Health IT Roundup—Insurers skirt Texas telehealth law; EHR gag clauses limit research

Businessman video-chats with doctor on laptop
Texas insurers are supposed to post telehealth info on their websites. Most don't. (Getty/AndreyPopov)

Insurers aren't complying with Texas telehealth law

Most insurers aren't complying with a state law in Texas to post telehealth information. 

Under a 2017 Texas law, plan sponsors in the state are required to post their telehealth payment policies and services as of January 2018. But a new assessment from the Center for Connected Health Policy found that nine of the 18 plans evaluated were not doing so. The remaining insurers fell into varying degrees of compliance, with Molina and UnitedHealth leading the charge. 

"With so much ambiguity around payments, providers are unaware of their eligibility to receive reimbursement for telehealth services, and may not pursue its implementation," the report stated. (Report)

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Forget millennials. Apple Watch targets grandma

Apple is setting its sights on an older population with new features built into the Apple Watch. 

Physicians are excited about a new feature of the watch that can help detect falls. That's particularly useful for older patients recovering from joint replacements or on chemo and at higher risk of falling. Heart rate tracking could also warn patients of a heart attack, although some worry that will lead to a flood of unnecessary emergency room visits. (Kaiser Health News)

EHR gag clauses prevent safety research

In a new viewpoint published in JAMA, health IT researchers say "gag clauses" in EHR contracts are preventing providers from sharing EHR-specific information about the product. 

Such gag clauses require providers to obtain authorization from the vendor to share screenshots or videos, which can make it difficult to correct patient safety and usability concerns. The researchers argue that some of these issues should be addressed in the forthcoming information blocking rule. (JAMA)

Medtronic pays $51M settlement

Medical device giant Medtronic has agreed to pay $51 million to resolve a Department of Justice investigation into several company subsidiaries. 

ev3 Inc., which was first acquired by Covidien and then acquired by Medtronic after it purchased Covidian in 2015, agreed to pay $17.9 million and plead guilty to improperly marketing a neurovascular muscular device, according to Reuters. 

Medtronic is also resolving two other investigations tied to conduct prior to its acquisition of Covidien. In one, the company agreed to pay $13 million to resolve allegations of kickbacks to induce hospitals to use a device for stroke patients. Another $20 million settlement will resolve a federal probe into physician engagement activities involving Covidien and ev3. (Reuters)