Consortium News

  • 08 Nov 2016 10:22 AM | Deleted user

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health has released a Data Brief reporting on the continued rise of Opiod-related overdoses in the state.  While opiod prescriptions and heroin use are down, fentanyl use is rising.

    Read the full Data Brief: Opioid-related Overdose Deaths Among Massachusetts Residents (published November 2016)

    Visit the Massachusetts DPH Opiod Initiative page here.

  • 08 Nov 2016 8:27 AM | Deleted user

    Proposed Mass HIway Regulations

    On Friday, November 4, 2016 the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) posted a newly proposed regulation specific to health information technology and the state-sponsored Health Information Exchange, the Mass HIway. The proposed regulation covers policy and procedures that affect use of the Mass HIway and the required adoption of interoperable electronic health records.

    The main purpose of the regulation is to define the entities and individuals who are required to connect to the Mass HIway and establish the timeline in which they are required to connect. It further describes the penalties for noncompliance and a mechanism for patients to opt-in or opt-out of the Mass HIway.

    View the Proposed Regulation here.

    The proposed regulation, along with other information, is posted on the HHS Public Hearings and Public Notices Website. The next steps are:

    For more info regarding the Mass HIway, contact

  • 18 Oct 2016 11:14 AM | Deleted user

    Lahey Clinic Performance Network has the following Healthcare Analyst position available.

    Under the general supervision of the Director, Data Performance and Analytics, the Healthcare Analyst is responsible for understanding the various data sources behind organization?s population and learns how to effectively and accurately use these sources to produce meaningful cost and utilization summaries. Produces analyses that answer questions about most pressing healthcare needs and occasionally assists care management with the management of the riskiest patients within the populations. Assures, by data testing, the quality and accuracy of LCPN?s claims and EMR data warehouse. Understands data complexity and requirements to produce analyses for various cross-departmental stakeholders from Lahey Health that answer questions to the most pressing healthcare needs. Responsible for developing reports for upper-level management, and preparing monthly reporting packages. May be asked to develop enhanced reports for the organization. May work under the supervision of the Senior Healthcare Analyst.

    Compiles medical and pharmacy related information via the use of computer-based applications which is then used to understand the current trends and drivers in the health care system and to make well-informed decisions about performance improvements of the plan and care management of the patients. Supports care managers in providing better care to the patients. Participates in setting definitions and efficient ways to analyze various healthcare concepts, compares medical expenses to budgets, and assists in finding data related efficiencies. Handles the data with confidentiality especially around PHI and sensitive information.

    Visit Lahey's site for more information and to apply for this position.

  • 23 Sep 2016 10:21 AM | Deleted user

    MassPAT: New, simplified Rx database

    Retrieved from the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety
    September 23, 2016

    When one of his primary care patients called in recently seeking a pain prescription, Dr. Alain Chaoui was not surprised. The family practitioner from Peabody had referred the patient for surgery a few weeks earlier.

    But when Chaoui checked the person’s records through the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (or MassPAT), the state’s new prescription monitoring database, he learned within seconds that the surgeon had already prescribed oxycodone to his patient.

    Under state law, doctors must avoid writing overlapping opioid prescriptions. 

    “This was not a patient who was ‘doctor-shopping,’ ” Chaoui explained, using the term for narcotic-dependent patients who hop from doctor to doctor seeking opioid prescriptions. “He had just used up his first set of pills, and it was easier to call his usual provider than go back down to Boston for a refill.”

    Chaoui asked his patient to call the surgeon directly, and also sent his colleague a message. He received a thank-you back. “The surgeon said he prefers to handle post-op pain himself so he can make sure the patient is tapered off the drug,” Chaoui said.

    While hardly dramatic, the story illustrates why the state’s revamped prescription monitoring program, rolled out by the Department of Public Health (DPH) last month with the backing of physicians, pharmacists, and other health care providers, is vital to patient safety.

