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June 15, 2017
Volume VIII |  Issue 24  
NEJM Offers Bleak Assessment of Global Obesity Situation 
Entitled Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years and posted to the New England Journal of Medicine on 6.12.17, the authors offered the following depressing statistics and insights:
  • The prevalence of obesity among children and adults has doubled in 73 countries since 1980 and has shown a continuous increase in most other countries.
  • Epidemiologic studies have identified high body-mass index as a risk factor for an expanding set of chronic diseases.
  • In 2015, high BMI contributed to 4.0 million deaths, which represented 7.1% of the deaths from any cause.
  • In recent years, some countries have started to implement a range of interventions to reduce obesity, but no major population success has yet been shown.


500K providers to get payment cuts under Medicare's quality-reporting system
More than 500,000 physicians and other providers face a 2 percent cut in their Medicare payments this year due to poor performance under the Physician Quality Reporting System. Under PQRS, which is being phased out, clinicians choose from a list of quality measures under which they want to be evaluated under, such as how well they performed care management or if they helped patients keep their diabetes in check. (Modern Healthcare)
False Claims Act Settlement with eClinicalWorks Raises Questions for Electronic Health Record Software Vendors

Daniel F. Gottlieb, Tony Maida & Joan Polacheck


The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on May 31, 2017, an agreement ( Settlement Agreement) settling allegations in the DOJ's Complaint-in-Intervention (Complaint) that eClinicalWorks (ECW), a vendor of electronic health record (EHR) software, caused its health care provider customers to submit false Medicare and Medicaid claims for meaningful use payments in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA). Under the Settlement Agreement, ECW agreed to pay approximately $155 million to resolve the allegations without admitting liability and an ECW software developer and two project managers agreed to pay additional amounts. ECW also entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with strict compliance oversight and reporting obligations and costly obligations to provide the latest version of ECW's EHR software (including related implementation and training services) to each of ECW's current customers free of charge.

The groundbreaking settlement has sent shockwaves through the health information technology (HIT) industry and may be a sign of increasing FCA actions against vendors of EHR technology (CEHRT) certified through the HIT certification program of the Office of the National Coordinator of HIT (ONC). 
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Fallout from OIG report may be light
Will CMS Go After Bad MU Payments? Probably not.

David Pittman | Politico

HHS' internal watchdog wants CMS to try to recoup some of the $729 million it may have erroneously paid doctors under meaningful use, following a scathing report that dropped Monday morning. But CMS doesn't seem too eager to take up the HHS Inspector General on its suggestion.
Coordination of Care: Keep Patient Info from Falling through Cracks

Bill Kanich, MD | Mutual Matters

Accurate information about a patient's past history is vital for decision making in every physician-patient interaction. In addition, proper documentation is essential for care that may be provided in the future by yourself or other physicians. Coordination of care is as much of a patient safety challenge as making an accurate diagnosis or ordering the appropriate treatment. The path of care from the initial complaint to completion of treatment is far from seamless. Sometimes it can be full of obstacles - such as the potential to misunderstand or not see important information, including details that could pose serious risks for the patient. Many medical liability cases involve poorly coordinated care that results in harm to a patient.