ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * December 3, 2019
  • December 4 - 21st Innovations in Healthcare Event, Costa Mesa, 10 am-2 pm (Combined Orange County-Los Angeles session), where keynoter Greg Buchert, MD, President and CEO of Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan,, will be presented with the "Leadership in Innovation" Award, in recognition of his 20 years of leadership of managed Medi-Cal health plans throughout California, sharing the growth trajectory of Medi-Cal coverage - which now insures one-third of Californians. Additionally, four "Innovator in Healthcare" Award recipients will present how their companies' technologies and approaches are reducing the cost and increasing the accessibility of quality healthcare; including... CLICK FOR COMPLETE EVENT INFO

  • December 11 - 22nd Innovations in Healthcare Event, San Francisco, 10 am-2 pm (Combined San Francisco-East Bay-Silicon Valley Session), where keynoter Artie Southam, MD, EVP, Health Plan Operations at Kaiser Permanente, will be presented with the "Leadership in Innovation" Award, in recognition for his 18 years heading marketing, sales, service and administrative activities for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, nationally - serving 12.3 million members with $64 billion a year in health services. Additionally, four "Innovator in Healthcare" Award recipients will present how their companies' technologies and approaches are reducing the cost and increasing the accessibility of quality healthcare; including... CLICK FOR COMPLETE EVENT INFO

  • January 2020
  • 1/08 - San Francisco Round Table
  • 1/14 - Silicon Valley Round Table
  • 1/16 - East Bay/Oakland Round Table
  • 1/17 - Los Angeles Round Table
  • 1/22 - Orange County Round Table
  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>

>>> Jennifer Ty, DNP, is CEO of Excell Home Care, Inc., which facilitates a team of hundreds of health professionals who provide skilled services under the request of a patient's personal physician. Health services are rendered to homebound patients that need part-time and intermittent visits. Accredited by The Joint Commission, Excell Home Care offers skilled nursing, therapy (physical, occupational, speech, respiratory), home health, medical social services, wound care consulting, psychiatric nursing, nutrition consulting, consultation/ treatment recommendations, and more. A Doctor of Nursing Practice, Jennifer has served as Excell's CEO since 2002. She has joined the Orange County Round Table.

Alvaka Networks Presents Software Security Patching Webinars

Alvaka Networks will host a live and interactive webinar - Software Security Patching: "Why you are struggling with this essential task?!", on multiple dates in December and January. 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, Orange County)

Blue Shield of CA Promise & L.A. Care Open Community Resource Center

Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan and L.A. Care Health Plan recently opened a Community Resource Center in Pomona, the first of 14 such facilities that will be jointly operated as part of a $146-million, five-year commitment to expand centers across Los Angeles County. The centers will offer services and resources to health plan members and the community that will keep them active, healthy, and informed, including preventive screenings, exercise, nutrition and health management classes. (Greg Buchert, MD, Los Angeles)

CEI, On Lok & Choice in Aging Tackle Senior Healthcare Challenges at Policy Forum

The San Francisco Examiner recently published Tackling Senior Healthcare Challenges Requires Deep Commitment from Stakeholders to Create an Age Friendly California, in which Linda Trowbridge, CEO of Center for Elders' Independence (CEI), and Grace Li, CEO of On Lok, discuss California's rapidly growing elderly population, Governor Newsom's new Master Plan for Aging, senior affordable housing and homelessness, and more. And, on December 3rd, Linda, Grace, and Debbie Toth, CEO of Choice in Aging, will be among the aging experts who will address senior healthcare issues at the Bay Area Senior Health Policy Forum. (Linda Trowbridge, Grace Li and Debbie Toth, Bay Area)

Ceresti Named a Top Healthcare Startup & Featured in Cover Story

Healthcare Tech Outlook magazine has selected Ceresti Health as a Top 10 Healthcare Startup Company for 2019. The cover story, Transforming Dementia Care, details how Ceresti's digital care management program combines technology, content, coaching, and predictive analytics to proactively avoid unnecessary hospitalizations for a population that incurs 25% of all hospitalizations. Meanwhile, Ceresti has become a member of Population Health Alliance, a multi-stakeholder professional and trade association solely focused on population health. (Dirk Soenksen, Orange County)

