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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

July 9, 2014



 

WARNING: Eight EHR Hazards

There's triple trouble with electronic health records: patient safety, medical privacy, and data security. And there are at least eight hazards. But much taxpayer money has been thrown at the highly speculative, untested EHR for political and profit purposes.

 

England has already tried and failed. The National Health Service, which serves a population of 53 million, began building a national EHR system in 2002. By 2007, it missed key deadlines. In 2011, the $20 billion project was shut down.

 

Safety issues surfaced early in the U.S. In 2005, the VA, which has the "the largest integrated healthcare system in the USA," created a special Informatics Patient Safety (IPS) reporting system for EHR-related safety concerns. But the 2009 Recovery Act, signed into law a month after Obama's inauguration, mandated doctors and hospitals move to EHRs or face annual financial penalties. The Act provide $27 billion to move patient medical records from relatively secure paper to quite insecure and unproven computerization.

 

But the 2009 Recovery Act, signed into law a month after Obama's inauguration, provided $27 billion for EHRs and mandated doctors and hospitals establish EHRs or face annual financial penalties.

 

With all this in mind, here is a short list of hazards of digitized patient data:

 

  • DANGEROUS CARE: A study of 100 out of 344 patient safety incidents at the VA found a majority "reflected a poor fit between information needs and the task at hand...[leading to] increased potential for patient harm." The FDA has testified to at least six deaths and more than 40 injuries due to Health IT.

 

  • CONTROL OF DOCTORS: "Built into each electronic medical record is a set of protocols that we doctors must follow. Each year we don't follow them, we get cut by another percentage point as far as our reimbursements from any government-sponsored plan." - Dr. Ted Roberto, podiatric surgeon, NJ

 

  • LIABILITY CHARGES:  EHRs generates "frequent, annoying, and disruptive alerts" for drug-to-drug interactions. Doctors with "alert fatigue" who ignore them may be found liable if following the alert could have prevented harm.

 

  • DATA BREACHES: Criminal attacks on health care data have increased by 100 percent in four years. Most come from human error. Of the breaches, 78% took months to discover and 84% were discovered by outsiders (often law enforcement). In 2013, 199 breaches exposed more than 7 million patient records.

 

  • HACKERS: For 10 months, the Montana Health Dept. didn't realize hackers accessed data on 1.3 million people including "names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers" and potentially "health assessments, diagnoses, treatment, health conditions, prescriptions, and insurance" information.

 

  • GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE: "Local, regional, and national governments, large health care organizations, insurance companies, and academic research centers are all exploring ways to use data from EHRs to monitor health and inform health care policies and programs." NYC Dept of Health, July 2013.

 

  • BROAD SHARING: The 2009 HITECH Act provided $564 million for state health information exchanges (HIEs) to facilitate nationwide sharing of patient data. All federal funds are gone. Already states HIEs have disbanded due to lack of funding, but government officials hope cloud computing might give them access to the data (see below).

 

  • DETAILED TRACKING: Unless Congress again delays the transition, on October 1, 2015, the federal government will expand its diagnosis coding system (ICD-9) from 18,000 codes to 140,000 codes, which will be used to " track, identify, and analyze new clinical services and treatments..."

 

State legislators can protect patients. Ask your state legislators to enact state privacy laws, including

  • No data sharing without patient consent
  • No patient data in state health information exchanges without patient consent
  • Physician freedom to not establish electronic medical records
  • Patient right to request a paper medical record
  • Patient right to refuse the presence of a scribe during the clinic visit
  • Requirement that physicians inform patients about government- or insurer-prescribed treatment protocols, and any penalties for non-compliance.

HIPAA does not protect patient privacy, but states are authorized under HIPAA to write medical privacy laws that do. And those state laws supercede any federal law on medical data, including HIPAA. The time to enact real privacy and patient protection laws is now.

 

 

Protecting your rights and freedom,

 

Twila Brase, R.N., PHN

President and Co-founder

CCHFREEDOM.ORG



 


 




News to Know:

EHRs Raise Your Blood Pressure! 

Although HHS is sponsoring a contest to lower hypertension with EHRs, electronic health records are raising everyone's blood pressure. Per Politico Pro, a HIMSS patient survey "showed 62% of patients "dissatisfied with their experience in hospitals or clinics using the advanced systems" compared to 32% "in less-sophisticated environments."  Another survey found: "Poor EHR usability, time-consuming data entry, interference with face-to-face patient care, inefficient and less fulfilling work content, inability to exchange health information between EHR products, and degradation of clinical documentation were prominent sources of professional dissatisfaction." More detailed reasons here.



What's an Administration to Do?? 

The Obama Administration faces a "double-edged sword" when they announce the 2015 re-enrollment process for people who bought Obamacare in 2014. Many consumers may benefit financially from switching Obamacare plans, so making renewals of their current coverage easier could expose many to higher costs because of expected premium increases in the most widely used plans, according to Chris Jacobs. The largest insurers in most states have submitted 2015 health premium increases of 8.5% to 22.8%.




"Bad Science" on Race & Genomics

A critical review of Nicholas Wade's new book about the biology of human races, A Troublesome Inheritance, was published in the Council for Responsible Genetics' GeneWatch. The review criticized the popular book based on what they reviewers called "very bad science" and "at least seven mistakes that are routinely committed when genomics and genetics information are used to examine the biological basis for human races."




