Guest Post: Israel Models Healthcare IT and Lessons on System Reform at AICC Business Exchange

June 21, 2010

By Julie Zier

Look behind the receptionist’s desk in most doctors’ offices and you will see shelves crammed with manila file folders. Brightly-colored labels dot the edges. Papers of every size and shape jut out from the sides, threatening to come loose from their bindings.

One of these folders holds your medical history. Well, part of it. The rest is scattered throughout similar manila folders in offices of every other doctor you’ve visited for any other condition throughout your life. These files don’t talk to each other; in fact, unless you disclose their existence to another practitioner, there is little chance your files will ever be opened outside of a scheduled office visit or an insurance query.

We rely on physicians to analyze our health issues using their experience and education. But they can’t make an accurate diagnosis or prescribe appropriate medications when they don’t have all the information, putting our safety at risk. Can you recount your entire medical history, from year to year, doctor to doctor? Can you remember the names and dosages of all the medications you’ve ever taken? Can you remember what you ate for breakfast this morning?

With technology so pervasive in our culture, it is surprising that we still have a paper-and-pen approach to health information. In countries like Israel, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands, the conversion to electronic health records (EHR) is almost universal, with proven benefits. According to The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, only 28% of U.S. primary care physicians in 2009 were using EHR.

That’s changing – rapidly. The United States is moving forward with the large-scale digitization of its health care delivery system, a measure that could improve patient care and reduce costs, errors and administrative inefficiencies. EHR is only one component of a much broader reform. Spurred on by $19 billion in funding from the HITECH program of 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and incentivized by early adoption, health care providers are heavily in the market for information technology systems.

Some of the most innovative products under development were on display recently at the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Healthcare IT Business Exchange in Atlanta. Companies like dbMotion, whose platform promotes interoperability among discordant software systems;  HMU (Home Medicine USA), with scoring tools that measure small, accumulated changes in patients, enhancing treatment accuracy and reducing error rates; MedCPU, whose proprietary Medical Text Processor allows documentation of care in free-text narrative form; and Trig Medical, with systems that enable physicians to more safely plan and execute interventional ultrasound procedures in childbirth.

Speaking at the Exchange, former director general of Israel’s Clalit Health Services and Milken Institute Senior Visiting Fellow Dr. Yitzhak Peterburg proposed that Israeli companies have much to give – and much to gain – by providing their expertise and technologies to the U.S. market.

Read the Milken Institute Report

“The understanding that health IT requires more than just software and hardware, but involves organizational and cultural change, was essential to the successful implementation of these complex systems [in Israel] and generated unique knowledge on how to manage the change,” Dr. Peterburg said.

Transformation of our disheveled, expensive, overburdened health care system is long overdue. It will be costly, complex and controversial. A change of this magnitude requires not only financial and organizational resources, but an enormous shift in mentality. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can learn best practices from countries like Israel, who have expertise developing the cutting-edge technologies we need, and first-hand experience implementing the extensive reform we want.

Julie Zier is a marketing strategy consultant specializing in health care. Her clients include Georgia Institute of Technology, Southface/Home Depot Foundation, Reed Elsevier and Morehouse College. She previously worked in sales for Forest Pharmaceuticals and Emeritus Senior Living.  Ms. Zier earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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AICC Member Definition 6 Wins Top Honors at the 2010 CLIO Awards for Coca-Cola Video

June 6, 2010

Since January 12, 2010, hidden camera footage of smiling students getting more than they bargained for from a Coke vending machine has been viewed by more than 2.2 million people on YouTube. Last night, the Coca-Cola “Happiness Machine” was awarded CLIO’s prestigious Gold Interactive Award at the 51st annual awards dinner held in New York City. A CLIO award is one of the world’s most recognized industry accolades for advertising, design and communications.

Full Press Release


Guest Post: American Jobs Bill – Extended Energy Provisions

June 4, 2010

As a cleantech tax update FYI, the American Jobs bill that has been passed by the House contains the following extended energy provisions:

Extended Energy Provisions

Unless otherwise indicated, the bill would retroactively reinstate and extend for one year (that is, through 2010) all of the following energy tax breaks and would change the rules for the energy efficient appliance credit and the energy efficient windows credit, as noted below.

… The new energy efficient home credit. ( Code Sec. 45L(g))

… The $1.00 per gallon production tax credit for biodiesel, the small agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10¢ per gallon, and the $1.00 per gallon production tax credit for diesel fuel created from biomass. ( Code Sec. 40A )

… The alternative motor vehicle credit for so-called heavy hybrids (i.e., hybrid motor vehicles that are not passenger automobiles or light trucks). ( Code Sec. 30B(k) )

… The $0.50 per gallon alternative fuel tax credit for liquid fuels derived from biomass, compressed or liquefied biogas, natural gas and propane. The credit would not be extended for any liquid fuel derived from a pulp or paper manufacturing process. ( Code Sec. 6426 , Code Sec. 6427 )

… For sales before Jan. 1, 2011, the deferral over an eight-year period of gain on sales of transmission property by vertically integrated electric utilities to FERC-approved independent transmission companies. ( Code Sec. 451(i) )

… The $2.83 per barrel-of-oil equivalent tax credit for steel industry fuel (placed in service through 2010). In determining the credit amount, the credit period would be the first two years from the date that the facility is placed in service. Steel industry fuel is clarified as including fuel produced through a process of distributing liquefied coal waste sludge on a blend of coal and petroleum coke, or on other coke feedstock. ( Code Sec. 45 )

… The $3.36 credit per barrel-of-oil equivalent of coke or coke gas production tax credit (placed-in-service date through 2010). ( Code Sec. 45K(g)(1) )

… The credit period under the production tax credit for electricity produced at open-loop biomass facilities that were placed in service prior to Jan. 1, 2005 would be extended from five years to six years. In the sixth year, the credit would be reduced by 20%. ( Code Sec. 45(b)(4)(B) )

… For any tax year that includes the last day of calendar year 2009 or calendar year 2010, manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances could elect to receive a direct payment in lieu of the Code Sec. 45M energy-efficient appliance tax credit. The direct payment would be equal to 85% of the tax credit that would otherwise have been allowed. (Act Sec. 210)

… Exterior windows, doors, and skylights placed in service 90 days after the enactment date, would have to meet the recently updated Energy Star requirements to qualify for the Code Sec. 25C nonbusiness energy property credit. A transition rule would apply. ( Code Sec. 25C(c)(4) )

If you’re curious about the oil spill tax ramifications, it looks like there’s also some info about that:

… The oil spill tax would be increased from 8 cents per barrel to 34 cents per barrel through Dec. 31, 2020, the maximum amount that may be paid from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund with respect to any single incident would be increased from $1 billion to $5 billion, and the limit on natural resource damage assessments and claims in connection with any single incident would be increased from $500 million to $2.5 billion. The increase in financing rate would be effective beginning the first quarter that is more than 60 days after the enactment date. The increase in the limit on expenditures related to a single incident would be effective for expenses made after the enactment date, and the extension of the tax from Dec. 31, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2020 would be effective on the enactment date. ( Code Sec. 4611 , Code Sec. 9509 )

Feel free to let us know if you or anyone on your committee has any questions about these updates.

Sharon Kely
Habif, Arogeti & Wynne
Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 1000, Atlanta, Georgia 30328
Ph:  (770) 353-7157
sharon.kelly@hawcpa.com
visit us at http://www.hawcpa.com

Sharon Kelly



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