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By Margaret Havens Neal MD, FSP President Elect
On July 3, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the proposed 2015 Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) regulation. The following issues included in the 2015 proposed rule are the ones of specific concern to pathologists and laboratories.
These proposals are currently in the comment period and the CAP is working on their responses for pathology. The final rule, that takes effect January 1, 2015, is scheduled for release around November 1.
Will CMS exempt pathologists from meaningful use penalties?
Pathologists may be used to seeking out irregularities under the microscope, but with the support of Congress, they might also be staring at a relief from the financial penalties incurred by non-participation in the EHR Incentive Programs. With cuts to Medicare payments soon to begin for those who do not attest to meaningful use, the College of American Pathologists is arguing for an expansion of the hardship exemption to include immunity to future payment reductions in a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
Capturing cancer: a powerful new technique for early diagnosis
Despite impressive medical strides, cancer remains a leading killer and overwhelming burden to healthcare systems, causing well over a half million fatalities per year, with a projected cost of $174 billion by 2020, according to the National Cancer Institute. Reducing the human and economic toll will require diagnosis and intervention at early stages of illness, when the best prognosis for a cure exists.
Thousands of National Health Service patients to have DNA sequenced to help cancer research
A pioneering project that could one day help cure cancers and rare genetic diseases by sequencing the DNA of up to 100,000 NHS patients is one step closer. The U.K. government has chosen an American gene-sequencing company, Illumina, to carry out the sequencing at its site in Cambridgeshire, it has emerged. Regulatory papers filed in the U.S. confirm a contract is in the final stages of negotiation for the £100 million project.
HHS OIG finds Medicare paid $1.7 billion in suspect clinical lab claims
In 2010, Medicare made at least $1.7 billion in questionable Part B payments for clinical laboratory claims that had at least one red flag, such as an ineligible physician identification number or duplicate tests, according to a report released by the HHS Office of Inspector General, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, Medicare is the largest payer of clinical lab services — such as blood counts, cholesterol screenings and urinalyses — in the nation.
HIE use and EHR adoption rise, but interoperability elusive for hospitals, physicians, clinical labs and pathology groups
Pathologists tracking the adoption of EHR systems by hospitals and physicians will be interested to learn that, according to the federal government, more than 80 percent of hospitals and 50 percent of physicians now use these products. It is also reported that growing numbers of providers are exchanging data with health information exchanges. Clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups have a big stake in these developments. Medical laboratory test data is an essential component to every patient’s permanent health record, which is why it is important for every lab to have interfaces with the HIEs serving their communities and regions.
The future of cancer genomics
Genetic Engineering News
As you have probably noticed, there’s been a major shift in the focus of next-gen sequencing over the past couple of years. First it was all about new genomes, new techniques and discovery. Now it's all about translation. We are entering a new era in next-gen sequencing, one in which NGS technologies will not only be used for discovery, but will be integrated into clinical care.
Study: When doctors communicate, cancer care costs drop 34 percents
Results from a new study show both the promise and the difficulty of reducing the cost of cancer care. The study, published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, looked at 810 patients with various types of cancer, and was the result of a collaboration between an insurer, UnitedHealthcare and five oncology providers across the country. For the project, United compensated physicians differently than is the normal practice.
63 percent of practice management software purchases are replacements
EHRs aren't the only piece of health IT getting a makeover in a large number of healthcare organizations: providers are currently ripping out and replacing practice management and revenue cycle management software in a bid to modernize their infrastructure and meet the challenges of ICD-10, accountable care and compliance with other regulatory initiatives, including meaningful use.
Removing both breasts may not improve survival from breast cancer
Researchers at the University of Minnesota confirm that when it comes to treating some forms of breast cancer, drastic surgery to remove breast tissue may not help in improving survival from the disease. Reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the scientists describe a model for calculating life expectancy based on recent rates of recurrent cancers among women with stage 1 or stage 2 disease.
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