Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lets Go Mountaineers . . .

Everyone in West Virginia is excited about the start of the WVU college football season. There is a a lot of buzz about the Mountaineers, its #3 AP ranking and Heisman hopefuls, Steve Slaton and Pat White (check out his Pitt growl). Good luck to the Mountaineers as they start there season this weekend. Go Mountaineers and their #1 rated fans!

This clip is a year old but I just saw it after my dad sent it to me. What a great commercial. For those of you who don't get the commercial check out this Google search.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Learning: Privacy and Security Monitoring, Audits and Investigations

On November 13, 2007, I will be speaking at a Lorman Eduational Services seminar to be held in Charleston, West Virginia. The seminar topic is "Health Care Information Privacy and Security Monitoring, Audits and Investigations: How to avoid an investigation and what you should expect if the state or federal officials call". You can register online here.

Also speaking at the seminar will be (read full bios):
  • Jack Shaffer, CIO for the Community Health Network of West Virginia who has experience in all aspects of technology, including systems development, enterprise application integration, networking, telecommunications, data center operations, database administration, disaster recovery, security and mobile computing.
Below is a copy of the seminar agenda:

9:00 am – 10:30 am Legal Overview of HIPAA Privacy and Security Enforcement

Robert L. Coffield, Esq.

  • HIPAA Refresher on Enforcement Rules and Penalties
  • OCR Privacy Investigation Statistics
  • Best Practices on Conducting Internal Investigations
  • Responding to OCR/CMS Investigation
10:30 am – 10:45 am Break
10:45 am – 11:30 am Preparing for an Audit

Michael T. Harmon, CIPP/G

  • Auditing vs. Monitoring
  • Other Governmental Auditors – e.g., OIG, Legislature
  • Elements of the OIG Audit of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta
  • New Kennedy/Leahy Legislation and Changes to Current Practice
  • Privacy and Security Accreditation
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Lunch (On Your Own)
12:30 pm – 2:30 pm Technologies and Procedures for HIPAA Compliance

Jack L. Shaffer Jr.

  • Acceptable Use Policies and Enforcement
  • Protecting PHI With Encryption Technologies
  • Auditing and Monitoring Tools
2:30 pm – 2:45 pm Break
2:45 pm – 3:45 pm The Role of the Privacy Officer

Terrisita Barrett, CIPP

  • The Changing Privacy and Security Landscape
  • Role and Responsibilities: Past, Present and Future
  • Challenges Affecting the Privacy Officer Role
3:45 pm – 4:30 pm Panel Discussion, and Questions and Answers

Terrisita Barrett, CIPP, Robert L. Coffield, Esq.,

Michael T. Harmon, CIPP/G, and Jack L. Shaffer Jr.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Beauty of West Virginia

Our state receives a lot of negative national news - lately its been about the business climate and our weight problem. However, here is the reason I live in and love West Virginia. Another terrific shot (large image) from local photo blogger, Rick Lee.

Monday, August 27, 2007

CMS Stark III Regulations Now Available

Today CMS released the final Stark III physician self-referral rule available on the Physician Self Referral section of the CMS website and will be published in the September 5 Federal Register. 516 pages of light health care regulatory reading for the Labor Day Holiday.

The Phase III Stark Final Rule (CMS-1810-F) is officially titled, "Medicare Program; Physicians' Referrals to Health Care Entities With Which They Have Financial Relationships (Phase III)". The regulations will be effective 90 days after the publication date which is expected to be September 5, 2007. Read the CMS press release.

UPDATE: CMS has also provided an unofficial redline version of the Stark regulations showing the existing regulations and incorporating in the new Stark III changes.

UPDATE (7/5/07): The official version was published in the Federal Register on September 5, 2007. A complete copy of the regulations can be found here. The effective date of Phase III Final Rule is December 4, 2007.

UPDATE (11/11/07): David Harlow reports that certain provisions of Stark III will be delayed for up to a year (December 4, 2008).

Below is a copy of the rule summary and the table of contents directly from the final rule:
Summary: This final rule is the third phase (Phase III) of a final rulemaking amending our regulations regarding the physician self-referral prohibition in section 1877 of the Social Security Act (the Act). Specifically, this rule finalizes, and responds to public comments regarding, the Phase II interim final rule with comment period published on March 26, 2004, which set forth the self-referral prohibition and applicable definitions, interpreted various statutory exceptions to the prohibition, and created additional regulatory exceptions for arrangements that do not pose a risk of program or patient abuse (69 FR 16054).

