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In observance of New Year's Day, SmartBrief will not publish Thursday. Publication will resume Friday.

A computer-assisted tobacco intervention tool embedded into patients' dental EHRs helped providers refer more patients to smoking-cessation resources, according to a study by HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research. A survey found that 37% of smokers from facilities with the tool had been referred to a quit line compared with 17% at facilities without the technology.

Corita Kent,
American nun and artist

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has launched two funding opportunities totaling $150.7 million for the second phase of its National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, or PCORnet, program. Phase two funding will boost the ability of 13 Clinical Data Research Networks and 22 Patient-Powered Research Networks to support rapid-cycle studies, observational and randomized comparative-effectiveness research efforts, and health studies with secured and standardized data sets.

A finalized rule issued by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine requires the state's doctors to demonstrate proficiency in EHR use. The rule has identified physician proficiency markers that include meaningful use program participation, employment by an MU-participant hospital and accreditation.

An Identity Theft Resource Center report considered 2014 a landmark year for health data breaches and found 42% of the major breaches during the year involved health care organizations. Among the notable events during the year was a warning from the FBI's Cyber Division that the mandatory transition from paper records to EHRs could increase cyber intrusions into health care platforms and medical devices.

A data breach affecting 7,054 veterans was reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs after a security flaw in a home telehealth contractor's database put their personal information at risk. Compromised information includes patient names, addresses and VA patient identification numbers. Credit protection has been offered by the agency to affected veterans.

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A mobile solution from CLARIFIRE HEALTH will be deployed by BayCare Health System at five of its facilities to streamline patient care. The software uses handheld tablets with smartscreens and allows nurses to record nonclinical notes, including patient feedback and details of their care, that are not part of the patient's EHR. The software automatically sends e-mails to other departments that need to be notified about patient needs and makes the handoff of patients between nurses more efficient.

Subscribers in Humana's Medicare Advantage accountable care organizations in 2013 had lower hospital admissions and fewer emergency department visits than subscribers in fee-for-service MA plans, and the ACOs reduced spending by 19%, the insurer reports. Health care providers participating in an ACO received higher effectiveness ratings than providers in fee-for-service plans.

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A Reportstack report predicts the outsourcing of health care IT services will increase at an 8.6% compound annual growth rate through 2019. The report noted that outsourcing IT technologies helps providers cut personnel costs and handle federal regulation changes.