Healthcare Industry Trends  *  ABL Member News  *  February 21, 2018

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  • Jack Asher, MD, Anthem Blue Cross

    Jack is VP and Chief Medical Officer - Commercial Business at Anthem Blue Cross, where he provides clinical strategy and insight in support of large group accounts both fully insured and self-funded, clinical leadership for small group and individual business lines, and quality management for Anthem Blue Cross' five million commercial members in California. Jack manages over 40 FTEs, and acts as the clinical face of Anthem in the California marketplace, partnering with provider solutions to support the network. Jack's additional responsibilities include integrated cost of care management, including vendor assessment and implementation, and continued transformation of the delivery system through Anthem's Enhanced Personal Health Care ACO initiative. Previously, Jack was a Market Medical Executive with Cigna Health Care; Medical Director for Anthem; and was a head and neck surgeon with Permanente Medical Group. Jack has joined the Silicon Valley Round Table.

  • Tyler Haskell, Santa Clara County's Supervisor's Office

    Tyler is Chief of Staff of the Office of Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who serves District 5, which includes (among other areas) Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and West San Jose, and is the Vice Chair of the County's Health and Hospital Committee, which "is focused on the operations of a comprehensive health care system that provides prevention, education, and treatment," and "reviews the budget recommendations of the following county departments: Public Health, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Services, Custody Health Services, Community Health Services, Valley Health Plan, and Valley Medical Center." Prior to taking his current role in July 2014, Tyler was a Policy Aide to Supervisor Simitian, and before that, a Senior Field Representative in the California State Senate. Earlier, he was a Legislative Assistant in the National Association of Enrolled Agents, and a Staff Assistant in the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. Tyler has also joined the Silicon Valley Round Table.

  • Tara McGuinness, HumanGood

    Tara is VP of Operations, with a focus on Healthcare Strategy, at HumanGood, an organization whose mission is to redefine the meaning of aging well for adults 55+. The company has supported older adults in this journey for nearly 70 years - previously known as American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW) and, two companies which successfully closed affiliation in 2016, becoming California's largest nonprofit provider of senior housing and services and one of the 10 largest organizations of its kind in the nation. Today, HumanGood serves nearly 10,000 residents in 80 communities across California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, and Idaho. HumanGood provides life plan communities which provide housing and healthcare on a continuum that changes as the needs of older adults change. Tara joined ABHOW in 1996, and has since assumed increasingly responsible roles, including oversight of six of ABHOW's continuing care retirement communities. Tara has joined the Bay Area Round Table.

  • Dan Williamson, Aspen Medical Products

    Dan is Founder, President and CEO of Aspen Medical Products, a leader in the design, development, and marketing of upper and lower spinal orthotics. Aspen has secured 50+ patents for its spinal bracing technology that reduces pain and increases strength, flexibility, and stability in patients with spinal deficiencies. Aspen's products also provide back pain sufferers alternatives to surgical intervention or the use of addicting opioid drugs. Aspen also operates the Aspen Partners Program, a co-branding effort in which Aspen affixes a partner-company's logo directly onto an Aspen brace. Dan has led Aspen Medical Products since 1993. Previously, he was GM - LCA for Laerdal Medical; CFO of California Medical Products; a Director at Baxter; and a Director at American Hospital Supply Corp. In 2017, Dan won the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Orange County, in the Healthcare and Community category. Dan has joined the Orange County Round Table.

    • 3/07  -  Orange County Round Table

    • 3/08  -  East Bay / Bay Area Round Table

    • 3/13  -  Silicon Valley Round Table

    • 3/14  -  San Francisco / Bay Area Round Table

    • 3/15  -  Sacramento Round Table

    • 3/16  -  Los Angeles Round Table


    Beware: Black Swans Are In the Air 

             Since you're reading this blog, chances are you're a frequent flyer. You and 2,587,000 passengers who fly every day in and out of U.S. airports, on an average of 26,527 flights. The great news is that in 2017 not one person died in a commercial airline crash. HOWEVER, just as in business, unpredictable "black swan" events do occur, and you can be injured even if your plane doesn't even leave the ground . . .  Continue Reading.




