July 7, 2011

A Nut Too Tough to Crack?

One of the hardest problems in health IT is the effort to get data from different silos into a centralized database that can be searched as a single dataset. So, this is us announcing our new "linking and shrinking" technology, code named "Squirrel." What does it do?

Squirrel is a record-linkage and deflation system that pulls in data from multiple federal provider databases in various formats, makes them play nice together by linking everything up under providers' NPI numbers, preserves all the data but shrinks the file size down to about 9% of the original size, puts it in a format that can be managed in Microsoft Access or other garden variety database software, downloads it to our customers, and then does it all again fresh every month.

The technology is built on record-linkage methods developed over twenty years. Interesting trivia: The precursor to the current system was built in Microsoft Access 1.0 -- you remember it, the Introductory Package -- in 1992. While we don't share all the secrets, the basic trick involves pattern matching algorithms and a lot of processing time to handle more than 13 million rows of data, comparing each provider's records between all the sources. The end result is called CarePrecise Access.

We just sent out a press release about the whole thing.

Now you'll excuse us, as we have some more nuts to collect and crunch on.

July 1, 2011

Health IT Talent at a Premium, or Take 2 Aspirin and Call Me a Headhunter

It's hardly news that the pool of qualified healthcare information technology professionals is drying up as providers and vendors race to meet tech deadlines associated with federal HIT funding programs. For HIT folk like us, this rocks! Except, of course, when we're trying to flesh out project staff and we learn that the talent is beginning to know what it's worth.

At stake is the $25 billion allocated in 2009 by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for EHR and other health IT outlays. Providers can be compensated for costs if they jump through the hoops by certain dates, with several important deadlines coming through the next several months. July 3 is the last day for hospitals to begin the 90-day reporting period in which they must demonstrate Meaningful Use for the Medicare EHR incentive program for federal FY 2011.

Oct. 3, 2011 is the last day for physicians to begin their Meaningful Use reporting period for EHR, and November 30 the curtain drops on general and critical access hospitals registering for payments. And that's just a handful of the headaches.

In addition to all of this activity, ICD-10 and 5010 implementations are also looming. If you're in HIT and you haven't asked for a raise, as my daddy used to say, "What's wrong, cat got your tongue?" (Apologies to our CIO friends.)

Medicare Wins in Vegas Fraud Case

Rakesh Nathu, a Las Vegas oncologist, settled his fraud case with the Justice Department yesterday for $5.7 million plus interest. Dr. Nathu was accused of submitting false claims to Medicare, TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Plan for various radiation oncology services, including intensity modulated radiation therapy, and double billing for services. We hope he did better at the craps table. The government has recovered more than $7.3 billion in False Claim Act cases since 2009.

Among CarePrecise clients are law enforcement agencies working on federal and private payer fraud investigations. As a result of work done for our clients, we developed a means of matching the federal fraud conviction list with providers' NPI records, and associating certain demographic data with practice locations to help visualize patterns. Late in 2010 we began including the fraud data in our CarePrecise Access Complete dataset, and the additional economic data in CarePrecise Gold products. Now included is a flag that indicates provider records whose data strongly suggest a match with the federal LEIE (List of Excluded Individuals/Entities) database. Other features help investigators track providers' licensing, credentials, specialty codes, enrollment in the PECOS database, and numerous other functions.

Read the Justice Department news release.