Health System Review – August 15th, 2012

Romney Pick Puts Medicare in Bull’s-Eye
Romney Pick Puts Medicare in Bull’s-Eye
WSJ – August 11, 2012
In selecting Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has also made the fight over the future of Medicare a focal point of the election, raising opportunities and challenges for both parties, particularly in battleground states such as Florida. Many Democrats and liberal groups said immediately that they’d use the sweeping plan to overhaul Medicare authored by Mr. Ryan as a cudgel against Republicans in the presidential race, as well as in down-ballot elections. Democrats have had mixed results using Mr. Ryan’s Medicare plan on the campaign trail in recent House races. Now, a central question of the presidential election will be how the public reacts to the Ryan Medicare plan, which is similar to ideas Mr. Romney himself has put forward.

Hackers Steal, Encrypt Health Records and Hold Data for Ransom
Bloomberg – August 10, 2012
As more patient records go digital, a recent hacker attack on a small medical practice shows the big risks involved with electronic files. The Surgeons of Lake County, located in the affluent northern Illinois suburb of Libertyville, revealed last month that hackers had burrowed deeply into its computer network, infiltrating a server where e-mails and electronic medical records were stored. But unlike many other data breaches, the hackers made no attempt to keep their presence a secret. In fact, they all but fired a flare to announce the break-in, taking the extreme step of encrypting their illicit haul and posting a digital ransom note demanding payment for the password. The doctors turned the server off and notified the authorities, refusing to pay.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use Final Rule Expected by Beginning of September
Bloomberg – August 15, 2012
A final rule on Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive program will be released by the beginning of September, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services official said during a webinar on August 14.

A Giant Hospital Chain Is Blazing a Profit Trail
NYT – August 14 2012
profits at the health care industry giant HCA, which controls 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, have soared, far outpacing those of most of its competitors. The big winners have been three private equity firms. The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall.

Future of data analytics is predictive, actionable
Fierce – August 16, 2012
Move over, retrospective data analysis–the future is in real-time and predictive analytics, says a new market report from Frost & Sullivan. The trend is also toward web-based systems that aggregate disparate data across diverse care settings. The more “holistic” approach to data mining includes clinical data from electronic health records combined with financial and administrative information to provide a more well-rounded view of the quality and efficiency of patient care–and then using that information to make strategic decisions.

Medtronic Launches Remote Defibrillator Monitoring System
MassDevice – August 14, 2012
Medtronic is touting the economic benefit of its CareLink Express remote monitoring system for implanted cardiac devices, saying it’s the 1st medical device company to offer connectivity for its pacemakers and defibrillators.

Hospitals: Readmission Rate Penalties Misguided
Fierce – August 16, 2012
A hospital’s readmission rate is not necessarily the best way to measure care, according to executives of two hospitals that have dodged the new penalty.

Nudging Patients to Ward Off Diabetes
WSJ – August 14, 2012
With as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults having prediabetes health-care providers are ramping up education and management programs to help people make the lifestyle changes — such as weight loss and exercise — needed to ward off full-blown Type 2 diabetes.