Practice Fusion, a San Francisco-based health information technology firm now owned by Allscripts, agreed to a $145 million settlement to resolve accusations that it helped develop an EHR system that enabled prescribing of medically unnecessary opioid drugs. Court records showed Practice Fusion received almost $1 million in kickbacks from an unidentified company in return for creating an alert in its EHR system that would lead doctors to prescribe more extended-release opioids than needed.
A workgroup made up of 31 representatives from the health information technology sector, including AHIMA, developed the Sequoia Project's new Guidance to the Community and Implementation Feedback to HHS for helping health care organizations comply with interoperability rules and regulations. The guidance focuses on implementation of the ONC's proposed rules, identifies possible implications of the rules and includes the Sequoia Project's comments on the rules.
LabCorp says it has patched a security vulnerability on a section of its network that hosts its internal customer relationship management system and potentially left patient files accessible through a web address that search engines could see and was cached by Google. At least 10,000 documents containing protected health information may have been vulnerable.
Inpatients at two rural Mayo Clinic hospitals evaluated using an electronic consulting service for infectious diseases had a 70% lower risk for death inside 30 days and a lower readmission risk than matched controls, researchers reported in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. Interventions recommended by e-consultation included antibiotic type or duration change, antibiotic de-escalation, additional laboratory tests, and referrals for services outside of infectious disease.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said current EHR systems that silo information are "Balkanized," "segmented" and "outdated," and proposed rules requiring EHR developers to allow access using apps developed with HL7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources will improve interoperability and patient access to their own health care data. The proposed rules are "still going through the clearance process" and will not be released during the ONC's annual meeting, says Steve Posnack, deputy national coordinator for health IT.
Artificial intelligence that detects cancer in medical images could enable treatment when tumors are at an early stage and most vulnerable, but it could also lead to overtreatment if not handled carefully, experts say. The danger is in "calling things cancer that, if you didn't go looking for them, wouldn't harm people over their lifetime," says dermatologist Adewole Adamson.
A machine learning classification model accurately predicted hospital encounters for patients with asthma, and the model could be integrated into a decision support tool to guide asthma care, researchers reported in JMIR Medical Informatics.
The Sequoia Project released a new document outlining implementation guidance and feedback ahead of the expected implementation of the ONC's information blocking rules, which could pose compliance challenges to health care organizations. The nonprofit said health care organizations will need implementation guidance to comply with legislative and regulatory objectives while reducing compliance costs and uncertainty.
WebMD has long been a top online source of reliable medical information, and the website was recently overhauled and relaunched with an eye toward becoming more of an interactive platform amid increasing competition. The new WebMD Care includes chiropractors, dentists, acupuncturists and other alternative health care practitioners in its directory of conventional health care providers, and searches return more comprehensive information on pharmacies and insurance plans; WebMD Labs offers testing for nine common sexually transmitted diseases; and WebMDRx searches for the lowest prescription drug prices.
An infectious disease surveillance system powered by artificial intelligence issued an alert on Dec. 31 about the coronavirus emerging from the Chinese city of Wuhan, followed by a CDC alert Jan. 6 and a World Health Organization warning Jan. 9. The system uses natural-language processing and machine learning to analyze news reports in 65 languages, airline data and animal disease outbreak reports; then, epidemiologists review the system's conclusions, and reports are sent to clients in government, business and public health.
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