This week: The end of the public health emergency is nearing; Federal agencies hit with EHR outage. Plus: Akili's video game-like intervention improved users' cognitive functioning.
Links to the stories:
HHS is giving clear signals of wind down of public health emergency
EHR outage takes down federal Cerner systems
Akili Interactive's DTx improves cognitive function in adults with MDD
Is the pandemic finally winding down? Not necessarily, but the public health emergency just might be. I'm Jeff Lagasse with Healthcare Finance News, and we'll examine that and other developments in the return this week of Top Stories.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has given clear indication during budget hearings that the country is getting close to the end of the public health emergency, with the current PHE ending on April 16. Healthcare Finance News reports (https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/hhs-giving-clear-signals-wind-down-public-health-emergency) that many providers are looking for a 90-day extension that would end the PHE in July, to give them more time to prepare for the end of waivers and flexibilities the government has granted since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it would return to certain pre-COVID-19 policies for skilled nursing facilities. Some of the same waivers are also being terminated for inpatient hospices, intermediate care facilities for those with intellectual disabilities and end-stage renal disease facilities.
Dozens of federal sites experienced an electronic health records outage this past week, leading to nearly three hours in which clinicians could not update medical information. According to Healthcare IT News (https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ehr-outage-takes-down-federal-cerner-systems), Oracle databases powering Cerner's systems at Department of Defense, Coast Guard and Veterans Affairs sites went offline during the outage. It affected the EHR systems at 66 DOD facilities, 109 Coast Guard facilities and three at the VA. Overall, more than 95,000 clinician users felt the effects, although officials said there was no evidence of patient harm. The hiccup followed a widely publicized outage at the beginning of March, in which VA staff at Spokane, Washington, and Columbus, Ohio, sites relied on downtime procedures for nearly 24 hours.
Finally this week, a study has shown that adults with depression that used Akili's video game-like intervention improved their cognitive functioning and sustained attention. As we see in MobiHealthNews (https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/akili-interactives-dtx-improves-cognitive-function-adults-mdd), researchers did not find any statistically significant difference in depression symptoms between patients in the control and intervention groups, though both groups did statistically improve from baseline. While this digital therapeutic is not yet FDA-cleared, Akili is looking to eventually use this tool to help combat attention impairments in individuals with major depressive disorder.
I'm Jeff Lagasse with Healthcare Finance News, and this has been Top Stories.