Friday, May 27, 2005
The iHealthBeat article links to an article appearing on the WTRF website about the EMR efforts and the appointment of Dr. Julian Bailes to chair the workgroup. A more in depth article by Juliet A. Terry and titled "State Makes Push for Electronic Records" appears in the May 27, 2005, edition of The State Journal.
The article also reports on the following related news:
Leaders from West Virginia's Davis Health Systems recently met with National Health IT Coordinator Dr. David Brailer to share details about the health system's rural health care information infrastructure. For more on Dr. Brailer's connection to West Virginia see my post on Febuary 10, 2005.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
The article indicates that the new technology has saved the State of West Virginia $30M in transportation costs during its first year.
I have first hand knowledge of the technology having been involved in a number of circuit court hearings before over inmate related health care matters. Each time the technology has been used it has worked very well for all involved and I can see how it definitely saves substantial time, effort, manpower and money.
Instead of the inmate being driven by one or two officers from the Regional Jail facility to the particular county court house (which in many cases can be a significant drive) the technology allows the inmate to be brought to a central location in the Regional Jail for the hearing and the judge, lawyers and inmate are brought together via videoconferencing.
Another benefit of the new technology is safety. The use of videoconferencing makes it safer for the general public because there is a reduction in the risk of a particular inmate escaping while away from the facility. Also the technology makes it it safer for circuit judges, their staff and others who visit the local court houses. The recent incident in Atlanta involving an inmate who overpowered a court officer, stole her gun and ended up killing three individuals, including Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, highlights the possible benefits of the technology.
For more information on the videoconferencing project you may want to check out the following past press releases from the Supreme Court of Appeals News.
December 26, 2001 - Supreme Court of Appeals Awarded $700,000
September 15, 2004 - West Virginia Supreme Court Awarded
$25,000 Grant for Technology Training
Thursday, May 19, 2005
I found a number of his posts very interesting and look forward to more information on HIPAA related issues and compliance. In one of his posts on the need for more education and understanding of the impact of HIPAA he included a link to a HIPAA resource provided by the Washington State Medical Assocation. I found the overview informaiton and resources very good, especially for smaller physician practices.
Governor Manchin Appoint Dr. Julian Bailes to Coordinate West Virginia Electronic Medical Records Initiative
I'm excited to see West Virginia taking steps to coordinate and develop a statewide integrated electronic medical record initiative. The need for a coordinate effort on EMR technology is vital to an integrated and compatible system. Without a coordinated effort there will be a variety of incompatible hardware, software and health EMR systems which will defeat many of the reasons and benefits for making the conversion from paper record systems to electronic record systems.
The press release states:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Gov. Joe Manchin today announced his appointment of Dr. Julian E. Bailes, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine, to oversee a statewide working group studying implementation of electronic medical records technology – an initiative highlighted in the governor’s first State of the State address.
A Louisiana native, Dr. Bailes brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from the medical and health care arenas to this leadership position. He has extensive experience in neurological research, telemedicine and patient care, and his written work has been published in more than 100 academic publications.
He established one of the nation’s largest specialty telemedicine networks while practicing in Pittsburgh, Pa. and was the co-principal investigator & leader of the National Medical Practice Knowledge Bank project, a $52 million effort at computerization and dissemination of medical information.
"Dr. Bailes is a precious asset to West Virginia’s medical community and I am pleased that he has agreed to assist with our efforts to improve doctor and patient accessibility to medical records through the innovative use of technology," the governor said. "Under his leadership and guidance, West Virginia will develop sound policy aimed at making health care information more readily available to consumers so that they can make timely and informed choices about their doctors and treatment options."
During Dr. Bailes five-year tenure at WVU, the Department of Nerosurgery has experienced significant growth. The department has increased to 10 faculty members with subspecialty expertise in all areas of neuroscience, and provides care for neurological conditions and injuries at WVU Hospital and in Wheeling.
Dr. Bailes is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where he earned his B.S. and Doctor of Medicine degrees.
For more information on the national perspective on the EMR intiative you can read one of my previous posts dicussing Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt's press release on a new report citing investment in information technology (IT) as an essential, high priority for the American health care system and the U.S. economy.
Another native West Virginian has been intregally involved in the national initiative to integrate health information technology, including EMR systems, into the national health care system.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Alaina N. Stout joined Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso, PLLC in April 2005. She will be focusing her practice on health care and product liability law. She earned her bachelor's degree in Health and Society with a minor in Legal Studies from the University of Rochester, here Masters in Public Health from Boston University School of Public Health and received her law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.
The project involved small teams of students who were allowed to spend no more than $50 and were to limit there search of legal and public sources of information, including death records, property tax information, campaign donations occupationa license registries, etc. The results of the efforts by these inquisitive computer science students were interesting.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Minnesota Attorney General and MInnesota Hospital Reach Agreement over Fair Pricing for Unisured Patients
According to the press release, the agreement establishes a price cap for the uninsured that would guarantee those with household incomes at or below $125,000 the same discount that hospitals give their largest commercial insurer. The agreement also standardizes practices that hospitals and clinics will follow when attempting to collect medical debts from patients.
