More children's hospitals embracing EHRs; New ONC workgroup will focus on ACOs;

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> The electronic health record system adoption rates by children's hospitals has jumped, increasing from 21 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2011, a higher adoption rate than for adult hospitals, according to a study published in Pediatrics. Of these hospitals, 29 percent met the 12 core Meaningful Use criteria. Major teaching children's hospitals were "significantly" more likely to have an EHR than other children's hospitals. Abstract

> The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has announced the launch of a new workgroup dedicated to health IT and accountable care organizations (ACOs). The workgroup will identify high priority areas where health IT can support these care delivery models. The workgroup may focus on data analytics, data sharing in care coordination and consumer engagement. Website

> National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari has indicated that the agency expects to issue voluntary guidelines for secure health information exchange this spring, according to an article in ONC originally considered issuing mandatory requirements, but dropped that idea after receiving negative feedback. It may still consider that option if voluntary compliance doesn't go as planned. Article

Health Finance News

> State hospital associations are pushing hard to ensure Medicaid is expanded under the Affordable Care Act in as many parts of the country as possible. Lawmakers in states that oppose expanding Medicaid cite concerns that federal plans to financially support the expansion may not be long lived. As a result, as many as 17 million Americans who would be eligible under the Medicaid expansion may not be able to obtain coverage. Article

> Hospital chains are reporting meager first-quarter earnings due in part to low patient volume and a weak U.S. economy operating at less than full employment. For instance, HCA Holdings' preliminary first-quarter results showed a slowdown in admissions growth and weak outpatient volumes, the largest U.S. hospital chain announced last week. Article

Provider News

> Amid fears that physicians' performance data linked to compliance with the Affordable Care Act could be used against them in medical malpractice cases, the American Medical Association drafted model legislation that would keep ACA-related data out of court. Article

> When it comes to biomedical communications--history taking, health education and lifestyle discussions--physicians treat all of their patients the same, a recent study from Johns Hopkins Medicine found. However, audiotaped encounters between 39 primary care doctors and 208 of their patients revealed a major difference in the amount of empathy physicians provided for overweight and obese patients compared to their normal-weight counterparts, researchers wrote in the current issue of the journal Obesity. Article

And Finally... Didn't he learn not to do this in kindergarten? Article