Joint Commission Text Messaging Orders Saga Ends

The December 2016 issue of Perspectives clarified the position on text messaging orders saying, “although its prior data privacy and security concerns had been addressed, concerns remained about transmitting text orders even when a secure text messaging system is used”, and therefore texting orders is not permitted. Specifically, TJC, with CMS’s input, found that:

Joint Commission requires organizations to have a written policy addressing the privacy of health information, and this requirement applies to the privacy of health information transmitted through text messaging.’

Part of the document.

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It‘s Not Just Old Age – Depression in the Elderly

The following scenario is played out with increasing regularity in the nation: An elderly person, let’s call her Edith is living alone because she has lost her husband. Due to one or more chronic conditions she has decreased independence. Maybe she can’t drive any more and needs to use a walker or wheelchair. Her condition requires a regime of prescription medications. The chronic condition causes pain. If Edith has family that can visit her they are likely very busy or may not live close enough to visit regularly. Consequently she spends a lot of time alone, and may possibly feel a loss of significance. In this scenario it would not be easy to maintain a positive outlook of the future and life itself.

Depression in the elderly is often unrecognized and undiagnosed. Yet there is a growing awareness that many life factors that the elderly must cope with in fact contribute to the likelihood of depression. Also age affects the structure of the brain. Mental and physical health affect each other. Many elderly suffer from one or more chronic conditions which can cause or worsen depression. Untreated depression can cause chronic conditions and the condition itself or it’s medical treatment can cause depression. Depression also affects treatment compliance or self management of physical conditions.

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Texting Patient Orders Still up in the air with Joint Commission

The new policy unraveled in May of this year put out by the Joint Commission would have opened the door for texting to be used as an effective communication tool to exchange patient orders.

Initially, the policy what is welcome news because it would’ve made sharing patient info easier. Summarized, it stated, along with some caution,

Eeffective immediately, The Joint Commission has revised its position on the transmission of orders for care, treatment, and services via text messaging for all accreditation programs. Licensed independent practitioners or other practitioners in accordance with professional standards of practice, law and regulation, and policies and procedures may text orders as long as a secure text messaging platform is used and the required components of an order are included.

Now it seems that policy change is on hold.

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The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare release Oro™ 2.0

The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare has released Oro™ 2.0, an online assessment and resource library designed to assist hospital leaders with determining their organization’s level of maturity in multiple components of high reliability and striving for the goal of zero preventable harm.

Oro 2.0 is a Web-based assessment for hospital leadership that is accessible on the Center for Transforming Healthcare website. The assessment process guides the leadership team through a series of questions which allows for discussion and alignment on key strategic performance issues. Once an assessment is completed, a report is generated that identifies strengths and opportunities for improvement and directs the user to resources specific to their organization’s high-reliability maturity level. The content included in the Oro 2.0 Resource Libraryfocuses on the areas of leadership commitment, safety culture and performance improvement.

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Joint Commission launches Speak Up™ Antibiotics campaign

Speak Up™ is an Antibiotics campaign targeted to the public in an attempt to educate on the appropriate and safe use of antibiotics, as well as the risks associated with antibiotic overuse.

From JC:

Each year, an estimated 2 million people in the United States become infected with bacteria that antibiotics cannot treat because the bacteria is no longer responsive to antibiotics. Antibiotics also can kill good bacteria in the body, potentially leading to other problems such as diarrhea or yeast infections. As a result, antibiotic overuse has become a critical health and patient safety concern, especially in young children and seniors, who are at higher risk for illness.

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Hospitals Overcharging Consumers at 10X Cost

The problem with hospitals being owned by for-profit entities is that pricing can be arbitrary. IF you can get away with overcharging it doesn’t matter where you are, so long as people pay. Some hospitals gouge even further than the usual song and dance between healthcare provider and insurance. The largest offenders seem to be in Florida.

The researchers said other consumers who could face those high charges are patients whose hospitals are not in their insurance company’s preferred network of providers, patients using workers’ compensation and those covered by automobile insurance policies.

Generally, hospitals know they won’t be collecting on the money they invoice as only a fraction is covered by insurance, and even then some patients are not insured yet are provided services. That explains astronomical invoices for apparently mundane procedures. Profit maximizing hospitals don’t have any checks or balances for their pricing, so they’ll go as high as they can.

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New Joint Commission Medical Imaging Standards

The Joint Commission has issued new standards around protocols, documentation and education that are designed to reduce unnecessary medical imaging and improve quality and safety.

The Joint Commission standards for diagnostic imaging are designed to help prevent duplicate and unnecessary medical imaging of patients, and reduce potentially harmful exposure to radiation when patients need CT scans, MRI or a combination of these and other diagnostic tests. The new protocols raise the bar for quality and safety at ambulatory imaging sites, critical access hospitals and accredited hospitals. The changes also impact the uncertainties around dosage radiation for patients.

Many have questioned whether the changes are enough.

The Joint Commission’s imaging standards were initially intended for release last year, but they were postponed due to lack of detail and clarity. Compliance to new protocols becomes difficult when a patient is seen by multiple healthcare providers – especially in different geographic regions – and when the patient’s journey spans different facilities, specialists and time zones as they strive to get well.

Healthcare provider education on the imaging equipment and diagnostic materials will be the main element to improve imaging standards and ultimate improve healthcare provision.

TPP Critics Fear Higher Drug Prices

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed free-trade treaty between 12 countries throughout the Asia Pacific including the US and Canada. Respective governments have worked hard to push through legislation approving the new treaty. As deadlines approach more and more criticism and opposition has emerged over the proposed regulations.

Critics fear that the new agreement would provide unbalanced benefits to corporations. For example, a recent draft appears to give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law.

This has many organizations concern including Doctors Without Borders.

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FBI Arrest 243 Healthcare Professional and workers with Medicare Fraud

243 individuals —- including medical professional such as doctors, nurses, and others–were arrested for their alleged involvement in Medicare fraud schemes totalling approximately $712 million in false billings.

The arrests were a coordinated operation in 17 cities by Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams, which include personnel from the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and local law enforcement.

The arrests are the largest-ever health care fraud takedown in terms of both loss amount and arrests.

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