    Trump Administration Pitches Short-Term Health Insurance Plans

    The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed a new rule for short-term, limited duration health insurance that would allow payers to design skinny benefit plans that consumers could purchase for up to 12 months of coverage. Short-term, limited-duration insurance is not required to comply with federal requirements for individual health insurance coverage. The proposed rule, which came out of President Trump's October 2016 executive order, is seen as a way to lower premiums by skirting Affordable Care Act coverage requirements. Consumers would be able to buy plans for any period of less than 12 months, instead of the three months currently allowed, according to the HHS/CMS announcement. Premiums for healthy consumers would be expected to cost less than what they could purchase through the ACA marketplace where no one can be denied coverage based on their medical condition. Short-term plans are designed to provide temporary coverage for individuals transitioning between healthcare policies, such as an individual in-between jobs, or a student taking a semester off from school, HHS said. But it is also for those who find ACA coverage too expensive, have fewer plans to choose from in the exchange market, or who see doctors that are not in network under ACA plans. Premiums have more than doubled between 2013 and 2017 for health plans offered on the exchange, HHS said. In the fourth quarter of 2016, a short-term, limited-duration policy cost approximately $124 a month compared to $393 for an unsubsidized ACA-compliant plan, according to HHS. Based on enrollment trends, the Department projects that approximately 100,000 to 200,000 additional individuals would shift from an ACA-compliant individual market plan to short-term, limited-duration insurance in 2019. CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule for 60 days. (, 2/20/18)

    BCBS of Idaho to Sell 5 Plans Bypassing ACA Rules

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Idaho recently submitted a request to state insurance regulators to sell five plans that do not comply with ACA requirements, as informed by the executive order signed by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter in January. The "state-based" high-deductible health plans offer lower premiums and slightly smaller copays but still cover all of the ACA's essential health benefits. Deductibles range from $2,000 to $10,000. There is one $5,500-deductible HSA that does not cover maternity care. State-based plans have a $1 million claims limit per year, at which point customers would be forced to enroll in one of the state's ACA-compliant plans. BCBS of Idaho would be able to check the medical history of applicants for state-based plans, which Idaho officials say will mostly appeal to healthy, middle-class individuals and families who earn too much to qualify for ACA subsidies. Dean Cameron, director of the Idaho Department of Insurance, said, "We're going to review their application carefully and review their rate carefully to make sure they meet our state guidelines, but we're excited for Idaho consumers, because now they'll be given a choice." HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the ACA was still the law of the land and would be upheld as such. (, 2/14/18)

    Congress Boosts Medicare Coverage for Virtual Doctor Visits

    Access to telehealth services for seniors is poised to take off in coming years thanks to the newly approved federal budget that enables virtual doctor visits for Americans covered by Medicare Advantage plans. The budget deal signed into law recently by President Trump includes the so-called CHRONIC Care Act, a rare bipartisan healthcare measure that essentially makes it easier for private Medicare Advantage plans and other entities like ACOs to offer telehealth services. The passage of the legislation doesn't quite make it a done deal for telehealth providers. It needs CMS, which administers the health insurance program for the elderly, to follow through. But telehealth providers say it's an opportunity for seniors and companies. "(The) legislation allows, but doesn't require, CMS to cover and pay for telehealth services," American Well CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg said. "The next step would be for CMS and the secretary (of Health and Human Services) to take advantage of this new discretion and to bring telehealth to elderly Americans who, until now, are excluded from its benefits. This is a first step to make healthcare less painful by embracing modern technology." (, 2/10/18)

