VA awards $28 million contract to enhance telehealth initiatives; BCBSRI collaboration to boost information exchange enrollment;

News From Around the Web

> The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $28.8 million contract to AMC Health to enhance the VA's telehealth initiatives and reduce readmissions. The data will transmit to the AMC web portal or to any integrated electronic health record. Announcement

> Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Quality Institute have teamed up to create an incentive program for primary care physicians to use the state's health information exchange, CurrentCare. Providers may receive up to $10,000 in incentives per practice. Announcement (.pdf)

Health Finance News

> Congress and state lawmakers have been paying more attention to healthcare navigators, the people who will help enroll millions of Americans into Medicaid or commercial health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act and are considered crucial to building the insurance rolls in the coming months. Lawmakers in 16 states have passed, or are considering passing regulations that would focus on the licensing of navigators, while 13 state attorneys general--all Republicans--have raised concerns that the navigators could violate patient privacy. Article

> The compensation among the chief executive officers of the largest hospitals in the 10 largest cities in the United States show a huge gap in what the heads of private not-for-profit and government-operated hospitals are paid. According to an examination of the nine hospitals by FierceHealthFinance, every single CEO of the not-for-profit hospitals earned at least $1 million a year in compensation, while one had a retirement payout that bumped his compensation to nearly $10 million in 2010, the most recent year for which data was available. Article

Provider News

> While coping with rising operating costs already tops most practices' lists of challenges, technology expenses are a leading driver of that strain, according to new research from the Medical Group Management Association. In fact, according to the MGMA Cost Survey Report: 2013 Report Based on 2012 Data, medical practices' annual expenditures per full-time-equivalent (FTE) physician for information technology have climbed 27.8 percent in just five years, from a median of $15,211 in 2008 to a reported $19,439 in 2012. Article

> Forty percent of doctors would pick a different career if they had to do it all over again, according to the 2013 Great American Physician Survey. The fifth annual survey asked 1,172 physicians about politics, work-life balance, and measured their career satisfaction. Although 60 percent of docs are still content with practicing medicine, the other 40 percent expressed unhappiness with third-party interference (32 percent), lack of adequate insurance coverage for patients (37 percent) and lack of time to adequately educate patients on better health strategies (19 percent). Article

And Finally... Not sure which is more odd: this guy's obsession, or the fact that 19 plastic surgeries together cost only $6,800. Article