Medicare will cover low-dose CT scan lung cancer screening

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's the decision that many people have been waiting for: it appears that Medicare is proposing to cover low-dose CT scan for lung cancer screening for specific patients.

The Medicare "Proposed Decision Memo for Screening for Lung Cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) (CAG-00439N)" came out on Nov 10, 2014.

CMS is seeking comments on this proposed decision (and you can view the posted comments as well). Learn more here.

CMS: Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative

Monday, November 3, 2014

Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched a new innovative model to support clinicians in achieving large-scale health care transformation. It's called the "Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative."

The Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative will provide up to $840 million over the next four years to support 150,000 clinicians in sharing, adapting and further developing comprehensive quality improvement strategies, which are expected to lead to greater improvements in patient health and reduction in health care costs. This is one of the largest federal investments uniquely designed to support clinician practices through nationwide, collaborative, and peer-based learning networks that facilitate practice transformation.

CMS will award cooperative agreement funding for two network systems under this initiative: Practice Transformation Networks, as well as Support and Alignment Networks.

Practice Transformation Networks:
The Practice Transformation Networks are peer-based learning networks designed to coach, mentor and assist clinicians in developing core competencies specific to practice transformation. This approach allows clinician practices to become actively engaged in the transformation and ensures collaboration among a broad community of practices that creates, promotes, and sustains learning and improvement across the health care system.

Support and Alignment Networks:
The Support and Alignment Networks will provide a system for workforce development utilizing national and regional professional associations and public-private partnerships that are currently working in practice transformation efforts. Utilizing existing and emerging tools (e.g., continuing medical education, maintenance of certification, core competency development) these networks will help ensure sustainability of these efforts. These will especially support the recruitment of clinician practices serving small, rural and medically underserved communities and play an active role in the alignment of new learning.

Follow updates from National Health IT Week #NHITWeek

Monday, September 15, 2014

This week is National Health IT Week. National Health IT Week (NHIT Week) is a collaborative forum and virtual awareness week that assembles key healthcare constituents dedicated to working together to elevate the necessity of advancing health through the best use of information technology.

You can follow updates from the events that occur this week on Twitter by following the hashtag #NHITWeek

Join the IHI #InnovationRelay Twitter chat on Wed

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This summer, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is holding an IHI Innovation Relay and you can join the Twitter chat on Wed 7/30 at 1 pm ET to learn more about how to pioneer answers to persistent problems in health care. "Each leg of the Relay will focus on a fundamental aspect of IHI’s Innovation strategy empowering participants to develop innovative solutions to challenges in health and health care. Rather than just research the problems, they’ll design testable solutions together, with the help of the IHI Innovation team and experts within and outside of health care."

Don't miss the Twitter Chat called the IHI #InnovationRelay on Wednesday, July 30, from 1 to 2 PM ET.

#InnovationRelay Tweet Chat Schedule and Subjects:

•1–1:30 PM ET: Social Determinants of Health — we know that social determinants account for 80-90% of health outcomes. Let’s design an approach of a hospital/health care system to interact with the community to improve the social determinants of health.

•1:30–2 PM ET: Front-Line Physicians and Quality Improvement — with the many pressing priorities of physicians, it can be difficult to engage and leverage the expertise and influence of physicians in quality improvement projects at the front-line of care. Let’s design an approach to optimize the role of physicians at the point of care.

Twitter Hashtag: #InnovationRelay

Will chikungunya reach your neighborhood?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Could chikungunya be coming to your neighborhood? Right now, chikungunya has been detected in all these states (dark blue = locally-acquired cases; light blue = travel-associated cases):


Are you surprised by this map? This map is probably going to change as the summer goes on. So many families travel to Florida with their children to visit theme parks like Disney. Florida is the only state (dark blue) where we have detected locally-acquired cases. The light blue states represent travel-associated cases. There have been 2 cases of chikungunya in Florida so far.


Fulfill your REMS-compliant training on ER and LA opioids

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Misuse and abuse of opioids has grown to be a serious public health concern about addiction, overdose, and death. REMS-compliant training is a critical component of the ER/LA Opioid Analgesics REMS program.

On July 9, 2012, the FDA approved a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) for extended-release (ER) and long-acting (LA) opioid medications. The REMS introduces new safety measures to reduce risks and improve safe use of ER/LA opioids while continuing to provide access to these medications for patients in pain.

You can access free online REMS-compliant training on ER and LA opioids CME activities on QuantiaMD.

NEJM perspective article about Big Data in Healthcare

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dr. Sebastian Schneeweiss recently wrote an interesting perspective article in the NEJM about big data in health care. He writes:
Two key “learning” applications of big health care data that hold the promise of improving patient care are the generation of new knowledge about the effectiveness of treatments and the prediction of outcomes. Both these functions exceed the bounds of most computer applications currently used in health care, which tend to offer physicians such tools as context-sensitive warning messages, reminders, suggestions for economical prescribing, and results of mandated quality-improvement activities. 
Physicians currently struggle to apply new medical knowledge to their own patients, since most evidence regarding the effectiveness of medical innovations has been generated by studies involving patients who differ from their own and who were treated in highly controlled research environments. But many data that are routinely collected in a health care system can be used to evaluate medical products and interventions and directly influence patient care in the very systems that generated the data.
Given that clinical trials are conducted in an environment that usually doesn't reflect the "real world," clinicians often use that as an excuse to deviate from guideline recommendations. It's actually not an excuse. When you have a patient who has certain comorbid conditions or other factors, you need to make a clinical judgement about how you will treat that individual, and that may require you to deviate from clinical practice guidelines.

Currently, it is very costly and cumbersome to conduct "real-world" research studies. But, as we collect more data about the "effectiveness of treatments and the prediction of outcomes," clinicians will be more empowered than ever before to make better clinical decisions. It won't be an era of "cookbook medicine" that's entirely driven by static algorithms and flowcharts. Instead, treatment decisions will be customized and tailored for each individual based on unique factors, genomic profiles, patient preferences, socioeconomic factors, and much more.


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