    Research is clear that over-prescribing opioids (and other Schedule II through V controlled substances, including stimulants and sedatives) can lead to addiction, overdoses, and death. So besides helping doctors identify opioid-dependent individuals and direct them to treatment, the new system prevents ordinary patients from falling into the addiction trap.

    “We know that safe prescribing practices must be part of a multidimensional response to this public health crisis,” said Monica Bharel, commissioner of DPH.  “As we address the stark reality of losing four Massachusetts residents per day to the opioid epidemic, we must support evidence-based, innovative approaches like the improved MassPAT system to reverse this deadly trend.”

    Public-private partnership

    It is fair to say that health care providers and state regulators do not routinely agree on oversight measures. When prescription monitoring programs were first introduced by states like Massachusetts more than a decade ago, many physicians and medical groups balked at the idea that government was monitoring their prescribing practices. Since then, the discussion has moved from whether to do it to how to do it well.

    Launched on Aug. 22, the MassPAT system has the distinction of being a government project that was born of intense public-private cooperation, was ready on time, and has gotten positive reviews from stakeholders. It’s an outcome worth emulating in the field of patient safety and error reduction. So how did it happen?

    MassPAT fulfills a goal laid down about a year ago when Gov. Charlie Baker’s Opioid Working Group called for an overhaul of the state’s existing Prescription Monitoring Program, or PMP, which was faulted for being slow and complex and plagued by inaccurate and outdated data.

    Tasked with fixing it, the DPH’s Bureau of Healthcare Safety and Quality, led by its director, Eric Sheehan, called together representatives from the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Hospital Association, pharmaceutical trade organizations, the Attorney General’s office, and others, for advice and support.

    “We were impressed that the state was so clearly ready to invest the resources and personnel required ensure that the transition to the new enhanced program was seamless for all stakeholders,” said Patrick Huntington of the Massachusetts Chain Pharmacy Council, which made dozens of volunteer testers available to ensure that the new tool functioned in a business setting.

    “It’s no longer a clunky system that takes a long time to connect to or get information,” he said. “It’s now very efficient and easy to use.”

    Under a tight deadline, the DPH and its partners set out to create a system that offered:

    • Simple sign-in and easy navigation, while providing far quicker search results.

    • Nearly real-time prescription information (to prevent patients from “doctor shopping,” which was possible under the older system which was slow to update).

    • Shared data with a growing U.S. network of state-based prescription monitoring programs.

    • Easy enrollment procedures for prescribers and their “delegates” – staff members who could input patient data, helping busy practices cope with the workload.

    The first decision was hiring an experienced vendor who could collaborate with DPH and state Information Technology (IT) officials to launch MassPAT in a short window of time without dropping any data from the soon-to-be-outdated system.

    Appriss, a Kentucky software company that has prescription monitoring programs in 25 states and the District of Columbia, was awarded the $6 million contract over five years. Planners liked the software’s interstate sharing capacity, which for now connects Massachusetts to databases in a dozen other states; its average 1.8-second search response time; and its security measures.

    In addition to fulfilling those core needs, Appriss also provides users with a 24/7 help desk.

    Pharmacy practices input data that reflect filled prescriptions for Schedule II through V medications into the MassPAT system. Prescribers can then query the database to review a 12-month medication history for patients before writing or renewing their prescriptions.

    Read more at the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety website.

  • 22 Sep 2016 7:14 AM | Deleted user

    Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) Announce Winners for 2nd Annual Employer Wellness Program Awards

    The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) has announced the winners of its WorkWell Massachusetts Awards program aimed to recognize Massachusetts employers for their exemplary work in worksite health promotion. Winners will be recognized at WWCMA’s Fifth Annual Worksite Wellness Conference being held today at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

    The WorkWell Massachusetts Award program criteria is based on the following:

    1. The HERO Employee Health Management (EHM) Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer– a tool designed to help organizations learn about best practices, discover opportunities to improve their programs, and measure progress over time. 
    2. Applicants are asked to provide details on their strategic planning and organizational support, program design and implementation, participant engagement, and measurement and evaluation process.

