Clancy to step down as AHRQ Director; VA adds new features to Blue Button;

News From Around the Web

> Carolyn Clancy, director for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, announced today that she is stepping down after 10 years of service, the AcademyHealth blog reports. Blog post

> The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week that it has introduced new enhanced features for Blue Button, including giving veterans access to the VA Continuity of Care Document. Also this week, the VA announced improved functionality for eBenefits, a web portal that provides users with secure online information and access to military and Veterans benefits resources. Announcement

> GE Global Research and GE Healthcare will work with the VA to develop prototype technology to automate surgical tool packaging, delivery and sterilization, Health Data Management reports. The goal is a system "capable of locating, sorting, delivering and sterilizing surgical tools with little oversight," potentially saving hospitals billions of dollars, according to GE. Article

Healthcare Reimbursement News

> A rarely talked about provision within the health reform law allows insurers to charge its members who smoke higher premiums than other members starting next year. Insurers can raise premiums by 50 percent for smokers beginning Jan. 1. Article

> Amid the increase of mergers and acquisitions throughout the health insurance industry, a new study has found they don't always raise the value of a company. After analyzing 44 transactions that occurred between 2006 and 2012, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions determined that less than half of the deals resulted in sustained value improvements. Article

> Insurers in Massachusetts are on the forefront of a growing trend to help consumers price medical procedures and services, as well as find specialists and other doctors, reported the Boston Globe. Article

EMR News

> The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has acknowledged some technical difficulties with one of the software tools that tests whether electronic health record systems meet the 2014 edition of certification criteria for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. Article

And Finally... Planes, trains, automobiles ... and horses? Article

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