Bulletin Board what’s happening in healthcare
Class Action Lawsuit Filed After Online Data Breach
A health system in California is facing a class-action lawsuit after private
patient data was accidently made
searchable online for 31,800 of its
A lawsuit filed by two affected patients in April at the Sonoma County
Superior Court seeks $1,000 per patient, totaling $31.8 million, from St.
Joseph Health System, according to
a North Bay Business Journal article.
This suit is one of five filed against the
health system for the accidental release of information.
The complaint alleges that personal
and medical information was included
in unencrypted electronic reports that
were accidently opened to Internet
searches after the information was
stored on an internal database with
the wrong security settings.
While the hospital system states
the information that was searchable
did not include full medical records,
Social Security numbers, patient ad-dresses or financial data, several
other private data were searchable
for a period of time including patient
name, body mass index, smoking status, blood pressure, lab results, diagnoses, advance directives, and other
information, according to the article.
The system said the breach was
limited to the electronic reports, and
that the patients’ medical records remained secure.
St. Joseph Health System reported the potential data breach in early
February, sending privacy notices to
those patients affected and offering
free identity theft protection services
as a precautionary measure. However,
a spokesperson for the health system
said that the data was not readily accessible on the Internet and there
have not been any reports that the information was used by unauthorized
A co-filer of the Sonoma lawsuit discovered her patient information was
openly accessible online after entering her name in the Google search engine. Among the search results were
three reports from the health system
First Accountable Care Organizations
Announced by CMS
In April, the Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services (CMS) announced
the selection of the first 27 accountable care organizations (ACOs) to
participate in the Medicare Shared
CMS announced that the selected
organizations have agreed to be responsible for improving care for nearly 375,000 beneficiaries in 18 states
by facilitating better coordination
Two of the 27 applied for a version of the program that allows them
to earn higher shares. In turn, they
agreed to be held accountable for a
share of any losses should the costs
of care for the beneficiaries assigned
to them increase.
Five of the organizations will participate in the Advance Payment ACO
Model, where each ACO receives advance payments to help cover associated expenses for establishing the
infrastructure needed to coordinate
care for the beneficiaries they serve.
The program aims to create a new
type of healthcare entity that is held
accountable for improving the health
and experience of care for individuals while reducing the rate of growth
in healthcare spending, CMS’s press
ACOs that succeed in providing
high-quality care while reducing costs
may share in the savings to Medicare.
The quality of care is measured by
performance on 33 quality measures
relating to care coordination and patient safety, use of appropriate preventative health services, improved
care for at-risk populations, and the
patient experience of care.
Participation in an ACO is voluntary
for providers. People with Medicare
retain the ability to seek treatment
from any provider they wish.
For more information, visit the CMS
Accountable Care Organizations informational homepage at www.cms.
Reaches $4.5 Billion
CMS has released data stating that
healthcare providers have reached $4.5
billion in EHR incentive payments. In
total, 76,612 eligible healthcare professionals and hospitals have received
incentive payments through the meaningful use program.
As of March, CMS said that 44,014
eligible professionals had received
$792 million in Medicare incentive payments, while 29,931 eligible professionals had received $628 million in Medicaid incentive payments. Additionally,
hospitals have received $1.6 billion in
Medicare incentive payments and
nearly $1.5 billion in Medicaid incentive
CMS spokesperson Joseph Kuchler
said in a press release that CMS “
anticipated a somewhat slower start” to
the program. The percentage of hospitals registered during the first quarter of
2012 increased by 13 percent, while the
number of eligible professionals who
registered for the program increased by
nearly 29 percent. ¢