Narrow Networks Harm Patients

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) issued a report praising "narrow networks" or "high value networks" as the insurance industry calls them, saying the networks cut health premium costs and encourage a higher quality of care. However, narrow networks often leave consumers without a choice of their preferred hospital and doctors. Many state legislators have proposed requiring insurers to include "any willing provider" in their networks as long as the provider agrees to the insurance contracts



5 Tech Safety Issues Impact Patients

A new report asks executives to "monitor, think, and act" on five medical technology safety issues. The report highlights: 1) Alarm Systems - making sure patient alarms alert providers but do not harm patients; 2) Luer Connectors -- avoiding deaths from device misconnections; 3) Cybersecurity - keeping unwanted intruders out of patient medical devices; 4) Batteries - protecting patients from failing or leaking batteries; 5) Medical Device Recalls - monitoring device recalls and making future purchases accordingly.



Health Info Disaster Coming

A crime-based health data disaster is imminent. Cyberspace experts interviewed by Politico acknowledge that computerization of health and financial records may enable hackers to access the data of thousands of people. A single patient medical record could garner $500 on the black market. NOTE: In 1996 Congress authorized computerization of medical records without consent (HIPAA) - with no serious plan to protect citizens' data.



Wheeling and Dealing

UnitedHealth Group, has become a wheeler and dealer in federal dollars. The nation's largest insurer offers Medicare Advantage plans and owns a consulting firm, Executive Health Resources, which helps hospitals get all the Medicare dollars possible from the federal government. So even though UHG often short-changes doctors who provide care, it also makes money from helping hospitals claim and retain federal dollars. It all depends on "defining the patient's stay." reports The New York Times. EHResources supplies attorneys to review and appeal federal orders requiring hospitals to return millions of dollars.



The Cloud: Easier Access to Your Data?

During testimony to Congress, federal officials and others said patients should have access to their own digital health data. Cloud computing was suggested "to improve access." Cleveland Clinic's CIO wants to use patient data to identify persons who need care before they become patients. But Rep. Phil Gringrey, M.D. (R-GA) raised privacy concerns about data being leaked. NOTE: Given the failure of many state health information exchanges (HIEs), cloud storage may provide government officials the ready access to patient data they wanted from the HIEs.



HMOs Disguised in ACO Clothing

Several states are setting up accountable care organizations ( ACOs) for Medicaid under Obamacare's Medicare "Shared Savings Program." The ACOs are a contracted network of hospitals, clinics and doctors that agree to provide more integrated care for a set amount of money. If they save dollars the ACO "shares" in the savings.  "What we've got to find to make the ACO movement successful is a middle ground between a wide open PPO and the traditional unpopular gatekeeper HMO. There are all sorts of ways we can try to mimic HMOs without having it be through a gatekeeper," Dr. Scott Sarran told AIS's ACO Business News.




Who Will Pay For Her Birth Control?

The Supreme Court's ruling on Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius, which upheld the religious liberty rights of closely held private companies that choose not to pay for birth control coverage, still leaves a question about who will pay for it. Under Obamacare's benefit mandate, insurers and employers are forced to provide all U.S.-approved birth control methods to employees. The Court's suggested compromise for employers who are exempt from providing contraception hasn't worked in practice, say insurers administering it.



National Security vs. Privacy Debated

Two distinguished panels debated at the Aspen Ideas Festival whether the NSA is keeping Americans safe. Former NSA director Keith Alexander said the NSA has made things safer for American troops, successfully monitored terrorist groups and stopped attacks.  Anthony Romero of the ACLU acknowledged that terrorism is a real threat but pushed him to explain why the American people shouldn't have a right to privacy in their telephone metadata, given how revealing it can be?



Legal Rights Of The Deceased?

Did a mother and her doctors act ethically in removing sperm from her son's dead body so she could create a future grandchild with a surrogate mother, without her son's consent?  Bioethicist Anna Smajdor tackles this unusual question and like many bioethicists, opposes the practice. She writes in the Journal of Medical Ethics that the dead still have interests and "the validity of inferred consent is a dangerous principle to consider."




Quote of the Week:

"There are dozens of different sources of data that are relevant to health care, from a person's medical history to their over-the-counter drug purchases and what's on their Fitbit. Big Data works when we are able to bring many disparate sources of data together and link them to one person or event, and in health care, that's difficult to do for cultural and technical reasons," - Giovanni Colella, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Castlight Health, writing in recode.net, June 11, 2014 regarding a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

 

 


 




Stat of the Week:

85 - hospitals and health systems that merged or were acquired in 2013, up from 50 deals in 2009. A total of 283 hospitals changed ownership in 2013.

 




News Release of the Week:

New Audit Reveals Nearly 3 Million Inconsistencies in
 Obamacare Enrollee Data


ST. PAUL, Minn. - More problems with Obamacare abound - this time with inconsistent data for those who have enrolled.

A government audit recently revealed that 2.9 million data inconsistencies exist within the federal health care plan, including problems with Social Security numbers, income, family size or citizenship, which open enrollees up to rules violations, technology issues and receiving huge subsidy overpayments from the federal government. Continue reading




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

ACT NOW on Senate Baby DNA Bill

I need you to call your two U.S. Senators. The Newborn Screening
Saves Lives Reauthorization Act is waiting in the US Senate for a vote.
Last week, before the House voted on it, Congresswoman Michele
Bachmann went to the floor of the House and said parent consent
should be required. But it passed without consent requirements.

Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.

 

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Ste 923
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100
Email: info@cchfreedom.org
www.cchfreedom.org



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