In general, in response to public comments, in this Phase III final rule, we have reduced the regulatory burden on the health care industry through the interpretation of statutory exceptions and modification of the exceptions that were created using the Secretary’s discretionary authority under section 1877(b)(4) of the Act to promulgate exceptions for financial relationships that pose no risk of program or patient abuse.

I. Background
II. General Comments
A. General
B. Compliance with the Anti-kickback Statute
III. Definitions--§411.351
A. Employee
B. Entity
C. Fair Market Value
D. “Incident to” Services
E. Physician in the Group Practice
F. Radiology and Certain Other Imaging Services and Radiation Therapy
G. Referral
H. Rural Area
IV. Group Practice--§411.352
V. Prohibition on Certain Referrals by Physicians and Limitations on Billing--§411.353
VI. Financial Relationship, Compensation, and Ownership or
Investment Interest--§411.354
A. Ownership
B. Compensation
C. Special Rules on Compensation
VII. General Exceptions to the Referral Prohibition Related
to Both Ownership/Investment and Compensation--
A. Physician Services
B. In-office Ancillary Services
C. Services Furnished by an Organization (or Its Contractors or Subcontractors) to Enrollees
D. Reserved
E. Academic Medical Centers
F. Implants Furnished by an Ambulatory Surgical Center
G. EPO and Other Dialysis-related Drugs Furnished in or by an End-Stage Renal Dialysis Facility
H. Preventive Screening Tests, Immunizations, and Vaccines
I. Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses Following Cataract Surgery
J. Intra-family Rural Referrals
VIII. Exceptions to the Referral Prohibition Related to
Ownership or Investment Interests--§411.356
A. Publicly-traded Securities and Mutual Funds
B. Hospitals Located in Puerto Rico
C. Rural Providers
D. Ownership Interest in a Whole Hospital
IX. Exceptions to the Referral Prohibition Related to
Compensation Arrangements--§411.357
A. Rental of Office Space
B. Rental of Equipment
C. Bona Fide Employment Relationships
D. Personal Service Arrangements
E. Physician Recruitment
F. Isolated Transactions
G. Remuneration Unrelated to Designated Health Services
H. Group Practice Arrangements with a Hospital
I. Payments by a Physician
J. Charitable Donations by a Physician
K. Nonmonetary Compensation
L. Fair Market Value Compensation
M. Medical Staff Incidental Benefits
N. Risk-sharing Arrangements
O. Compliance Training
P. Indirect Compensation Arrangements
Q. Referral Services
R. Obstetrical Malpractice Insurance Subsidies
S. Professional Courtesy
T. Retention Payments in Underserved Areas
U. Community-wide Health Information Systems
X. Reporting Requirements--§411.361
XI. Miscellaneous (Other)
XII. Provisions of the Final Rule
XIII. Technical Corrections
XIV. Collection of Information Requirements
XV. Regulatory Impact Analysis
A. Overall Impact
B. Anticipated Effects
C. Alternatives Considered

Comments on the new regulations:

Thanks to the AHLA Stark Law listserve for the tip on the final rule.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Physicians vs. Patient: Rating-Permission Contracts

Interesting post from the WSJ Health Blog on Medical Justice's new ratings-permission contracts (press release on service).This new service offered by Medical Justice appears designed to attempt to control the evolving growth of health care consumer driven rating information provided through companies like

According to Medical Justice's CEO the goal is to "regain control of the flow of information." Just more evidence of the dynamic shift we are seeing in the health care industry as a result of some of the health 2.0 initiatives.

New models are being developed to allow patient/consumers to rate, report and compare the quality and cost of health care services. As these services become more widely adopted and used by consumers, traditional health care delivery system models and the perceptions of health care professionals are being challenged.

Note: Don't miss reading the reader comments in the WSJ Blog post.

UPDATE: More from Dr. Val on the potential value of online physician rating. I completely agree with her comment that sometimes all that is available is a "health insurance company's list of in network professionals."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

HHS Secretary Leavitt Joins The Blogosphere

A warm welcome to Secretary Mike Leavitt (blog bio) who last week launched his blog at Secretary Mike Leavitt's Blog. It is wonderful to see the United States top health care official join the blogospere and create a vehicle to share his personal observations and have an open conversation about health care and the challenges that that we all face.

