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Archive for September, 2012

GAO Report Recommends More Secure Review of Implantable Devices

Friday, September 28th, 2012

According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should develop and implement a more comprehensive plan to review and track information security risks for implantable medical devices that use hardware, software and networks to wirelessly monitor a patient’s medical status. The report cited potential vulnerabilities including untested software and firmware, limited battery life, and unauthorized changes to device settings due to a lack of appropriate access controls. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has concurred with the recommendation and has described relevant efforts that FDA has begun to initiate.

The report can be accessed at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-816.

CMS Announces Nursing Facility Initiative

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced seven cooperative agreement awards partnering with 145 nursing facilities to implement the Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations Among Nursing Facility Residents. The initiative will test models to improve the quality of care and help reduce avoidable hospitalizations by funding organizations that provide enhanced on-site services and supports to nursing facility residents.

The Initiative will be run collaboratively by the CMS Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, both created by the Affordable Care Act to improve health care quality and reduce costs in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

More information about this initiative is available at: http://innovations.cms.gov/initiatives/rahnfr/.

Action on Mobile/Wireless Health Technologies Recommended

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) task force issued recommendations to speed the adoption of mobile, wireless and electronic health care technologies. The report recommends that the FCC play a leadership role in advancing mobile health adoption; collaborate with other federal agencies to promote innovation and avoid regulatory duplication; build on existing programs to expand broadband access to health care; and continue to increase capacity, reliability, interoperability and safety of mobile health technologies. In addition, the panel said device and software vendors should continue to develop and deploy mobile health care solutions, and adopt standards-based technologies for simple and secure health communications.

The recommendations can be accessed at http://www.itif.org/events/recommendations-mhealth-task-force

General Supervision Changes Proposed

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed reducing the supervision level for 15 outpatient services from direct to general supervision. These services include certain vaccine administrations, blood collection, bladder catheter insertion and intravenous hydration services. If finalized, the CMS recommendation would allow these services to be performed under the overall direction of a physician or non-physician practitioner without requiring their presence. In addition, there would be a reduction in the supervision level for 13 other outpatient therapeutic services, including hospital observation, IV drug infusions, drug injections and bladder irrigation services.

For further details, visit http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/FACA/Downloads/Prelim-Supervision-Decisions092412.pdf

Joint Commission Annual Report Issued

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In their annual report, The Joint Commission stated that hospitals continue to improve the quality of their care. The report reviews the performance of more than 3,300 accredited hospitals on 45 evidence-based practices for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgery, children’s asthma, inpatient psychiatric services, venous thromboembolism (VTE) and stroke. Overall, hospitals performed the 45 practices 96.6% of the time in 2011, up from 81.8% in 2002, when the report began tracking 15 of the practices. Composite scores have climbed 23.8 percentage points for pneumonia care and 9.9 percentage points for heart attack care since 2002; 15.5 percentage points for surgical care since 2005; 14.9 percentage points for children’s asthma care since 2008; 6.8 percentage points for inpatient psychiatric services since 2009; and 7.2 percentage points for VTE and 2.2 percentage points for stroke care since 2010. The report also recognizes 620 hospitals that performed the practices at least 95% of the time in 2011, a 50% increase from 2010.

For further information, go to http://www.jointcommission.org/annualreport.aspx.

Cost of Treating Preventable Obesity-related Disease Could Skyrocket

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

The cost of treating preventable obesity-related diseases could increase by $48 billion to $66 billion a year if state obesity rates continue on their current track through 2030, according to a report published by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. If states could reduce the average Body Mass Index of residents by just 5% by 2030, the report estimates every state could help thousands or millions of people avoid obesity-related diseases while saving billions of dollars in health care costs.

The report can be found at http://www.healthyamericans.org/report/100/

AHRQ Report Assesses Effectiveness of Medication Interventions

Monday, September 17th, 2012

According to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), reduction of out-of-pocket expenses and improvement in prescription drug coverage, case management and educational interventions offer promising approaches to improving medication adherence for chronic conditions. The report also assesses the effectiveness of interventions to increase medication adherence based on a review of the existing research literature.

The report can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/gapmedadtp.htm

ACCF, AHA and HRS Issue Updated CRT Guidelines

Monday, September 10th, 2012

The American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF), American Heart Association (AHA) and the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) have jointly released updated guidelines for treating heart rhythm disorders. Chief among the updates are expanded indications for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). The revised guidelines reflect new evidence that patients with mild heart failure or NYHA class II should also be considered for CRT based on their electrocardiogram (ECG) results.

The press release can be found by to  http://www.cardiosource.org/News-Media/Media-Center/News-Releases/2012/09/9-10-12-DBT-Update.aspx

CDC Issues Report on Uncontrolled Blood Pressure

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report stating that nearly 36 million adults have uncontrolled high blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  About 45% of them are being treated with medication, but may not be taking it as prescribed or the treatment may not be sufficient, the agency said. Another 39% are not aware they have the condition, while the rest are aware but not on medication. About 89% reported having a usual source of health care and 85% reported having health insurance.

For further details, http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns