November 28, 2016
Important Updates

National Influenza Vaccination Week 2016

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is December 4-10, 2016.

Flu vaccination coverage estimates from past seasons have shown that few people get vaccinated against influenza after the end of November.
  • Last season only about 40% of the US population recommended to get a flu vaccine reported having been vaccinated by the end of November. 
  • Flu vaccine uptake estimates among adults 50 years and older fell by 3 percentage points last year.  That means many more adults were left vulnerable to flu and its complications.  
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its partners chose December for NIVW to remind people that even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. 
  • As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout the flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against the flu.
  • Even if you haven't yet been vaccinated and have already gotten sick with flu, you can still benefit from vaccination since the flu vaccine protects against three or four different flu viruses (depending on which flu vaccine you get).
For more information and CDC resources, click here.

Adults 65 and Older Need a Flu Shot
Influenza (the flu) is a serious illness, especially for older adults. People's immune systems become weaker with age placing people 65 years and older at high risk of serious, flu-related complications. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu diseases. It's estimated that between about 70% and 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States have occurred among people 65 years and older.

People 65 years and older can get any flu shot that is approved for use in that age group. That includes some traditional, regular-dose flu shots, recombinant flu shots and two other flu shots designed specifically for people 65 and older.

For more information and resources about flu season and how to protect yourself, visit the CDC website.

ESRD PPS: Policies and Payment Rates for End-Stage Renal Disease

On October 28, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule (CMS 1651-F) that updates payment policies and rates under the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Prospective Payment System (PPS) for renal dialysis services furnished to beneficiaries on or after January 1, 2017. For more information see:


Three major topics within the final rule are:


  • Home and self-dialysis training add-on payment adjustment.
  • Coverage and payment for renal dialysis services furnished to individuals with acute kidney injury (AKI).
  • Changes to the Payment Year (PY) 2019 ESRD QIP.


Quality Improvement
CMS' OMH Readmissions Guide
Earlier this year, CMS Office of Minority Health (OMH) released the Guide to Preventing Readmissions among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Medicare Beneficiaries. This guide is designed to assist hospital leaders and stakeholders focused on quality, safety, and care redesign in identifying root causes and solutions for preventing avoidable readmissions among racially and ethnically diverse Medicare beneficiaries.

Scientists Make Steps Toward Developing Bioartificial Kidney
As reported in Nephrology News, scientists in the Netherlands have created a "living membrane" that consists of a tight kidney cell layer on artificial membrane surfaces and can transport molecules from one side to the other, which they say is needed to create a bioartificial kidney that could replace the need for dialysis or transplantation.

Dimitrios Stamatialis, PhD (University of Twente, in The Netherlands), Roos Masereeuw, PhD (University of Utrecht, in The Netherlands), and their teams achieved this using conditionally immortalized human renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (ciPTECs) on polyethersulfone-based hollow fiber membranes. They demonstrated that the cell monolayer is functional as a living membrane. Their advances were presented at the American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week 2016, November 15-20, in Chicago.

To continue reading the full article in Nephrology News, click here.
NHSN Dialysis Component Webinars
The NHSN Dialysis Component is scheduled to be updated on December 10, 2016.  To learn about new features and updates, join us for a webinar on December 1, with an encore presentation on December 2.  Pre-registration is required (info below).  Contact the NHSN helpdesk with any questions:
For both webinars, listen-only audio will be available through your computer speakers.  No conference line is available, but attendees will be able to use the chat function to ask questions of the presenters.
Patient Services
Medicare Open Enrollment Ends December 7
CMS has announced the 2017 premiums for the Medicare inpatient hospital (Part A) and physician and outpatient hospital services (Part B) programs. Click here for more information.

Helpful resources for your patients:
Visit to compare current coverage with all of the options in the area.
Review the Medicare & You 2017 handbook at
New Medicare Basics: Parts A and B claims overview video.
Winter Weather Preparedness
Preventive action is the best defense against health and safety hazards. Please share the resources listed below with dialysis patients. These vital tools and resources, related to emergency preparedness for the upcoming winter season, will help patients prepare for winter storms and build an emergency fund. You'll also find provide tips for driving in snow and ice.   
5 Resources to Help Prepare for Winter Weather:
In case of inclement weather, altered treatment schedules, and changes to hours of operation, please contact Merari Rosario, Community Outreach Coordinator, at 203-285-1223 or with your questions or concerns.
Data Management
CROWNWeb 5.0 New User Training
Are you new to CROWNWeb, or just need a refresher on new features or how to use the system?  CROWNWeb 5.0 New User Training is for you!  This informative, 90-minute course covers all the basic information a new CROWNWeb user would need to begin using the system. The next session of New User Training will be held on Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 2:00 - 3:30 PM ET, Register Now!
Use the Network Data Knowledge Base and Customer Portal
With the increase in data that must be submitted, as well as systems through which the data is collected, there are multiple ways in which you can reach the Network Data Support Team for help. 
*Please remember that you should NEVER include any patient-specific information such as Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Medicare Claim Number, etc. The only patient identifier that can safely be communicated is the Unique Patient Identifier (UPI) from CROWNWeb.*
Upcoming Meeting & Events
December 13-15, 2016: CMS Quality Conference 2016, Aligning for Innovation and Outcomes, Baltimore, Maryland

IPRO End-Stage Renal Disease Network of New England, the ESRD Organization for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, prepared this material under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents presented do not necessarily reflect CMS policy. CMS Contract Number: HHSM-500-2016-00019C.