    Businesses Challenge IRS Bid to Start Enforcing Insurance Mandate

    Businesses are pushing back on the IRS's decision to begin enforcing the Affordable Care Act's employer insurance mandate, challenging penalties that run into the millions and asserting the agency is wrong to impose the fines. The ACA imposes a penalty on employers with 50+ workers who don't provide qualifying coverage to employees, but the fines weren't initially enforced. In November, the IRS said it would begin assessing penalties, starting with companies that failed to comply in 2015, when parts of the employer mandate first kicked in. The financial impact on businesses could be significant. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2014 that companies would owe about $139 billion in penalties from fiscal 2016 to 2024. Some health lawyers said the IRS lacks the authority to impose the assessments. Many employers now being assessed penalties for 2015 didn't receive notifications from ACA marketplaces, something that is required before the IRS can impose a penalty, they said. Business groups say employers in 2015 were struggling to grasp complex new regulations. Supporters of the ACA say the employer requirement was clear when the law passed in 2010, and that companies then had five years to learn about it and comply. Meanwhile, some businesses argue that the repeal of the individual mandate should also nullify the employer mandate, which was established partly to ensure consumers could meet their individual coverage requirements under the ACA. (, 2/13/18)

    FDA Approves AI Stroke Application, Signaling Shift

    The FDA has approved an application that uses artificial intelligence to alert physicians of a potential stroke, signaling a notable shift in the way the agency reviews clinical decision support software used for triage. The application, called Viz.AI Contact, uses an AI algorithm to analyze CT scans and identify signs of a stroke in patients. The application notifies a neurovascular specialist via smartphone or tablet when it has identified a potential blockage in the brain, reducing the time it takes for a specialty provider to review the scans. The FDA noted that the app is not intended as a replacement for a full patient evaluation. While the approval aligns with the FDA's longstanding comfort with image-based AI software, it's also a departure from 2012 guidance that categorizes triage-based software as a higher risk functionality. In that regard, the approval goes farther than what the FDA has cleared in the past. The app was cleared through the De Novo premarket review pathway, which oversees new devices that have been deemed a low to moderate risk. It also creates a new regulatory classification, allowing "subsequent computer-aided triage software devices with the same medical imaging intended use" to seek clearance through the premarket 510(k) processes. (, 2/14/18)

    House Republicans Announce Legislative Hearings to Tackle Opioid Crisis

    House Republicans will begin a series of legislative hearings next week as the first step in an effort to pass bipartisan bills tackling the opioid crisis. The plan from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will hold the first hearing on Feb. 28, will likely require additional funding from Congress, lawmakers said. Bills to be considered will focus on law enforcement, public health and prevention, and insurance coverage issues. Two additional hearings will be held in March as lawmakers seek to push a measure through the House by the end of May. (, 2/20/18)


    U.S. Healthcare Spending to Peak at $5.7T in 2026: Report

    National healthcare spending growth is expected to outpace projected GDP through 2026, according to a report from the CMS Office of the Actuary. Projections include health provisions from the Republicans' tax bill, which President Trump signed into law in December, they assume continued CHIP funding over the 10-year period, and don't take into account other health provisions from the two-year bipartisan budget deal reached in Congress earlier this month. Among the projections:
    *National healthcare spending growth will peak at $5.7 trillion in 2026, taking into account an average 5.5% annual increase.
    *Healthcare share of GDP will increase from 17.9% in 2016 to 19.7% by 2026.
    *Federal, state, and local governments' financing of national healthcare spending will increase from 45% in 2016 to 47% by 2026.
    *Total 2017 national healthcare spending growth was projected at 4.6%, compared to 4.3% the year prior.
    *Growth attributed to factors such as accelerating growth in Medicare spending, slightly faster growth in prices for healthcare goods and services, and increases in premiums for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces.
    *2018 national healthcare spending growth at 5.3%, partially due to personal healthcare prices, which are projected to reach 2.2% this year, compared to 1.4% in 2017.
    *Average annual spending growth for 2017-26: Medicare at 7.4%; Medicaid at 5.8%; Private health insurance at 4.7%; Personal healthcare at 5.5%; and Prescription drug at 6.3%. (, 2/14/18)

