Tag Archives: healthcare

UH Hilo gets Beacon Grant

The University of Hawaii at Hilo, College of Pharmacy will be one of the recipients of the Beacon Community program to build and strengthen health IT infrastructure and health information exchange capabilities. UH-Hilo's $16M grant was part of an overall grant totaling $220M from the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Hawaii Island was one of 15 communities across the country to serve as pilot communities for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology. According to UH-Hilo's proposal description, their goal is to:
Implement a region-wide Health Information Exchange and Patient Health Record solution and utilize secure, internet-based care coordination and tele-monitoring tools to increase access to specialty care for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity in this rural, health-professional shortage area.
Back in March we had both Karen Pelligrin and Christine Sakuda on Bytemarks Cafe to talk about the Hawaii Health Information Exchange and how it will be implemented. Karen Pelligrin is with UH-Hilo's College of Pharmacy and Program Director of Hawaii Island's Beacon grant project. The system will include patient information from Big Island physicians, health centers, island hospitals, labs and claims information to improve coordination with health providers. Microsoft's Amalga is the planned IT system to facilitate information communicated amongst participants. On a national level,  all 15 Beacon Communities will tackle specific goals of improving health care and population health status through advanced use of IT. The communities will work closely with regional technology extension centers created and funded under HITECH, as well as state health information exchange initiatives, like the Hawaii Health Information Exchange and the National Health Information Technology Research Center to ensure the dissemination of lessons learned.

EUTF Revisited

A couple of days ago this video about the current EUTF Open Enrollment surfaced on YouTube. I got alerted to it by an email from a fellow co-worker at HMSA. The message was clearly pro-HMSA. The video was a montage of clips from a variety of sources including HMSA's current ads on television, a Common Craft-esque video, Did You Know 3.0, Today Show clips and some original footage comparing HMSA to HMA. Of course I thought this was Twitter worthy so immediately sent the tweet out. It was the buzz around the office. Someone even paid me a complement when they thought I did the video. It is really well done and way beyond my video editing skills. It remains a mystery who did this video. There is a disclaimer at the end of the video stating that it is not endorsed by HMSA and done by a health insurance consumer. Obviously, this person felt quite compelled to get the message out. If the person who did this video wants to reveal themselves to me, I will surely complement them on a job well done. In related EUTF news, Ian Lind, long time journalist and blogger, posted some interesting information on his blog. Based on information he received from Univ. of Hawaii Professional Assembly, HMSA was not allowed to offer a comparable 90/10 plan because the EUTF computer application could not accommodate the additional "code space" for the plan. What? Are we talking pre-Y2K computers? This seems pretty bizarre given the sophistication of today's computer systems. I asked around at work and they too had heard a similar story although could not confirm whether it was in fact a true condition of the EUTF computers. All I can say is Caveat emptor.

EUTF Open Enrollment

EUTF Open Enrollment *** In the interest of full disclosure, I am employed by HMSA and the following post will be biased toward my employer. HMSA has not paid or asked me to write this post. The above chart is from the Open Enrollment Reference Guide. The Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund (EUTF) will offer Open Enrollment (OE) for health plans to all active State of Hawaii employees starting in November 2009. Open Enrollment is the time of year when employees can make a choice of what health plan they wish to have for the coming year. This is an annual process. Most of the time (and I am an example of this) when you first get hired your company will lay out its benefits choices and you setup which plan you want to go with and forget about it. Each year you are told if you don't do anything at Open Enrollment, you will rollover to your current existing plan. This is all about to change with the 65,000 active State of Hawaii workers. As described in the first option, if you currently have HMSA 90/10 PPO and you do nothing, you will get converted to HMA 90/10 PPO. HMA is a Mainland company, part of the family of I/MX family of companies based in Tempe, Arizona. If you want to stay with HMSA you will need to fill out the EC-1 form, specifically selecting HMSA.  This is very different from previous years. Action needs to be taken to stay with HMSA. I won't get into details as to why this is being handled this way. A lot of it has to do with price. Plans are different and in this OE period HMSA is offering an 80/20 PPO plan. HMSA will outline the different plans and benefits in forthcoming news releases. My intent here is to make people aware of this change. At the end of the day, each State of Hawaii employee will need to make their own decision regarding health plans based on their finances and the value their plan choice provides. I only hope that people make informed decisions and not placed in a plan because they were unaware of the change. If you have any questions please feel free to post comments here and I will personally track down the answers. If you read this post please pass it on to a fellow State employee. Mahalo!