ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * September 9, 2021

>>> Robert Nickell is a second-generation pharmacist and the CEO of Pharmco Inc., founded in 2006, as a national mail order pharmacy for telehealth physician platforms and contract PBM needs. Pharmco is a fully licensed 503A pharmacy specializing in compounding cosmeceuticals, dental and dermatological products, as well as hormone replacement, immunotherapy, and pain management. Robert is also CEO of Enovachem Pharmaceuticals, which he founded in 2012 as a national pharmaceutical manufacturer specializing in contract manufacturing, Single Use Injection Kits, following CDC guidelines for patient safety and medical office compliance, as well as Single Source Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Compound Kits for physicians and pharmacies. Finally, Robert is CEO of his third company, which completes the Trifecta of Drug Distribution, which is known as Nubratori RX, founded in 2015 - an FDA-registered 503B Outsourcing Facility, one of the most difficult licenses to obtain and maintain in pharmaceutical manufacturing today. Additionally, since 2004, Robert has served as the Chairman of Nickell Professional Pharmaceutical Services, a national resource and consulting firm for mail-order pharmacy, FDA manufacturing and outsourcing, including healthcare staffing, medical and pharmaceutical billing and collections needs. Robert has joined the ABL-Health OC Round Table.

  • 9/01 - Orange County ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "COVID's Shadow Pandemic" - Featured Member Presenter: Mark Heinemeyer, CEO of PRODEO

  • 9/08 - San Francisco ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "COVID's Shadow Pandemic" - Featured Guest Member Presenter: Mark Heinemeyer, CEO of PRODEO

  • 9/14 - Silicon Valley ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "New Technology for Serving Multi-Lingual Frail Seniors At Home" - Featured Member Presenter: Grace Chen, CEO of LucidAct Health

  • 9/16 - Oakland ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Investing in the Future of America - One Baby At A Time" - Featured Guest Member Presenter: Melissa Hanna, JD, CEO of Mahmee

  • 9/17 - Los Angeles ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "'Google Health is Dead' - Long Live Google Health" - Featured Member Presenter: Mike Epstein, Founder of The Tay Group

  • 9/23 - ABL ZOOM Focused Workshop - "Are You Headed for an Exit?" - Ever wonder what the "next steps" are in evaluating several types of "exits" - bringing in venture capital, merging with a "Strategic," going public, or being acquired by a Private Equity group. This is where you'll hear firsthand from those who've "been there and done that."

    9/23 Featured Member Presenters:
Dave Berkus Randy Heyler Tom Leffler Adam Miller
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Blog by Mimi Grant

Since to Err is Still Human - Healthcare Could Use a Little Help

Medical Errors Cause ~250,000 Deaths a Year in the U.S.

When the seminal Institute of Medicine's report "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System" was released over 20 years ago, the nation was shocked to learn that 98,000 patients die in the hospital at the hands of "the system" each year. Since then, Johns Hopkins has picked-up the mantle of being healthcare's conscience by releasing a steady stream of reports, like "preventable medical error cause an estimated 250,000 deaths a year in the U.S.," ranking as "the third-leading cause of death - after heart disease and cancer," and "10 percent of all U.S. deaths are now due to medical error." Meanwhile, other reports have claimed the number of deaths could be as high as 440,000, because "physicians, funeral directors, coroners and medical examiners rarely note on death certificates the human errors and system failures involved" in patients' deaths.

Do we need a National Patient Safety Board?
So significant, and frequent, are these reports that there's now a proposal for a National Patient Safety Board modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board. Like the NTSB, the NPSB would be an independent federal agency, and would "conduct centralized studies into medical mishaps and systemic breakdowns to prevent future catastrophes." Now that EMRs are virtually ubiquitous in hospitals, the idea would be to use de-identified data from these health records, artificial intelligence, and reporting from other agencies, to identify cause-and-effect relationships and issue timely recommendations to improve patient safety - for everyone.

The Leapfrog Group & Checklist Manifesto Inspire Change
Of course, since To Err is Human was published in 1999, several steps have been taken to dramatically reduce the number - and likelihood of "medical misadventures." For example, The Leapfrog Group, a patient watchdog organization that actually involves patients, has reported on the harm done to mothers and babies by electing a pre-term delivery date - a cause that the March of Dimes actively advocates against. The result has been a reduction of early elective delivery rates by 84%.

