2012 Potpourri XXII

By July 20, 2012 Commentary

A survey from Accenture looks at how patients feel about on-line self-service.  The 1100 people surveyed by a very large majority said they were willing to use self-service applications, but most also wanted to be able to communicate to their physician in person.  While people express a willingness to use on-line capabilities, many don’t know if they are available to them.  People are interested in access to their health information, ability to schedule appointments, handle prescription refills and get care reminders.   (Accenture Survey)

The latest report from the National Venture Capital Association provides second quarter numbers for venture fund-raising and exits.  About $6 billion was committed to 38 funds in Q2, an increase from the first quarter and the prior year.  Only 5 funds, however, accounted for 80% of the total.  Most of the money went to established funds.  Exits through IPOs were skewed by the Facebook offering, but 11 companies went public in the second-quarter, down from the first quarter and last year.  There were M&A exits for 102 venture-backed companies in the quarter, with activity high in the information technology and health care sectors.   (NVCA Report)

Statisticians claim to have devised a better method for predicting what care and costs a patient may incur in future periods.  Predictive modeling is widely practiced in health care, but with generally limited success.  Its importance is obvious both in anticipating potential spending and in identifying patients whose care may need special management.  The new approach would help when patients have limited historic data, by generalizing from similar care records for patients with the same diagnoses.  The new algorithm also helps with patients who have relatively rare diseases or conditions.   (Annals Article)

Research reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine examines whether there is a relationship between use of electronic health records and malpractice claims.  The study is based solely on Massachusetts and looks at the correlation between years of EHR use and number of closed claims from one insurer.  The results suggest that EHR use is associated with a six-fold reduction in malpractice claim risk.  The number of events and physicians is small, however, and other factors may make this hard to generalize, but it would be very encouraging if EHRs could reduce patient errors and subsequent suits.     (Archives Article)

Here is a shock, a government-funded health program, actually two programs, are making duplicative payments, wasting taxpayer money.  An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that the Veterans Affairs Health Care System is providing or paying for care already covered for patients who have enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.  From 2004 to 2009, over one million persons were dually covered for some period of time and incurred an estimated $13 billion in duplicate spending over this time period.  This is money the VA could have put to better use elsewhere.    (JAMA Article)

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