ABL HEALTHCARE ONLINE
ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * April 2, 2019
WELCOME NEW MEMBER!

>>> David Pryor, MD, is Regional VP Medical Director at Anthem Blue Cross, where he works closely with the Large Group Account Management team to drive new membership growth and retain existing clients by developing innovative medical management programs and strategies that positively impact healthcare quality, outcomes, and cost for California commercial customers. In California, Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California, and is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem Blue Cross offers Medicare plans, individual and family health, dental, vision, and term life insurance plans, and employer group plans. Prior to joining Anthem in 2017, David was Corporate Medical Director at Comcast, in Universal City, where he focused on developing strategic clinical programs which strove to promote quality, effective healthcare services and wellness programs for 100,000+ employees in the Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Spectacor family of companies. He also provided medical expertise to the NBCUniversal team as it relates to television and film productions, supported and advised Human Resources on sensitive employee issues, and played an integral part of the NBCU disability management team. Before Comcast, David was West Coast Medical Director for NBCUniversal, and Medical Director for Aetna. Earlier, he was Associate Medical Director of WellPoint, and Founder of BlackWomensHealth .com, an organization whose goal was to promote the physical, mental, and spiritual health of today's African American woman and to provide information that will help them live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. Still earlier, David was a physician with Kaiser Permanente. David has joined the Los Angeles Round Table.

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HEALTHCARE MEMBER NEWS
  Three Antidotes to Physicians' IT Headaches
by Mimi Grant

While preparing this week's ABL Healthcare Online, several horror stories impacting physicians jumped out at me. All of them piling on as to why a 2014 survey concluded that America's "burned-out doctors made up 54 percent of the profession." Yet, it struck me that over the past few years, in our Healthcare Round Tables, we've discussed most of these problems - and their solutions. So here are just three of them - as it happens, they all involved IT:

First - Dealing with EHRs.
It's gotten so bad that there's a new Twitter account, @EPICEMRparody, channeled by a doc for docs, which has more than 13,000 followers in just over a month. Truly, if you're looking for a good laugh, you've really got to read it. Yet, even though the august Dr. Atul Gawande offered plenty of reasons "Why Doctors Hate Their Computers" in The New Yorker last November, he also suggested there are several silver linings in that electronic cloud.

As Gregg Meyer, the chief clinical officer at Partners HealthCare said, "We think of this as a system for us and it's not. It is for the patients." Turns out that the patients - about ten times as many as the nearly 60,000 clinical users at Partners [that's over half million of them] - love the ability to look up their lab results, remind themselves of medications they're supposed to take, and read their doctor's office notes to better understand what they've been told. In fact, one of the comments on the @EPICEMRparody feed was from a patient basically saying just that. CLICK TO READ REST OF BLOG

 
UPCOMING ABL HEALTHCARE
ROUND TABLES
  • 4/03 - Orange County Round Table
  • 4/09 - Silicon Valley Round Table
  • 4/10 - San Francisco Round Table
  • 4/11 - East Bay Round Table
  • 4/19 - Los Angeles Round Table
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HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY NEWS & TRENDS
ARTICLES
HEALTHCARE MEMBER NEWS
EAST BAY AREA ROUND TABLE
Carl Zeiss Gets FDA OK for Epithelial Thickness Mapping for CIRRUS HD-OCT

Carl Zeiss Medical Technology Segment has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for the CIRRUS HD-OCT platform, expanding the capabilities of its Anterior Segment Premier Module to include Epithelial Thickness Mapping (ETM). ETM with CIRRUS provides a detailed nine-millimeter map of epithelial thickness that enables more thorough assessment of patients before refractive surgery, allows monitoring of the cornea's response to treatment, and aids in managing patients with ocular surface disorders such as dry eye and progressive corneal diseases such as keratoconus. With ETM, patients can expect a quick, comfortable, non-contact exam that takes less than one second. (Angelo Rago)