In announcing the plans for a National Patient Safety Board, The Wall Street Journal referenced Atul Gawande's pathbreaking book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Published in 2009, Dr. Gawande related data and lessons learned from the airline and other industries, including the value of implementing the World Health Organization's pre-surgical checklist. When discussing the WHO Checklist with our ABL Organization San Francisco Healthcare Round Table, several Members recounted the pushback they've experienced with applying this simple and effective approach for improving the quality and outcomes of care, particularly by surgeons, and others involved in up to nine surgeries a day. The bottom line is, sharing responsibility in the OR - and making time to listen again and again thoughtfully to the same pre-surgical questions, requires massive culture change, and acceptance of the new routine's importance.

Innovation in "Drug Delivery"
In recent years at ABL, we've discussed many other examples of how healthcare is getting safter. Notably, at Kaiser Permanente's Garfield Innovation Center, in San Leandro, they test not just products but alternative approaches to better, safer care. For example, on an airplane it would be a rare event indeed if someone outside the cockpit - like a flight attendant - actually put a passenger in harm's way. But, in healthcare, it happens every day: a pharm tech mislabels a drug, a nurse administers it without question, or inserts a catheter incorrectly. At the Garfield Center they modeled how Nurse Smith, for example, could easily confuse the meds intended for Mrs. Jones in bed 221A with Mrs. Black's, in 221B, if he was distracted. Through repeated trial-and-error simulations, the Center finally devised a way for co-workers to recognize when Nurse Smith was preparing or passing medications, so they'd refrain from interrupting him - a major cause of medication errors. It's a simple but effective solution for greatly reducing medication errors - the second most frequent medical error, after misdiagnosis.

Just-in-Time Best Practices on Your Smart Phone
More recently, it's been recognized that particularly new nurses and Travelers, who frequently are unfamiliar with their hospital's standard protocols and procedures, need a way to learn them, "Just-in-Time," from best practice video lessons delivered on the nurses' smartphones. For example, Arup Roy-Burman, MD's Elemeno Health's on-demand microlearning solution keeps clinical staff and Travelers up to date on current, data-based and hospital-specific best practices to reduce variation in care. That way, rather than tip sheets and guidelines getting lost in the Nurses' Station, guidelines are "in hand" the moment they're needed.

Recognizing Err IS Human, We Need All the Help we can get to Avoid Making Them
In the finish, the challenge to minimizing - let alone eliminating - medical errors is in recognizing To Err IS Human. Therefore, everyone in a position to "do harm" in healthcare must be given and be willing to embrace all the tools and support, including a federal agency, to ensure patient safety.


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Recent Presentations Available on ABL's Members Only Website

Two recent presentations are now available to view on-demand by ABL Members. To access them, go to abl.org, click on "Members Only" on the top far right, and then on "Presentations" in the red bar on the top left.
These presentations, and the others that are available on the Members Only website, were presented at ABL's confidential meetings and are meant to be viewed by ABL Members only.
>> "Defending Yourself & Your Company from Cyberattacks" was an ABL event held on August 4th, featuring an expert Panel of Cybercrime and Ransomware Experts led by Oli Thordarson, CEO of Alvaka Networks, with Dave Cunningham, Alvaka's Business Technology Officer, and Len Tateyama, Alvaka's Director of IT, who are joined by Pierson Clair, Managing Director, Cyber Risk, at Kroll, and Scott Koller, Privacy and Data Security Partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP.
>> "Medi-Cal: BIG Changes are Coming!" was presented at the July Orange County Round Table by Greg Buchert, MD, in which he describes California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal, aka CalAIM.