I am impressed by his goal to keep the blog personal (not relying on staff or the PR department to write his posts) outlined in his About this Blog summary and introductory post. I'm hoping that he enjoys the experience and has the time to continue to blog past his initial trial phase. In my mind he gets the idea behind blogging -- a communication utility which is used to think and understand, share his observations, engage ideas and as he says, create a "dynamic online conversation." These characteristics are what makes blogging something more than just another way to create traditional media/PR web content. It's the reason why I enjoy the blogging process.

Question to readers: Is Secretary Leavitt the highest ranking U.S. official to date to have a blog which is personally written? Are there any other Federal Executive Department Secretary level bloggers?

Thanks to iHealthBeat for its article announcing Secretary Leavitt's blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Latest on CMS's Challenge to WV Oxycontin Settlement

Larry Messina provides the latest on CMS's challenge to the $10M Oxycontin settlement by the West Virginia Attorney General's office against Purdue Pharma. Last month the West Virginia Bureau of Medical Services received from CMS a $4.1M notice of disallowance stating that the state failed to share a portion of the settlement with federal Medicare.

Larry Messina's article in today's Herald Dispatch, "Feds threaten $4.1M in Medicaid funds over Oxy Settlement".

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why We Need A Health Care Revolution

Dr. Val Jones' road to revolution provides her personal perspective on the current state of our health care system and why we all need to work for change.

Don't miss the rest of this week's Grand Rounds hosted at Med Journal Watch.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

NYT Looks At Dr. Google and Dr. Microsoft

Today's NYT article, Dr. Google and Dr. Microsoft, takes a look at how Google and Microsoft are focusing efforts on the health care industry and how to improve the traditional health care system by utilizing technology to allow patients greater access and control over their personal health information. Both companies are still in the planning phase and trying to determine what will work and what patients might want, use and need.

The entry of these two tech giants along with a slew of other health-technology companies are likely to cause disruption in the health marketplace traditionally controlled by historic models (physicians, hospitals, insurers, etc.) Whether there will be enough momentum to bring change and whether patients are willing to trust these new models is the question that has yet to be answered.

Interestingly, the article mentions a little more about what Google Health might look like. The Google Health prototype focuses on the health consumer:

The welcome page reads, “At Google, we feel patients should be in charge of their health information, and they should be able to grant their health care providers, family members, or whomever they choose, access to this information. Google Health was developed to meet this need.”

A presentation of screen images from the prototype — which two people who received it showed to a reporter — then has 17 other Web pages including a “health profile” for medications, conditions and allergies; a personalized “health guide” for suggested treatments, drug interactions and diet and exercise regimens; pages for receiving reminder messages to get prescription refills or visit a doctor; and directories of nearby doctors.

The article also mentions West Virginia native, David Brailer, former Bush administration National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology, who now heads up Health Evolution Partners. Note: Yesterday Matthew Holt posted at The Health Care Blog that Dr. Brailer will be joining the list of speakers at the Health 2.0 Conference to be held next month. Mr. Bosworth of Google will also be on the consumer aggregator panel being moderated by another top health care thinker, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn.

UPDATE: Interested in learning more about Google Health? Check out this post by Jeff O'Conner at the Health Care Information System Blog with links to the Clinical Cases and Images Blog with links to screen shots of the prototype.

Also check out what Doc Searls perspective at ProjectVRM Blog.

UPDATE2: Good insightful follow up post, Here comes Google and Microsoft, from Tony over at Hospital Impact. I especially agree with the last two paragraphs:

Of course, all the same old data issues have to be worked out - privacy, malpractice, storage, interoperability, and security . . . Plus, there's a little problem with funding and business model (hopefully we will never see a Google banner ad within our medical record!) . . . Make no mistake about it- this is not a continuation of the Google vs. Microsoft War that's been going on for years. This is Google or [insert brave company name here] against the most powerful force of them all: the healthcare industry status quo.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Almost Heaven . . . eBay

Almost Heaven West Virginia eBay.

Interesting survey results from Scarborough Research showing that Charleston, West Virginia is the #1 U.S. market for eBay visitors. 41% of adults in Charleston who accessed the internet in the last month are eBay visitors.

Skip Lineberg at Maple Creative has some additional thought on what this means for Charleston business? Jeff James at CreateWV provide more commentary in the post, "Is eBay the Killer App to Drive WV Broadband Adoption?"