News Blog

Tired of EMR Crashes? Push Back
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The computerized era has introduced all of us to a genre of errors that never existed during the archaic pen and paper era. The paper medical chart I used during most of my career never "crashed." Now, when our electronic medical records (EMR) freezes, malfunctions, or simply goes on strike, our office is paralyzed. Although I appear to the patients as a breathing and willing medical practitioner, I might as well be a storefront mannequin who appears lifelike, but cannot function. We cannot access the patients' records, write a prescription or enter a new office visit.
Of course, like any business who faces this crisis, we expect instantaneous rescue from our IT professionals, as if we are their only client and they are permanently stationed in our waiting room just waiting for us to sound the alarm.
This is among one of the most frustrating aspects of EMR for medical professionals. We simply don't have the time or psychic reserve to absorb unexpected loss of computer service. We are not playing computer games (although sometimes it feels as if we are.) We have a live patient facing us as we face a blank screen. It is frustrating and awkward. The patients understand this reality as they have undoubtedly endured similar frustrations in their own life. But the patient has come to the office with a reasonable expectation that may not be realized.
Read more: Headlines 2018-02-28&utm_term=Daily Headlines - Active User - 180 days   ...

Driving Forces in Today’s Payer Market
Monday, February 26, 2018

What’s Driving the Payer Market? Change Healthcare asked a few of their seasoned healthcare consultants to give some perspective on three of the main driving forces in the healthcare payer market today. Listen to what they have to say, and gain insight about how to navigate the challenges created by these influential factors.

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Healthcare Needs a New Architecture for Patient Identity Interoperability
Monday, February 26, 2018

Read this whitepaper to learn about how poor patient matching approaches are harming our healthcare system - both today and in the future:

  • The ability to access patient information is integral to care coordination across the full continuum of care
  • Resolving patient identities across disparate systems is critical to accessing information
  • Existing patient matching approaches cannot resolve identities consistently or well enough to support healthcare's emerging needs
A new approach, "referential matching," is proving to hold the answers vexing the US healthcare industry on patient matching.

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Alphabet studies how deep learning could predict heart disease risk
Monday, February 26, 2018

Researchers at Alphabet and its research arm Verily Life Sciences have found a way to predict a person’s cardiovascular risk factors using eye scans and deep learning, according to a study published this week in Nature Biomedical Engineering.


Healthcare industry 'ripe for disruption,' S&P Global warns
Monday, February 26, 2018

  • Rising costs, growing consumerism and heightened government scrutiny have created a cocktail of forces that leave the healthcare industry “ripe for disruption," according to a new S&P Global Ratings report.
  • Amazon, which last year upended the supermarket industry with its purchase of Whole Foods Market, could seize market share from medical supplies distributors such as McKesson and Cardinal Health with its announcement this week it will expand efforts in that market and is in a pilot with a major hospital system. However, serious erosion could take time due to long-term relationships between buyers and existing distributors.
  • The e-commerce behemoth could spark mergers and acquisitions among healthcare companies vying to survive in an increasingly competitive and unstable environment. For example, there’s been speculation that the CVS Health-Aetna merger was prompted by Amazon’s apparent interest in entering the pharmacy business.

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Amazon selling private-label medications
Monday, February 26, 2018

  • Amazon is selling an exclusive line of over-the-counter medications and health care items in a further challenge to traditional drugstore retailers, CNBC reports. Basic Care is an exclusive brand on Amazon though not owned by Amazon, an Amazon spokesperson told Retail Dive.
  • The line, Basic Care, is sold on Amazon alongside name-brand medications like Tylenol and Advil and private-labels like Kirkland and GoodSense, according to the Amazon website. The Basic Care line includes 60 items produced by healthcare supplier Perrigo exclusively for Amazon, according to CNBC. "We’re really excited to expand our selection of products for customers through the Basic Care line, which launched in August of 2017," the spokesperson told Retail Dive. "The brand offers over-the-counter medicine for allergies, colds, digestion and more." OTC meds include pain relief, antacids, hair regrowth treatment and more, according to Amazon's Basic Care page.
  • Amazon has reportedly received regulatory approval from about a dozen states to do business as a pharmacy wholesale distributor, and analysts at investment bank Leerink Partners in recent months have said that it's only a matter of time before the e-commerce giant makes a significant pharmacy play.

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Calculating the financial costs of physician burnout
Monday, February 26, 2018

The United States is in the middle of a physician burnout crisis, according to recent datapublished in JAMA.
However, not every medical system or practice is rushing to fix the problem. Christine Sinsky, MD, FACP, vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association (AMA) and a practicing general internist, says that among equally important considerations, physician burnout creates tremendous financial loss for any medical practice or system, and there’s really no time to wait to take a hard look at it.
“I think a lot of leaders are understandably reluctant to measure the degree of burnout in their workforce because they’re not sure what to do about it,” she says. But she urges tackling it head on. “How can you possibly afford not to?”
The economic costs of not addressing burnout are major. Sinsky says the data shows that it costs between $500,000 and $1 million to replace an existing physician. This, she feels, is a conservative figure. “It doesn’t include many, many other sources of financial costs to burnout.”

