals pay for most of the cost of the system would meet the public policy objectives which prompted the creation of HITECH in the first place.

According to Modern Healthcare, the federal Office of Management and Budget is reviewing proposed rules regarding the Stark exception and the anti-kickback safe harbor. Let’s hope they’re finalized in time to solve the problem.