CMS Launches New Physician Focused Claims Data Project
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced the launch of a new pilot program aimed at providing healthcare providers with direct access to patient claims data. Using application programming interfaces through the Medicare Blue Button program, the program is designed to allow practitioners with deeper insight into patients’ history, providing data access to previous diagnoses, medication lists, and more to provide a more full picture of a patient’s medical history. The pilot has launched on the program website, where clinicians may request access to the pilot. CMS will begin the program with a select group in August, and then expand to a growing number of providers. In a statement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma noted: “Technology, coupled with open data sharing, is how we will improve value, control costs and keep patients healthy while ensuring a solvent Medicare program for generations to come.
Kaiser Permanente Appoints First Chief Digital Officer
Kaiser Permanente has appointed Prat Vemana as its first Chief Digital Officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. Vemana will be responsible for the strategy, development, and execution of the company’s digital vision in partnership with the internal health plan, hospital, and medical group teams. As the former Chief of Product for Home Depot, the move marks the continued trend of medical organizations looking outside of healthcare for technology expertise. In a released statement, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson shared: “We’ve made tremendous investments in building our digital platforms and creating greater access for our members. Now we are taking it to the next level by focusing on digital experiences that change the way transactions and services are delivered.”
Researchers develop wearable device that could administer medication to prevent overdoes deaths
Researchers from Purdue University are developing a wearable sensor capable of detecting when a user’s heart rate decreases to trigger the administration of Narcan–an antidote used for opioid overdoses. Still in the proof-of-concept stage, the wearable sensor is made up of a battery, RF control, and induction device. In a video describing the developing technology, Hyowon Lee, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue, explained: “A lot of time patients who overdoes are found alone and are incapacitated to inject the life-saving drug themselves. We are trying to come up with a closed loop solution that can automatically deliver an antidote.” The opioid crisis remains as a major public health crisis within the U.S., with over 70,237 overdose deaths in 2017 alone.
Telehealth Innovation Bill Returns to Capitol Hill for Third Attempt
The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act is headed back to congress after failed attempts in 2015 and 2017. The bill seeks to provide incentive for more healthcare providers to launch telehealth programs through reimbursements via the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMI). Additionally, the bill would have the CMI evaluate telehealth models for cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care “without increasing the costs of delivery.” In a press release, U.S. Representative John Curtis (R-UT) who introduced the bill with co-sponsor Joe Neguse (D-CO) stated: “Telehealth innovation is critical to expanding cost-effective healthcare access in a state like Utah, where care is often unavailable or difficult to access for rural communities. […] Technology provides great potential to enhance connectivity between healthcare professionals and their patients and I’m pleased to work with willing partners on both sides of the aisle to find healthcare solutions for rural communities across Utah and around the country.”