CEI Looks Forward to Annual PACE Party in May

On the evening of May 2, in Berkeley, the Center for Elders' Independence will present its annual PACE Party, a fundraiser gala to help give at-risk seniors access to high-quality personalized medical care, healthy meals, opportunities to socialize and create, training and access to technology, as well as resources for caregivers to better care for themselves and their beloved seniors. (Linda Trowbridge)

Choice in Aging Advances New Campus & CEO Named Woman of the Year

Choice in Aging (CiA) has unveiled plans for its new Aging in Place Campus, which include rebuilding and expanding the adult day health care services center - doubling its current capacity; providing a new campus for the Choice in Learning preschool - featuring intergenerational programming with students and seniors; and adding 81 units of low-income senior housing on a four-acre site. The project is in its early stages, with the first entitlements package recently submitted to the City of Pleasant Hill. CiA is striving to address the city's need for more affordable senior housing and to provide wrap-around services for seniors and people with disabilities, and must now focus on the capital campaign. Meanwhile, CiA encourages all to participate in the May 7th Senior Rally Day in Sacramento. AND, CiA CEO Debbie Toth has been chosen as Senate District 3, Contra Costa County's Woman of the Year. (Debbie Toth)

Hospice East Bay Anticipates "Sparkles & Spurs" Dinner Event

On the evening of April 27, Hospice East Bay will present its Sparkles & Spurs: Celebration of Care for 2019, an opportunity to honor patients and their loved ones, while celebrating those who contribute their time, energy and financial resources. The western-themed event will feature cocktails, wine, dinner, silent and live auctions, and entertainment at the Round Hill Country Club in Alamo. (Cindy Hatton)

PSYCHeANALYTICS Publishes Video from Health Moonshot Showcase 2019

Dave Haddick of PSYCHeANALYTICS recently made a presentation at Health Moonshot Showcase 2019 - watch the 3:31-minute video here. The company is on a moonshot to cure the crisis in behavioral health with primary care. PSYCHeANALYTICS' AI-driven, SaaS assessment and decision support delivers treatment suggestions to the provider at the time of the office visit. (Dave Haddick)

Wipfli Moves Up Accounting Today's Top 100 Firm Ranking

Wipfli LLP continues to experience growth nationally and has ranked 19th-largest CPA firm on Accounting Today's 2019 Top 100 Firms. Wipfli has moved up the Top 100 Firms rankings for the last two years, which can be attributed to mergers and acquisitions in new geographies and expanded value-added services to existing clients. (Rich Gianello, Jeff Johnson, Steve Rousso, Tony Taddey, & Larry Blitz)

LOS ANGELES ROUND TABLE
Anthem Blue Cross Launches AI for Health with Stanford

Anthem Blue Cross is the initial Founding Member of the Artificial Intelligence for Health (AIHealth) program, a corporate affiliates program within the Stanford Department of Computer Science. This collaboration will utilize healthcare data to develop unbiased, explainable AI algorithms to improve the efficiency, value and delivery of healthcare for Anthem Blue Cross in California and affiliated health plans in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Advancements in patient literacy, patient engagement, and healthcare transparency have been identified as the first areas to be addressed through this relationship. (David Pryor, MD)

Harry Nelson Releases New Book: The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain

ForbesBooks has released The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain, written by Harry Nelson, founder of Nelson Hardiman. As a healthcare attorney, Harry has spent the past two decades responding to overdose deaths and solving problems related to pain prescribing and addiction treatment. His new book offers fresh insights into how the health system needs to adapt in order to address the crisis effectively, including tools for patients and families in navigating challenges around addiction, chronic pain, and underlying challenges, such as isolation, stress, and anxiety. Harry makes the case that the real answer to the crisis comes not in the form of top-down solutions from Washington, D.C., but in grassroots efforts to end the culture of shame around pain, addiction, and opioid use. The book offers meaningful and concrete steps for people to take, as well as guidance on how to transition from being passive bystanders of the crisis to active agents of change. (Harry Nelson)