Each of the following health systems entered into separate agreements with the Attorney General (click on the health system to view the actual agreement):
I suspect that the agreements arose out of the various class actions that have been filed around the country challenging hospital charity care policies and the treatment of the unisured regarding billing and collection of the costs of health care services. It will be interesting to see whether other state attorney generals will follow suit by negotiating with hospitals over billing and collection practices involving uninsured health care consumers.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The article also mentions that West Virginia University Hospitals may be one of the potential bidders, alone or in conjunction with CAMC. The article also states that there are nine potential bidders and theat HCA is in the second phase of process which involves the potential bidders to look at the facilities through the due diligence process.
HHS Secretary and Leading U.S. Companies Say Health Information Technology Should Be Urgent Priority
HHS released a new report, "Health Information Technology Leadership Panel: Final Report," at the Business Roundtable's Chief Executive Officer Health Care Summit. The Report, prepared by The Lewin Group, a health care policy consulting firm, through a contract with HHS, convened a Health Information Technology Leadership Panel made up of corporate executives from large U.S. companies that purchase a substantial amount of health care for their employees.
According to the press release, the Leadership Panel identified three key imperatives for health IT:
1. Widespread adoption of interoperable health IT should be a top priority for the U.S. health care system.
2. The federal government should use its leverage as the nation’s largest health care payer and provider to drive adoption of health IT.
3. Private sector purchasers and health care organizations can and should collaborate alongside the federal government to drive adoption of health IT.
The panel also reached six conclusions to guide health IT adoption by the federal government and private sector.
1. Potential benefits of health IT far outweigh manageable costs.
2. Health IT needs a clear, broadly motivating vision and practical adoption strategy.
3. The federal government should provide leadership, and industry will engage and follow.
4. Lessons of adoption and success of IT in other industries should inform and enhance adoption of health IT.
5. Stakeholder incentives must be aligned to foster health IT adoption.
6. Among its multiple stakeholders, the consumer – including individual beneficiaries, patients, family members and the public-at-large – is key to adoption of health IT and realizing its benefits.
Finally, the Leadership Panel identified themes regarding the relative benefits and costs of health IT implementation. First, investment in health IT is urgent and vital to rising health care demands, business interests and the broader US economy. Despite the initial costs, health IT will become an essential means -- among others -- for managing health care costs. Second, the potential benefits and costs of health IT must be clearly perceived by its stakeholders.
The press release announcing the release of the report can be found here.
"The Health Information Technology Leadership Panel: Final Report" can be found here.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
United Hospital Center, Inc., West Virginia United Health System, Inc., and the West Virginia Health Care Authority each filed separte petitions for appeal which were consolidated. The Supreme Court voted 3-1 (Albright voting not to grant and Starcher not participating) granting the petition for appeal.
Fairmont General Hospital appealed the original decision by the West Virginia Health Care Authority granting the certificate of need to United Hospital Center. Fairmont General Hospital appealed the decision to the Office of Judges, which upheld the decision, and then appealed the decision to the Circuit Court of Marion County.
Fairmont General Hospital had opposed the new facility from the beginning because the new site for the facility was 8 miles north of the current hospital location located along I-79, which was much closer to the current Fairmont General Hospital location. According to the Daily Mail article, as a result of the approval of the new hospital, Triad Hospital, Inc. decided not to purchase Fairmont General Hospital and construct a new $ 85 M hospital facility in Marion County.
The arguments on appeal revolve around the Certificate of Need Standards for Renovation-Replacement of Acute Care Facilities and Services which originally required that a replacement hospital be located no more than 5 miles from the exisiting facility and located in the same county. The Standards were subsequently changed to define "replacement" as, "a project for the erection, construction, creation other acquisition of a physical plant or facility. All beds in the replacement facility must be located within the same county or within fifteen (15) miles of the original facility." The new Standards were approved by Governor Wise on October 9, 2004.
In this case, the site for the new United Hospital Center hospital was located 8 miles from the existing facility. The West Virginia Health Care Authority's Decision issued on October 24, 2003, stated that the Cerficate of Need Rule does not require a CON application to be perfectly consistent with the State Health Plan (the State Health Plan is made up of a variety of Standards for particular services, including the Renovation-Replacement of Acute Care Facilities and Services). The Authority's decision also stated that a replacement hospital 8 miles rather than 5 miles from the existing hospital is not materially inconsistent with the definition of a "replacement" facility.
Judge Fox's November 24, 2004 Opinion and Order Reversing the Decision of the West Virginia Health Care Authority / Office of Judges recognized that the 8 mile distance between the current and proposed new facility exceeded the 5 mile regulatory limit. Judge Fox's Order also recognizd that one of the reasons for the mileage limit was to protect other area hospitals from the encroachment of new facilities into areas traditionally serviced by other area hospitals. Ultimately, Judge Fox found that the West Virginia Health Care Authority violated W.Va. Code 29A-5-4(g)(1) and exceeded its statutory authority.
For those interested in West Virginia certificate of need law this will be an interesting case to watch.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
As a result the Department of Health and Human Resource (DHHR) issued its proposal for Medicaid Cost Containment Plan. A copy of the draft plan can be found on the West Virginia Health Hospital Association website here.