Photo: Carla K. JohnsonA panel of experts discuss health information technology at an AHCJ Chicago chapter event on March 3 in Chicago. From left: Dr. Arnold “Ned” Wagner Jr., chief medical information officer, NorthShore University HealthSystem; Dr. Diane Bradley, senior vice president, chief quality and outcomes officer, Allscripts; Eric Yablonka, vice president and chief information officer, University of Chicago Medicine; and moderator Neil Versel, an independent journalist.
Yes, technology is transforming health care. No, we haven’t come anywhere close to realizing the vision.
Smooth patient handoffs, data-driven performance improvement and real-time analytics are still mostly dreams, although those ambitions have been talked about for years.
Independent journalist Neil Versel, who specializes in health information technology, moderated a panel on March 3. The AHCJ Chicago chapter event was held at AMA Plaza, the new headquarters of the American Medical Association.
Electronic medical record systems “need to play nicer together so they can use each other’s information as if it was natively generated,” said Arnold “Ned” Wagner Jr., M.D., chief medical information officer of NorthShore University HealthSystem. “Can we talk to each other transparently? Well, partly. The success of communication depends on human behavior and (technology’s) job is to help understand the reality of what motivates people to do things.” Continue reading
This article originally appeared on ProPublica’s website.
The government’s new website on drug and device company ties to doctors will be incomplete and may be misleading – for now.
The government’s release today of a trove of data detailing drug and device companies’ payments to doctors has been widely hailed as a milestone for transparency. But it is also something else: a very limited window into the billions in industry spending. Before you dive in and search for a specific doctor, here are five caveats to keep in mind: Continue reading
One factor that makes health care costs difficult to manage is the system the federal government and health insurers use to decide how to pay physicians for the various services they deliver.
In an article in The Washington Post, “How a secretive panel uses data that distorts doctors pay,” journalists Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating explain that a committee of the American Medical Association meets in private every year to develop values for most of the services doctors perform. The AMA is the chief lobbying group for doctors.
Read more about this secretive panel and the problems that Keating and Whoriskey identified wtih the process.
When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released payment data last month, health reporters paid attention. It allowed an unprecedented look at how $77 billion of public funds have been spent.
Now, AHCJ has made the data more accessible for its members. Members can follow this link to download Microsoft Excel files by state. The page includes links to the actual files, plus links to documentation, a rundown of caveats and tips, and descriptions of the each spreadsheet column.
The data covers payment information for individual doctors and other providers for Medicare Part B services delivered in 2012 – a total of 9,153,272 records in the original data file, totaling 1.7 GB. The file covers more than 880,000 physicians and other providers who received payments from Medicare.
The comprehensive file is too large for common desktop database software, so AHCJ took the extra step of breaking down the data by state and posting the files for download, along with some tips and caveats for reporters.
The new data provide a more detailed picture of how physicians practice in the Medicare program, and the payments they receive. The data contain information on health care professionals in all 50 states – plus the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and a handful in other countries. Because of privacy concerns, the government files exclude providers who seek reimbursement for services done for 10 or fewer patients.
With these files, it will be possible to conduct a wide range of analyses that compare thousands of different services and procedures provided, as well as payments received by individual health care providers.
AHCJ hosted a webcast
about the CMS data, featuring several CMS officials and Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica and member of AHCJ’s board of directors.
The federal government is expected Wednesday to release data on the services provided by – and money paid to – 880,000 health professionals who take care of patients in the Medicare Part B program. For 35 years, this data has been off limits to the public – and now it will be publicly available for use by journalists, researchers and others.
While the data offers a huge array of stories, which could take weeks or months to report out, it also has some pitfalls. Here are six things to be aware of before you dig in:
Have a strategy for storing and opening the data. This data set is big. About 10 million rows, from what I hear. Because of that, you won’t be able to analyze it in Microsoft Excel and you might not be able to open it in Microsoft Access. You’ll want to upload it onto a data server and analyze it in a more powerful program such as SQL or SPSS. This could well serve as a barrier to entry for smaller news organizations. You may want to partner with an academic institution or another news outlet to analyze the data. Continue reading