Alegre Home Care Partners with Solstice at Lodi for "Quick Care"

Alegre Home Care has partnered with independent living community Solstice Senior Living at Lodi, in which Solstice is utilizing the services of Alegre's Quick Care. Available to all residents, the program offers a variety of personal services to help make life just a little easier; and by sharing resources with other residents, Alegre can spread the cost of having a professional, state-licensed and registered personal attendant help with small tasks - without the usual 3-to-4-hour minimums most agencies require or the risks of hiring independent providers. Also, the Alegre team regularly speaks with Solstice residents about wellness, blood pressure, diabetes, and more, plus provides residents with weekly blood pressure checks. (Charles Symes, OAK)

Alvaka Provides Ransomware Recovery Cost Calculator

In How Much Does It Cost to Recover from Ransomware?, Alvaka Networks explains that there are three key variables: the size of your company, the complexity of the network and applications, and the ransomware gang that attacked you. Your estimated Total Cost of Ransomware Recovery can be calculated with a few key numbers entered into Alvaka's Ransomware Recovery Cost Calculator, which will also give you an idea of the time it will take to recover. (Oli Thordarson, OC)

Angle Health is a Finalist in Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge

Angle Health is one of the eight finalists in the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge, which brings together leading-edge startups with prominent health companies to tackle some of North America's greatest health challenges. Recently launched, Angle Health is a full-stack, AI-enabled health plan delivering comprehensive healthcare benefits tailored to small and medium-sized businesses. By replacing legacy systems with modern infrastructure, Angle is able to streamline and centralize operations to create an uncomplicated experience across employers, brokers, members, and healthcare providers. Its fully digital platform delivers an employer and member experience that centers around ease of use, personalization, and more equitable access to care. The finalists will participate in the final round and awards ceremony at a virtual event to be held on September 28, 2021. (Andy Leeka, LA)

Anthem Blue Cross Partners to Impact Food Insecurity in L.A. & Extends Contract with Sutter Health

National nonprofit Heart of America and Anthem Blue Cross, in partnership with iHeartMedia, recently announced an effort aimed at serving under-resourced communities in Los Angeles by addressing hunger and food insecurity. The organizations will lead the renovation of the Manual Arts High School teaching garden into a sustainable resource that provides healthy food and nutrition education. Meanwhile, Anthem Blue Cross and Sutter Health recently reached an agreement on a multi-year extension to their previous contract. (David Pryor, MD, LA)

Bayer Strengthens Drug Discovery Platform via Acquisition of Vividion

Bayer AG is acquiring Vividion Therapeutics, a US-headquartered biopharmaceutical company utilizing novel discovery technologies to unlock high value, traditionally undruggable targets with precision therapeutics. Vividion's platform is able to produce a variety of small molecule therapies across indications, with initial focus on targets relevant to oncology and immunology. (Rama Penta, SV)

Biospectal's BP App Validated in Clinical Study; CEO Contributes Tips & Trends

In Smartphone Blood Pressure App Publishes Clinical Validation, the Journal of mHealth spotlights clinical study results which find that Biospectal's OptiBP meets the ISO 81060-2 international protocol for accuracy for blood pressure measurement devices, and reinforces the clinical accuracy of OptiBP's software-based smartphone app solution to accurately measure blood pressure utilizing transdermal optical sensing with only a fingertip applied to the lens of a smartphone camera.
Also, Biospectal CEO Eliott Jones contributed to two recent Forbes Technology Council articles: 15 Expert Tips For Ensuring A Successful IoT Project and 14 Major Business And Consumer Tech Trends Experts Say Are Here To Stay. (Eliott Jones, SV)

Choice in Aging Honored for Leadership; CEO Participates in Updates on Covid & Master Plan for Aging

The East Bay Leadership Council recently awarded Choice in Aging (CiA) the East Bay Leadership Medal - for "leading a regional effort to vaccinate isolated seniors, mobilizing volunteers across the East Bay to deliver medical equipment to small board and care homes, and bringing joy to Choice in Aging participants from a distance."
Meanwhile, CiA CEO Debbie Toth recently took part in a COVID-19 Town Hall Updates session, along with Contra Costa Health Services and Empowered Aging. Watch a replay of the event here.
And, Debbie also spoke with Social Security Works California about "Understanding the California Master Plan for Aging" - watch it here. (Debbie Toth, OAK)

Cigna Expands, Enhances ACA Marketplace Plans + Offers Health and Well-Being Grants

