Disease Management Update
Volume III, No. 44
February 22, 2007

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Table of Contents

  1. Consumers Weigh the Benefits and Risks of Electronic Medical Records
  2. Disease Management Q&A: Recommended e-Tools for Employers
  3. HealthSounds Podcast: Selecting and Implementing an Electronic Health Record Vendor to Support Pay-for-Performance Programs
  4. Only One-Third of Healthcare Organizations Ready for PFP Reporting
  5. Healthcare Report Cards: Hospitals, Health Plans and Consumers Grade the Effort

1. Consumers Weigh the Benefits and Risks of Electronic Medical Records

The potential benefits of electronic medical records (EMRs) sounds appealing to most people, but when the issue of privacy is raised, many people become concerned about the potential for privacy abuses in EMR systems, according to the results of three surveys conducted by Harris Interactive. However, most people have read or heard nothing about EMRs, so public opinion is waiting to be formed.

While very few people (4 percent of all adults or less) currently use services provided by health information technology, substantial majorities of the public say they would like to be able to: receive online reminders to revisit their doctors (77 percent); communicate with their doctors by e-mail (74 percent); schedule appointments online (75 percent); receive the results of diagnostic tests via e-mail (67 percent); and use home monitoring devices, like blood pressure readings or blood tests, and send results to their doctors' offices by telephone or e-mail (57 percent).

Overall, a 64 percent majority say, when asked, that they would like to have "an electronic medical record to capture medical information." However, 42 percent of people feel that the potential privacy risks of EMRs outweigh the expected benefits to patients and society. Twenty-nine percent feel that the expected benefits outweigh the privacy risks, while another 29 percent is unsure.

To learn more about the results of these surveys, please visit:

2. Disease Management Q&A: Recommended e-Tools for Employers

Each week, a healthcare professional responds to a reader's query on an industry issue. This week's expert is Erin Lenox, an associate with Hilb Rogal & Hobbs.

Question: Which Web-accessible tools are being deployed to the benefits manager, human resources or the plan administrators for cost analysis?

Response: More and more, there is Web-based reporting, some of it more extensive than others. Periodically, you can download reports of your monthly claims information, for example. Some carriers, however, now provide much more extensive analytical power, so that a benefits manager can get up-to-the-month, month-by-month information queried to their specific needs. For example, they can look for large claimants by disease category. They have rapid access to information that in the past took a month to receive. This has been very helpful to them in managing their plan. From a HIPAA perspective, it falls under the Treatment, Payment or Healthcare Operations (TPO) component.

Also, a number of employers are interested in targeted communication. I have clients who work with their health plans and other vendors to assist them with their wellness programs, outreach and other employer initiatives. They work with them to truly identify groups of people for which certain programs would be useful. They're even able to develop it in a such a way that an employer-created e-mail or message advertising a program or product can be sent to specific people within the constraints of HIPAA, in that the employer doesn't have access to the actual list of people.

For more details on using Web technologies in consumer-driven healthcare, please visit:

We want to hear from you! Submit your question for Disease Management Q&A to info@hin.com.

3. HealthSounds Podcast: Selecting and Implementing an Electronic Health Record Vendor to Support Pay-for-Performance Programs

Implementing an electronic health record (EHR) in 1998 has transformed the way the four-location North Fulton Family Practice in Georgia does business. In this week's Disease Management podcast, Dr. Jim Morrow, North Fulton's vice president and chief information officer, describes how the EHR has enhanced physician-patient "face time" and care management and improved efficiency, productivity and profitability at the 20-provider practice. He even says that having an EHR has made him a better physician.

To listen to this complimentary HIN podcast, please visit:

4. Only One-Third of Healthcare Organizations Ready for PFP Reporting

Though most healthcare organizations are aware of the need to collect quality and performance measures, only 30 percent are ready for pay-for-performance (PFP) reporting, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

The survey report is based on a survey of 300 chief operating and financial officers, nurse and physician executives, and senior information technology executives. According to the survey, healthcare organizations are still focused mainly on improving financial outcomes as the single most important factor in driving revenue cycle management strategy. A majority of respondents indicated they understood the importance of gathering performance indicators, and of those who don't already gather PFP information, only 20 percent had a vision for doing so.

"This disconnect is most likely due to the fact that two-thirds of the organizations who use different vendors for clinical and financial applications reported limited exchange of clinical and financial data," the report said. "Only 50 percent of those organizations that use the same vendor reported a seamless exchange of clinical and financial data."

The inability to easily integrate clinical data will have a "substantial impact" on the healthcare information technology market, the report said.

To learn more about this survey report, please visit:

5. Healthcare Report Cards: Hospitals, Health Plans and Consumers Grade the Effort

With more health plans, hospitals and providers publishing quality and performance ratings, the discriminating consumer can evaluate a doctor or care center the same way they comparison-shop for cars and electronics. While the reporting of healthcare quality data is mostly voluntary for now, health plans, employers, consumers and even the federal government are leaning on healthcare providers to document the quality of the care they provide. The emerging trend among plans and payors, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is to align financial incentives with improved results. The hope is that this strategy will enhance healthcare quality without increasing costs. In a recent online survey, the Healthcare Intelligence Network polled hospitals and health plans on their performance data publishing practices and asked consumers to rate industry efforts.

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