Health System Review – November 20th, 2012

Using Palm Scanning to Promote Patient Safety

Small businesses fume, now seeing ‘Obamacare’ as unavoidable
Christian Science Monitor – November 16, 2012
With the 2012 election ending their hopes for a reprieve from President Obama’s sweeping health-care reform law, a number of business owners across the US are threatening to lay off workers, slash employee hours, or add surcharges to their services, citing higher costs of doing business once all the provisions of “Obamacare” kick in.

Palm Scanning is Being Used in Hospital Patient Safety Efforts
NYT – November 10, 2012
Many hospitals are implementing palm scanning and other procedures to ensure patient safety and proper identity. Privacy advocates say the collection of biometric data could be an identity theft nightmare, but administrators say the data are safely encrypted. Also, patients are not required to be photographed or scanned. “It’s a patient safety initiative,” said Kathryn McClellan, a vice president at New York University Langone Medical Center. “We felt like the value to the patient was huge.”

Physicians Face Penalties for Avoiding Quality Initiatives
Partnership to Speed Up EHR Adoption Through Loan Program
CMS Issues $8.36B in EHR Incentives Through October
What Hospitals Should Consider When Selecting EHR Vendors
American Medical News; Healthcare IT News; Health Data Management – November 9-15 2012
This week there were four articles highlighting the changing EHR landscape. The first article describes the impact on physicians. Physicians who do not report Medicare quality measures or use e-prescribing and EHRs next year will take a financial hit. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimated participating in the programs could help a doctor avoid $19,000 in penalties. The second article highlights micro loan programs to help eligible providers purchase EHR systems. The third article focuses on CMS’s payments of $8.36 billion in EHR incentives to 165,800 doctors and hospitals through October. The fourth article identifies various factors, beyond cost, to consider when choosing an EHR vendor.

NIH Database on Integrated Genetics is Launched
Nature – November 7, 2012
The NIH’s new ClinVar database integrates data from dozens of databases and allows clinical testing laboratories to deposit their data. The database describes diseases using standard nomenclature, allows data to be incorporated into other software and supports complex searches. “It provides a forum that is computer readable for people to develop tools to find connections between genetics and disease,” said James Ostell, chief of the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s engineering branch.

Study Links Statins to Reduced Cancer-Related Deaths
NEJM & Reuters – November 7, 2012
Cancer patients receiving statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, were 15% less likely to die of cancer or of other causes than those who weren’t taking the medications, according to a Danish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Statin use in patients with cancer is associated with reduced cancer-related mortality,” researchers said. “Our hypothesis is that by reducing cholesterol, you steal cholesterol from the proliferating cancer cells … improving survival,” lead researcher Stig Bojesen said.

Computer Program Shows Promise for Reducing ADHD Symptoms
Healio & Infectious Diseases in Children – November 13, 2012
Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder who played a computer-based attention-training game for eight weeks showed substantial improvements in inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, a study found. The study revealed that those with severe ADHD symptoms yielded greater outcomes following the intervention, compared with other children.