October 18, 2021
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The US seven-day average for newly reported COVID-19 cases fell 12.5% to 84,555 from the prior week, marking the fourth straight week of decline, while the weekly average for COVID-19 deaths fell 13.4% to 1,241, according to the CDC. The seven-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped 8.8% to 6,659 for the period ending Oct. 12, while average daily vaccinations declined by 11.3% to 841,731 as of Oct. 14.
Full Story: Becker's Hospital Review (10/15) 
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A significant number of federally qualified health centers use legacy EHR systems that are incompatible with national health information exchanges, and the result is a complicated, lengthy record-retrieval process that delays or impedes patient care and causes duplication and an overreliance on emergency department care, according to a report by CareAdvisors. Many FQHCs don't have the resources to buy major vendors' EHR platforms, which are designed for large health systems that serve commercially insured patients and may be unsuitable for safety-net hospitals' patient populations, and CommonWell and Carequality suggest FQHCs work with a bridge organization.
Full Story: EHR Intelligence (10/15) 
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Substance use, marital status linked to telehealth no-shows
Close to 30% of patients with a telehealth visit scheduled early in the COVID-19 pandemic at a urology clinic in a San Francisco safety-net hospital did not show up and were subsequently unreachable, according to a study in Urology. Having an active substance use disorder, being unmarried and being new to the clinic were strongly associated with no-shows, while race, as well as insurance and employment status, were not.
Full Story: Healio (free registration) (10/15) 
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People with multiple sclerosis who received neurology care both remotely and in person from January 2019 to December 2020 had similar manual dexterity, processing speed and walking speed as matched MS patients who received only in-person care, according to a study presented at the 2021 European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis Congress. The findings support neurologic care via telehealth for MS patients, but longer studies are needed to assess long-term outcomes and develop remote monitoring methods, physician Marisa McGinley said during the presentation.
Full Story: MedPage Today (free registration) (10/15) 
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A growing number of health insurance carriers is offering virtual-first health plans that require patients to use telehealth first for nonemergency primary care in exchange for lower premiums and cost-sharing. Some health care professionals say telehealth is acceptable for certain follow-up care, but it raises the risk that warning signs will be missed when used for initial visits.
Full Story: Kaiser Health News (10/15) 
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    Patient files $5M class action against Fla. health system
    A Lake County, Fla., resident is seeking more than $5 million in a class-action lawsuit against UF Health Central Florida, The Villages Tri-County Medical Center and Leesburg Regional Medical Center for failing to adhere to industry standards and take reasonable care to safeguard patient data. A ransomware attack in May shut down computer systems at Leesburg Regional and The Villages hospital that compromised 700,981 patients' data, according to HHS.
    Full Story: Villages-News (Lady Lake, Fla.) (10/17) 
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    The Biden administration is shifting oversight of the government's pandemic data-tracking system from HHS' Office of the Chief Information Officer back to the CDC amid scrutiny over the government's handling of the public health data infrastructure, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg. The public health tracking system, called HHS Protect, collects information from over 6,000 hospitals on COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates as well as use of ICU beds, personal protective equipment, COVID-19 tests and therapeutics.
    Full Story: Bloomberg (10/14) 
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    A House Ways and Means Committee report delves into how racial bias in clinical decision support guidelines and algorithms impedes health equity, and committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., said the committee is working with stakeholders to find solutions. However, none of the professional societies contacted by the committee made commitments to improving specific biases in CDS tools.
    Full Story: Medscape (free registration) (10/15) 
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    A new clinical decision support tool that uses artificial intelligence to analyze genomic and phenotypic data could be used to quickly and accurately identify rare genetic conditions in critically ill children, according to a study in Genomic Medicine. "Artificial intelligence holds promise to greatly simplify and speed genome interpretation by integrating predictive methods with the growing knowledge of genetic disease," researchers wrote.
    Full Story: Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (10/15) 
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    How 3 health systems are improving DEI
    RWJBarnabas Health has an 11-member team focused on improving diversity, equity and inclusion, a systemwide initiative to identify and eliminate racism in the health system's workforce and patient populations, and protocols for measuring success. Luminis Health has a four-item pledge to eliminate health care disparities and a task force to address DEI in the workforce and in the community, and Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network is implementing DEI mentoring programs and best practices and has formed a nonprofit organization to facilitate the path to leadership positions for Black people.
    Full Story: HealthLeaders Media (10/14) 
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