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The Day: Costs of care, data security, insurance

Posted by on May 17, 2011

Comparative effectiveness research would help find the most effective medical treatments at the lowest prices, but not everyone thinks that’s a good idea. The Value of Comparison.  The New York Times.

Significant concerns about the security of electronic patient health information are raised in two reviews from the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General, “Nationwide Rollup Review of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 Oversight” and “Audit of Information Technology Security Included in Health Information Technology Standards.”   The reports found risks in unencrypted laptops containing sensitive information, outdated virus protection, insecure networks and the like in the two HHS agencies entrusted with keeping sensitive patient records private and secure. Full reports are here and here.

Insurance companies are opening walk-in health clinics, the A.M.A. reports, profiling such a place in west Phoenix. “What’s in it for the plans? Analysts say insurers believe they can get more direct control of medical costs by actually providing care. Also, they have an opportunity to market their names to the millions who will be shopping for individual insurance.”  Full story is here.

“Making physicians aware of the costs of blood tests can lower a hospital’s daily bill for those tests by as much 27%,” The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a new study. “It is common practice at hospitals to test patients’ blood every day and it is wasting money and time, according to the study’s authors’ from the University of Miami and Brown University.” Full story is here.

Vermont approved a health system approaching a single-payer model to be put into effect this decade, and to create a state health insurance exchange within the next several years. Full story is here.


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