Louisiana pitches in as part of CMS push for EHR utilization
BATON ROUGE, La. Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a plan to implement a five-year demonstration project to encourage small to medium sized primary care physician practices to use electronic health records.
One of the states taking part in this program is Louisiana. In correlation with the CMS program, the governor included $18.6 million for health information technology initiatives, including $3.5 million in financial incentives for physicians who use recognized EHR software in their practices, according to published reports.
In addition, earlier that month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services named the Louisiana Health Care Quality, a nonprofit created to lead evidence-based collaborative efforts, as a Chartered Value Exchange. This federal agency is the centerpiece of the Health and Human Services Value-Driven Health Care Initiative. U.S. Health Secretary Mike Leavitt has described the exchanges as pioneers at the forefront of a nationwide movement to transform the health care sector.
LHCQF president Dr. Michael Fleming said the increase in consumer-driven care may be the final push that forces physicians to implement EHRs. He also noted that one of the quality forum’s goals is to help collect and understand the health data.
“If we can’t collect and understand and analyze the data, there’s no way that providers can know how to improve their performance, and frankly, the public can’t know how to make better choices,” Fleming said.
There is still a lot of room for improvement in EHRs, Fleming said. Less than 20 percent of EHRs include the three pieces that actually improve quality: patient registries, reminder systems for preventive and early detection studies, and just-in-time information systems.
Russell Klein, president of the Louisiana State Medical Society, said the EHR is the wave of the future, and physicians will be forced to implement the records’ use.
QLT to sell off Aczone following FDA decision
VANCOUVER, Canada QLT has announced that it will proceed with its plan to sell its topical acne treatment Aczone after the Food and Drug Administration removed key blood monitoring requirements for the treatment, according to Reuters.
The company is selling the drug as part of a multi-step process to return it to its core business of treating eye diseases. Recently the company had been delving into acne and prostate cancer treatments.
Already several companies have expressed interest in Aczone and QLT predicts the drug will be sold within the next quarter or two.
Safeway offers Shingles vaccination
PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway is offering immunization against Shingles, a disease that commonly affects people over 50 or people with compromised immune systems, at 700 pharmacies in the states of Ark., Calif., Colo., Del., Hawaii, Ind., Ill., Mont., Neb., Nev., Ore., Pa., Texas, Va. ,W.Va. and Wash. The vaccine will be provided on a walk-in basis at in-store pharmacies.
“The only way to prevent against contracting this debilitating disease is to get a single shot. By administering vaccines on site, Safeway is making it easy for anyone to protect themselves,” said Dave Fong, Safeway senior vice president of pharmacy. “Receiving a shingles vaccination is as easy as stopping at the pharmacy during your regular shopping trip.”
Safeway also offers full-service adult and adolescent immunization services for the prevention of such ailments as tetanus, hepatitis, pneumococcal, meningococcal and more.