HumanGood Wins Design Award & Breaks Ground on New Seattle Community

The American Institute of Architects recently selected Rotary Terrace, HumanGood's South San Francisco-based affordable housing community, as the recipient of its Design for Aging Review Merit Award. The honor recognizes architectural designs and structures that demonstrate innovative and conscientious solutions to improve the quality of life for older adults. Meanwhile, HumanGood, Beacon Development Group, and Filipino Community of Seattle recently celebrated their partnership to develop a new affordable housing community in Seattle with an official groundbreaking ceremony. Expected to be completed in March 2021, the community will combine culturally specific social services and 95 apartment homes for low-income seniors, including some units reserved for people with disabilities. (Tara McGuinness, Bay Area)

King & Spalding Named a Tier 1 Healthcare Law Firm & Will Address Direct-to-Employer Contracting in Webinar

The 2020 Edition of the "Best Law Firms in America" report from U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers in America includes King & Spalding (K&S) in numerous categories, including National Tier 1 in Health Care Law. Meanwhile, on December 13, K&S will present a webinar - Direct-to-Employer Contracting by Healthcare Providers: Legal and Practical Considerations - from 10-11 a.m. Pacific, which will cover best practices for direct provider-employer negotiations; terms in contracts with major plans and leased network arrangements that must be considered; the role of ERISA; key cost-reduction drivers; and more. (Marcia Augsburger, JD, Bay Area, & Travis Jackson, JD)

KMD Architects Celebrates Completion of ED Expansion Project in Tacoma

KMD Architects recently celebrated the opening of the MultiCare Allenmore Hospital Emergency Department Expansion and the improved access to care it will provide for the Tacoma, WA area. Some services of the renovated and expanded ED will be shared with the recently completed crisis stabilization unit at the new 120-bed Wellfound Behavioral Health Hospital, which was also designed by KMD. (Rob Matthew, Bay Area)

LigoLab Cheers 13th Anniversary - Looks Back & Ahead

LigoLab LLC, a leading provider of an innovative laboratory software platform that transforms and modernizes mid-to-large-sized molecular, clinical and anatomic pathology labs across the nation, just celebrated its 13th anniversary as a privately owned and profitable business. The company's history and future are detailed in two recent blog posts: A LigoLab Anniversary and A Developing Situation. (Suren Avunjian, Los Angeles)

Mazzetti's Sextant Foundation Provides Post-Hurricane Assistance in Bahamas

Walt Vernon, CEO of Mazzetti, also volunteers with the Sextant Foundation, a non-profit he created that focuses on helping strengthen the facility infrastructure for healthcare organizations in low-resourced areas. Recent work has included Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas, in partnership with the SBP and Project Hope, where Walt led a team of engineers to assess one of two hospitals in the country and several primary care clinics. The hospital was submerged under several feet of water and is now suffering from mold issues. Learn more about this project and others. (Walt Vernon, Bay Area)

Nelson Hardiman Achieves Tier 1 Ranking in Healthcare Law

Nelson Hardiman was awarded a Tier 1 ranking in Health Care Law and Administrative/ Regulatory Law in the 2020 Edition of the "Best Law Firms in America" report from U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers in America. These firms are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. (Harry Nelson, JD, Los Angeles)

SafeRide Health Teams with Independent Health on Medicare Advantage Benefit

SafeRide Health has partnered with Independent Health, of Western New York, on a new Medicare Advantage non-emergency transportation benefit for 2020. Eligible members will be able to access a wide range of options through SafeRide's ride-matching technology. As part of the service, Independent Health members will have an option to receive reminders and updates via text messages and phone calls, ensuring rides will arrive on-time and at the correct location. (Robbins Schrader, Los Angeles)

SAVI Group Offers Tips on Boosting Patient Volume & Revenue

In Great Ways to Boost Patient Volume & Revenue, SAVI Group discusses ways to set your practice apart, increase impactful communications (including using auto-messaging patient systems), understand your patients better, and build stronger ties. (Sumit Mahendru, Orange County)

Wipfli Wins Platinum & Gold Awards for Marketing Communications

Wipfli was recently honored with two MarCom Awards by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, chosen from among 6,500+ entries worldwide. The firm's annual report won platinum, the highest possible score and honor, in the digital media/e-communication category, and a Wipfli e-book won gold, the second-highest honor. (Jeff Johnson & Steve Rousso, Bay Area; Larry Blitz, Silicon Valley; & Tony Taddey, L.A.)

PCIHIPAA Debuts "Certified HIPAA Officer" Online Training

PCIHIPAA has launched its Certified HIPAA Officer course to help healthcare professionals comply with important training requirements. The online course is divided into four modules; each utilizes an action-oriented approach, providing the learner with an interactive micro-learning experience. The course can be taken through any mobile device and incorporates start and stop capabilities so busy employees can complete the training at their own pace. Workforce members that successfully complete all four levels earn their HIPAA Officer Certificate issued by PCIHIPAA and qualify for two Continuing Education credits. (Jeff Broudy, West Los Angeles Technology)

PeopleG2's Webinar Will Prove that Being a Leader Doesn't Have to Be Lonely

On December 12, PeopleG2 will present a free webinar - Being A Leader Doesn't Have To Be Lonely - from 11 a.m. to noon Pacific time. Work is more fun and rewarding when you have close relationships with some of your coworkers, but as you climb the corporate ladder, you're surrounded by fewer peers and more direct reports, and it becomes harder to form the same level of social bonds. In this webinar, PeopleG2 CEO Chris Dyer will tackle this problem, sharing best practices and proven strategies leaders can use to drive stronger bonds with both peers and reports, while also maintaining authenticity and professionalism. (Chris Dyer, Monrovia Technology)

Tanner Research CEO to Present Nutrition Science Workshop

On the evening of March 12, 2020, John Tanner, Ph.D., CEO of Tanner Research, will present a free Nutrition Science workshop, where he will share his story about how he suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest in 2009. Since then, he has studied intensely the causes of heart disease, and found that it can be completely avoided through a proper diet - and cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and about 30 other diseases can be reduced, avoided, or reversed by this same diet. John will field questions and participants will continue nutrition discussions in small groups. The workshop includes a meal and your choice of one of the top books on nutrition science. (John Tanner, Ph.D., Monrovia Technology)

CMS Issues Proposed Rule Aimed at Increasing Transparency & Reducing Medicaid Program Spending

CMS recently published the proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule, which, if finalized, would result in dramatic changes to the Medicaid program. Through the Proposed Rule, CMS aims to reduce Medicaid spending and financing of Medicaid supplemental payments. The Proposed Rule focuses on four areas: (1) Medicaid fee-for-service provider payments; (2) Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments; (3) Medicaid program financing (including supplemental payments) and healthcare-related taxes; and (4) provider-related donations. Comments to the Proposed Rule are due by January 17, 2020. (Read Article: King & Spalding Health Headlines, 12/2/19)

Trump Administration Unveils New Price Transparency Rules

The Trump administration recently put forth two long-anticipated rules that increase price transparency for both hospitals and insurers. The CMS' hospital price transparency requirements finalize changes that require health systems to make their standard fees available on-demand and online. The "transparency in coverage" proposed rule would require health plans, including employer-based plans, and group and individual plans, to inform participants, beneficiaries and enrollees about price and cost-sharing information ahead of time. The agency hopes increased price transparency will boost competition among hospitals and insurers to drive down healthcare spending. The final rule on hospital pricing will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021, thanks to pushback from health systems who said they would need more time to implement the requirements. CMS is accepting comments on the proposed rule for payers, which would go into effect one year after it's finalized.
The proposed transparency rule would force most insurers to give consumers instant, online access to an estimate of their out-of-pocket costs. Payers would have to give members paper copies of their cost-sharing estimates on request. CMS thinks that this would reduce healthcare spending by allowing patients to shop around for the best deal before they receive treatment for schedulable, non-emergency medical services. Health plans and issuers would also need to make their negotiated rates for in-network providers public, as well as how much they're willing to pay doctors that are out-of-network. (Read Article: Modern Healthcare, 11/15/19)