OneLegacy CEO Promoted Cornea Transplantation in South Korea

At a time when the international community is becoming increasingly aware of the power of organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation, OneLegacy CEO Tom Mone recently traveled to South Korea to spread that message and discuss best practices with local officials and related organizations, including the director of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the National Assembly's Health and Wellness Committee, and officials from the Korean Organ Donor Program. Tom shared what is involved from both a cost and programmatic standpoint in becoming a certified eye bank center. Tom's visit to South Korea comes on the heels of his visit late last year to China, where he trained physicians and nurses in the operations of organ, tissue and eye donation programs. (Tom Mone)

ORANGE COUNTY ROUND TABLE
Alvaka Networks to Present Software Security Patching Webinar

Alvaka Networks will host a live and interactive webinar - Software Security Patching: Why you are struggling with this essential task!, from 10-11 a.m. Pacific, on the following dates: April 5, 12, 19 and 26; May 3, 10, 17 and 24; and June 7. Unpatched vulnerabilities are a leading source of compromise, and yet many organizations struggle to stay current on their patching and leave themselves exposed to security breaches. This webinar will take a deep dive into this complex security dilemma, what the risks are, and how you can start to solve this problem. (Oli Thordarson)

Ceresti Achieves 30% Cost Reduction for Multi-Chronic Patients with Dementia

Ceresti Health reports that an analysis of pre/post program costs from a small pilot study determined that Ceresti reduced healthcare costs for multi-chronic patients with dementia by 30+% against a control population. This ability to impact costs is possible because the company is highly effective at engaging family caregivers with technology and coaching in their homes. Data from multiple ongoing pilot studies shows that Ceresti coaches spend 20-25 minutes a week speaking directly with caregivers and this drives another 45-60 minutes of weekly self-engagement by caregivers to access educational content and support on the tablets provided by Ceresti. Also, the company is seeing average coaching calls and program adherence increase over time. (Dirk Soenksen)

MYnd Analytics Wins Federal Contract + Partners with Magellan & IMPACT

The US General Services Administration recently awarded MYnd Analytics with a five-year Federal Supply Schedule contract as a government supplier, with the opportunity to renew it for 15 more years. Under the contract, MYnd offers health IT services related to MYnd's Psychiatric EEG Evaluation Registry to federal government departments and agencies, including the DOD and VA, which is America's largest integrated healthcare system with 1,400+ sites of care, serving almost nine million veterans annually. Meanwhile, MYnd's wholly owned subsidiary, Arcadian Telepsychiatry Services, has joined the Magellan Healthcare behavioral health provider network to offer telepsychiatry, teletherapy, and teleEAP services to its members through Arcadian's provider network. And, MYnd-Arcadian has partnered with IMPACT Solutions to provide teleEAP services for IMPACT's customers through its provider network. (George Carpenter)

Prelude Corporation Highlighted in TV News Feature

WKRC television news in Cincinnati, Ohio, recently featured the DCISionRT test from Prelude Corporation in a story entitled, "Hamilton hospital uses test to predict radiation outcomes for breast cancer patients." In summary, a woman who had surgery for her stage 0 breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ) then chose to have further testing using DCISionRT, which determines the likelihood that the tumor will come back within the first 10 years. The test presents a percentage likelihood if the patient has only the surgery, compared to if they also have radiation, allowing the patient to make a more informed choice. (Dan Forche)

SAVI Group Shares How to Supercharge Medical Practice Revenue

In Ways to Supercharge Your Medical Practice Revenue in 2019, SAVI Group discusses: Revisit your billing and coding operations to stay on top of new innovations and coding changes; Improve your communication strategy with patients, vendors, and employees, utilizing today's technological capabilities; Focus on scheduling to establish guidelines and policies and look into digital scheduling systems; Promote your specialties to build a niche for yourself. (Sumit Mahendru)

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA ROUND TABLE
Covered California Details Efforts to Lower Costs & Improve Quality of Care