Cigna is expanding its offerings to customers who access health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace - in three new states (Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania) and in additional counties in Arizona, Florida and Virginia.
Meanwhile, the Cigna Foundation announced it will be accepting applications for its Health and Well-Being grant program. Qualified nonprofits must specifically address health and well-being with programs that focus on chronic disease treatment and prevention, behavioral health conditions, dental health, wellness programs, and maternal, prenatal, and newborn health. To determine eligibility to apply, start here. (Chris De Rosa, OC)

Competitive Health & GeBBS Healthcare Solutions Make Inc. 5000 List for Consecutive Years

For the fourth consecutive year, Competitive Health, Inc. has placed on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation's fastest-growing private companies, with an extra distinction the past two years on Inc. 5000 Regionals: California list, the most prestigious ranking of the fastest-growing California-based private companies. (Kim Darling, OC)
And, GeBBS Healthcare Solutions has been named to the Inc. 5000 list for the 13th straight year. Each company included in the 2021 Inc. 5000 ranking maintains a strong competitive position within their markets. This year's honorees also proved especially resilient and flexible given 2020's unprecedented challenges. (Gabe Stein, LA)

Covered California: American Rescue Plan is Helping More Californians Get Health Insurance

Covered California recently released new data that highlights the positive impact the American Rescue Plan is having on the lives of Californians. The Plan has helped drive CoveredCA's overall enrollment to a record-high 1.6 million people. Over 364,000 people signed up between February and August 10 - more than two times higher than the same time period during the last special-enrollment period in 2019 that was not affected by the COVID-pandemic. The pace of sign-ups has increased since CoveredCA began promoting the benefits of the Plan on April 12; enrollment since then is 164% higher than the same time period in 2019 and 29% higher than 2020 at the height of the pandemic and recession. (Kathy Keeshen, JD, SF)

Elemeno Health Provides Mobile Microlearning Platform to Pacific Neuroscience Institute

Elemeno Health will provide its data-driven training and microlearning platform to the Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI), which provides precision state-of-the-art care for patients with a wide spectrum of neurological and cranial disorders. In addition to its five locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties, PNI also provides care at affiliated Providence Hospitals throughout Southern California.
Meanwhile, listen to Elemeno Health CEO Arup Roy-Burman discuss his company on a recent episode of the Angel Notes podcast. (Arup Roy-Burman, MD, OAK)

Kaiser Permanente Study: No Serious Health Effects Linked to mRNA Covid-19 Vaccines

Federal and Kaiser Permanente (KP) researchers combing the health records of 6.2 million patients found no serious health effects that could be linked to the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. The study published September 3 in JAMA reports the first comprehensive findings of the Vaccine Safety Datalink, which studies patient records for 12 million people in five KP service regions along with HealthPartners in Minneapolis, the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, and Denver Health. The work is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Marcos Vasconcelos, OAK)

King & Spalding to Present Medical Device Summit & Health Law & Policy Forum

On September 9-10, King & Spalding (K&S) will host its virtual 14th Annual Medical Device Summit, where attendees may choose the track that features the issues of most interest, or mix and match among track themes, which include: The Evolving FDA & EU Regulatory Landscape; What's Next in Compliance and Enforcement; Focus on Intellectual Property; and Emerging Business Risks and Opportunities.
And, on three days - Sept. 20, 22 and 24, K&S will host its virtual 30th Annual Health Law & Policy Forum, where topics will include: Policy/regulatory enforcement updates and other industry developments; Special considerations healthcare providers face in pandemics; Developments in telehealth and healthcare antitrust; and Issues private equity investors face during healthcare transactions. (Marcia Augsburger, JD, SF)

LigoLab's TestDirectly is a Turnkey Back-to-School Solution

In A Turnkey Solution For Back to School COVID Surveillance Testing, LigoLab Information Systems CEO Suren Avunjian says: "For schools and universities to reopen safely, they will need a laboratory testing partner who can help them organize and manage their testing while also providing fast and accurate test results. The key is for laboratories to have a direct connection with the patient and the institution." LigoLab points to its TestDirectly cloud-based patient engagement portal, which integrates with any lab information system and can be implemented within a matter of days. Included in the TestDirectly network is Reditus Laboratories, a fast-growing full-service lab operation and a national leader in COVID-19 testing volumes and turnaround times. (Suren Avunjian, LA)

