June 20, 2019 | Even Massachusetts has high rate of medical errors


Providers: Surprise-bill proposals give insurers too much leverage

Debate over congressional proposals to ban surprise medical bills has intensified. Physicians, hospitals and insurers are now in the fray. It’s not just about which should shoulder more of the out-of-network costs. The House and Senate both have draft proposals to cap out-of-network charges at the regional insurers’ in-network rate. Hospital and specialty physician groups fiercely object to any proposal that sets hard limits on their rates or contract practices. They say such policies give insurers too much leverage. (Modern Healthcare)

Define your terms? Not so easy

Having trouble defining “value-based care?” What about “population health?” You aren’t alone. As part of the Delphi process—a research model designed to create definitions—Humana convened 18 health care leaders from entities ranging from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Geisinger. The goal: Build a consensus on the definitions of various concepts. They came up with some, but couldn’t agree on “value-based care” and “population health.” (Fierce Healthcare)


House takes first step to lift NPI ban

The House of Representatives passed a $99.4 billion Health and Human Services appropriation bill that included a provision to lift the decades-long ban on developing a national patient identifier (NPI). For decades, Congress has prohibited HHS from funding the development or promotion of any national program where patients would receive permanent, unique identification numbers. Lawmakers had cited privacy and security concerns to justify the ban, but providers, payers and others in the medical community say the ban prevented them from matching patients with the correct medical information. (Modern Healthcare)

AMA policies aim to prepare for AI

Artificial intelligence is expected to have a huge effect on health care organizations in the next few years. In anticipation, the American Medical Association adopted various AI policies and recommendations at its recent annual meeting. Many are intended to help shape the development of AI systems. In one example, the AMA recommends making developers of AI applications—and not physicians—liable for medical errors involving the technologies. (Healthcare Dive)


Variations on a theme of inefficiency

Inconsistency in the ways physicians document patient data in the EHR contributes to inefficiency and impairs safety, according to research published in Journal of General Internal Medicine. These variations result in physicians searching different places for information and/or documenting the same information multiple times. “Physician-to-physician variation in EHR documentation impedes effective and safe use of EHRs, but there are potential strategies to mitigate negative consequences.” Among those strategies: targeted user training and regular practice meetings to develop consensus around documentation. (Fierce Healthcare; JGIM)

Even Massachusetts has high rate of medical errors

In Massachusetts, a state that, according to the Boston Globe, is proud of its high-quality health care, 20% of residents have experienced a recent medical error, and most of them said they “still feel abandoned or betrayed by their doctor,” according to a report from the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety. Researchers also calculated that errors in the state totaled 61,982 in one year and that it cost $617 million to provide the necessary follow-up care. (reportBoston Globe)


Setback for fecal transplants: Two patients contracted severe infections, and one of them died, from fecal transplants that contained drug-resistant bacteria. The stool hadn’t been screened for drug-resistant bacteria, according to the FDA, which is putting trials on hold. Fecal transplants have been used successfully to treat severe intestinal disorders, especially those caused by Clostridium difficile(The New York Times)

Maine legalizes medically assisted suicide: When Maine legalized medically assisted suicide earlier this month, it became the eighth state to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with prescribed medication. Doctors will be allowed to prescribe a fatal dose. The new law stipulates that obtaining or administering life-ending medication is deemed “not suicide” under state law. (Associated Press)

Sky-high costs: In all the talk about surprise billing, air ambulance costs appear to have been overlooked, according to NPR. Last year, Congress was going to set up a panel to study the issue, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. (NPR)


Connecting donors with blood banks

Facebook has launched a blood donation tool to connect U.S. users with nearby donation centers. It has launched similar programs in other parts of the world. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks about the feature with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. (CNN)


“I was actually a little surprised. I thought there would be more consensus. It was a very revealing process to all involved.”—Meredith Williams, MD, market president for Humana, on the inability to reach a consensus definition of value-based care, in Fierce Healthcare

Jorden Gunessever