Monthly Archives: February 2014

Have You Blue Buttoned?

No, I haven’t lost my mind or forgotten that this is not a Project Runway-type of fashion blog.  Blue Button is an initiative being promoted by Federal Government for consumers (ahem, you and me included) to access our personal health data from different healthcare entities including payers, providers, retail providers such as pharmacies, and government entities such as Veterans  Affairs and the Department of Defense.  The reasoning is that the more informed consumer (which is what patients are in the new healthcare landscape which is seen as a marketplace) will be a more empowered consumer.  This also ties in w/the different Meaningful Use initiatives, too, where the electronic sharing of health information will ultimately lead to better health outcomes at a lower cost for all.

Essentially, this is another mechanism for getting your personal health data.  Some of us may recall different versions of this over the years:  HealthVault by Microsoft; Health Manager by WebMD; and to a certain extent, MyChart by Epic (for patients whose providers use the Epic EMR system).

There still isn’t standardization of what data is contained w/in the personal health record.  (Not yet, anyway).  Do you see this as being the next HIPAA required transaction?


How Do Cargo Shipping, a War, and iTunes Relate to the Current Healthcare IT Landscape?

No, this is not a setup for a joke.  Malcolm Gladwell, the author of “The Tipping Point” uses these examples to illustrate bringing different groups and systems together ultimately benefits everyone. Interoperability in warfare technology helped the Israelis were able to shoot down all Syrian aircraft in 2 days without losing any of theirs to enemy fire.  How a single person rethought how cargo reception process at American docks and seaports and helped to revolutionize the shipping business.  How the changing in way consumers obtain music back in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s could have not bankrupted the music industry but shifted those dollars to other segments like live performances.

Interoperability and also the ability to reframe the issue at hand can be a good thing, something to not fight b/c it goes against what we’ve always done.  “Sometimes when we look at innovation, we make the mistake of thinking that innovation is specific to an individual invention or a device,” says Gladwell.  “The greatest transformation brought about by technology is when you bring the various pieces and have them work together in combination. It’s the synergies that bring about the greatest changes in the world.”


HIX Enrollment Stats Update

Through the end of January 2014, 3.3 million Americans are covered by private health insurance plans obtained through a state or federally run healthcare marketplace.

The top 3 states by exchange enrollment are:

1) California (state-run exchange): 728,000

2) Florida (federal exchange): 296,000

3) New York (state-run exchange): 211,000

Read more here.


How is Bird Flu and Other Pandemic Diseases Tracked Globally?

In an increasingly global society where people and commerce increasingly know no geographical borders, how do governmental health agencies monitor emerging diseases before they become a full-blown pandemic?

Some of you might have already guessed this—ICD-9 diagnosis codes.

The United States and other WHO (World Health Organization) countries are bound to using the International Classification of Diseases code set to be able to better monitor global health surveillance and trends.  It’s kind of hard to do if the member countries are not on the same version.

For instance, H1N1 and swine flu started becoming a disease of increasing alarm and worry to governments around the world in 2009.  AAPC then proposed new ICD-9 diagnosis codes as well as coding guidelines to better be able to capture these.

Now, a new strain of avian flu called H7N9 is being detected in increasing numbers in China.  Although CMS has done a partial code freeze of ICD-9 with regular updates having ceased on 10/1/13.  It will be interesting to see if a new ICD-9 diagnosis code is created prior to 10/1/14.