    Grocery Chain Albertsons to Acquire Rite Aid

    Albertsons announced plans Tuesday to acquire Rite Aid in a cash and stock deal, as the traditional grocery industry continues to look for growth by broadening offerings, not just store base. This deal follows Rite Aid's failed attempt in 2015 to sell to its 4,600 stores to Walgreens. That deal was whittled down by regulators to a purchase of 1,932 stores for $4.37 billion. The two will have about 4,900 locations, 4,350 pharmacy counters, and 320 clinics across 38 states and the District of Columbia. Most Albertsons' pharmacies will be rebranded as Rite Aid, and the company will continue to operate Rite Aid's stand-alone stores. Upon deal approval, Rite Aid Chairman and CEO John Standley will become CEO of the combined company, and Albertsons chairman and CEO Bob Miller will be chairman of the new company.
         The deal with Albertsons underlines the change in course that retailers are taking, no longer looking to expand only by real estate footprint, but also by capability. Increasingly, retailers are looking to pharmacies for this expansion, which can take advantage of the frequency with which people buy prescription drugs. There is also the opportunity to use store footprints as a base for drug delivery and pick up. CVS Health ate last year its intent to acquire Aetna for roughly $69 billion. Walgreens is now said to be in early-stage talks to acquire drug wholesale company AmerisourceBergen. These moves come as the healthcare sector itself is under pressure. Amazon recently announced plans to team with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan to craft a start-up to lower employee health costs. (, 2/20/18)

    Amazon's Latest Ambition: To Be a Major Hospital Supplier Inc. is pushing to turn its nascent medical-products business into a major supplier to U.S. hospitals and outpatient clinics that could compete with distributors of items ranging from gauze to hip implants. Amazon has invited hospital executives to its Seattle headquarters on several occasions, most recently in late January, to sound out ideas for expanding its business-to-business marketplace, Amazon Business, into one where hospitals could shop to stock outpatient locations, operating suites and ERs. Amazon Business already sells a limited selection of medical supplies, as well as industrial and office goods. Amazon recently dispatched employees to a large Midwestern hospital system, where officials are testing whether they can use Amazon Business to order health supplies for the system's roughly 150 outpatient facilities. The pilot is customized for the hospital system's catalog of supplies, allowing employees to compare prices the system negotiates with its distributors against those in the Amazon Business marketplace. In response to questions about these efforts, Amazon said it is building technology to serve healthcare customers, and seeking to sell hospitals on a "marketplace concept" that differs from typical hospital purchasing, which is conducted through contracts with distributors and manufacturers. (, 2/13/18)

    Pneumonia is No. 1 Hospital-Acquired Infection; Is Best Defense a Toothbrush?

    Pneumonia, which typically comes from germs that enter the body through the mouth, is the No. 1 hospital-acquired infection in America, according to the CDC. That includes both pneumonia infections that some patients on ventilators catch from bacteria in their breathing tubes, as well as the more common non-ventilator variety. Study authors Dr. Dian Baker and Barbara Quinn contend that hospitals could prevent many pneumonia cases if they stepped up basic, hands-on nursing care. Experts recommend a combination of techniques, such as making sure patients are elevated in their beds and getting them to move and walk about, so air moves through their lungs and germs don't settle in. Deep breathing exercises can help keep respiratory tracts clear. Toothbrushing also is seen as a strong defense against pneumonia.
         The recent study in the American Journal of Infection Control was conducted by Dr. Baker, a nurse-researcher and professor at the School of Nursing at Sacramento State University, and Ms. Quinn, a clinical nurse specialist at Sutter Health, a 24-hospital system. The authors focused on common pneumonia infections. At Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Ms. Quinn initiated a program involving 50,000 toothbrushes, where every patient in the hospital was told to brush several times a day. Using 2010-2011 as a baseline, researchers found that from May 2012 through December 2014, hospital-acquired pneumonia cases were down by 70%. Sutter Health hopes to order 200,000 toothbrushes and roll out the program in its Northern California hospitals. Meanwhile, Shannon Munro, a nurse researcher at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Va., launched a campaign in which nurses in two units with a total of 50 beds had patients brush their teeth twice a day. Between October 2016 and December 2017, the number of non-ventilator, hospital-acquired pneumonia cases fell 92%. Munro expanded the program in her facility and to other VA hospitals, and hopes to have it in every VA hospital. (, 2/17/18)

