Meaningful Use incentive payments pass $17 billion; U.S. lags behind other nations in EHR adoption, use;

News From Around the Web

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has paid out almost $17 billion in incentives to participants in the Medicare and Medicaid incentive program. As of the end of October, more than 430,000 eligible professionals and eligible hospitals have achieved Meaningful Use, Healthcare IT News reported. Article

> American primary care physicians lag behind those in several other countries in electronic health record adoption and use, according to a recently published report by the Commonwealth Fund. While 69 percent said they are using EHRs, just 27 percent indicated that their systems have multi-functional capacity. In contrast, physicians in the United Kingdom and Australia have higher adoption and multi-functionality rates. U.S. doctors also had more trouble with insurance and reported more patients who could not afford care. Announcement (.pdf)

> A new survey by nonprofit organization LeadingAge finds that senior living centers are moving toward adoption of EHRs, with 75.5 percent of centers reporting that they have implemented one. Eighty-three percent have implemented a point of care/point of service system such as a kiosk or tablet. Less than 10 percent of respondents said that they had no EHR or POS/POC system. Study (.pdf)

Health Finance News

> Blood transfusions have been a staple of hospital care for nearly a century, but providers find they can reap big savings by stemming the number of such procedures performed, according to USA Today.  For example, the four-hospital Lee Memorial Health System in Florida has cut blood product usage by 2,200 units a year, an 11 percent reduction. The initiative translated to a $2.5 million annual savings on both staff and supplies. The system encourages physicians who typically have ordered two units of blood for transfusions to order only one. Article

> The declining cost increases in healthcare delivery apparently have had a collateral effect on repealing the sustainable growth rate formula, as the Congressional Budget Office has reduced the price tag of eliminating the unpopular method for gauging physician payments by tens of billions of dollars. The CBO has reduced the cost of repealing the SGR over 10 years to $116.5 billion, MedPage Today reported. That's a drop of $139 billion from last February and down significantly from the $271 billion the CBO had projected it would cost to repeal the law back in August, 2012. Article

Health Insurance News

> Colin Powell, former secretary of state and retired four-star Army general, called for establishing single-payer healthcare in the United States similar to systems operating elsewhere in the world, according to reports by ABC News and The Puget Sound Business Journal. "I have benefited from ... universal healthcare in my 55 years of public life," the Business Journal quoted Powell as saying at a cancer survivors' breakfast Thursday. "And I don't see why we can't do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing." Article

> As open enrollment gets into full swing, some state health insurance exchanges are in the midst of a leadership shakeup. The executive director of Maryland's health insurance, for instance, stepped down from her post this month amid criticism and technical problems. Article

And Finally... Clearly he needs to work on his Zorro imitation. Article