    Employers are eligible to earn a Gold, Silver, or Bronze award. WWCMA appointed a Peer Review committee of independent industry experts to review the applications and designate the award winners and categories.

    “We are proud to recognize these innovative Massachusetts employers for their outstanding wellness programs”, states Kristie Howard, WWCMA Board of Directors Co-Chair. “The WorkWell Massachusetts Award is an important program put forth to honor the work being done by employers in our state to improve the health and vitality of our communities.”

    “We are very proud of this year’s winners and their incredible programs designed to improve employee health and well-being”, states Archana Kansagra, WWCMA Board of Directors Awards & Recognition Committee Chair. “We know there are many organizations in Massachusetts we know there are many other employers committed to creating healthy workplaces that did not apply and encourage them to apply in 2017.”

    Click here for more information.

    The 2016 WorkWell Massachusetts Award winners include:


    • Berkshire Health Systems


    • A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Companies 
    • athenahealth, Inc. 
    • Borislow Insurance 
    • Cambridge Health Alliance 
    • Kronos Incorporated 
    • Lowell General Hospital 
    • OMAM, Inc. 
    • Pegasystems 
    • Signature Healthcare 
    • TripAdvisor 
    • Wright-Pierce


    • Alkermes 
    • Babson College 
    • Endurance International Group 
    • Flexcon Industries 
    • Forrester Research 
    • Onyx Specialty Papers, Inc. 
    • Sturtevant, Inc. 
    • Tocci Building Companies

  • 08 Sep 2016 8:58 AM | Deleted user

    By Priyanka Dayal McCluskey  |  Retrieved from the Boston Globe 7-Sep-2016

    The growth of health care spending moderated in Massachusetts last year, the state reported Wednesday, a sign that its ground-breaking experiment to rein in medical costs is making tentative progress.

    Outlays rose 3.9 percent, a figure that is down from a 4.2 percent increase in 2014 and that matches the state’s economic growth, according to the new data. Spending most likely rose at a slower pace here than nationally, a change from years past — and an accomplishment given that Massachusetts has some of the most expensive hospitals and doctors in the country.

    While the numbers from the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis show some success on the spending front, cost control remains a significant challenge at a time when more people are gaining insurance coverage and prescription drug prices are rising. Growth in expenditures in 2015 exceeded the state’s goal of 3.6 percent for the second straight year. Moreover, health care spending rose much faster than the state’s 0.6 inflation rate.

    Massachusetts, which mandated health insurance coverage for all residents in a landmark 2006 law, is also considered a leader for monitoring medical costs and encouraging insurers and hospitals to adopt new business models designed to provide more cost-effective care.

    “We’re really the only state that is trying to do something about total health care spending,” said Stuart Altman, chairman of the Health Policy Commission, a state watchdog agency that tracks health costs.

    All together, Massachusetts spent $57 billion on health care in 2015, or $8,424 per resident, according to the report. That includes spending through private health insurance as well as the big government programs Medicare and Medicaid.

    Nationwide, the report says, health spending was projected to increase 4.6 percent last year.

    A good sign, industry experts said, is that the spending growth in Massachusetts kept pace with the state’s economic growth. That means health care expenditures didn’t account for a larger proportion of total output of goods and services.

    Altman, a health economist, said he was “pleased but cautious” about the report’s findings. “I still believe there’s a real potential for [medical] inflation to rear its head again,” he said, “but right now I give credit to the people who are running our delivery systems and the people running our insurance companies that they are sticking to the letter of the law.”

    Higher prescription drug prices contributed to the growth in spending again last year. Spending on medicines jumped 10.1 percent in 2015 after rising 13.5 percent the previous year. Many pharmaceutical companies have implemented substantial price hikes in recent years for both brand-name and generic drugs. Most recently, the drug company Mylan faced an outcry after it raised the price on its popular EpiPen, which treats allergic reactions.

    “It’s unsustainable,” Lora Pellegrini, president of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, said about rising drug prices. “The health plans, providers, and pharmaceutical community all need to be held accountable.”

