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Humana partners with Wal-Mart to offer discounts on healthy foods

Physicians caring for patients insured by Humana soon will be encouraged to tell them that they can get a discount on healthy foods sold at Wal-Mart stores. Starting Oct. 15, members participating in the HumanaVitality wellness program will be eligible for a 5% rebate on foods that qualify for Wal-Mart’s “Great for You” labeling initiative. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats are among the 1,300 products available. Members must register on the program’s website and take a health assessment. A gift card is then sent to them. The 5% rebate from purchasing healthy food is deposited on the card. Participants can use the money to buy anything sold by Wal-Mart. Information about the program will be included in regular communication from Humana to physicians, who will be asked to tell patients about the effort. “We know physicians have close relationships with many of our members and that relationship is trusted,” said Joe Woods, CEO ...

User feedback is key to improving EHR systems

Practices shopping for an electronic health record system or seeking to improve an existing system should have a central clearinghouse of reviews, feedback and tips from other users, says an Institute of Medicine discussion paper. The paper, published in September, is intended to foster discussion of a recommendation the IOM made in an earlier report that examined ways EHRs can be improved. The institute recommended that the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology work with public and private sectors to make comparative EHR user experiences publicly available. The paper’s authors said there is no place for EHR users to share publicly their experiences with their systems. That means there is a lack of transparency and improvements to make EHRs easier to use. By creating a central database that is publicly available, health care organizations “will benefit from lessons learned by similar health care organizat ...

Patients who read doctor notes feel more in control of their health

Physicians who share clinical notes with patients could help improve or resolve medication noncompliance and patients’ lack of involvement in their health care, according to a new study. A majority of patients who view the notes on secure Internet portals say they feel more in control of their health care. They also are more likely to take medications as prescribed and have a better understanding of their medical issues, said a study in the Oct. 2 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. “I want [doctors] to be enthusiastic about this prospect,” said study co-author Tom Delbanco, MD, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, one of three sites where the study was conducted. “I think that once [open notes] become part of standard practice and we learn how to use these well, it will enrich the doctor’s experience and the patient’s experience.” The other sites were Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. ...