    Ovarian Cancer Doesn't Begin in the Ovaries, Researchers Say

    A growing body of evidence suggests that ovarian cancer begins in the fallopian tubes and not the ovaries, giving researchers hope for developing better strategies to prevent and detect the deadly cancer. Among women with cancer, ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of death, killing 14,000 American women a year. Currently, with no real way to screen for it, it usually isn't diagnosed until it has spread and is in the later stages. More. (, 2/12/18)

    Thrombectomy Stroke Treatment Can Save Lives - If It's Available

    The thrombectomy is beginning to transform stroke treatment. Using it, a doctor pulls clots from the brain. Leading stroke doctors concluded in a February 2016 analysis in the medical journal The Lancet that 2015 stroke studies showed 38 out of 100 patients treated with thrombectomy "will have a less disabled outcome" than with standard care, and that "20 more will achieve functional independence." The procedure, says Denver-area stroke specialist Dr. Donald F. Frei, "has the same transformative effect on treating stroke as penicillin did for infections." A severe-stroke victim must get a thrombectomy before damage sets in. For every minute with blood flow blocked, by many estimates, two million brain cells die. Ambulance crews' protocols, though, often don't specify driving a severe-stroke patient directly to a thrombectomy-capable hospital, many stroke specialists say, so a patient often lands first in a hospital that can't do the procedure. In those hospitals, some medical research shows, there are often delays in getting patients who need a thrombectomy to the right hospital. Many patients with severe strokes aren't helped by conventional treatment with drugs, many specialists say. And a thrombectomy isn't an option at all in many regions. Many hospitals don't offer them, because it is hard to build thrombectomy teams of specialist doctors and assistants who can be on call 24 hours a day for the quick response such patients need. The procedure is new enough that there aren't enough specialists to hire, and doctors often must spend years learning it on the job. More. (, 2/6/18)


    You're Invited to OC FOCUS Strategic View: "Forging Our Common Future"

    Longtime tech entrepreneur and ABL Member Marshall Toplansky is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Science and Research Fellow at the C. Larry Hoag Center for Real Estate, Argyros School of Business and Economics, at Chapman University. Recently, Marshall and author Joel Kotkin completed extensive research on the future of Orange County, which they will present as OC FOCUS Strategic View: "Forging Our Common Future" on March 29th, at the Pacific Club. All interested ABL Members are invited as Marshall's guests, with RSVPs going to Aulton Kohn at Chapman.

    Axene Health Explores Winning Healthcare Growth Strategies

    In Defining a Winning Health Care Growth Strategy, Axene Health Partners acknowledges that the U.S. healthcare system continues to cost more than it should, and that healthcare costs are often defined in terms of premium rates since most of today's healthcare costs are paid by health plans. So a big question might be, "what is the lowest premium I might expect?" or "where do I go to get that rate?" Another issue is: how does a health plan optimally offer healthcare coverage so I can also offer a highly competitive premium rate? And, what does supply and demand have to do with competitive positioning? A third issue is the synchronizing of how we access today's healthcare system with the availability of resources to meet our needs. One solution might be a primary care-focused system with limited and controlled access to appropriate specialty care. Also important is the assurance of quality, trustworthy healthcare providers, who charge a reasonable amount to perform this service. Axene goes on to discuss the approaches of Kaiser, CVS/Aetna, Intermountain Health Care, and the common market. (John Price, Bay Area)

