Echo, Is My Kid Sick?

WW_BostonChildrensParents can now ask their Amazon Echo — a smart, wireless voice-command device — if their child should go to the doctor — all thanks to a new skill the machine has picked up, according to an Information Week article. The KidsMD skill can be activated through the corresponding Alexa smartphone app and will use knowledge from Boston Children’s Hospital to determine if any number of ailments such as fever or rash requires a call to the doctor. The 9-inch tall cylinder is obviously no replacement for a doctor, but technology is becoming more connected each day.

What’s Your Return Policy?

WW_RefundFor Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania it’s money back, no questions asked, writes Lena Sun of The Washington Post. For one 49-year-old patient, that meant a $210 refund after leaving her appointment in tears, “Pt felt like they didn’t care and did not have her best interest at heart,”according to the financial authorization for the refund. The program understandably faced initial skepticism, but feedback has already boosted patient satisfaction scores — a key now that government payment is more closely tied to that metric. Geisinger can see problem areas in real time and has already started making improvements, such as a new corporate chef for better menus and a plan to eliminate emergency department wait times within three years. In addition to refunds, Geisinger employees can reach out to patients who weren’t satisfied with their service, providing “service recovery” in the form of free lunch vouchers or parking passes.

SNL Took on the Opioid Epidemic; Some Weren’t ThrilledWW_SNL2

If you’ve ever seen "Saturday Night Live," you know that those folks never hold their tongues, and their latest fake commercial featured an advertisement for “Heroin AM” — a pill that lets people use drugs while going about their day. The skit, featuring host Julia Louis-Dreyfus, created a backlash in the form of an online petition created by a Hudson, Mass. resident — drawing 4,500 names as of Monday, according to a Boston Globe report. A further request appeared on Change.org calling for "SNL" to apologize for the “tasteless” skit. "SNL" hasn’t been on the top of their game in recent years, but watch the skit and decide what you think.

A Cautionary Tale for Health Systems

WW_EpicA federal jury in Wisconsin awarded $940 million to electronic health records software vendor Epic Systems after ruling in favor on seven claims against Mumbai, India-based Tata Consultancy Services, according to a report in Data Breach Today. TCS, an IT services firm, was contracted by Kaiser Hospital Foundation to provide services to support Kaiser’s systems and networks, but Epic alleges TCS was violating their contract and using the software beyond purposes agreed upon.

“A key lesson here is that in health care, information security is not limited to electronic protected health information,”says privacy attorney Adam Greene, who wasn’t involved in the case. The need to protect all data, including personal information and that which falls outside of HIPPA, should be a takeaway from this situation for hospital leaders.

CMS Delays Release of Hospital Compare Overall Star Rating

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it will delay the release of overall hospital quality “star ratings”on its Hospital Compare website until July 2016, according to AHA News. The ratings — originally scheduled for release April 21 — were delayed because of concerns raised by the American Hospital Association to ensure a fair, accurate and meaningful representation of hospital performance. “The delay is a necessary step as hospitals and health systems work with CMS to improve the ratings for patients, and the AHA commends CMS for their decision,” said Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO. On May 6, CMS will open a 30-day preview period during which hospitals can confidentially preview their data for the July update. If changes are determined to be needed to ensure a fair and accurate rating, CMS may delay the release further. An open call will be hosted by CMS on May 12 to explain and answer questions about the star rating methodology.