Mahmee CEO to Speak at Maternal Health Event

Melissa Hanna, CEO of Mahmee, will be a speaker at the online event, Innovation and Collaboration to Support Birth Equity: How Industry Leaders Are Working to Improve Black Maternal Health in California, on October 5. The event will feature leaders from the payer, provider, start up, and foundation communities. (Melissa Hanna, JD, LA)

Mazzetti Seeks Volunteers to Work in Haiti + Heralds New HHS Office of Climate Change & Health Equity

The Sextant Foundation of Mazzetti is seeking structural and WASH engineers to accompany Project Hope to help restore Haiti; please contact them if you or someone you know is interested.
Meanwhile, Mazzetti CEO Walt Vernon's recent article, New HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, discusses the new federal department which will work with federal health agencies - the VA, DOD, and Indian Health Services - to decarbonize them, and to provide improvements to enhance their ability to deliver health to the neediest among us.
And, is his article, Code Red (White?) and Blue, Walt shares why he believes there is hope in addressing climate change issuesx (Walt Vernon, JD, SF)

MedWand & AMD Global Telemedicine Form Telehealth Partnership

MedWand Solutions and AMD Global Telemedicine have formed an alliance, with plans to release AMD / MedWand Connect: Virtual Care Clinic - new software which will provide seamless operation from commonly used EHR solutions to support a seamless workflow between scheduling, clinical quality telemedicine consultations, and two-way data exchange. Doctors can now integrate clinical grade diagnostic telemedicine tools into their workflow without interruption to their existing software infrastructure. It's a complete solution that is both elegant and effective for the smallest private practice to the largest provider network (Bob Rose, OC)

Nelson Hardiman Discusses Opioid Overdoses - Another Huge Public Health Threat

Harry Nelson, of Nelson Hardiman, recently published a commentary article in the Orlando Sentinel - Opioid overdoses: Another huge public-health threat - in which he laments that the current drug overdose death rate suggests a public-health threat of a magnitude that we have never seen in American history. "I encourage you to ask the tough question: why are we not doing more to prioritize and address this tragedy?" Harry says. "We have the ability to address the pandemic and still meet the deep needs of a society battling an unprecedented opioid crisis that has changed before our eyes. This will only happen if and when leaders begin prioritizing this epidemic inside the pandemic to stem the tide of another generation lost to the modern drug crisis."
Also, Harry was recently featured on Spectrum News, discussing how California lawmakers are considering a program that would pay drug addicts to stay sober. (Harry Nelson, JD, LA)

OneLegacy's New Recovery Center in Azusa Taking Shape

Surrounded by local officials, transplant recipients, donor families, and healthcare professionals, OneLegacy recently held a "topping out" ceremony for its new state-of-the-art headquarters in Azusa that will serve as a critical connector for Southern California's regional healthcare system. When open next year, this facility will build on the success of OneLegacy's Redlands Recovery Center that has helped increase lives saved and healed by some 15% since it opened in 2018. The Azusa Donor Recovery Center will triple OneLegacy's recovery capacity and by doing so enable OneLegacy to serve even better all 215 hospitals and 10 transplant centers in its seven-county region as well as transplant surgeons from around the country. The Center will also provide a new home for critical research that will improve donation and transplantation for all. (Tom Mone, LA)

PRODEO CEO Helps Define Today's Ideal Brain Health Executive

Mark Heinemeyer, CEO of PRODEO, co-wrote an article, recently published in Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience: Brain Health Executives: A Transdisciplinary Workforce Innovation - A Commentary, which proposes a new type of executive who is specialized in the operations, governance and investment of deep tech brain health solutions. "Convergence Brain Health involves the integration of scientists, clinicians, bioinformaticists, global health experts, social scientists, engineers, technology entrepreneurs, medical educators, caregivers, and consumers. Synergy between government, academia, and industry is also vital," the article says. Also: "Realistically, the diverse skills, experience, and aptitudes required to be a successful Brain Health Executive are rarely found in one individual. These skills are best attained through a small, agile, highly collaborative, and emotionally intelligent team whose composite talent adds up to the required competency." (Mark Heinemeyer, OC)

Royal Ambulance Serving on Statewide Association & Reaches Milestone for Donor Network

