Summer begins to wane, but not our Potpourris. Another one full of useful data, including health insurance costs for 2011, a new telehealth joint venture, use of kiosks in physician offices, prostate cancer screening, health care use cutbacks, teledermatology and sharing of physician notes with patients.
Wireless or mobile communication technologies are enjoying a rapid spread in health care. Two of the primary federal agencies which might impact the development and spread of these technologies are the FCC and the FDA, which have agreed to work together in regulating them.
Every year Medicare puts out very lengthy and detailed proposed, and ultimately final, rules updating the reimbursement for all of the classes of providers–physicians, hospitals, etc. While reading these is a tough slog, it gives a good sense of issues which affect all payers, and of Medicare’s mindset.
Although its reform effort appears to have gone amok, largely for cost reasons, the state of Massachusetts is producing a lot of useful data and research on medical service delivery, including three recent ones on avoidable emergency room and hospital use and the state of primary care services.
A study of diagnostic practices for Medicare beneficiaries reveals geographic variations. These variations not only may suggest either under or overuse of diagnostic tests but they can bias other research results and payment methods. A second study suggests that caution should be applied in analyzing regional variation to ensure that all possible sources of the differences are taken into account.
A lot of great items in this week’s potpourri, covering the acquisition of HealthGrades, what encourages men to get screenings, potential cheating on pay-for-performance schemes, the problems of a multi-payer system, improving heart failure care, Canada’s experience with EHRs and autonomous robot surgery.
There has been no more gnarly health care problem for Congress than how to deal with physician reimbursement. At some point, as a Health Affairs article points out, it will have to come up with a better solution than the temporary fixes it has used for years.
The notion of a health insurance exchange to assist individuals and small groups in finding affordable health insurance is a critical part of the coverage expansion in the recent health law. A Commonwealth Fund report reviews important issues to consider in the establishment and operation of these exchanges.
More midsummer musings, covering possible replacements for AWP, the effect of Part D on heart failure drug use, the VA’s telehealth programs, venture capital activity, self-management of high blood pressure, and of course, more problems with health insurance costs in Massachusetts.