News Briefs: Week of Jan. 24-28

January 26, 2011 05:20 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

ONC Survey: More Primary Care Physicians Have Basic EHRs

A new survey from the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, or ONC, says an increasing number of primary care physicians have adopted a basic electronic health record, or EHR.

In a Jan. 13 news release(, HHS said survey data indicate that "significantly increasing" numbers of primary care physicians have already adopted a basic EHR, rising from 19.8 percent of primary care physicians in 2008 to 29.6 percent in 2010.

Overall, the survey data show that 41 percent of office-based physicians intend to take advantage of federal incentive payments for adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology.

According to the news release, David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., the national coordinator for health information technology, said the survey numbers represent a reversal of the low interest in EHR adoption in previous years.

Blumenthal credited leadership from the medical community and the federal government for the rise. In addition, he praised medical professional organizations that have encouraged members to take advantage of support programs under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health Act.

Pfizer, Bayer Medications Affected by Triad Recall

The recall of alcohol prep pads manufactured by the Triad Group is continuing to lead to subsequent safety alerts related to medications packaged with the recalled pads.

Most recently, Pfizer Inc. and Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc. alerted patients and physicians( to Triad's recall because the recalled pads -- which could expose patients to the pathogen Bacillus cereus -- are included in the kit presentation of methylnaltrexone bromide subcutaneous injection, which is marketed as Relistor.

Pfizer and Progenics said in a joint news release that shipments of the kits have been suspended until the alcohol pads can be replaced.

Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals issued a similar alert( for physicians and consumers on Jan. 8 because Triad's recalled pads are packaged with interferon beta-1b, which is marketed as Betaseron.

Bayer and Pfizer said in their news releases that their medications are not affected by the recalls, but they emphasized that patients should not use the recalled pads and should instead use an alternative alcohol prep pad that is not subject to the Triad recall or use a sterile gauze pad with isopropyl alcohol.

CMS to Hold Town Hall Meeting on 2012 Physician Quality Reporting System

CMS will host a town hall meeting to discuss the Physician Quality Reporting System, or PQRS (formerly known as the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative), on Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. CMS aims to solicit input from physician groups and other stakeholders on the overall design of the PQRS, as well as on individual quality measures and measures groups that may be included in the PQRS in 2012.

The meeting will be held at CMS headquarters in Baltimore and is open to the public. Interested parties also can attend via teleconference. Registration must be completed by 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 28. Additional meeting details are available in a meeting notice( posted in the Federal Register. An audio download and transcript of the meeting will be archived on the CMS website(

Free Access to Delta-Exchange Offered to Residency Program Leaders

TransforMED(, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Academy, is making its Delta-Exchange( practice transformation learning network available to family medicine residency program directors and associate program directors free of charge. Delta-Exchange users normally pay a yearly fee to participate.

To sign up, program directors and associate directors need to access the Delta-Exchange Web page created specially for them(, enter their name and e-mail address, and press "submit." New users will be notified within 24 hours that their registration is complete.

TransforMED launched Delta-Exchange in August 2009 to give primary care practices a place to communicate, collaborate and learn from each other. A TransforMED spokesperson said the free offer was a result of an increase in the number of family medicine residency programs consulting with TransforMED.

Federal High-risk Plan Available to Patients With Pre-existing Conditions

Patients with pre-existing medical conditions who can't get health insurance should consider enrolling in the federal government's temporary high-risk pool program. As mandated by section 1101 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan( was created as a stopgap measure to allow certain patients to buy health insurance with the assistance of federal funds until health insurance exchanges, also mandated by the health care reform law, become available in 2014.

Patients with pre-existing conditions may qualify for the temporary plan if they are U.S. citizens or in the country lawfully and have lacked health insurance for at least six months.