This week's highlights: The CMS has significantly changed how Affordable Care Act exchanges will run next year, researchers have detailed three new Intel and AMD vulnerabilities, and a new case study highlights the tight integration between Interlace's electronic consent software and the MEDITECH EHR.
• As part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' proposed rules this week there are several provisions focused on technology, information exchange and patient access. Most notably, there are a series of proposed changes to CMS' Promoting Interoperability Program. It would make it mandatory for hospitals to report on four measures, rather than allowing a pick-and-choose approach.
• The CMS released the overall hospital quality star ratings that now include new methodology in five measure groups with 13.5%, or 455 hospitals, receiving 5 stars and 204 receiving one star.
• A bipartisan group comprising half of U.S. senators has reintroduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. It would expand coverage of Medicare telehealth services and make some COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities permanent, among other provisions.
• The CMS has significantly changed how Affordable Care Act exchanges will run next year, intending to lower out-of-pocket costs for Obamacare customers, streamline enrollees' user experience and update how insurers are paid for the risks they take on their members.
• Mayo Clinic led an $8.2 million funding round for TripleBlind, a digital privacy and data sharing platform, and is working with TripleBlind on data analysis and algorithm training to increase interoperability of encrypted algorithms used for private data.
• UCM Digital Health, which offers emergency telemedicine, care coordination, and remote care services, secures $5.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Armory Square Ventures.
• Clinical communications and workflow platform vendor Vocera announced after Thursday’s stock market close that it will acquire PatientSafe Solutions, which offers a unified inbox of messages, alerts, and notifications that is integrated with EHR data.
• IBM has agreed to acquire Turbonomic, a provider of software that helps companies monitor the performance of their business applications, the latest in a series of cloud computing acquisitions by the tech giant, part of its bigger strategy to bring more AI into IT ops, or as it calls it, AIOps.
• MedCall Advisors expands its telemedicine services to include sleep disorders, partnering with device maker Ectosense to offer patients sleep apnea monitoring from the comfort of their homes.
• Clearity Health calls on patients in Austin, TX to upload photos of their medical bills to its soon-to-launch healthcare pricing website, to provide accurate pricing information for medical procedures in the area.
• Telehealth provider Amwell announced this week that its latest virtual care platform, called Converge, is designed to improve healthcare stakeholder connectivity through third-party device integrations.
• After several attempts over the last decade, the State of Connecticut finally launches a statewide HIE.
• Employees of Insight Global, a vendor paid to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing in Pennsylvania, may have exposed the private information of at least 72,000 people, including their contact information, exposure status and their sexual orientation, the state Health Department said last week.
• A cyberattack over the weekend forces Scripps Health (CA) to divert some critical care patients, postpone appointments, and take its patient portal offline.
• Researchers have detailed three new Intel and AMD Spectre vulnerabilities. The three new types of potential Spectre attacks affect all modern AMD and Intel processors with micro-op caches, according to a new paper from academics at the University of Virginia and University of California San Diego.
• A new case study by Interlace Health highlights the tight integration between Interlace’s electronic consent software and the MEDITECH EHR, and how it is benefitting clinicians, staff, and patients at King’s Daughters Medical Center (MS).
• An article, which is titled “Why going to the Doctor Sucks,” calls out limited appointment times, unfriendly front desk employees, writing the same information on clipboard forms every visit, and doctors running behind and shortchanging patients whose appointment is late in the day.
• A study published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research found that patients using at-home monitoring systems for blood glucose and blood pressure levels received almost twice as many "nursing activities" as patients who received usual care.
• Patients are more likely to receive out-of-network bills for lab services than they are for other out-of-network services, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers examined 2018 insurance claims data from more than 12 million insured Americans, finding 30 percent of them had received at least one out-of-network medical bill.
• The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are 94% effective at preventing hospitalizations among fully vaccinated adults ages 65 and older, according to a real-world study published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• A University of Missouri study finds that nurse workload is doubled when patients are seen in virtual visits rather than in-office appointments, as nurses have to review, document, and act on blood glucose and blood pressure readings multiple times each week instead of the average in-person visit frequency of every three months.