OPM disclosed yesterday that its personnel records had been hacked. Here is a link to comprehensive ihealthbeat story on the incident.  The FEHBlog was most interested in the Washington Post’s report that 

Groups of hackers working for the Chinese government have to date compromised the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which holds data on millions of current and former federal employees, as well as health insurance giant Anthem, among other targets, the researchers said.

“They’re definitely going after quite a bit of personnel information,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer of ThreatConnect, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm. “We suspect they’re using it to understand more about who to target, whether electronically or via human recruitment [for espionage].”

In other words, the OPM, Anthem, and Premera hacks, among others, represent a significant national security issue which requires nationwide cooperation between government and industry to defeat the hackers, not finger pointing. That will not be easy, but it has to be done.

Here’s a link to a the latest report from the Week in Congress, dated today. Congress will be in session on Capitol Hill again next week.

Modern Healthcare had two interesting articles on surveys:

  • One article reports that Accenture found by survey that consumers prefer quality over choice in health plan provider networks.  Furthermore, 

Consumers are more loyal to their preferred airline or hotel chain than their doctors, he added. Only 26% of the 1,980 adults surveyed said they would definitely leave a network if their doctor stopped participating in it. Ninety-four percent said access to their medical records was the single most important piece of information-sharing.

They also valued things such as the ability to talk to their physician during and after business hours and tools such as online scheduling. “The assumption is that consumers are going to stay in these networks if their doctors are in the network,” Stephan said. “(But) it’s not about the doctor, it’s about the network experience.”

That is surprising to the FEHBlog.  

  • The other reports that bioethicists are concerned that the current Medicare driven focus on patient satisfaction with hospital care may be leading to bad medical practices. 

The current metrics used to rate, rank and evaluate hospital quality continue to undergo scrutiny as the field of quality measurement advances in healthcare. Improvements are more frequently gained on easily tracked process measures, like using checklists and giving discharge instructions. But many have questioned whether focusing on those priorities will lead to improvements in patient outcomes such as lower mortality and lower readmission rates or result in unintended consequences.

That could likely be the case for patient satisfaction, the Hastings researchers suggest. “Pressure to tell patients what they want to hear and accede to unreasonable requests may increase the provision of unnecessary care,” and ultimately “lead healthcare astray, undermining the provision of optimum care for all.”

That does not surprise the FEHBlog.