Ebola Outbreak, CMS’ Efforts Boosting Infection-Control Tech Use

September 12, 2014 in News

The majority of hospital leaders say that the recent Ebola outbreak and CMS’ crackdown on health care-associated infection rates will make implementing infection-control technology a priority in 2015, according to a new survey from Black Book, FierceHealthIT reports.

The survey was conducted in August and included responses from nearly 1,000 clinical and hospital leaders (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 9/11).

Survey Findings

The survey found that 72% of hospital leaders said they have not actively monitored HAI rates effectively with manual reporting and understaffed coordination.

However, those leaders also said they would consider infection-control technology a “must have” in 2015, primarily because recent reforms to reimbursement policy, accountable care incentives and value-based purchasing have improved access to population health data (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 9/11).

According to the survey, hospital leaders said that prior to the Ebola outbreak, they were more focused on electronic health records, interoperability, security and revenue cycle initiatives.

The survey found that:

  • 82% of hospital leaders with EHR systems said they postponed buying infection-control software because they were waiting for their EHR vendors to develop add-on modules and support systems;
  • 69% of hospitals said they will assess infection-control technology for implementation no later than the second quarter of 2015;
  • 41% of hospitals with at least 150 beds said that they regularly use computerized infection control data and real-time surveillance systems, up from just 28% of such hospitals in 2012 (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 9/11); and
  • 13% of hospitals said that while they acknowledge how important an automated infection-control system would be to meet mandatory reporting requirements, the overall return on investment does not yet justify the expense of implementation, particularly because HAI rates have not improved (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 9/11).

Ebola Outbreak Highlights ICD-10 Benefits

In related news, Ann Chenoweth, the director of industry relations at 3M Health Information Systems, in a blog post wrote that the Ebola outbreak demonstrates how transitioning to ICD-10 will help public health leaders respond to global pandemics, Health Data Management reports (Goth, Health Data Management, 9/12).

U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. The switch means that health care providers and insurers will have to change out about 14,000 codes for about 69,000 codes.

In April, President Obama signed into law legislation (HR 4302) that pushed back the ICD-10 compliance date until at least October 2015.

In July, CMS announced a final rule that establishes Oct. 1, 2015, as the new ICD-10 compliance deadline for payers and providers still making the transition (iHealthBeat, 8/4).

In the blog post, Chenoweth wrote that ICD-9′s lack of specificity has hampered the response to the Ebola outbreak, noting that the virus has been listed under at least two different classifications.

She wrote, “This lack of specificity in the ICD-9 code description makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to clearly identify Ebola patients in the data,” which in turn compromises “the ability [of] our public health organizations to quickly and proactively identify emerging epidemics.”

In comparison, ICD-10 has a specific classification for Ebola, according to Chenoweth. She said, “This illustrates the positive impact the additional specificity of ICD-10 can have on the ability to capture public health diseases, perform research, measure outcomes, and evaluate the efficacy of treatments,” adding that ICD-10 will “also facilitate the sharing of data internationally” (Health Data Management, 9/12).

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