Covered California has released an extensive report, Covered California's Efforts to Lower Costs While Ensuring Consumers Get the Right Care at the Right Time, to provide a first look at the results of its efforts to assure those enrolled get quality care and that contracted plans work to lower costs throughout the delivery system. The initial analysis shows that Covered California's health plans are making steady progress in improving quality and safety, which in turn helps keeps healthcare costs down. The report also detailed the progress contracted plans have made in increasing their efforts to "pay for value." Also, Covered California recently presented Options to Improve Affordability in California's Individual Health Insurance Market, to state leaders, the result of months of work with leading economists and stakeholders. (Kathy Keeshen)

ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine Announces Speaking Engagements

Elizabeth Landsverk MD, of ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine, will speak at the Rotary Health and Aging Conference about Medications, on April 12, in Burlingame. And, on April 17, she will speak at the Santa Cruz Bar Association Estate Planning Council about issues with dementia, particularly undiagnosed dementia, that can adversely impact elders and their families legally. More information. (Elizabeth Landsverk MD)

King & Spalding Webinar to Cover Cybersecurity & Privacy Summit

On May 1, King & Spalding will broadcast a webinar that will present the sessions from its 6th Annual Cybersecurity & Privacy Summit, which will be taking place in Atlanta. Participants will engage in informative, practical sessions on cybersecurity oversight for executives and board members, legislative and enforcement developments, business email compromise and ransomware schemes, cybersecurity insurance considerations, state-sponsored economic espionage and trade secret theft, financial regulatory developments, media coverage of the cyber beat, and more. (Marcia Augsburger & Travis Jackson)

Mazzetti Examines New Ways to Provide Emergency Power to Hospitals

The article, What's the power paradigm shift and how are hospitals prime to lead?, co-authored by Mazzetti's Walt Vernon and Troy Savage, reports that the rapid advancement of technology is forcing people to reevaluate the opportunities and, resultantly, regulations for how power is provided to critical facilities like hospitals. Code-making organizations, hospital facility planners and teams must understand how the combination of economics and technological advancements has bent the concept of "emergency power" to the breaking point. For the sake of the safety of healthcare facilities and the benefit of patients, new ways of thinking about, and designing for, emergency power generation are required. (Walt Vernon)

On Lok to Celebrate with Gala in May

On the evening of May 17, On Lok will hold its Celebrates! Event in downtown San Francisco, which will benefit its wide-ranging programs for seniors, including healthcare, social activities, wellness and fitness, and nutrition and meal delivery. The gala will include live entertainment, drinks, food tasting stations from Bay Area chefs, and a live auction with wonderful experiences. (Grace Li)

SILICON VALLEY ROUND TABLE
County of Santa Clara Debuts New Getting to Zero Ad Campaign

The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department and Getting to Zero initiative aim to reduce stigma and increase education about HIV treatment with the launch of U=U, an ad campaign which stands for Undetectable Equals Untransmittable. Ads in English and Spanish feature five HIV-positive Bay Area residents and are appearing on buses, light rail, and at restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as popular social networks. The campaign urges HIV-positive individuals to begin and maintain treatment to reach untransmittable status. For every HIV infection that is prevented, an estimated $360,000 is saved in the cost of providing lifetime HIV treatment, according to the CDC. The campaign is part of Getting to Zero Santa Clara County-Silicon Valley, a four-year initiative that strives for zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related deaths, and zero HIV-related stigma. (Tyler Haskell)

El Camino Gifted $10 Million & First in California to Perform Lung Valve Treatment

Tad and Dianne Taube and Mary and Doug Scrivner have committed $10 million to benefit mental health and addiction services at El Camino Hospital. The gifts will help fund a new 36-bed mental health and addictions building, a new programmatic adolescent mental health endowment, and the After-School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education endowment. Meanwhile, El Camino is the first hospital in California to have successfully performed the new and recently FDA-approved lung valve treatment for patients with severe COPD/emphysema. The Zephyr Endobronchial Valve treatment is the first minimally invasive procedure to help emphysema sufferers breathe easier without major surgery. (Michelle McGowen & Cecile Currier)

