Weekly Healthcare Roundup: August 21-27

The big news in healthcare this week came from data releasedby CMS.More specifically, Medicare’s accountable care organizations generated nearly $500 million in savings in 2015. But there’s a downside too – nearly half of participants didn’t achieve any savings. What does this mean for the efficacy of ACOs? More on that below.

Here’s what we’re reading:

ARE ACOS ACTUALLY OPTIMIZING CARE? – ACOs saved close to $500 million last year yet only 125 ACOs – or about 30 percent of the total – saved enough to receive a share of the savings. CMS officials explained these results by stressing that ACOs become better at hitting savings targets the longer they are enrolled in the programs. Among the ACOs that started out in 2012, 42 percent saved enough to qualify for payments, compared to 21 percent for those that had joined in 2015.

CPC+ UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT – CPC+, the five-year primary-care quality improvement initiative sponsored by CMS faced criticism this week from various interest groups including the American Medical Group Association. In a letter sent on Wednesday, the AMGA complained to CMS for not releasing its methodology on how practices would receive payments. The Electronic Health Records Association on the other hand, blasted CMS for its requirements on EHRs.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HIPAA – HIPAA turned 20 this past Sunday and like most 20-somethings, it’s dealt with its share of growing pains. Doctors and vendors agonize under its demanding requirements, while patients continue to find it difficult to access their personal health data. HHS’s Office for Civil Rights recently attempted to alleviate this issue by releasing guidance on patient access to health information. Even with this guidance, there is still room for improvement. Many feel that HIPAA has simply not kept up with the times. “This Nokia was the cutting edge tech in 1996, when #HIPAA was signed into law,” tweeted Brookings fellow Niam Yaraghi, who included a picture of a dated cellphone alongside his tweet.

THE PERFECT EHR – Dr. Niran Al-Agba recently mused about what an ideal EHR would be like in a thought-provoking blog post on The Health Care Blog. She described the best EHR as one that acts like a “paper chart on a computer screen.” Maybe she should try Elation out? Dr. Al-Agba went further by saying that medical records are more than just data, they are “a sacred chronicle of our enduring connection with our patients in life, and even in death.”

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