Health information system aims to improve care, save money

By CELESTE BOTT
Capital News Service
LANSING – A three-year pilot project for an electronic database of patient information may help make health care safer, more efficient and more affordable. It could help lead to a system in which all providers know the relevant details about their patients, without those patients filling out tedious and repetitive forms.
The Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN), based in Grand Rapids, is partnering with Illinois-based Care Team Connect to better coordinate that kind of health care through technology. MiHIN is funding the ongoing Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project, which will allow participating care managers to receive real-time notifications of admissions, discharges and transfers of patients. Care Team Connect will initially provide data for an estimated 25,000 Grand Rapids-area patients. The project will record patients’ medical information and provide treatment updates among physicians electronically through a health information network in Grand Rapids.

Health centers receive cancer screening grants

By CELESTE BOTT
Capital News Service
LANSING – Twenty-two community health centers are receiving federal grants to improve quality of care, especially for reproductive cancer screenings for women. The Michigan centers are among 810 nationwide to receive grants funded by the Affordable Care Act. Facilities receiving $55,000 grants include Cherry Street Services in Grand Rapids; the Ingham County Health Department in Lansing; Center for Family Health in Jackson; Upper Peninsula Association of Rural Health Services Inc. in Marquette; and Detroit Community Health Connection. Each recipient is part of the Federally Qualified Health Center Program and is eligible to receive such funding to supplement health care outreach initiatives. “Community health centers in Michigan are committed to providing high quality health care services to our residents,” said James Haveman, the director of the Department of Community Health.

Push to integrate physical, mental health services

By CELESTE BOTT
Capital News Service
LANSING – The look of health care in the future will combine behavioral health and physical care for more uniform treatment, according to James Haveman, director of the Department of Community Health. “There’s a great deal of effort being made to integrate mental health, substance abuse and physical health care,” Haveman said. “If we build connections between these different forms of care, we can make sure people have cost-effective access to the treatment they need.”
According to Haveman, those connections range from changes in health policy to bringing rehabilitation centers into hospitals, rather than expecting patients to seek a separate facility. For example, Michigan Health Information Network, a state entity, promotes health care through electronic exchange of information. The network now uses the PatientSecure system, an electronic directory, for health care providers across the state.

State pushing plan for healthier Michigan

By LAUREN GENTILE
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation — 32 percent of adults and 17 percent of youths are obese. Now the state plans a new campaign on television, radio and the Internet to guide the public in a healthier direction, as well as to recognize success stories of those who have changed their lifestyle. “Recognition motivates people and if we can get people motivated, then this will be a great healthy future for Michigan,” said Nathan Ohle, director of outreach and development for the Michigan Fitness Foundation. To achieve that goal, the Department of Community Health is using its new 4 x 4 plan, which incorporates four key healthy behaviors and four key health measures. “This plan will help us, help Michiganders, through a bunch of different mediums,” said James Haveman, director of Community Health.

New state plan increases efforts to cut baby deaths

By LAUREN GENTILE
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan has one of the nation’s highest infant mortality rates, and experts are trying to change that by teaching future parents and caretakers about healthy pregnancies and proper sleep positions for newborns, supporting women’s health and reducing unwanted pregnancies. The Michigan Department of Community Health released its “Infant Mortality Reduction Plan” in August 2012, said Angela Minicuci, public information officer. “Infants are dying for many reasons and through the plan we have created, we can reduce the risk for death and the eventual number of deaths in infants within Michigan,” said Minicuci. In Michigan, five out of 1,000 Caucasian babies, seven out of every 1,000 Hispanic babies and 14 out of every 1,000 African-American babies die before their first birthday. “With an average of 7.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010, that is seven babies too many,” Minicuci said.

Health benefits combined for the older low income

By JENNIFER CHEN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Although the state could move dual-eligible Medicare and Medicaid individuals into a new system, most beneficiaries don’t realize the upcoming changes to their benefits, according to a new survey. Michigan is one of 15 states awarded a contract to develop an integrated plan that offers both high-quality and cost-effective care. Medicare provides health benefits to people older than 65, and Medicaid benefits are for low-income residents. People who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits are called “dual eligible,” according to the Department of Community Health. If fully implemented, the program as proposed would integrate services and funding for more than 200,000 state residents enrolled in both programs, which cost the state and federal governments more than $8 billion annually, according to the department.

Federal health law may cost small businesses

By XINJUAN DENG
Capital News Service
LANSING – Some small businesses say they will be hurt by a “hidden” tax under the two-year-old federal health overhaul. U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said the act provides $40 billion in tax credits during the next decade to help small businesses pay health insurance premiums.
The law lowers the cost of health care, Peters said, which saves small businesses money. However, some small business people disagree. Scott Lyon, vice president for small business services at the Small Business Association of Michigan, said the federal law is becoming a problem for small businesses. “The problem is the cost: the act is doing very little to stabilize the lower cost of insurance,” Lyon said.

Agencies call for parity in mental health insurance coverage

By SAODAT ASANOVA-TAYLOR
Capital News Service
LANSING – Mental health advocates want the state to revise the proposed autism-treatment law to require health insurance to cover mental illness. They endorse the legislation to mandate that private insurance providers cover autism related-disorders, but say mental health disorders need equal coverage. Michael Brashears, executive director of Community Mental Health in Ottawa County, said the biggest problem in his county is not just autism, but also other moderate mental conditions. “Autism is not more severe than other disorders. We see more cases of moderate forms of developmental disabilities such as conduct disorder, depressive disorders and anxiety that affect both children and adults in our areas,” he said.

Views split on merging substance abuse, mental health services

By SAODAT ASANOVA-TAYLOR
Capital News Service
LANSING – Some health specialists question a legislative proposal to merge public substance abuse and mental health services. They say the measure could reduce access to local services, especially in the rural areas of Northern Michigan, and can hurt urban communities, such as Oakland County. Rep. Earl Poleski, R-Jackson, the primary sponsor of the bills, said mergers would save administrative costs and improve services to individuals who have substance abuse and mental health problems.
“It is an important step to improve access to mental health care for folks with addiction, if they need them. Also, it will potentially improve health care services under a single entity and potentially save money that could be used for further treatment.”
Currently substance abuse agencies treat patients with drug and alcohol addiction. Community mental heath agencies treat of mental illnesses.

Dementia upswing linked to obesity rate, side effects

By COURTNEY CULEY
Capital News Service
LANSING – The number of Michigan residents with dementia is on the rise and the state’s increasing obesity rate could be linked. Studies show that obesity in mid-life is among many risk factors for developing dementia later in life, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Michigan residents with dementia increased 6 percent, according to the department. The numbers are expected to increase. In 2000, the Michigan obesity rate was 20 to 24 percent of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.