Open source EHR technology tackled Ebola; VA evaluates, expands Blue Button;

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> Athenahealth, Epic and Medfusion are the vendors most effective at helping providers engage  patients with their online portals, according to a new report from KLAS Research. All three vendors report that over half of their customers have achieved at least 20 percent patient access of the portal, which is well above the threshold necessary for Meaningful Use. Announcement

> Open source electronic health record technology has been instrumental in dealing with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The OpenMRS community reached out to respond to the outbreak and volunteers launched a number of projects, including customized functionality of EHRs for Ebola, creation of standardized terminology, specialized tracking of lab samples, and other initiatives. OpenMRS is the world's largest open source technology. Announcement

> The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is expanding the type of records that veterans can obtain via the Blue Button initiative, testing programs to provide online access to imaging results such as MRIs as well as to health summaries. The records can be obtained via the MyHealtheVet website. The VA is also evaluating the effectiveness and impact of the Blue Button program itself. Article

Health Finance News

> As many as 30 rural hospitals in Kentucky and Kansas are at risk of closing due to financial duress. A number of factors have hit rural facilities hard, including a tough financial environment and declining populations in their service areasWhile many of the facilities have a critical access designation and therefore are entitled to higher payments from the Medicare program, the 2 percent across-the-board sequestration cut brought their payments below actual costs. Article

> Nursing homes could wind up being the primary setting for elderly patients to receive much of their care in the future. The reason is that hospitals tend to not be a particularly conducive place to care for aging patients, given their susceptibility to falls, hospital-acquired infections and dementia issues that can make navigating such facilities a chore. However, nursing homes have challenges of their own, such as the fact that many do not have full-time nursing staffs. Article

Health Insurance News   

> In his recent 2016 budget request to Congress, President Barack Obama expressed growing concerns over the high costs of Medicare prescription drugs. His solution to the problem: Let Medicare officials negotiate prices with drug manufacturers. Currently, federal law prohibits such negotiations. Article

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued guidance on how and participating state exchanges will determine whether those who received an advanced premium tax credit (APTC) or cost-sharing reduction (CSR) in 2015 will still be eligible for the 2016 plan year.  As was the case for the 2015 plan year, will renew coverage for enrollees who take no action. Article    

And Finally... There are plenty of real women who better deserved this award. Article