    Covered California Finishes 5th Open Enrollment Strong - Up 3%

    Covered California announced that more than 50,000 new consumers selected a plan during the final three days of open enrollment, bringing its overall total to 423,484 plan selections, which represents a 3% increase over last year. Among those who receive financial assistance, 15% of new consumers selected a Gold plan during open enrollment, over three times as many as the 4% that selected a Gold plan last year. CoveredCA's Gold plans generally have higher premiums but pay 80% of consumers' healthcare costs when they access care. Gold plans were a better value for consumers this year because the premium was lower due to the cost-sharing reduction surcharge that was added only to Silver plans. The number of new consumers selecting Platinum plans increased from 2% to 4%, while the number of consumers selecting a Bronze plan increased from 29% to 31%. Consequently, the number of new consumers selecting a Silver plan dropped from 63% last year to 49% this year. (Kathy Keeshen, Sacramento)

    GeBBS Healthcare Adds New Features to E/M Calculator & Achieves Outsourcing Award

    GeBBS Healthcare has announced the availability of a professional fee evaluation and management (E/M) leveling calculator tool - offered to the HIM and coding community in appreciation for their service to the healthcare industry. E/M coding is complex, which supports the need for a tool of this nature to ensure healthcare providers and physicians are reimbursed appropriately and reduce the risk of compliance audits. The tool is secure, HIPAA-compliant, and follows CMS-accepted coding standards.  Meanwhile, for the third consecutive year, IAOP has named GeBBS to its Global 100 Outsourcing List of the world's best outsourcing service providers. To earn this honor, GeBBS was judged in five main categories: size and growth, customer references, awards and certifications, programs for innovation, and corporate social responsibility. (Nitin Thakor, Los Angeles)

    HumanGood Breaks Ground on South San Francisco Senior Housing

    The South San Francisco Rotary Club and HumanGood recently celebrated their partnership to develop a new housing community in South San Francisco with an official groundbreaking ceremony. Rotary Miller Avenue Senior Housing, slated to be completed by October 2018, will provide 81 one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors, joining the HumanGood family of affordable housing communities, currently totaling 62 properties throughout California and in Washington State. (Tara McGuinness, Bay Area)

    Inglewood Imaging Center Teams with Oncology Institute

    Inglewood Imaging Center (IIC), which has been working for 5+ years to support managed care by expanding one of the nation's most comprehensive EMR-sharing networks, just announced that a network partnership between IIC and The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation has been completed. The Oncology Institute is a comprehensive medical oncology practice, serving California and Arizona. Within the partnership, IIC's goal was to expand cancer coordination in Southern California. IIC and The Oncology Institute resolved a variety of challenges, including: *Improve cancer coordination between medical oncology and radiology, with particular emphasis on supporting the state's 14M Medi-Cal managed care patients. *Provide patients a comprehensive cancer workflow in a similar way to those found at the nation's leading cancer centers. *Allow rapid turn-around-times to ordering providers - in as little as 30 minutes, to help streamline care pathways. (Brad Schmidt, Los Angeles)

    Kaiser Permanente Named First CMS Health Equity Award Recipient

    Kaiser Permanente (KP) has received CMS's inaugural Health Equity Award, which recognizes KP's commitment to reducing and eliminating disparities in healthcare quality and access for its members receiving Medicare benefits. With this award, CMS has specifically recognized KP's Hypertension Program Improvement Process, which has significantly reduced disparities in blood pressure control rates across racial and ethnic groups, including among African-American Medicare members ages 18 to 85. Key elements of KP's approach include collecting and stratifying data to identify and prioritize health outcome disparities, upgrading clinical practice guidelines, and expanding educational resources available to members. Strong community partnerships play an important role in bringing care directly to communities in need, including offering blood pressure checks at beauty salons and barbershops. (Walt Meyers, Bay Area)