VivaLNK IoT Medical Sensor Platform Gains 30+ Global Partners

VivaLNK has announced that more than 30 healthcare solution companies, in over 10 countries, are building the next wave of connected wearable healthcare solutions on its new IoT Medical Wearable Sensor Platform. Available through the VivaLNK Developer Program, VivaLNK is the first to provide an integrated IoT medical sensor software development kit for healthcare application developers to access various sensors and data integration options, thereby minimizing the need to source from multiple vendors for a complete solution. For example, partner AiCare, a company that successfully started in Japan and is now serving the U.S. and Taiwan markets, offers personalized health monitoring solutions such as real-time activity analysis, location tracking, and health monitoring for residents of nursing care facilities. Meanwhile, Jiang Li, VivaLNK CEO, wrote Medical wearables offer new hope for diabetes patients in IoT Agenda. (from VivaLNK: Jiang Li; from AiCare: Sean Tan)

TECH MEMBERS' HEALTHCARE NEWS
Sidebench Named an LA Leader & Leads SXSW Workshop

Clutch has named Sidebench to the 2019 Clutch LA Leaders List as a leading App and Software Developer, and a leader in UX Design in Los Angeles. Also, Sidebench and the WITH Foundation took the SXSW stage on March 11 to present "Equitable Design for Persons with Disabilities." This workshop, the team's third, focused on educating participants on the best practices for designing accessible products while equipping them with the skills needed to implement Universal Design practices into their own company. Sign up here to receive copies of the workshop materials. Meanwhile, Kevin Yamazaki has published several recent articles: "For User Experience Design That Delights, Put People First," in Tech.co; "How to Design an IoT Product Customers Will Actually Want to Use," in Forbes; and "How can apps expand the reach of behavioral health specialists," in MedCity News. Read all of these articles here. (Kevin Yamazaki)

HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY NEWS & TRENDS
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
In Significant Shift, DOJ Takes Position that Affordable Care Act Is Unconstitutional. . .

On March 25, 2019, the Department of Justice endorsed the decision of a district court judge in the Northern District of Texas that invalidated the entire Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. The lawsuit, brought by the State of Texas and several other GOP-led states against the federal government, claims that the ACA's individual mandate - upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as a valid exercise of Congress's power to levy taxes - became unconstitutional in 2017 when Congress reduced to zero the tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance. The GOP States argued that the rest of the ACA is likewise unconstitutional because the remaining provisions of the law, including minimum coverage provisions, could not be severed from the individual mandate. The district court agreed with the GOP States and ruled the entire ACA unconstitutional. The case is now on appeal at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal. The district court's ruling is stayed pending the appeal. (Read Article: King & Spalding Health Headlines, 4/1/19)

. . .Two Days Later, Federal District Judge Strikes Down Medicaid Work Requirements in Kentucky, Arkansas. . .

On March 27, 2019, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg for the District of Columbia issued two opinions that struck down the Secretary of HHS's approval of Medicaid work requirement waivers in Kentucky and Arkansas. Plaintiffs in each state challenged the work requirements, which were expected to result in significant numbers of enrollees being ineligible for Medicaid. Plaintiffs alleged that the Secretary's approval of these requirements were antithetical to the purpose of Medicaid, which is to cover vulnerable persons in need of medical assistance. The court agreed. Judge Boasberg found that the Secretary did not adequately consider the coverage impact when approving these requirements in light of this purpose. The rulings call into question the legality of the Medicaid work requirements that have been approved in other states. (Read Article: King & Spalding Health Headlines, 4/1/19) Meanwhile, just two days after the Federal court struck down these work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries, the Trump administration approved similar requirements in Utah. The administration acknowledged that some Utah residents might lose coverage, but said that others would become healthier and gain financial independence because they were working. (Read Article: New York Times, 3/29/19)

. . .AND a Federal Judge Strikes Down Rule Skirting Requirements of ACA

A federal judge last week struck down a Trump administration rule that allows small businesses to band together and set up health insurance plans that skirt requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The rule is "clearly an end-run around the ACA," said the judge, John D. Bates, of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. (Read Article: New York Times, 3/28/19)

Meanwhile, Trump Pressured Republicans, Then Backed-off Seeking a Replacement for ACA. . .

