North Carolina moves toward greater cost transparency; Keystone HIE will include heart monitoring info;

News From Around the Web

> North Carolina is making moves to improve health cost transparency, according to an article in the Charlotte Business Journal. Starting next year, patients in the Tar Heel State should be able to see more into their hospital bill, with the introduction of Health Care Cost Reduction and Transparency Act of 2013, which creates an online database of what hospitals are paid for the 100 treatments they perform most frequently. Article

> Pennsylvania's Keystone Health Information Exchange has expanded to include heart monitoring information, according to an announcement. "Providing physicians with nearly real-time information about a patient's heart condition, including results from ECGs, Holter monitoring and stress tests, is critical to ensuring a patient receives the right care at the right time," said Charles Sawyer, M.D., chief health information officer, Geisinger Health System, of the advancement. Article

EMR News

> Incorporating clinical decision support predictive tools into electronic health record use can "significantly" decrease the use of antibiotics for respiratory tract infections, according to a study published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine. The researchers, from Hofstra North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine, noted that CDS tools hold promise in reducing costs and overtreatment, but that this has not been shown in clinical trials. Article

Health Payer News

> Once considered the untouchable model of integrated care, skillfully managing both hospitals and health plans, Kaiser Permanente has earned its share of critics in the last few months, most recently over whether the insurer is an obstacle to lower healthcare costs. Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser is now the dominant insurer for employers, with more than 40 percent of the market throughout the state. Some say this control has led to Kaiser refusing to negotiate rates with companies or explain why it continues to increase premiums. Article

> Americans' health and well-being would benefit from a complete expansion of Medicare, essentially eliminating the "wasteful" private insurance industry, according to a new study from the Physicians for a National Health Program. What's more, expanding Medicare to cover every individual would save billions of dollars each year. Study author Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, estimated a Medicare-for-all plan could save $592 billion next year. Article

And Finally… Democracy in its baby stages. Article

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