News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Aetna, Humana, Kaiser, UnitedHealth Put Five Billion Medical Claims into Database for Healthcare Cost, Utilization Research

Data represents $1 trillion in spending since 2000 and contains clinical laboratory and pathology data

In what may turn out to be a positive development for clinical laboratories and pathology group practices, four of the nation’s five biggest health insurance companies will collaborate and put their medical claims data for billions of transactions into a single data base. Researchers say this database will give them an unprecedented ability to assess utilization trends and the clinical care delivered to patients covered by private health insurance.

The four health insurance companies that will provide data are:

The data provided by each of these health insurers will be submitted to the newly-created Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). This data will consist of more than five billion medical claims dating back to 2000. These claims represent more than $1 trillion in spending. The health insurers are also providing the financing required to launch HCCI. (more…)

Hospital and Physician Adoption of EHRs Will Accelerate Because of Federal Incentives

Clinical Pathology Laboratories Swamped With Requests to Interface Their LISs to EHRs

This is the first year that hospitals and physicians can qualify for federal incentives associated with their adoption and meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) systems. Already clinical laboratories and pathology groups report increasing demand for them to interface their laboratory information systems (LIS) to the physicians’ EHRs.

The financial incentives for hospitals and physicians are authorized as part of the federal government’s health information technology (HIT) incentive program. To get their fair share, healthcare providers must demonstrate by the end of 2011 (September 30th for hospitals) a 90-day contiguous meaningful use of an electronic health record (EHR) for Medicare transactions—and either adopt, implement or upgrade an EHR for Medicaid also within 90 days. Hospitals can receive payments for both, but physicians only one. (more…)

Survey of EMR Adoption by Doctors Provides “Best Data There’s Ever Been!”

It’s tough to get an accurate picture of EMR (electronic medical record) adoption by office-based physicians. That’s important information for clinical laboratories because they must often provide an electronic gateway interface with physicians’ EMR systems for laboratory test ordering and results reporting.

Now comes help for clinical laboratories and pathology groups seeking to understand the pace of EMR adoption by physicians. This summer, The Institute for Health Policy published the results of a six-month study on the use of electronic health records (EHRs) in physicians’ offices in the New England Journal of Medicine. “This is the best data that there has ever been on the adoption of electronic health records by physicians,” said William Jessee, M.D., the physician president and chief executive officer of the Medical Group Management Association.

According to the abstract of the NEJM article, 4% of physicians reported having an extensive, fully-functional electronic-records system, and 13% reported having a basic system. Another finding was that the physicians most likely to be currently using EMRs were: 1) primary care physicians; 2) those physicians practicing in large groups, in hospitals or medical centers; and, 3) physicians practicing in the western region of the United States. Physicians reported positive effects of these systems on several dimensions of quality of care, as well as high levels of satisfaction in how their system performed. Financial barriers were viewed as having the greatest effect on decisions about the adoption of electronic health records.

The survey was conducted between September 2007 and March 2008 at the 902-bed Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; the Harvard School of Public Health; George Washington University; and RTI International, working under a contract with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS and grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Despite the fact that the survey revealed that 83% of physicians don’t have an EHR, the NEJM authors pointed out some good news. They noted that 16% of physicians with no EHR responded that their medical practice had purchased an EHR at the time of the survey, but it had yet to be implemented. Another 26 % of surveyed physicians said their practice was planning on implementing an EMR system in the next two years.

The conclusions of the report were that “Physicians who use electronic health records believe such systems improve the quality of care and are generally satisfied with the systems. However, as of early 2008, electronic systems had been adopted by only a small minority of U.S. physicians, who may differ from later adopters of these systems.”

The pace and nature of physician adoption and use of EHRs are important issues for medical laboratories and pathology labs. Lab managers and pathologists will want to be ahead of physician EHR adoption curve by preparing their laboratory information system (LIS) to interface with these EHRS to accept electronic test orders and directly download lab test results into the physician’s HER system.

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