Last week, President Trump pressured Republicans to produce a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, a request the GOP considers unrealistic in a divided Congress and politically perilous ahead of the 2020 elections. On Monday, the President backtracked, and said he was willing to wait until after the 2020 presidential election to get Congress to vote on a new healthcare plan, giving Republicans time to develop a proposal to replace Obamacare. (Read Articles: Washington Post, 3/27; Reuters, 4/1/19)

. . .AND 2020 Federal Budget Proposes Reducing Healthcare Spending, But Increasing MA Payments 2.53%

President Trump's 2020 budget proposal cuts the Department of Health and Human Services' budget by 12% from last year. The proposal requests $87.1 billion for HHS and proposes $1,248.8B in net mandatory health savings. It proposes over a $100B reduction in Medicare and Medicaid program spending over the next ten years. The budget proposes extending reductions in Medicaid disproportionate share payments, basing post-acute and long-term care provider payments on patients' clinical needs instead of the site of service, paying on-campus outpatient hospital departments at the lower physician office rate for certain services, and reducing Medicare payments for bad debt. In addition, the budget proposes new measures for improving 340B drug discount program integrity, including setting standards for participation and reporting requirements. (Read Article: King & Spalding Health Headlines, 3/18/19) and Becker's Hospital Review has provided Trump's 2020 Budget Proposal: 5 Healthcare Takeaways.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the government said it would increase by 2.53% on average 2020 payments to the health insurers that manage Medicare Advantage insurance plans for seniors and the disabled, a reflection of a new estimate on medical cost growth. The rate, which affects how much insurers charge for monthly healthcare premiums, plan benefits and, ultimately, how much they profit, represents an increase over the 1.59% increase proposed by CMS in February. (Read Article: Reuters, 4/1/19)

CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT
Newsom Appoints Mark Ghaly, MD, to Head California HHS Agency

Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the appointment of Mark Ghaly, MD, MPH, as the next secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. Ghaly is a practicing pediatrician and most recently has been director of health and social impact for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. He was chosen, in part, for his work on integrating behavioral and physical healthcare. He will play a pivotal role in the administration, helping Newsom advance a healthcare agenda that prioritizes increasing access to health coverage for undocumented adults and restraining healthcare costs, including drug prices. (Read Article: California Health Care Foundation, 3/15/19)

Rising Number of Measles Cases in California Has Public Health Officials Concerned

There are now 16 confirmed cases of measles in California, according to the latest count by the California Department of Public Health. The agency is "very concerned" with the rising tally, given that there was a total of 21 cases of measles over the entirety of 2018. State and local health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated so they don't put themselves or other vulnerable populations at risk. (Read Article: Capital Public Radio, 3/29/19)

ABL ABBY Award Winner in 2015, LA County Electronic Specialty Physician eConsults Trendsetter

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the second-largest public healthcare system in the nation, followed in [San Francisco's] footsteps and began using eConsults in 2012. A study in Health Affairs tracked waiting times for 12 types of specialists, including cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, ophthalmology, podiatry, and urology. By 2015, three years after the L.A. County eConsults system was in place, waiting times for specialists had fallen by an average of 17%, to 52 days from 63. These early adaptors are helping lead the way as more and more systems look toward eConsults to create efficiencies in their systems. (Read Article: New York Times, 3/18/19)

HOSPITALS, SYSTEMS & MED GROUPS
California Hospitals See Massive Surge in Homeless Patients

Homeless patients made about 100,000 visits to California hospitals in 2017, marking a 28% rise from two years earlier, according to the most recent state discharge data. More than a third of those visits involved a diagnosis of mental illness, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. By contrast, 6% of all hospital discharges in California during that time involved a mental health diagnosis. Health officials and homeless advocates attribute the trend to the surging number of people living homeless in California in recent years. (Read Article: California Healthline, 4/1/19)

San Jose #1, San Francisco #3, San Diego #6, L.A. #7 Highest Overall Healthcare Prices in U.S.

