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December 21, 2016 News No Comments

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CMS anticipates that 171,000 physicians will see a “downward payment adjustment” (such an innocuous way to say penalty) in 2017 for not meeting Meaningful Use requirements in 2015. The cut is slightly below the 209,000 who took a penalty in 2016, and far below the 257,000 EPs – almost half of those eligible – who saw punitive penalties in 2015. As you probably already know, Medicare MDs will transition out of the MU program into MIPS beginning with reporting periods in 2017 for the 2019 payment year. Medicaid physicians will attest to their respective states for MU incentive payments.

HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests


Listening: My absolute favorite Christmas album is the soundtrack to 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Fun facts: The holiday special was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, written in just a few weeks, and animated in six months. Both its producers and the network predicted it would flop because it didn’t have a laugh track.

I plan on posting tomorrow, provided there is enough news to warrant readers’ time. HIStalk Practice will take a break next week, returning on Monday, January 2. Wishing you a Merry MACRA in 2017!


January 18 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Modernizing Quality Improvement Through Clinical Process Measurement.” Sponsored by LogicStream Health. Presenters: Peter Chang, MD, CMIO, Tampa General Hospital; Brita Hansen, MD, CHIO, Hennepin County Medical Center. The presenters will describe how they implemented successful quality governance programs, engaged with their health system stakeholders, and delivered actionable information to clinical leadership and front-line clinicians. Q&A will follow.

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January 26 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Jump Start Your Care Coordination Program: 6 Strategies for Delivering Efficient, Effective Care.” Sponsored by Healthwise. Presenters: Jim Rogers, RN, RPSGT, director of healthcare solutions, Persistent Systems; Charlotte Brien, MBA, solutions consultant, Healthwise. This webinar will explain how to implement a patient-centered care coordination program that will increase quality as well as margins. It will provide real-world examples of how organizations used care coordination to decrease readmission rates, ED visits, and costs.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


New Jersey-based Allegiance Health Group’s ACO sees $2 million in savings across its 2,867 Medicare patients – a figure it attributes to population health management technology and services from HealthEC. The ACO has 43 physicians working in 28 practices. “We are a small group of providers working with patients from the inner cities of central New Jersey who still managed to achieve federal savings, reduce spending, and significantly have an impact on cost utilization,” says Allegiance ACO CEO Marc Whitman, MD adding that the PHM technology helped to alleviate back-office work so that physicians could spend more time with their patients.

Announcements and Implementations


Behavioral health agency Our Children Our Future (FL) selects EHR and PM technology from the TenEleven Group.


Fort Worth, TX-based Online Doctor Visit joins what seems like an already saturated market in launching direct-to-consumer virtual consults.

Government and Politics


ONC releases an updated (and more interactive) catalog of interoperability standards and implementation specifications to help stakeholders better understand federal program requirements and utilization. “The Interoperability Standards Advisory is a key step toward achieving the goals we have outlined with our public and private sector partners in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, as well as the Interoperability Pledge announced earlier this year,” explains National Coordinator Vindell Washington, MD. “We incorporated detailed stakeholder feedback to provide a consolidated, public list of standards and specifications that can be put to use to address clinical, public health, and research needs for sharing electronic health information.”


HHS releases details on the Track 1+ ACO model announced as part of the final MACRA rule. In an effort to encourage more small practices to participate, the new track will offer more limited downside risk than Tracks 2 or 3 – a move the department attributes to physician practice feedback. It expects 70,000 clinicians to qualify for Advanced Alternative Payment Model incentive payments in 2018. Those working in the trenches are slightly less confident.

Research and Innovation

Walgreens will tap into Chicago-based incubator Matter’s network of entrepreneurs as it looks to stay on top of innovations in healthcare and pharmacy. The retail clinic and pharmacy chain, which announced this week that it will become the exclusive retail pharmacy provider for the University of Miami Health System and is in the midst of acquiring Rite-Aid for $9.4 billion, will lend its mentoring capabilities and development expertise to Matter’s 150-plus startups. (Perhaps it will share lessons learned from its ties with Theranos, which has resulted in a $140 million lawsuit.) Both organizations are founding members of the new business development-focused Healthcare Council of Chicago.


The local news highlights a new pilot program in New Jersey that provides state employees with free direct primary care through managed primary care company R-Health. Physicians in the three-year pilot will be limited to 1,000 patients and receive a per-member fee per month, as well as incentives based on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.


Spoiler Alert: Slate takes a humorous look at the lax cybersecurity practices of the Empire in the new Star Wars film Rogue One. New America’s Open Technology Institute Director Kevin Bankston astutely observes that “best practices dictate that you should at least wait until you’ve ‘been able to conduct a meaningful forensic examination’ before testing out your planet-killing super weapon,” adding, “It seems like the guys who developed digital security for the Empire are the same guys who developed that completely useless storm trooper armor.”

Sponsor Updates


PerfectServe employees are supporting charitable programs that include donating duffel bags packed with personal items for adolescents completing treatment services; providing financial support to a co-worker who lost belongings in an apartment fire; collecting food and supplies for families affected by the Gatlinburg, TN fires; and collecting food for the Chicago food bank.

Blog Posts


Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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