Removing Barriers to Exchanging Electronic Health Records Would Help Consumers

  Over the past five years, taxpayers have doled out over $30 billion in bonus payments to push hospitals and doctors’ offices to switch from paper to electronic medical records. Now nearly all hospitals and over half of all office-based doctors have gone digital; but much of that electronic information doesn’t flow freely between health care providers because their separate software systems do not communicate — and consumers are losing out. Consumers win when electronic health records (EHR) systems talk …

New Guidelines Give Consumers Easier Access to Their Medical Records

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives consumers the right to access their medical information. But many people still have to jump through hoops to get their medical records from reluctant health care providers.   New Guidance Prods Clinicians to Provide Patient Records Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services issued updated guidelines that will make it much easier for people to see their paper or electronic health information, including what their doctor has written about them. …

Among Older African Americans, Depression Continues to Be Under-Detected and Undertreated

The good news is that appropriate treatment can help most older adults with depression. What’s more, Medicare has recently improved its coverage for people with mental disorders. It now covers a free annual depression screening, and beneficiaries no longer have to pay more for outpatient treatment of mental illnesses than they do for physical illnesses. In addition, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit covers essentially all antidepressants used to treat people with depression. Older African Americans’ Depression Is More Likely to Go …

Is Observation Status Substituting for Hospital Readmission?

Since October 2012, the Medicare program has penalized hospitals when too many patients in traditional Medicare are re-hospitalized within a month of discharge. This policy appears to be having unintended consequences for patients in Medicare and in the commercial market. Hospitals with readmission rates above the national average now receive lower payments across-the-board from Medicare; the higher the rate of “excess” readmissions, the greater the penalty. The fines are intended to push hospitals to provide better care for their patients …

En cuanto a la telemedicina, Medicare todavía tiene mucho por hacer

In English | Cientas de miles de personas se adaptan al mundo virtual para recibir su cuidado de la salud . Reemplazan sus visitas tradicionales al médico con la telemedicina, o sea, con servicios médicos que los profesionales del cuidado de la salud les proporcionan a través de sistemas de telecomunicación en diferentes lugares. La telemedicina tiene una variedad de usos. Por ejemplo, los cardiólogos pueden monitorear el estatus de sus pacientes con enfermedades del corazón mientras están a millas …

When It Comes to Telemedicine, Medicare Has a Ways to Go

En español | Hundreds of thousands of people are going virtual to get their health care — replacing traditional face-to-face visits with telemedicine, or health services provided via telecommunication systems by health care professionals at a different location. Telemedicine has a variety of uses. For example, cardiologists can monitor the status of patients with heart disease miles away. Telemedicine can also help patients learn how to manage their illness at home, take their medications as prescribed by their clinicians and …