San Jose, California has the highest overall healthcare prices among U.S. metropolitan areas in 2016 compared to the national average, according to the Health Care Cost Institute. To determine the highest and lowest overall healthcare prices, researchers examined about 1.8 billion commercial insurance claims and compared the average price paid for the same healthcare service across 112 metro areas. The report used price level benchmarks from 2012 to 2016. The 10 areas with the highest overall healthcare prices in 2016, relative to the national median, are: 1. San Jose; 2. Anchorage, AK; 3. San Francisco [Meanwhile, according to RWJ, Marin is the "healthiest county" in California, based on more than 30 measures across four areas: health behaviors, clinical care, physical environment, and social and environmental factors. (Becker's Hospital Review, 3/19)]; 4. Milwaukee, WI; 5. Green Bay, WI; 6. San Diego; 7. Los Angeles: 8. New York City; 9. Trenton, NJ; 10. Charlotte, NC. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 3/12/19)

Another Huge SF General Bill Gets Trimmed

Jeffrey Lance, the Bernal Heights graphic artist who owed $54,908.35 for an appendectomy at San Francisco General Hospital, spent months pleading with the hospital and his insurance company, Aetna, to get his bill reduced. . . .He checked his online Aetna account and, sure enough, it says he now owes $1,500, between his deductible and co-pay. That's a $53,408.35 reduction for those keeping track. (Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle, 3/26/19)

RAND: Earthquake Safety Law Could Put California's Hospitals in Financial Distress

California's 418 hospitals are scrambling to retrofit their buildings before the "The Big One" hits, an effort that could cost hospitals between $34 billion and $143 billion and could jeopardize healthcare access, according to a newly released Rand Corp study. The report also recommends some alternatives to the current legislation, that requires by 2020, hospitals must reduce the risk of collapse; by 2030, they must be able to remain operational after a major earthquake. (Read Articles: Sacramento Bee, 4/1; KPCC, 4/1/19)

Hospital-Physician Consolidation Growth Trends Moderate

After spiking from 2012 to 2015, the increase in hospital-employed physicians and hospital-owned physician practices eased from 2016 to early 2018. But Physicians Advocacy Institute, which has followed the trend since 2012, says the consolidation activity is still momentous. Whether this consolidation activity is approaching its ceiling depends on the financial strength of hospitals, PAI says, adding that commercial payers could determine whether hospitals continue their physician acquisition spree. (Read Article: HealthLeaders, 2/28/19)

Dignity Launches Own Specialty Pharmacy

Dignity Health is the latest health system to enter the specialty pharmacy market. The not-for-profit provider launched its own program to distribute medications for more than 20 complex diseases, and it plans to expand services to its broader national network of CommonSpirit Health. (Read Article: Modern Healthcare, 3/26/19)

SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH
Silicon Valley Boasts Nation's Lowest Unemployment Rate; San Francisco Close Behind

San Jose, CA, and Nashville, TN, had the lowest unemployment rate among large U.S. metropolitan areas in January, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau considers about 50 metro areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more. The five areas with the lowest unemployment rate in January were: 1. Nashville 2.7% tied with 2. San Jose 2.7%; San Francisco 2.8%; Minneapolis 2.8%; Denver 2.9%. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 3/19/18)

THE INTERNET, TELECOM & HEALTHCARE
Social Media & Amazon Join Fight Against Vaccine Misinformation

