Ketchum wins $7m federal health record accounts

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has inked two contracts with Ketchum worth just less than $7 million to promote electronic health record programs.

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has inked two contracts with Ketchum worth just less than $7 million to promote electronic health record programs.

The first account will require Ketchum to reach out to healthcare entities that must begin to implement International Classification of Diseases diagnosis and procedure codes in coming years. The policy will modify the standard medical code sets for diagnosis and impatient hospital procedures.

CMS formally adopted the tenth edition of International Classification of Diseases codes in January 2009 and set a compliance date of October 1, 2013. However, this February, the Department of Health and Human Services said it would extend the deadline to a yet-to-be-announced date. The new system will increase the number of diagnostic codes that healthcare providers must use from 13,000 to 68,000.

As part of its contract, Ketchum will be required to identify a comprehensive list of healthcare entities affected by the transition to new code sets and develop a strategic approach to reaching each audience, according to the RFP. It will emphasize hard-to-reach, small, and rural providers and those that have specific health specialties.

As part of the contract, Ketchum will also develop materials, monitor the success of outreach efforts, and conduct events for CMS. The $2.9 million contract will last one year, with the option for four additional years.

The second wide-ranging contract requires Ketchum to promote electronic health records and other forms of health information technology outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The one-year contract is valued at $3.9 million.

A large part of the contract's scope of work includes launching a campaign that promotes the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs. The initiative provides incentive payments to eligible professionals, hospitals, and critical access hospitals as they adopt, implement, upgrade, or demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic record technology, according to the RFP.

The campaign will include earned and paid media as well as local implementation tactics to leverage messaging. Ketchum must also come up with a strategic plan to identify partners and community organizations at the local level and to determine ways to reach state and local officials.

Earned media tactics will include the distribution of press releases, outreach to specific media outlets, press events, interview coordination, and editorial board sessions. Radio and satellite media tours, social media, and drop-in articles will also be used, according to the RFP.

A CMS representative confirmed the account wins but did not comment further.  A Ketchum representative declined to comment.

Last month, CMS said it was seeking a firm to promote healthcare exchanges that will be run by the federal government. The Affordable Care Act mandated that states set up the exchanges, but some may not have them in place by the designated time outlined in the bill, which means the CMS will have to both run and promote them.

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