CMS Releases Request for Application for New Direct Contracting Models

CMS recently released a Request for Application describing how organizations can apply to participate in two of three Direct Contracting Model options. The Direct Contracting Model is a set of voluntary payment models that aim to lower costs and maintain or improve quality for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries through risk-based contracts. The application to participate closes on Tuesday, February 25, 2020. To apply, organizations must first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI), indicating their interest in model participation. The LOI submission period ends on December 10, 2019. (Read Article: King & Spalding Health Headlines, 12/2/19; Read CMS Fact Sheet, 11/25/19)

California Goes Full Tilt in Trying to Fix Physician Shortage

Primary care doctors are a hot commodity across California. Students are being lured by full-ride scholarships to medical schools. New grads are specifically recruited for training residencies. And full-fledged doctors are being offered loan repayment programs to serve low-income residents or work in underserved areas. These efforts are intended to ease or stave off the physician shortage expected to peak within the next decade in California. By 2030, the state will be short some 4,000 physicians, according to a study from the HealthForce Center at UC San Francisco. The shortage is already acute in rural and inner city areas, especially in the Inland Empire of Southern California where the number of physicians needs to double just to reach the recommended amount to serve the fast-growing population. With high student loans, medical school grads have been turning to better-paying specialties instead of primary care, such as family practice, pediatrics or obstetrics, leaving some areas in dire need. (Read Article: CalMatters.org, 11/26/19)

Californians with Employer-Sponsored Plans Still Find Coverage Unaffordable as Out-of-Pocket Expenses Rise

California workers went from spending 8% of their income on health insurance premiums and deductibles in 2008, about $4,100, to nearly 12% of their income on premiums and deductibles in 2018, about $6,900, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund. That is a 68% jump in employees' healthcare spending over the past decade - which far outpaces wage growth during the same period. Between 2008 and 2018, median household income in the state grew 16%, from about $52,000 to $60,000, according to the report. California's figures largely mirror the national trend. (Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle, 11/20/19)

Using Texts, Kaiser Signs Up 11,000+ Members for CalFresh Food Program

In the last three months, the healthcare team at Kaiser Permanente used text messaging to sign up 11,000+ of its neediest California members for a government program that will give them up to $200 a month for groceries. Known as CalFresh, California's supplemental nutrition program has one of the lowest enrollment levels of any such program in the nation. Yet Kaiser and other healthcare providers and insurers have widely acknowledged that food insecurity and other social disparities play a greater role in shaping the well-being of many community residents than medical care does, and they are developing comprehensive approaches to improving social determinants of health for their most vulnerable patients. The CalFresh texting campaign is one of several strategies Kaiser is undertaking as part of a strategy called Food for Life. (Read Article: Sacramento Bee, 12/2/19)

AWS Launches Amazon Transcribe Medical & Alexa Feature That Reminds People to Take Meds

Amazon Web Services is tapping into its voice technology once again with the launch of the Amazon Transcribe Medical, an automated speech recognition service that will let developers add medical diction and documentation to their apps. The streaming API tool is designed to cater to medical and pharmacological terms, thereby allowing doctors, clinicians and researchers to dictate into it. It also has a natural speech feature, which can transcribe a doctor-patient visit. The new feature is an add-on to Amazon Transcribe, which was included on the list of AWS' HIPAA-eligible services in November 2018. (Read Article: mobihealthnews, 12/2/19) And, Amazon is jumping into the medication adherence space with a new feature that lets Alexa users link up their pharmacy prescription information and, in turn, get reminders about when to take their pills and order refills. (Read Article: mobihealthnews, 11/26/19)