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Scholars Examine Successes, Failures of Healthcare Market
Monday, February 26, 2018

From price fixing to consolidation, experts sound off

Is hospital consolidation a good thing? Can rate setting -- a.k.a. price fixing -- coexist with competition ?
Health policy experts, some of them former government officials, wrestled with these questions and others during an Alliance for Health Policy briefing about the changing healthcare landscape, on Thursday.
The event was sponsored by APCO Worldwide, a global communications consultancy.
"Healthcare is a local business, so whether consolidation is good depends on whether you're a doctor a hospital, or an insurance company," explained Thomas Scully, a general partner at Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, and former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) under George W. Bush.
However, over the last 20-30 years, there's been too much hospital consolidation, he said, citing Virginia's sprawling Inova system as an example. "I don't think that's particularly a good thing."
However Scully pointed to physicians organizing themselves into fully-capitated groups as "one of the better trends" in the healthcare market that has actually increased efficiency and lowered costs.
"If you believe that you can have a quasi-market oriented healthcare system, competition is critical. Antitrust enforcement is critical," he stressed.
Debbie Feinstein, JD, a former director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition and now a partner at Arnold and Porter, said that consolidation is a nuanced issue.
For a long time, the FTC was on a "losing streak" with hospital mergers it opposed because federal judges were allowing them to go through, she said.
But that changed after the FTC began analyzing the mergers that had been allowed to happen and found that prices had increased. In the last 4 years, the FTC has won many cases.
Their success has even prompted hospitals to argue the FTC has a "vendetta" against them, which isn't true, she said.
Not all hospital consolidation is bad, and even vertical consolidation -- where hospitals acquire physicians -- can have benefits.
But some cases, such as a merger where one hospital draws in all of the cardiologist in a region, can have negative consequences, she said.
This is why each merger or acquisition has to be looked at on a "case-by-case" basis, she said.
Regarding another issue, that of price fixing, for Scully, the issue has long been settled.
While he managed Medicare and Medicaid for over three years, Scully said, "I fundamentally believe that in the history of the world, in the history of mankind, price fixing has never worked in any society, in any place ever, period."
To him, the fact that Medicare and Medicaid have fixed prices creates problems for the healthcare market more broadly. Medicare pays about 98% of actual costs and Medicaid pays roughly 60%, he said, leaving commercial payers to pay 125%.

Read More: Headlines 2018-02-26&utm_term=Daily Headlines - Active User - 180 days

The biggest innovation in health is here. And you’re probably using it.
Monday, February 26, 2018

Health care is obsessed with new technology. Every week, a new article comes out promising disruption of medical care as we know it through personalized genetic therapy, app extensions that transform smartphones into ultrasounds or autonomous surgical robots. Yet, one of the best examples of health care technologies is also one of its oldest — instant messaging.
Though the original messaging platform AOL Instant Messenger was sadly discontinued at the end of 2017, it birthed many other programs that are now used in a variety of sectors, particularly within the Veterans Health Administration. Providers at any VA can message each other to and from any facility computer in real-time.
As a new primary care physician in my intern year of internal medicine, I had found this means of communication incredibly helpful and easy. If a heart failure patient was having trouble managing his salt intake, I could message the dietician to see him right after my clinic visit. If he started experiencing lightheadedness, I could ask my LPN to bring over the glucometer while I asked him more about his symptoms. If he had questions about transitional housing, I could quickly type to the social worker three floors above me if he could be seen today and, if so, at what time. Anyone can message me back, like my clerk to let me know that a patient is stuck in traffic or the pharmacist with questions about a prescription. We can indicate if we’ve stepped away from our monitors, and savvier users can even post away messages (“The devil works hard, but an RN works harder”).
Physicians are already accustomed to messaging each other, usually through the immutable pager system. But pagers are exclusive to the same hospital system, whereas I’ve successfully instant messaged providers in other states about my recently-relocated veteran’s imaging reports or clinician notes. Furthermore, pagers are not designed for conversation but quick alerts: “call me back” or “come to room X.” This is appropriate for certain situations, but definitely not every. And that system is imbalanced since not every care provider carries a beeper. In a world where so much of health care now revolves around data on a computer, it is unreasonable that in this age of technology explosion, a simple tool like messaging is not more widespread.
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Final Rule : Navigating MACRA in 2018
Monday, February 26, 2018

The Quality Payment Program (QPP) under MACRA is all about value based care. Physician reimbursement changed with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. After all, it was the most dramatic upheaval to the system since President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law back in 1965.  ...

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