Thursday, January 22, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Medicare expands use of electronic records

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
We are well aware of the fact that Internet use is very age dependent. Our youth cannot function without access to electronics. In the workplace, computers are essential. However, there are many senior citizens that do not use the Internet often. Many of them use it for very limited reasons. I use the computer both at home and in the office. The electronic medical record at Nemours provides me with easy access to every part of a patient's medical history. Because of these factors, the Federal government is trying to get more physicians to use electronic health records (EHR). They have set standards and provided incentives. However, as is frequently the case with rules and regulations, there are a lot of things that are not that well thought out. One example is the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) requirements. Since CMS primarily deals with Medicare patients, most of its regulations affect that portion of the population. Therefore, the regulations impact both physicians and their Medicare patients. One of the requirements for physicians using EHR is related to the Internet. The website contains the following information: "EP Stage 1 Menu Objective: Provide patients with timely electronic access to their health information (including lab results, problem list, medication lists, and allergies) within 4 business days of the information being available to the EP. New EP Objective: Provide patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within 4 business days of the information being available to the EP. New EP Measure: More than 50 percent of all unique patients seen by the EP during the EHR reporting period are provided timely (within 4 business days after the information is available to the EP) online access to their health information subject to the EP's discretion to withhold certain information." Medicare has decided that physicians need to make medical information available to their patients online within four days of the visit. They have also decided that Medicare patients have to view that information. If the patient does not do so, the physician is at fault. Thus, physicians now have to make sure their Medicare patients are Internet users. The way that Medicare will check on physicians is to hire auditors. We will then use our tax money to hire people to make sure that Medicare patients are using the Internet to check their medical records so we can levy a fine on physicians if the patients do not do so. In theory this is a great idea. However, whoever came up with the idea clearly does not know the target population. This is a great idea for young adults who are computer literate. It does not take into account the fact that physicians should not be the ones responsible for having their Medicare patients become computer literate.

NHS plans annual dinner/auction Hear ye! Hear ye! Nanticoke Health Services Dinner and Auction "Medieval Knightsa Renaissance Evening" is set to commence at the Heritage Shores Castle in Bridgeville, on Saturday, April 4. This year's Dinner and Auction is co-chaired by Lois Hartstein and Ashlee Parker. Come one, come all! Join the kings and queens, knights and nobles for an evening of festivals and feasts. Honored guests will have the opportunity to bid on items in the Live and Silent auction, while being transported back to Medieval times. Proceeds will benefit Nanticoke's Emergency Department Renovation Project. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Emergency Department is the busiest, most utilized department at Nanticoke with over 39,000 visits in 2014. The Emergency Department is fully equipped to handle a broad scope of emergency medical conditions, is a Level III Trauma Center and has been a partner of Delaware's statewide trauma system for over 10 years. To meet the increasing needs of the community, the Emergency Department needs an expansion and complete reconfiguration. This project will help modernize and expand the department to improve patient outcomes and experiences. This project will enable Nanticoke Health Services to surpass today's standards of care, and to significantly improve the patient experience. Nanticoke will be able to serve patients faster and more efficiently, and accommodate anticipated growth in patient volume in the immediate future.

Businesses and individuals can support the dinner auction through sponsorship and/or by donating items for the auction. Sponsorship packages and additional information is available by contacting the Nanticoke Health Services Foundation at 302-536-5393 or Tickets are available for $100 per person.

Learn about seniors and drug abuse Substance abuse in Delaware in recent years has captured the public's attention, in part, because of the resurgence of heroin and law enforcement crackdowns to stem the problem. The issue has led to questions about safety, and how changes in laws such as those aimed at stopping prescription drug abuse, for instance, can affect senior well-being. The Sussex County Advisory Committee on Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities will host a presentation at its next meeting, at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 26, about this issue. Det. Matthew Blakeman of the Delaware State Police will present, "Senior Safety and the Drug Problem in Sussex," which will educate the public on growing trends and ways to stay safe. The meeting will be held at the County Administrative Offices West Complex, 22215 N. DuPont Boulevard, in Georgetown. For more information, visit the advisory committee's page at

Cancer Survivorship Series begins Living Beyond Cancer, a monthly series addressing important issues for cancer survivors and their loved ones, will begin Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 5:30 p.m. The program will be held in the Conference Room of the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, 801 Middleford Rd., Seaford. The series will cover many topics such as fitness, nutrition, stress reduction, medical management and other survivorship topics. Session 1: Take Control of Your Personal Health - Tuesday, Feb. 3, 5:30 p.m. - Jo Allegro-Smith, BS, MS, Sussex County director, Cancer Support Community-DE Session 2: Be Strong: Customized Exercise - Tuesday, March 3, 5:30 p.m. - Jo Allegro-Smith Session 3: Medical Management Beyond Cancer - Tuesday, April 7, 5:30 p.m. - Isabel Benson, NP-C, AOCNP, nurse practitioner, Nanticoke Cancer Care Center Session 4: Nutrition: Start on the Road to Good Health - Tuesday, May 5, 5:30 p.m. - Wendy Polk, RD, Nutrition Services, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Session 5: Stress Reduction - Tuesday, June 2, 5:30 p.m. - Mariann Wolskee, LCSW A light snack will be provided at each session. You must register in advance by calling 645-9150.

Hospice grief support group Delaware Hospice is offering a six-week support group, "Healing after the Loss of a Loved One During the Holiday Season." The group will be held on Mondays now through Feb. 16, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at The Delaware Hospice Center, Milford. For people who have lost loved ones during a festive time of year, one of the biggest challenges is finding the right time and/or the right people to share your feelings. It may seem like no one knows what you're going through, that you are all alone even at a time of the year that celebrates togetherness. For this reason, Delaware Hospice is providing a space for those who feel isolated from the festivities to confide in others who have experienced loss during the holiday season. To register, contact Midge DiNatale at 856-7717, ext. 4120 or

Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a four-session diabetes educational program on Feb. 3, 10, 17, and 24, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the hospital. Registration is required. The cost of the program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. The goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend. To register and to obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.