Steve Grau, CEO of Royal Ambulance, was recently elected to the California Ambulance Association Board of Directors.
And, Royal Ambulance is also celebrating its team having completed 500+ organ donation transports for Donor Network West, the result of having co-created a new transportation model to remove barriers for donors and networks. (Steve Grau, SV)

Satellite Healthcare Co-Building Dialysis Clinic in Honolulu

Satellite Healthcare is teaming with Hawai'i Medical Service Association, the Queen's Health Systems, and Kuakini Support Services to begin construction of a new outpatient clinic in Honolulu that will increase access to innovative, much-needed dialysis services for the people of Hawaii. The 10,000-sq-ft clinic will be the first of its kind in that state, and will include 23 dialysis stations, two private isolation rooms, and two rooms to be used to conduct home dialysis training. Kidney disease affects nearly one in every five Hawaii residents. (Jim Glafkides, SV, & Bernadette Vincent, OAK)

Savi Group Sees Promising Opportunities for Medical Practitioners

In Beyond COVID-19: Promising Opportunities for Medical Practitioners, Savi Group notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred more change in the medical industry than we've seen in many years, including the utilization of innovative technologies. And the healthcare industry is looking to build upon these wins. How can we further improve patient engagement and personalized care? What tools can medical practices use to drive sustainable growth and improve operations? Healthcare organizations must be willing to reorganize and restructure current operations in new ways that better align with future opportunities.
Click here to read other recent Savi Group blogs, including: "Service Spotlight: Revenue Cycle Management;" "Building a Strong Medical Practice Team;" and "The Importance of Medical Billing Oversight." (Sumit Mahendru, OC)

SimpleTherapy Chosen by Accarent Health for Musculoskeletal Pain Management

Accarent Health has added SimpleTherapy to their specialty network of high-quality providers of bundled services, offering holistic preventative and curative care for acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Accarent members will have access to SimpleTherapy's Care Team (which includes Licensed Physical Therapists, Physicians, and Certified Coaches) via live 1:1 video consultations, as well as unlimited 12-month access to video-guided exercise therapy programs with real-time monitoring from home, using a device the member is comfortable and familiar with. Accarent Health calls itself "the ecommerce marketplace for comparison shopping of bundled priced medical procedures at Johns Hopkins Hospital and other select academic medical centers and top rated hospitals." (Arpit Khemka, SV)

Vivalink Launches Enhanced Biometrics Data Platform

Vivalink has released its enhanced Biometrics Data Platform, designed to aid the deployment of patient monitoring and data analysis applications for ambulatory and remote settings. Offering remote data capture, delivery and analysis for decentralized clinical trials and virtual care, the platform includes both advanced data services as well as medical wearable sensors. It offers continuous and episodic data capture, a clinical patient mobile app, advanced data processing and machine learning technologies, and adheres to HIPAA and GDPR data protection laws. Features such as remote automatic data capture and synchronization from medical wearables securely deliver data to the cloud even if intermittent network disruptions occur, while mobile and cloud integration capabilities include FIHR support and web services APIs. (Jiang Li, Ph.D., SV)

Wipfli Provides Resources for Healthcare Executives
Eckert & Ziegler Gets Manufacturing OK in Germany & Acquires Brazilian Isotope Specialist

Eckert & Ziegler (EZ) Radiopharma GmbH has received manufacturing authorization from the Lower Saxony authorities for several thorium and lutetium compounds in accordance with the German Medicines Act. This authorization enables EZ to supply its pharmaceutical industry customers with therapeutic radioisotopes for clinical trials and beyond. The radioisotopes are the central active ingredients in a series of innovative cancer drugs that are currently being tested in advanced phases by numerous drug manufacturers.
Also, EZ has acquired Ambientis Radioproteção, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a company with 25 years of experience in radiation protection services and which holds Latin America's only ISO-17025 certified counting laboratory. (Frank Yeager, ABL-Tech SGV)

Tanner Research CEO to Present Virtual Nutrition Science Workshop

On the evening of September 23 (click here), John Tanner, Ph.D., of Tanner Research, will present his free Nutrition Science Virtual Workshop, via Zoom, where he will relay to participants the scientific information they need to avoid heart disease and other leading killers with a proper diet. The group will discuss strategies for change and John will field questions, plus give a free book to participants. (John Tanner, Ph.D., SGV)

