News in Brief: Week of Aug. 11-15

August 15, 2014 02:40 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Latest WHO Figures Show Ebola Outbreak Continues to Intensify

On Aug. 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its latest numbers( on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Between Aug. 12 and 13, 128 new cases (laboratory-confirmed, probable and suspected) of Ebola virus disease (EVD) as well as 76 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

As of Aug. 13, contact tracing in all countries other than Liberia had led to between 94 percent and 98 percent of all cases of EVD being identified and followed up. In Liberia, a concerted effort is being made to strengthen contact tracing, and the Liberian Army recently placed a third province under quarantine in the country's effort to stop EVD transmission.

Of the 2,127 cases reported by the WHO as of Aug. 15, they were distributed as follows:

  • Sierra Leone, 810 cases (733 confirmed, 38 probable and 39 suspected) including 348 deaths;
  • Liberia, 786 cases (190 confirmed, 423 probable and 173 suspected) including 413 deaths;
  • Guinea, 519 cases (376 confirmed, 133 probable and 10 suspected) including 380 deaths; and
  • Nigeria, 12 cases (11 confirmed, 0 probable and 1 suspected) including 4 deaths.

CMS Formalizes Oct. 1, 2015, ICD-10 Deadline

The deadline for national compliance with the ICD-10 code sets for outpatient diagnosis coding is now officially Oct. 1, 2015, according to a CMS final rule published in the Aug. 4 Federal Register(

According to a July 31 press release( from CMS, the new deadline will allow the health care industry "ample time to prepare." Lack of readiness by physicians and other health care stakeholders had been a rallying cry for many opposed to ICD-10 implementation.

ICD-10 greatly increases the number of codes available to physicians. "The level of detail that is provided for by ICD-10 means researchers and public health officials can better track diseases and health outcomes," said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, M.A. CMS also holds that ICD-10 will provide better support for patient care and improve disease management, quality measurement and analytics.

CMS Expands Power Mobility Device Demonstration Project

According to a notice published in the July 29 Federal Register(, CMS plans to expand its power mobility device demonstration project to 12 additional states. Those states are Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington.

The original demonstration project has been in progress in seven states -- California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Texas -- since Sept. 1, 2012.

Physicians in these 19 states must, among other things, request prior authorization for a power mobility device and provide supporting documentation along with a written order. According to CMS, the 19 states chosen for the demonstration project accounted for 71 percent of expenditures for power mobility devices in 2012.

Updated information( on the project will be posted by CMS as it becomes available.

Join ONC's Online Community to Speed Health IT Interoperability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) recently created an online community( designed to gather public input on the ONC's 10-year plan( to speed the nation toward health IT interoperability.

The site, dubbed the "Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Community Home," is a natural outgrowth of an ONC work plan that was released in June and made interoperability a national priority. Public comments, other input and answers to questions posed in the interactive community will support the development of a roadmap to achieve that goal.

Physicians and other interested parties are asked to provide their input via the site by Sept. 12 so their suggestions can be taken into account before the first version of the roadmap is drafted. That initial draft is scheduled to be posted for public comment in early 2015.