    Robert K. Coughlin, president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, a trade group, said it’s important to remember that drug companies often offer discounts and rebates to reduce the cost of medicines.

    “As the report clearly points out, there is certainly more work to be done to get a truly accurate picture of the costs and value of innovative medicines, and we look forward to continuing the conversation,” Coughlin said in a statement.

    The state’s largest insurers — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Tufts Health Plan — all kept spending increases below the state benchmark. But large health care providers had mixed results, meeting the goal for some insurers but not for others.

    The state Health Policy Commission can require organizations that exceed the benchmark to submit plans to curb spending and fine organizations that don’t comply with those plans. So far, it has not taken those steps.

    Timothy F. Gens, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, said doctors and hospitals are working to become more efficient and control costs by, for example, monitoring patient care through technology and trying to prevent unnecessary hospital visits. New types of insurance contracts, which encourage doctors and hospitals to focus on quality of care over the amount of services they provide, are pushing such changes. But these so-called alternative payment models account for only 35 percent of the commercial health insurance market, the report found.

    “When looking at costs, whether you’re looking at Massachusetts or the country, it’s a challenge, but I think we continue to make progress,” Gens said.

    Meanwhile, spending on the state’s Medicaid program, called MassHealth, moderated last year after thousands of people who had received temporary coverage from the program moved over to commercial insurers. Spending on the program rose 4.6 percent, after a 17.9 percent spike the previous year. MassHealth covers more than one in four poor and low-income residents.

    The report released Wednesday is the third to measure overall health spending, after a 2012 state law set a benchmark for containing spending. The same law established the Center for Health Information and Analysis and the Health Policy Commission, sister agencies that monitor the health care industry.

    The figures are preliminary and could change as more data become available. The estimate for spending growth in 2014, for example, was revised from 4.8 percent to 4.2 percent.

  • 25 Aug 2016 10:38 AM | Deleted user

    The Essentials to Creating a Data-Driven Organization

    Thursday, September 8, 2016 2:00 PM 

    Sponsored by

    In this upcoming online presentation, industry experts will offer insights on how to create a data-driven organization and ensure value generation from analytics investments.

    Click HERE for more info and to Register

    By attending this webinar, you'll discover:

    • How to unlock further value from your analytics investments
    • Tips to address the cultural shift towards data-driven decisions
    • Why providers are democratizing data to empower clinicians and staff

  • 24 Aug 2016 4:00 PM | Deleted user

    Christina Farr and Mark Sullivan, Fast Company, August 22, 2016

    Apple's ambitions in the health sector continue to expand, with its digital health team making its first known acquisition—personal health data startup GliimpseFast Company has learned.

    Silicon Valley-based Gliimpse has built a personal health data platform that enables any American to collect, personalize, and share a picture of their health data. The company was started in 2013 by Anil Sethi and Karthik Hariharan. Sethi is a serial entrepreneur who has spent the past decade working with health startups, after taking his company Sequoia Software public in 2000. He got his start as a systems engineer at Apple in the late 1980s.

    The acquisition happened earlier this year, but Apple has been characteristically quiet about it. The company has now confirmed the purchase, saying: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

    According to Sethi's LinkedIn page, Gliimpse—like many startups—was born of a personal need. Sethi says that he's followed his sister through her battle with breast cancer and discovered firsthand how challenging it is to acquire and manage your personal health data. Sethi writes:

    "As a consumer of healthcare, I leave behind a bread-crumb-trail of medical info wherever I’ve been seen. But, I'm unable to easily access or share my own data. Obamacare is one of several forcing functions federally mandating physicians and hospitals give us our data: meds, labs, allergies . . .you get the idea. However, there’s no single Electronic Health Record that all physicians use, sigh. Worse, there isn't even a common file format across a 1000+ systems."

    The acquisition will bolster Apple’s efforts in digital health. In recent years, Apple has delved into the sector with a range of services (HealthKit, CareKit, and ResearchKit) that allow patients, clinicians, and researchers to access important health and wellness data via a range of mobile devices. That's in line with Gliimpse's mission of uniting disparate streams of health information.