Call 988: California Finds $20 Million to Help Pay for New Crisis Hotline

Soon, Californians will be able to dial a new three-digit number when seeking help for a mental health crisis. After weeks in which funding to make the hotline work in California seemed uncertain, the state Department of Health Care Services recently announced that it would spend $20 million to help support the 9-8-8 network - billed as a "robust statewide call center" designed to be an alternative to 9-1-1 calls. (https://calmatters.org/health/2021/09/988-911-funding-crisis-hotline-suicide-california/)

California Prepares to Spend Billions on Medi-Cal Services for the Homeless & Others

Over the next five years, California is plowing nearly $6 billion in state and federal money into its California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) plan, which will target just a sliver of the 14 million low-income Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal: homeless people or those at risk of losing their homes; heavy users of hospital ERs; children and seniors with complicated physical and mental health conditions; and people in, or at risk of landing in, expensive institutions including jails, nursing homes, and mental health crisis centers. Gov. Newsom is trumpeting the first-in-the-nation initiative as the centerpiece of his ambitious healthcare agenda - and vows it will help fix the mental health and addiction crisis on the streets and get people into housing, all while saving taxpayer money.

Beginning next year, public and private managed healthcare plans will pick high-need Medi-Cal enrollees to receive nontraditional services from among 14 broad categories, including housing and food benefits, addiction care, and home repairs. The approach is known as "whole person care," and insurers will be required to assign patients a personal care manager to help them navigate the system. Insurers will receive incentive payments to offer new services and boost provider networks, and over time the program will expand to more people and services. The insurers - currently 25 are participating - will focus most intensely on developing housing programs to combat the state's worsening homelessness epidemic.

This revolution in Medi-Cal's scope and mission is taking place alongside a parallel initiative to hold insurance companies more accountable for providing quality healthcare. State health officials are forcing Medi-Cal managed-care plans to reapply and meet stricter standards if they want to continue doing business in the program. Together, these initiatives will fundamentally reinvent the biggest Medicaid program in the country, which serves about one-third of the State's population at a cost of $124 billion this fiscal year. If California's experiment succeeds, other states will likely follow, national Medicaid experts say. (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-07/newsom-california-medi-cal-homeless-public-funds)

CMS Expands Medicare Payments for At-Home COVID-19 Vaccinations

To ensure Medicare beneficiaries who have difficulty leaving their homes or are otherwise hard-to-reach can receive the COVID-19 vaccination, CMS announced that healthcare providers can now receive additional payments for administering vaccines to multiple residents in one home setting or communal setting of a home. (https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-expands-medicare-payments-home-covid-19-vaccinations)

Hospitals Urge Action as Billions in Provider Relief Funds Remain Undistributed

Tens of billions of dollars earmarked by Congress for hospitals and other healthcare providers to offset pandemic-related financial challenges remain undistributed, and hospitals are calling for the funds to be released as they battle the latest COVID-19 surge. About $44 billion from the Provider Relief Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last year remain unused, along with $8.5 billion allocated to rural healthcare providers in March, The Washington Post reported Sept. 1. With the delta variant fueling a new COVID-19 surge, hospitals, lobbyists and lawmakers are pushing harder for the Biden administration to determine how the money will be divided and when it will be distributed. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/hospitals-urge-action-as-billions-in-provider-relief-funds-remain-undistributed.html)

Biden Administration Unveils $65 Billion Plan to Combat Next Pandemics After Covid

The Biden administration laid out last week a $65 billion plan U.S. officials say will help the nation combat the next biological threats after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. The next pandemic will likely be "substantially different" than Covid, and so the U.S. government must prepare now to deal with any future viral threat, Eric Lander, President Biden's science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology, said. The plan - released in a 27-page document titled "American Pandemic Preparedness: Transforming Our Capabilities" - calls for investing billions of dollars over the next decade to improve vaccines and therapeutics as well as public health infrastructure, enhancing the nation's real-time monitoring capabilities, and making upgrades to personal protective equipment that could be used against a wide range of pathogens.

