New Report Claims 20% Jump in Health Care Records Theft in 2014

Medical identity theft increased by 21% between 2013 and 2014, adding an estimated 500,000 Americans to the 2 million who have been victimized over the past 5 years, according to a new report from a research firm specializing in privacy management. And if that weren’t bad enough, findings by the Ponemon Institute, which completed its study in November 2014, do not include statistics from the recently announced massive records breach of Anthem customers, which could affect as many as 80 million Americans.

In its fifth annual study of medical identity theft, Ponemon analyzed surveys from 1,005 respondents across the United States who had experienced theft. The survey asked not just about the costs and circumstances around instances of theft 2013–2104, but about respondents’ attitudes toward their health care providers’ security practices. Among the findings

Full story of health claims jump at APTA

‘Top 15’ Clinical Trials in Physical Therapy Released by PEDro

The “top 15” physical therapy clinical trials include 5 trials related to low back pain, and 1 trial on Bell palsy that dates back to 1958, according to a list based on nominations from physical therapists (PTs) around the world.

The list was developed by the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), an Australia-based project and collaborative partner with PTNow, in celebration of its 15th anniversary. PEDro solicited nominations from PTs for the clinical trials that had the most impact on the field of physical therapy, then turned over those nominations to an expert panel for final selection.

Full story of top 15 clinical trials at APTA

US Ranks Near Bottom in Level of Trust in Medical Profession; Near Top in Personal Satisfaction With Treatment

It’s accepted wisdom that 21st century Americans generally mistrust Congress but feel good about their own representatives. Apparently, the same seemingly paradoxical views are true for the medical profession, and in a big way—the US ranks near the bottom among 29 countries in level of trust in the overall medical system, and near the top in satisfaction with individual care.

A study published in the October 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports on polling data that show a dramatic drop in Americans’ confidence in the medical profession between 1966 and 2014. The decline is significant: in 1966, nearly 3 quarters (73%) of Americans expressed “great confidence in the leaders of the medical profession,” but that rate is now 34%.

Full story of trust in medical professions at APTA

Hospital Rates, Lengths of Stay Drop; Costs Continue ‘Steady’ 1.8% Rise

“Greater use of chronic disease management programs and emphasis on outpatient treatment” may be part of the explanation for an overall decrease in inpatient hospital stays from 2003 to 2012, according to a recent report that analyzed community hospital use over a 10 year period.

According to the study, hospitalization rates dropped by an average of .3% per year from 2003 to 2008, and an average of 1.8% per year from 2008 to 2012.

The report, issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, looked at rates, length, costs, and demographic variables related to hospitalization, and found that in addition to dropping rates, length of hospitalization also decreased by an average of .2% per year between 2003 and 2012.

Full story of hospital rates continuing to rise at APTA

IMPACT Act Standardizing Postacute Care Data Signed Into Law

Legislation that would standardize data used across postacute care (PAC) settings has been signed into law and will join a larger package of reforms. APTA worked to influence this legislation.

The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act signed by President Barack Obama on Monday directs the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to standardize patient assessment data, quality, and resource use measures for PAC providers including home health agencies (HHAs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs).

The House and Senate passed the legislation in September.

Full story of the IMPACT Act at APTA

CDC: Ebola Outbreak in US Highly Unlikely

The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States sparked plenty of anxiety-producing headlines, but health experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say the chances of an outbreak in the US are almost none.

CNN, the Washington Post, and nearly every other media outlet reported that a man was diagnosed with the virus in Dallas, Texas, a few days after arriving from Liberia. Initially, the man brought himself to a Dallas-area emergency room, but his symptoms were not connected to Ebola and he was sent home. When he later returned to the hospital feeling worse, he was isolated and the diagnosis confirmed.

Because Ebola does not become contagious until an individual begins feeling ill, passengers on the flight the man took from Liberia are in no danger of contracting the disease from him, health officials said. Instead, health workers are investigating contacts he may have had with family and others in the US after he showed signs of sickness.

Full story of EBOLA outbreak chance at APTA

Medicare Pioneer ACO Program Continues to Lose Members

The Medicare “Pioneer” program that targets more sophisticated health systems to foster the development of accountable care organizations (ACOs) has now lost about 40% of the systems that signed on initially. According to an article in Modern Healthcare (access available via free one-time registration) the most recent withdrawals “suggest even the most sophisticated health systems may be unwilling to take losses as policymakers test new payment and delivery models.”

The most recent exits—Franciscan Alliance, Genesys PHO, and Renaissance Health Network—bring the Pioneer list from its original 32 members to 19. The Modern Healthcare article reports that 9 of the 13 ACOs that dropped out did so within the first year of the program’s launch in 2012, opting instead to join the “less risky” shared savings program, the traditional Medicare program that allows other entities to form ACO. Unlike the Pioneer program, the number of entities joining the shared savings program has been steadily increasing.

Full story of ACO program losing members at APTA

Postacute Care Data Bill Passes House

Legislation that would standardize data used across postacute care settings has been approved by the US House of Representatives and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4994/S. 2553) passed by voice vote in the House. It is unlikely the Senate will take up the bill before leaving for the elections.

If it becomes law, IMPACT would instruct the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to standardize patient assessment data, quality, and resource use measures for postacute care providers including home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care hospitals. A June in PT Motion story outlined the major provisions of the legislation.

Full story of postacute care bill at APTA

Bill Introduced in Senate Would Allow PTs to Bring in Another PT During Absences

A version of a bill that would allow physical therapists (PTs) in private practice to provide Medicare patients continuity of care in the PT’s absence has been introduced in the US Senate. Like its companion bill introduced in the US House of Representatives last year, the Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (H.R. 3426/S. 2818) would expand so-called “locum tenens” arrangements to include PTs.

Locum tenens provisions allow health care providers to bring in another licensed provider to treat Medicare patients and bill Medicare through the practice provider number during temporary absences for illness, pregnancy, vacation, or continuing medical education. Current law only extends locum tenens to doctors of medicine, osteopathy, dental surgery, podiatric medicine, optometry, and chiropractic, forcing PTs in private practice to avoid absences or risk gaps in patient and client care.

Full story of Bill to assist PT’s in absences at APTA

Patient Support for Home-Based Telemedicine Growing but Barriers Remain

More patients are willing than not to consider staying at home for video-based appointments with a health care provider, but the consumer demand for such an option still has a way to go before it could be characterized as overwhelming, according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic.

In a survey of 263 patients who recently received outpatient treatment at the Mayo Clinic Center, researchers found that about 66% of respondents said that they were “somewhat likely” (28.1%) or “very likely” (38%) to accept an invitation to meet with their provider by way of video from their homes. The survey included questions about familiarity with video calls, what kinds of technology patients owned, patient assessments of the value of video appointments, and costs of travel to the local institution, among other topics. Findings were published in the September issue of Telemedicine and e-Health.

Full story of telemedicine growth at APTA