ONLINE News Briefs

December 3, 2001

E-Medicine, Treatment Denials, Autos

 

ONLINE News Briefs

E-Medicine: Too many hurdles for doctors to jump?

While many experts agree that the use of information technology can greatly reduce medical errors, US physicians have been slower than their counterparts in most other English-speaking countries to adopt electronic prescribing and medical recordkeeping. Moreover, analysts say, the US won’t close the gap any time soon. That’s because America’s myriad of health plans and payers make it complicated and expensive to attain widespread adoption of new technologies.

Harris Interactive conducted the survey for the Harvard School of Public Health and the Commonwealth Fund's International Health Care Symposium in 2000.

 

Doctors who use…

…electronic medical records

Primary care physicians

Specialists

Primary care physicians

Specialists

Canada

14%

16%

Canada

8%

11%

US

17%

12%

US

8%

6%

Australia

25%

13%

Australia

44%

12%

New Zealand

52%

14%

New Zealand

52%

14%

United Kingdom

59%

22%

United Kingdom

87%

16%

Source: Commonwealth Fund/Harvard School of Public Health/Harris Interactive.

 

Treatment Denials: In New York, HMOs and patients will speak the same language

HMOs in New York state will no longer cloak their explanations for denying treatment in general language. Under agreements reached with state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, New York’s six largest HMOs will provide specific reasons for coverage denials. If consumers or their doctors disagree with the rationale cited, patients will be able to appeal the HMO’s decision "more effectively," Spitzer says.

The agreements resulted from a two-year probe into how HMOs authorized or denied care. While investigators found that properly qualified medical personnel made treatment decisions, denials were frequently couched in generic phrases.

The six plans that have signed agreements serve about 7.5 million patients throughout New York state. To ensure that the HMOs comply with the agreements, Spitzer’s office will monitor them for at least two years.

Autos: SUVs perform well in safety tests

Four sport utility vehicles earned good ratings on crash tests for their 2001 and 2002 models, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Acura MDX, Toyota Highlander, Suzuki XL-7, and Mitsubishi Montero Sport all earned top marks for how well they held up in a frontal crash against a stationary object. The Buick Rendezvous and Isuzu Axiom received acceptable ratings, and the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Oldsmobile Bravada, GMC Envoy, and Pontiac Aztek were rated marginal. None of the midsize SUVs tested received poor ratings. The institute said it will test the 2002 Ford Explorer after the automaker completes structural modifications later this year.

 



Barbara Weiss. ONLINE News Briefs.

Medical Economics

Dec. 3, 2001;78.