YouTube said it was banning anti-vaccination channels from running online advertisements. Facebook announced it was hiding certain content and turning away ads that contain misinformation about vaccines, and Pinterest said it was blocking "polluted" search terms, memes and pins from particular sites prompting anti-vaccine propaganda, according to news reports. Amazon has now joined other companies navigating the line between doing business and censoring it, in an age when, experts say, misleading claims about health and science have a real impact on public health. NBC News recently reported that Amazon was pulling books touting false information about autism "cures" and vaccines. (Read Article: Washington Post, 3/18/19)

Alexa Deployed Across Patient Rooms at Cedars-Sinai

In what looks to be the first large-scale deployment of voice-driven personal assistants across a healthcare setting, Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai has deployed Amazon's Alexa voice assistant across 100+ patient rooms within its hospital. The pilot program lets patients both drive healthcare requests, such as help to go to the restroom, as well as control in-room entertainment, such as operating the TV or listening to music. Cedars-Sinai is using an Alexa-powered platform called Aiva to enable the voice interactions. (Read Article: SoCalTech, 2/26/19)

One Drop Partners with Amazon Choice on Digital Diabetes Services

Digital health company One Drop is partnering with Amazon to offer its digital therapeutics solutions for people with diabetes and related conditions. The pact will enable customers to use medical devices for monitoring blood glucose and pressure as well as weight management, the companies say. (Read Article: Healthcare IT News, 3/19/19)

Global Telemedicine Market Will Hit $130 Billion by 2025: Report

The global telemedicine market will expand from its current $38.3 billion valuation to $130.5B by 2025, according to a study by Global Market Insights. This 19.2% percent compound annual growth rate will be largely fueled by worldwide telecommunication network developments, market opportunities in rural areas or those without easy access to healthcare services, and the continuing integration of healthcare and IT market sectors. (Read Article: mobihealthnews.com, 3/26/19)

10 Startups Tackling Problem of High Prescription Drug Costs

Problems related to the rapid surge in drug prices have gotten so dire, that the president, Congress, health systems, and even a retired hedge fund billionaire have made solving them a top priority. In addition, more and more startups have made it their mission to improve access to prescription drugs by making them more affordable. This article looks at how both established startups with tens of millions of dollars in funding and nascent companies are finding ways to lower the consumer-facing prices of prescription medications. (Read Article: mobihealthnews, 3/22/19) Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson has begun airing the first U.S. TV commercial for a prescription drug that discloses how much it costs, a nod toward rising political pressure over prices. The ad for J&J's bloodthinner Xarelto now ends by briefly showing its list price of $448 a month. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 3/28/19)

BIOTECH & MEDTECH BREAKTHROUGHS
Mammoth Biosciences Adds Final Piece of CRISPR Diagnostics Puzzle to Toolkit

With the recent announcement that Mammoth Biosciences has received the exclusive license from UC Berkeley to the new CRISPR protein Cas14, the company now has the last piece of its diagnostics toolkit in place. Cas14 is a newly discovered protein from the lab of Jennifer Doudna, a pioneer in gene-editing research and a member of the first research team to identify and unlock the power of CRISPR technology. Doudna and Mammoth co-founder Lucas Harrington were part of the team of researchers to identify the new Cas14 protein, which can identify single-stranded DNA. The licensing deal moves Mammoth one step closer toward its goal of low-cost, in-home molecular diagnostics for any illness. (Read Article: TechCrunch, 3/14/19)

Apple Watch Has Mixed Results in Big Heart Study

A massive new study found that the pulse sensor in Apple Inc.'s watch helped detect a heart-rhythm disorder in a small number of users, but may have caused false alarms for others. The study's mixed findings hinted at the potential of "wearable" gadgets to detect asymptomatic health conditions in people that might otherwise go unnoticed. But doctors said the potential false positives and other aspects of the study show that people should be cautious about relying on the technology as diagnostic tools. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 3/16/19)

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