    King & Spalding Named a Top 20 Firm + Announces Annual Law & Policy Forum

    King & Spalding (K&S) was named among the top 20 law firm brands in the U.S. by Acritas Research's annual brand recognition survey of senior in-house counsel. The Acritas U.S. Law Firm Brand Index measures the brand strength of law firms across five metrics: top-of-mind awareness, favorability, consideration for top-level litigation, consideration for M&A, overall usage among U.S.-based clients, and inbound usage among international clients.  Meanwhile, an upcoming webinar from K&S includes: Emerging Trends in Reimbursement for Allied Health Education, on February 22 at 10 a.m.  Also, the recent issue of K&S Health Headlines includes: *Congressional Leaders Focusing Sights on Nonprofit Hospitals; *DOJ Urges Court to Consider Evidence Before Ruling in Private Antitrust Case; *Michigan Hospital Reaches Settlement with DOJ For Marketing Pact; and *CMS Releases Projections for National Health Expenditures for 2017-2026.  And, on March 19, in Atlanta, K&S will present its 27th Annual King & Spalding Health Law & Policy Forum, a one-day conference focusing on the latest legal and political developments impacting the healthcare industry. (Marcia Augsburger, Sacramento, & Travis Jackson, Los Angeles)

    KMD Commences Work on Hollywood Presbyterian Update

    KMD Architects announced that construction has begun on its project at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center for interim modifications to the existing hospital drop-off zone. This allows for continual drop-off area access as temporary zones are laid-out, making way for the excavation required for the Acute Care Services Replacement Hospital Building, which has completed Design Development. It includes 32 acute care beds and a 22-station emergency department. Within its surgical services area on the 4th floor, the new acute care building will provide nine new procedure rooms, including space for two cath labs, a cardiovascular OR, a hybrid OR, an ortho-neuro OR, and four general ORs, standardized for flexibility of use. The project includes a patient-focused birthing program with 11 LDRs, three c-section rooms, 19 NICU beds, and a future post-partum unit within the existing hospital. (Rob Matthew, Bay Area)

    Mazzetti Examines Placement of Hand Wash Sinks in Hospitals

    In Hand Wash Sinks - Does location really matter?, Mazzetti CEO Walt Vernon shares a question that his firm recently received from a major hospital: "There is compelling evidence that sink drains are a source of multi-drug-resistant gram negatives in hospitals, and we need to think carefully about sink placement. Therefore, hand wash sinks should be located in hallways, not in patient rooms." To learn more, Walt reached out to a number of experts and received responses; while he has not yet verified their accuracy, he shares them. They include: *At least one study shows that removal of sinks from patient rooms in an ICU was associated with reduced colonization of Gram negative bacilli. *Deeper sinks reduce the potential for splashing, and, in general, may have fewer problems with waterborne pathogens, and may be the critical variable in preventing spread of disease (rather than sink location). *Hand-washing observations are easier with the sinks in the corridor instead of in the rooms. *Proximity of hand wash facilities to the patient, all else equal, improves hand wash adherence. (Walt Vernon, Bay Area)

    On Lok Announces Upcoming Celebrates! Benefit

    On the evening of May 18, On Lok will present Celebrates!, an event benefiting the organization's wide-ranging programs for seniors, including healthcare, social activities, wellness and fitness, and nutrition and meal delivery. In addition to conversation, live entertainment, drinks, and food tastings, the evening will feature Liam Mayclem, the Emmy Award-winning host of "Eye on the Bay" and "Eat Drink SF," who electrified the sold-out event last year with his quick wit and enthusiasm for On Lok's mission. (Grace Li, Bay Area)

