News in Brief: Week of June 25-29

June 27, 2012 05:20 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

HHS Launches Prescription Drug Abuse Pilot in Indiana, Ohio

HHS recently announced the launch of a new pilot program aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse through the enhancement of state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). Two states -- Indiana and Ohio -- will host the pilots.

According to a June 21 press release, PDMPs are electronic databases that are designed to help physicians and other health care professionals detect potential prescription drug abuse and intervene when such abuse is discovered.

A total of 49 states have active PDMPs or legislation authorizing such programs. However, HHS would like states to ramp up their efforts. In part, the pilot programs will improve real-time access to the information contained in the PDMPs. According to the release, that component alone may encourage more physicians to participate in the federal government's efforts to quell the nation's prescription drug abuse epidemic.

OIG Studies Medicare Physician EHR Use, E/M Documentation

On June 21, HHS' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued results of a study that examined the use of electronic health record (EHR) systems in 2011 by physicians participating in Medicare who provided evaluation and management (E/M) services.

According to a report summary, the OIG randomly sampled 2,000 physicians from a population of nearly 442,000 physicians who provided at least 100 E/M services in 2010 and asked if they used an EHR to document those services. Physicians also were asked about which EHR they used and if their system was certified.

According to the full report(, the OIG found that 57 percent of Medicare physicians used EHRs in their primary practice locations in 2011, and 22 percent of physicians began using an EHR to document E/M services in 2011. Furthermore, about 75 percent of physicians using an EHR used a certified system to document E/M services.

AHRQ Provides State-by-State Analysis of Health Care Quality

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a state-by-state analysis of health care information that gauges the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improving health care quality in each state.

The information, presented as part of AHRQ's 2011 State Snapshots( and based on data collected for the National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Report, is designed to help state officials and public and private partners better understand health care quality and disparities in their respective states, according to AHRQ.

AHRQ is presenting the data via a state selection map( that allows users to access state data to determine how their state compares with other states and regions. The data measurements gauge overall health care quality, types of care, settings of care, and five clinical conditions: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, maternal and child health, and respiratory diseases.

CDC Data on Health of Americans a Mixed Bag

On June 19, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics released preliminary data( from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey. According to a CDC statement( some of the numbers were encouraging when compared to previous surveys -- for example, more Americans reported they were exercising and fewer said they were smoking -- but self-reported obesity in people older than age 20 increased from 19.4 percent in 1997 to 28.7 percent in 2011.

The number of U.S. adults who reported they smoked tobacco dropped from 24.7 percent in 1997 to 18.9 percent in 2011; 48.4 percent of adults 18 and older said they engaged in aerobic exercise, which was the highest percentage ever reported in the survey's history.

The full early-release report( is available online and is divided by content area.