    What stands out about the deal is that Gliimpse is intended for patients with diseases like cancer and diabetes. Apple recently hired a top pediatric endocrinologist who developed a HealthKit app for teens with Type 1 diabetes, signaling an increased interest in applications for chronically ill users.

    It's unlikely that this acquisition will bring Apple's health technologies under the purview of federal regulators. CEO Tim Cook recently told Fast Company in an interview that he sees a major business opportunity for the company in the non-regulated side of health care: "So if you don’t care about reimbursement, which we have the privilege of doing, that may even make the smartphone market look small."

    It's hard to tell how Apple will use the technology—in previous cases, the technology it has acquired from another company often ends up looking very different when it finally makes it into a product.

    So far, the acquisition has not been announced on LinkedIn, or on the company's website.

  • 29 Jun 2016 10:10 AM | Deleted user

    Hacker Advertises Slew of Alleged Healthcare Organization Records

    Written by  JOSEPH COX,  motherboard June 26, 2016 // 05:24 PM EST

    A hacker is advertising hundreds of thousands of alleged records from healthcare organizations on a dark web marketplace, including social security and insurance policy numbers.

    The data could be used for anything from getting lines of credit to opening bank accounts to carrying out loan fraud and much more, the hacker selling the data, who goes by the handle "thedarkoverlord," told Motherboard.

    News site Deep Dot Web first reported the news on Saturday. The breaches supposedly come from three different healthcare organizations: one in Farmington, Missouri with 48,000 records; another in Atlanta, Georgia with 397,000 entries, and the third in the Central/Midwest US with 210,000 records. Thedarkoverlord has decided to not name the organizations, as he has threatened each with a ransom demand.

    “A modest amount compared to the damage that will be caused to the organizations when I decide to publicly leak the victims,” thedarkoverlord said, although he claims to have already sold $100,000 worth of records from the Georgia dump. (The hacker declined to provide his or her gender, so for ease of reading Motherboard will just refer to the hacker as “him.”)

    “Someone wanted to buy all the Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance records specifically,” he said.

    Motherboard was provided with a sample of just under 30 patient records from the alleged Georgia dump. The vast majority of phone numbers went through to the correct person or family home, and one individual confirmed the rest of their details, although the physical address was out of date. Most of those persons contacted from the sample declined to be interviewed.

    Included within the dumps are alleged social security numbers, full names, physical addresses, dates of birth, and insurance information, such as policy identification numbers.

    The hacker claims he obtained each database in roughly the same way each time via an unknown vulnerability in remote desktop protocol, which allows (usually) authorised parties to control computers for things such as tech support. From here, thedarkoverlord claims he moved throughout the network “until I got to the juicy machines running their electronic health systems.”

    Thedarkoverlord is selling the Georgia dump for just over 643 bitcoins, or around $411,000. The hacker expects people to pay this price, he said. The others are being sold for around $100,000 and $205,000 each, and all are listed on the Real Deal marketplace, which has become a particularly popular hub for stolen data.

  • 01 Jun 2016 1:47 PM | Deleted user

    The Consortium would like to thank two of our long-standing Board Members, who are stepping down this month after many years of service to the Consortium.

    David SmithDavid P. Smith of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, is our longest standing Board Member, having begun in 1988.  Throughout his career, David has been responsible for analytical, technical, and research support for MHA’s public policy advocacy regarding health care performance measurement, clinical and health data, health economics, and health information technology.  He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts e-Health Collaborative as well as on the Board of the Consortium.

    John H. Strauss, MD, of the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership, also steps down from our Board of Directors after a long stint.  Dr. Strauss led the design and implementation of the statewide child psychiatry access and consultation project known as the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP), which has become the model for similar programs in over 20 other states.

    The Consortium would like to heartily thank both David and John for your many years of service to our members.  Enjoy what the future holds for you!  We wish you the best.


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