As doctors, we all took an oath when we graduated from medical school to “do no harm” to patients. It is, therefore, our duty to speak up and take action when there is an opportunity to prevent harm and improve patient care, safety and well-being. On average, the opioid crisis is killing more Americans on a monthly basis than traumatic injuries. It is time for the medical community to raise its voice even more loudly in support of proven technology that helps curb this crisis.
This month, California Governor Jerry Brown became the latest state lawmaker to embrace electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) — joining nearly a dozen other states that have passed legislation mandating that health care providers and pharmacies use the technology. The Golden State law was signed at the same time the U.S. Senate passed a bill requiring e-prescriptions for any reimbursement under Medicare Part D.
Clearly, EPCS is emerging as a key tool in the fight against opioid abuse. And legislators aren’t alone in driving the trend — corporations are playing a key role as well. Walmart, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, is requiring EPCS by January 1, 2020. In their press release, it was noted that “E-prescriptions are proven to be less prone to errors, they cannot be altered or copied and are electronically trackable.”
Accenture Tapped to Continue Work on HealthCare.gov
Accenture, the consulting firm that was hired a year ago to fix the troubled HealthCare.Gov insurance exchange, is awarded a five-year, $563 million to continue its work on the federal site. The government hired Accenture Federal Services to repair the online marketplace after dropping its original contractor, CGI Federal.
The long-term contract with Accenture also signals CMS’s acknowledgement that a task as large as HealthCare.Gov is best run with leadership from an experienced, private-sector vendor.
Connecticut HIE Dissolves After Wasting Millions
A former board member for The Health Information Technology Exchange of Connecticut blames management for the failure of the entity, which was tasked to create statewide HIE but dissolved by the legislature last summer. The HITE-CT “wasted” $4.3 million in federal grants over four years “without accomplishing anything,” according to Ellen Andrews, who served as the board’s consumer advocate. State auditors also found deficiencies in state controls, legal problems, and a “need for improvement in management practices and procedures.” The state’s legislature is now developing a new exchange strategy.
Prediction: look for more HIEs to falter this year due to mismanagement and lack of sustainability.
Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances on the Rise
Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) increased from 1,535 to 52,423 between July 2012 and December 2013, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. The percentage of pharmacies enabled for EPCS jumped from 13% to 30% during the same period.
The next task: figuring out how to get more than the current one percent of physicians to participate.
ONC Shares Lessons Learned from State HIEs
An ONC report on state HIEs finds that many exchanges lack a critical mass of data and are struggling with data sharing. The case study also found that the technical approaches, services enabled, and use of policy and legislation varied across states; collaboration among HIE participants is critical for success; and states are leveraging a variety of policy and regulatory levers to advance interoperability and data exchange.
CMS Seeks ICD-10 Testers
CMS is seeking approximately 850 volunteers for ICD-10 end-to-end testing in April, according to a CMS bulletin. Volunteers have until January 9to submit applications to participate in the April 26-May 1, 2015 testing week.
Pediatrics Report Increased EHR Use
Seventy-nine percent of pediatricians reported using an EHR in 2012, compared to 58% in 2009, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. Only eight percent of physicians say their EHRs include pediatric-specific functionality.
Modernizing Medicine Buys RCM Vendor Aesyntix
EMR developer Modernizing Medicine acquires Aesyntix, a provider of RCM, inventory management, and group purchasing services.
Presumably Modernizing Medicine was most interested in Aesyntix’s RCM component, which may create some concern among Modernizing Medicine’s current RCM partners, which include ADP/AdvancedMD, CareCloud, and Kareo.