The Biden administration's plan has been organized into five "pillars," officials said, each addressing different parts of the public health system. It proposes $15 billion to $20 billion to jump-start the administration's efforts. The funds would go to a new "mission control" office at HHS that's closely overseen by Congress, officials said. (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/03/covid-biden-administration-unveils-65-billion-plan-to-combat-next-pandemics.html)

Climate Change is World's Top Public Health Threat, 230+ Medical Journals Say

Global warming is the greatest threat to public health, and world leaders cannot wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to end before they address it, the editors of more than 230 medical journals said in a joint statement Sept. 5. "Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases," the journal editors said in the statement, which was published in various journals worldwide including The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine. Heat-related mortality among people over 65 has increased by more than 50% in the last two decades, according to the editors. They said higher temperatures have caused a rise in health issues such as dehydration and renal function loss, tropical infections, and pregnancy complications. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/climate-change-is-world-s-top-public-health-threat-230-medical-journals-say.html)

UC Davis Study Sheds Light on Covid-19 Vaccine Effectiveness

A recent UC Davis Health study shows how quickly COVID-19 infections were reduced among healthcare workers when vaccines were first distributed late last year. Researchers examined the incidence of COVID-19 in UC Davis Medical Center employees before and after vaccines were first made available. The data showed a single dose of their Pfizer or Moderna vaccines decreased the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 48%, while a second dose decreased the risk by 83%. The study included more than 16,000 faculty, staff, and medical nursing students at UC Davis Medical Center. (https://www.capradio.org/articles/2021/08/31/california-coronavirus-updates-august-2021/#ucdavisstudy)

However, the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines at preventing infection fell in one study of U.S. frontline workers from roughly 90% to 66% as the Delta variant emerged and became dominant in the country, an updated report from the CDC indicated. The study includes 4,000+ healthcare workers, first responders, and other frontline workers in eight locations across six states, all of whom have been tested weekly for infection with SARS-CoV-2. More than 4 in 5 were vaccinated, and the vast majority of them received the mRNA vaccines from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. (https://www.statnews.com/2021/08/24/as-delta-spread-covid-19-vaccine-effectiveness-against-infection-fell-from-90-to-66-in-one-key-study/)

Minding the Gap: How Patients Want Healthcare & How Providers Are Delivering It Is Narrowing

Experian Health recently released findings from a follow-up survey on patient access to explore how patient and provider attitudes have changed in the last six months, and what this means for the future of healthcare. The data reveals that patients feel more positive about their healthcare experience, while providers are continuing the digital momentum to meet patients' needs. Overall, the comparison survey suggests that patients surveyed are more satisfied today with healthcare services than in November 2020. 86% of those surveyed are feeling more confident about returning to healthcare facilities compared to 81% in the prior study. 40% of patients that cancelled a procedure due to the pandemic have already rescheduled and undergone the procedure compared to 13% last year. Also, concerns about utilizing online services declined among survey respondents from 37% to 29%.

Fewer consumers are surprised by their final bill, with 52% of patients last year saying they had final costs that differed significantly from estimates; now this figure is just 14%. Providers, in turn, are less concerned this year about collecting payments from consumers, with those very or extremely concerned decreasing from 50% to 41%. 75% of patients surveyed say secure access to patient portals is the top feature they look for in healthcare services, most of the time, which is similar to the previous survey results. 43% of providers improved security for remote patient access services, a 6% increase from last year. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210823005069/en/The-Gap-Between-How-Patients-Want-Healthcare-and-How-Providers-Are-Delivering-It-Is-Narrowing-According-to-National-Survey-by-Experian-Health)

Tech Advances Put the Annual Doctor Visit on the Critical List

For many physicians and their patients, the pandemic triggered a disruption in one of medicine's most common encounters - and, through virtual visits, provided an early glimpse of the physical of the future. An explosion of advances in digital technology, imaging, gene sequencing, and artificial intelligence will likely transform the physical into an even more virtual experience. In five to 10 years, says Michael Blum, a cardiologist and chief digital transformation officer at UC San Francisco, "I'll be able to do the same quality of physical exam out of the office as if you were right in front of me in the office." (https://www.wsj.com/articles/tech-advances-put-the-annual-doctor-visit-on-the-critical-list-11630933201?mod=hp_listc_pos1)

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