CMS changes propel Meaningful Use debate
With the surplus of changes in healthcare administration, the meaningful use debate has reignited underneath new tensions and reform bills. Executives and experts alike are struggling to stay on top of the constant changes ongoing in the industry, with healthcare professionals gathering together to ask: where does meaningful use come into play in all of this?
EMR advocate, meaningful use expert Jim Tate has made his opinion of these new reforms public and is hoping to begin the critical conversation surrounding these hot button issues in order to produce results for the industry. Tate discusses the newly suggested rules by the CMS administration, and how these imposed regulations will affect the entire supply chain of healthcare professionals: from executives, to medical professionals, to patients.
Tate writes, “Now I’m all for flexibility but I am starting to seeing a sense of disbelief out in the field. What was true one week is not true the next. Time lines have been extended and penalty exemptions have been expanded, all well and good, but it is not enough to quell the confusion and doubt that is now surfacing. Even the rock solid concept of certified electronic health care technology (CEHRT) seems to be losing focus. The functionality currently being finalized for the “voluntary” 2015 Edition CEHRT is not guaranteed to be in the “required” 2017 CEHRT.”
As the industry’s go-to man concerning EMR and meaningful use, Tate continued to say, “There is too much uncertainty for EHs and vendors. We really should be on more solid footing. And don’t forget the wild card of politics. It wasn’t too long ago that a Congressman from Pennsylvania took it upon himself to blow up the ICD-10 apple cart. You can read about his little maneuver in one of my recent posts, Power Politics and the Hijacking of Healthcare Policy. No wonder CIOs are having trouble planning for the next few years. They deserve better.”
The critiques of the new regulations continue to flood in from industry veterans, with newly directed leadership as the overall consensus as to what the next step forward should be. Tate and others within his field of expertise continue to caution the healthcare industry from adapting this “quick-fix” mentality, and urges reformers to consider long-term perspective when continually changing the healthcare landscape.
NHS staff face severe impact on mental health due to COVID
The decision to drop COVID-19 restrictions in England this month alarmed doctors in the National Health Service (NHS) while hospitalisations are on the rise. At the same time, hospitals have started cancelling operations again adding to the existing backlog of operations, which estimates say could take a year to clear.
Dr James Gilleen of the University of Roehampton and his Covida Project team are warning of the ongoing risks to the mental health of NHS staff, many of whom are traumatised from the first wave of infections. “As the UK continues to see COVID-19 infection numbers rise at a similarly alarming rate as those seen during the country’s second wave, it’s combined with a renewed strain on the NHS and its staff" he said.
The Covida Project is a digital tool created to assess the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline workers including NHS staff, the police and carers.
“Healthcare workers are already exhausted and burnt-out; they are traumatised from their experiences of working during the pandemic. During the first wave in May 2020, a study from the Covida Project found an unprecedented quadrupling of the number of NHS staff with high levels of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to before Covid-19" Gilleen said.
"Having the most severe levels of these symptoms was statistically linked to four key factors - insufficient access or pressure to reuse Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), insufficient workplace preparation, insufficient training and communications, and a higher workload. Staff aren’t just anxious, depressed and traumatised from being over-worked – it is from feeling unsafe and at risk."
The Covida Project found that almost a third of healthcare workers reported moderate to severe levels of anxiety and depression. The number reporting very high symptoms was four times higher than before the pandemic.
Gilleen adds, “With COVID-19 restrictions now fully removed in England, NHS staff face the daunting triple-threat of rising Covid-19 hospitalisations, huge backlogs of medical operations to clear, and the added expectation of large increases in winter flu, which is already being seen even now in summer.
"These difficulties are present at a time when the NHS is already under-resourced, impacted by sickness and/or staff being ‘pinged’ to self-isolate through the government’s track and trace app, and staff continuing to fear the daily risk of infecting family and friends.
"Together these are considerable psychological burdens and create a perfect storm for the mental health and well-being of NHS staff."
Gilleen says there may be worse to come, especially if new, more transmissible variants develop. "Previous research after other pandemics such as SARS has shown that residual mental health symptoms like PTSD can continue for years, so the impact of repeated waves over the long-term will be potentially catastrophic for the mental health of NHS staff.
He has some clear recommendations to protect the wellbeing of frontline healthcare workers. “To protect the mental health of NHS staff they must feel they are less at risk or in danger, have access to the required level of PPE, not be continuously over-worked, with better staffing, more opportunities for rest and space to share their stress.
"Despite this and similar findings from other studies, still not enough is being done to protect NHS staff mental health and wellbeing and we fear it will continue to suffer in the months to come. With this comes the real risk that large numbers of staff will burn out or even quit the NHS.”