News in Brief: Week of July 2-6

July 04, 2012 12:35 am News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

HIMSS Unveils Free Tool to Assess ICD-10 Financial Risk Exposure

Physicians now have a free tool to help assess their practices' ICD-10 financial risk exposure, identify the steps they can take to reduce that risk and find ways to increase their accounts receivable.

The online ICD-10 PlayBook Financial Risk Calculator( interactive tool is made available by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people about health information management systems. The tool is powered by Jvion LLC, a private health care compliance technology and services organization.

At the start of the HIMSS survey, users are asked to identify the type of organization they represent and then answer a series of questions that cover a wide range of financial topics. All information entered into the risk calculator remains anonymous. At the end of the interactive survey, users receive individual financial risk ratings across revenue, operational cost and cash flow.

Judge Blocks Enforcement of Law Hampering Ability of Physicians to Discuss Gun Issues With Patients

A federal judge has stopped the state of Florida from enforcing a law that has made it more difficult for physicians to discuss gun ownership and gun safety with their patients.

The measure, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011, prohibits physicians from intentionally entering firearms ownership information into a patient's medical record. It also bars physicians from asking their patients about firearms ownership.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said the law has led to physician self-censorship, thereby creating a "chilling effect." She also said the law was so vague it violated First Amendment rights while failing to "provide any standards for practitioners to follow."

Mayo: USPSTF Recommendation Spurs Mammogram Decline

According to a news release( from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., preventive mammography rates in women in their 40s have dropped nearly 6 percent nationwide since the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against routine mammograms for women in this age group.

According to Mayo Clinic researchers who compared mammography rates before and after the publication of the new guidelines, this represents a small but significant decrease of 5.72 percent for women ages 40-49. During the past year, nearly 54,000 fewer mammograms were performed in this age group.

"For the first year after the guidelines changed, there was a small but significant decrease in the rate of mammography for women ages 40-49," study co-author and Mayo researcher Nilay Shah, Ph.D., said in the release. "This is consistent with the context of the guidelines change. A modest effect is also in line with the public resistance to the guidelines change and the subsequent release of conflicting guidelines."

The AAFP recommends that "the decision to conduct screening mammography before age 50 should be individualized and take into account patient context including her risks as well as her values regarding specific benefits and harms."

PCORI Announces Recipients of Pilot Projects Program Awards

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute( (PCORI) has announced approval of 50 research funding awards totaling $30 million to be distributed during the course of two years via its Pilot Projects Program(

The PCORI website offers a list and descriptions of funded projects( spread out across the country in more than two dozen states and the District of Columbia.

The pilot project aims to address a broad range of questions about methods for engaging patients in various aspects of the health research and dissemination process. The program is part of a national effort to improve methods for patient-centered outcomes research.