ONC issues updates to 2014 edition Test Method; Nurses want more oversight of health IT;

News From Around the Web

> The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has released updates to the 2014 edition Test Method (Test Procedures, Test Data and Test Tools). Some of the latest changes affect automated numerator recording and automated measure calculation. The 2014 edition Test Method was formally approved December 14, 2012 and has been updated several times since then. Website

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a news update about changes in the vital signs core objective in 2014. There was an increase in patient age limits for recording blood pressure to age 3. There also is no longer an age limit requirement for height and weight for Stage 1. Providers can be excluded from reporting this objective if they don't meet certain requirements, such as vital signs not being relevant to the provider's scope of practice.  Stage 2 guidelines (.pdf)  Stage 1 guidelines (.pdf)

> In formal comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Nurses United, the largest registered nurses' union in the nation, recommended that health IT systems be regulated as medical devices at the "highest level of oversight" and that nurses and other healthcare professionals be protected should they override diagnostic or other recommendation of the systems. The union also decried the FDA's proposal that reporting of health IT-safety events be non-punitive. Announcement

Health Finance News

> Hospitals and hospital systems now offer easier access to their emergency rooms as a potential business strategy by setting up ways patients can make appointments to visit the ER. Dignity Health, UC San Francisco Medical Center and other inpatient providers create appointment systems in order to boost patient satisfaction. However, critics suggest that the appointment system encourages patients to seek care in the costliest of settings to provide services, burdening them with larger bills and doing little to decrease the cost of care overall. Article

> While for-profit hospital chains fight reimbursement cuts tied to the Affordable Care Act and high levels of uncompensated care in states that do not expand Medicaid eligibility, delivery of care at a less complex level could wind up being their salvation. The number of urgent care centers will likely grow by 20 percent over the next five years, from 10,000 to 12,000, and as a result, could help to boost the bottom lines of for-profit hospital chains that choose to go into that business. Article

Health Insurance News

> Thousands of consumers still lack proper health insurance coverage despite signing up for exchange plans during the open enrollment period and paying their premiums. That's due to problems with exchange enrollment systems and the slow, drawn-out response from federal and state officials, according to insurers. Article

> Signifying consumer pushback against narrow networks, Consumer Watchdog has hit California's Anthem Blue Cross with a class-action lawsuit for allegedly misleading millions of members about whether physicians and hospitals were participating in new plan networks. The lawsuit also claims Anthem delayed giving consumers full information until it was too late for them to switch coverage. Article

And Finally... Priorities. Article