Google's 'Project Nightingale' Triggers Federal Inquiry

Google's project with Ascension, the country's second-largest health system, to collect detailed health information on 50 million American patients sparked a federal inquiry and criticism from patients and lawmakers. At issue for regulators and lawmakers who expressed concern is whether Google and Ascension are adequately protecting patient data in the initiative, which is code-named "Project Nightingale" and is aimed at crunching data to produce better healthcare, among other goals. Ascension, without notifying patients or doctors, has begun sharing with Google personally identifiable information on millions of patients, such as names and dates of birth; lab tests; doctor diagnoses; medication and hospitalization history; and some billing claims and other clinical records. The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services "will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals' medical records to ensure that HIPAA protections were fully implemented." (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 11/12/19)

Major Midwest Hospital Systems Call Off Planned Merger

Two Midwestern hospital giants - Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, SD, and UnityPoint Health, based in Des Moines, IA - recently and separately announced the end of merger talks. Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft faulted UnityPoint for rejecting an agreement to create a major U.S. hospital system. The combination would have created a 76-hospital giant with operations across 26 states and $11 billion in operating revenue, executives said in June. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 11/12/19)

New Stanford Hospital Takes Holistic Approach to Technology

A goal of the newly opened Stanford Hospital is to use technology in a way that makes the hospital more hospitable. The hospital was built in a modular way to accommodate technology upgrades. Among these, patients will be able to use an intuitive keypad to choose entertainment options and to control temperature, lighting, and window blinds from their beds. Other innovations include: a robotic pharmacy; a fleet of 23 automated guided vehicles programmed to assist with laundry delivery and trash disposal; Internet of Things sensors to track the location of staff and equipment in real time; remote patient monitoring; an app that guides patients through treatment; and two patient rooms will test a bedside computer-vision system that uses depth and thermal sensors to improve patient safety. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 11/16/19)

Meet CRISPR Prime: CRISPR's Newer, Savvier Cousin

CRISPR, the revolutionary ability to snip out and alter genes with scissor-like precision, has exploded in popularity over the last few years and is generally seen as the standalone wizard of modern gene-editing. However, it's not a perfect system, sometimes cutting at the wrong place, not working as intended and leaving scientists scratching their heads. Well, now there's a new, more exacting upgrade to CRISPR called Prime, with the ability to, in theory, snip out more than 90% of all genetic diseases. (Read Article: TechCrunch, 11/15/19)

Study Finds Limited Benefits of Stent Use for Millions with Heart Disease

Stents and coronary artery bypass surgery are no more effective than intensive drug treatment and better health habits in preventing millions of Americans from heart attacks and death, a large study found. Researchers and doctors have fiercely debated for years how best to treat people who have narrowed coronary arteries but aren't suffering acute symptoms. The standard treatment has been to implant stents - wire mesh tubes that open up clogged arteries - or to perform bypass surgery, redirecting blood around a blockage. Those procedures are performed even though these patients either have no symptoms or feel chest pain only when they climb a few flights of stairs or exert themselves in some other way. The study is the largest and among the most rigorous research yet to suggest that while stents and bypass surgery can be lifesaving for people who are having heart attacks, they aren't necessarily better than cholesterol-lowering drugs and other changes in health habits for most people with chronic, or stable, coronary artery disease, which affects about 9.4 million Americans. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 11/16/19)

Suicides, ODs, Other "Deaths of Despair" Fuel Drop in U.S. Life Expectancy

It's official: Americans are dying much sooner in life. Preliminary signals of declining health were neither a false alarm nor a statistical fluke. A reversal of American life expectancy, a downward trend that has now been sustained for three years in a row, is a grim new reality of life in the United States. (Read Article: Los Angeles Times, 11/26/19)

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