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Thursday, Aug 21, 2014
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  • We are located in the BioTech One building of the VA Bio•Technology Research Park.

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    SMA Informatics
    800 E. Leigh Street
    Suite 206-14 Building One
    Richmond, VA 23219

    Phone: (804) 344-8111
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Last Modified: March 25, 2014
News Item - 08/21/2014
Big Drop in U.S. Heart-Related Hospitalizations and Deaths, Study Finds
Deaths and hospitalizations for heart disease and stroke have dropped dramatically in the United States over the past decade, according to a large study of Medicare patients.

The declines noted from 1999 to 2011 are the result of lifestyle changes, better treatment and effective preventive measures, the researchers said.

"The findings are jaw-dropping," said lead researcher Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a professor of cardiology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. "They really show that we have begun to reverse this epidemic of heart disease and stroke."

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News Item - 08/18/2014
Cancer Screening in Seniors Yields Few Benefits
Screening older patients for cancer provided minimal benefit at considerable cost and increased use of invasive procedures, reported investigators in two separate studies.

Screening rates for four types of cancer declined as a patient's mortality risk increased, but 31% to 55% of patients with a high mortality risk continued to be screened for prostate, breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. Evidence of inappropriate use of screening tests -- such as Pap tests for women who had undergone hysterectomy -- also emerged from the analysis involving 27,404 patients, ages 65 and over.

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News Item - 08/18/2014
Huge Variations in Blood Test Charges 'Irrational'
One California hospital charged $10 for a blood cholesterol test, while another hospital that ran the same test charged $10,169 -- over 1,000 times more.

For another common blood test called a basic metabolic panel, the average hospital charge was $371, but prices ranged from a low of $35 to a high of $7,303, more than 200 times more.

The wide disparity in hospitals' listed charges for routine blood tests at California hospitals was revealed in a study published in the August issue of BMJ Open. The study examined the listed charges for routine blood tests performed in 2011.

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News Item - 08/15/2014
Issues with Cowboy Physicians
When Dartmouth economics professor Jonathan Skinner was speaking recently at the University of Texas about the “cowboy doctor” problem, an audience member objected: “You have a problem with cowboys?”

Well, actually, we all have a problem with cowboys — when they’re doctors. Including the Texans. New research written up in a National Bureau of Economic Research paper finds that “cowboy” doctors — who deviate from professional guidelines, often providing more aggressive care than is recommended — are responsible for a surprisingly big portion of America’s skyrocketing health costs. The paper concludes that “36 percent of end-of-life spending, and 17 percent of U.S. health care spending, are associated with physician beliefs unsupported by clinical evidence.”


There is considerable controversy about the causes of regional variations in healthcare expenditures. We use vignettes from patient and physician surveys, linked to Medicare expenditures at the level of the Hospital Referral Region, to test whether patient demand-side factors, or physician supply-side factors, explains regional variations in Medicare spending. We find patient demand is relatively unimportant in explaining variations. Physician organizational factors (such as peer effects) matter, but the single most important factor is physician beliefs about treatment: 36 percent of end-of-life spending, and 17 percent of U.S. health care spending, are associated with physician beliefs unsupported by clinical evidence.

Read the report.
News Item - 08/14/2014
NASI: State Policies on Provider Market Power
The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) and Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) issued a comprehensive evaluation of state laws addressing the power of health care providers to negotiate higher prices, cataloging the laws and regulations state governments are using to maintain or increase competition in health care markets, which the recent wave of mergers among hospitals and other consolidation among providers has significantly reduced. See the press release for a summary.

Read the report.
Read the press release.

News Item - 06/02/2014
CMS Releases Medicare Hospital Payment Data, New Online Tools
On June 2, CMS released Medicare hospital pricing data for 2012 in an effort to increase transparency, lower costs and improve the quality of care, The Hill reports (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 6/2).

About the Data

The information, which was revealed at the annual Health Datapalooza conference in Washington, D.C.,  is the agency's first annual update to Medicare hospital charge, which compare the average amount a hospital charges for services provided with a similar inpatient stay or outpatient visit (HHS release, 6/2).

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News Item - 04/04/2014
CMS releases PQRS, eRx progress report
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a new report on two of its pay-for-reporting incentive programs for eligible professionals (EPs): the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and electronic prescribing (eRx).

The 90 page report on 2012 participation results and trends in the programs demonstrates "exciting progress," according to CMS officials.

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News Item - 01/21/2014
MedPAC Recommends No ASC Pay Increase for 2015; 3.25-5.25% Increase for HOPDs
On Friday, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission approved a final recommendation for Medicare pay rates in 2015, recommending that ambulatory surgery centers get 0 percent pay raise, according to an AHA News report.

At the same time, MedPAC recommended increasing hospital inpatient and outpatient prospective payment systems by 3.25 percent in the absence of sequestration cuts and 5.25 percent if spending cuts continue. The sequestration that begun last April enacted automatic 2 percent Medicare payment cuts for the next 10 years.

However, MedPAC did suggest reducing or eliminating pay differences between hospital outpatient departments and physician offices for some procedures, as currently hospital outpatient departments are paid significantly more.

Source
News Item - 11/08/2013
NHA is one of the 20 Most Promising Data Analytics Companies
Companies today recognize that they have opportunities to use data and analytics to raise productivity, improve decision-making, and gain competitive advantage. CIOs understand that analytics will define the difference between the losers and winners going forward. As the market evolves a vast array of data analytics technology and solution vendors are positioning themselves for leadership. A large number of venture-backed startups are battling against established BI and enterprise software providers.

While there are plenty to choose from, organizations that succeed with Big Data analytics will be those that understand the possibilities, see through the vendor hype and choose the right deployment model. In the last few months, we have looked at hundreds of data analytics companies and shortlisted the ones that are at the forefront of tackling the real analytics challenges. We present to you CIOReview's 20 Most Promising Data Analytics Companies. A distinguished panel comprising of CEOs, CIOs, VCs, industry analysts and the editorial board of CIOReview selected the Final 20.

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