Midweek update

Several stories have caught the FEHBlog’s eye since his return to the Nation’s Capital on Monday. Reuters is reporting that the  data breach related lawsuits against OPM continue to pile up.  Govexec reports on the government’s ongoing efforts to re-mediate those breaches Health IT security draws lessons from those breaches for the benefit of healthcare organizations. The FEHBlog’s big takeaway was the need to implement multi-factor authentication and vulnerability scanning on IT networks.

In terms of benefit cost saving ideas —

  • Fierce Healthcare discusses a survey on hospital readmissions which finds that the strongest predictors of readmissions is previous emergency department visits. “The odds ratio for patients with at least four ED visits in the past six months was 4.65, according to the study.” Other factors with high odds for readmission are patients with cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, patients discharged after a long stay, and patients discharged on a Friday. The article suggests that the hospital pay attention to patients in these risk categories. 
  • Fierce Healthpayer considers what health care providers and payers can do collaboratively to increase the use of bundled payments. 
  • Life Health Pro reviews state laws that restrict balance billing patients. About a quarter of the states have these laws.  Provider charges in excess of these limits may fall under the standard FEHB exclusion of charges for which the member has no obligation to pay. 
  • The FEHBlog’s youngest kid (entering his junior year in college soon) is attending a three week course in basic emergency medical technician skills. The Wall Street Journal reports on a new use of paramedics, who are at the top of the EMT heap, “An initiative, called community paramedicine, is training the fast responders in chronic disease management, medication compliance and home safety. Paramedics are then sent on scheduled house calls to frail and elderly patients or those who have trouble managing chronic conditions like heart failure and diabetes.”  Expanding allied health professional resources can only be helpful.