    OneLegacy Opens California's First Dedicated Transplant Recovery Center

    OneLegacy has opened California's first dedicated Transplant Recovery Center, designed to handle organ, eye, and tissue donation and to provide renewed hope to the thousands waiting to receive the gift of life. The 40,000-square-foot center, in Redlands, will operate 24/7/365 in full compliance with increasingly stringent FDA regulations. In an article published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in 2016, transplant surgeons reported that obtaining organs from deceased organ donors costs much less and leads to a higher number of transplantable organs recovered when brain-dead donors are moved from the hospital to an independent, freestanding facility dedicated to organ recovery. (Tom Mone, Los Angeles)

    Oscar Health's Telemedicine Consultations Up 32% in 2017

    Oscar Health saw a 32% increase in telemedicine consultations among its members last year amid an overall increase in virtual services, according to a recent Fierce Healthcare article: 25% of members used the telemedicine service in 2017, up from 17% in 2016. Broadly, members have gravitated to Oscar's suite of virtual services, which are foundational to the company's approach to patient care. Last year, two-thirds of member interactions were conducted virtually, according to Oscar. Most of those interactions were traced back to secure messaging with Oscar's Concierge team (46%) or the insurer's Care Router (45%), which helps members find physicians and book appointments online or through a mobile app. For example, if a member searches for a provider to treat a skin condition, they are offered an option to request a telemedicine appointment. Data from that virtual visit, which is free for all members, is then available to Oscar's Concierge teams and Oscar providers. (John Puente, Sacramento)

    SCU Teams with Dartmouth-Hitchcock & U.S. Olympic Committee

    Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) is partnering with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in New Hampshire on The Spine Care Project, an innovative approach to treating and triaging spine-related injuries and disorders which promises higher value, more cost-effective, patient-centered outcomes. SCU adjunct clinical assistant professor Justin Goehl, DC, MS is the lead clinician for the project.  Meanwhile, at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, SCU adjunct faculty member William Moreau, DC, DACBSP, FACSM, CSCS, is leading the sports medicine team for the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), three SCU alumni are USOC medical providers at the games, and Dr. Jennifer Watters, who leads the SCU Sports Medicine Clinic, provides care for resident athletes at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. SCU has a unique relationship that provides sports medicine residents an opportunity for extended rotations at the Olympic Training Center. According to Dr. Moreau, more than 70% of full-time chiropractic employees at the USOC are SCU alumni. (John Scaringe, Orange County)

    The Health Trust Family Resource Center Opens Bridge Library

    In a collaboration between The Health Trust, Catholic Charities Santa Clara County, First 5 Santa Clara County, and San Jose Public Library, a San Jose Bridge Library recently opened at The Health Trust Family Resource Center. A Bridge Library provides books, library staff assistance, and library resources for underserved neighborhoods, removing common barriers that prevent many families from using library resources. (Todd Hansen, Silicon Valley)

    Therachat Improves Mobile App with Guides, Notifications & Reminders

    Therachat has announced several recent updates to its Therachat product, a HIPAA-compliant mobile app for receiving and sending direct messages between a client and their therapist, and for finishing custom activities assigned to the client. In order to understand what Therachat is and how it will benefit clients, the company has created a Get Started Guide for Clients and a Get Started Guide for Therapists. Meanwhile, updates within the mobile app include improved notifications and reminders. Regarding patient therapy homework, clients now receive push notifications each time a new activity or message arrives. Also, the system has been optimized so that activities load faster. For therapists, a client list shows who has completed activities and/or sent messages, and the dashboard indicates what's new or changed at each log-in. (Kouris Kalligas, Bay Area)


    Catasys Expands OnTrak-HC to Illinois with BCBS

    Catasys has expanded its OnTrak-HC program to Illinois with the nation's second largest Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan. The OnTrak solution is now available to eligible commercial members in Illinois who suffer from anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. Catasys uses artificial intelligence and big data predictive analytics to identify health plan members suffering from untreated behavioral health disorders, whose overall health can be significantly improved, and high medical costs substantially reduced. (Rick Anderson, West Los Angeles Technology)

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