Mid-week update

The Hartford Courant has the latest news on the state of the Anthem-Cigna merger here.

In the weekend update, the FEHBlog noted a report that hospitals like health plans are focused on expanding the use of telemedicine.  The FEHBlog wondered why. The Wall Street Journal provided the answer in this article published on Monday.   The article looks at hospital use of telemedicine from several angles including

In the woods outside St. Louis, shifts of doctors and nurses work around the clock in Mercy health system’s new Virtual Care Center—a “hospital without beds” that provides remote support for intensive-care units, emergency rooms and other programs in 38 smaller hospitals from North Carolina to Oklahoma. Many of them don’t have a physician on-site 24/7.


The Cleveland Clinic is working to create a “Cleveland Clinic in the Cloud” that would allow patients across the country to access its physicians without going to Ohio. Dr. [Peter] Rasmussen [from the Cleveland Clinic] also foresees joining with local pharmacy clinics, labs and imaging centers to provide in-person exams as needed. “This will open up a world of relationships across a spectrum of health-care providers that we haven’t seen to date,” he says. 

The Centers for Disease Control released 2016 ICD-10 changes last week according to this ICD-10 Monitor report.  “There are 1,974 additions, 311 deletions, and 425 revisions. The resulting total for diagnosis codes is 71,486.”

Health Data Management reports that the federal government is encouraging the use of ethical hacking by healthcare organizations. “Ethical hackers are computer and networking experts who attempt to penetrate information systems on behalf of its owners to find security vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could potentially exploit.” What next?

Finally, Employee Benefit News reports on a survey finds that a majority of employees cannot define common health insurance cost sharing terms.  The FEHBlog finds that hard to believe. In any event, employees should be concerned with those terms because according to this International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans website, “The International Foundation’s new report, 2016 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA’s Impact, finds that about one-third of organizations have increased out-of-pocket limits, in-network deductibles or employees’ share of premium costs in response to ACA.”