ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * May 3, 2022

>>> Yap Ching Chew, Ph.D., is COO of Pangea Laboratory, a diagnostics company focused on the precise, early detection of emerging diseases. Its mission is to have a positive impact on human life by providing medical communities with the data they need to diagnose and treat diseases. Pangea Laboratory provides reliable, high-quality testing services to biomedical communities. The company's tests include a COVID-19 test; Bladder CARE, a qPCR test for bladder cancer detection using urine samples; and PrecisionBIOME, a next-generation microbial test that can detect and identify all bacterial and fungal pathogens in a clinical specimen together with antibiotic susceptibilities - all in one test. Pangea is CLIA-Certified and CAP accredited and surpasses the standards of diagnostic testing. All specimens are processed at the company's U.S. laboratory. Yap joined Pangea, in 2015, as a Director, and became COO in November 2020. In addition, Yap has also worked for Zymo Research Corporation, a globally established biotechnology company and industry leader in the fields of epigenetics, microbiomics, and the emerging Next-Gen Sequencing space. At Zymo, Yap has been a Scientist, since 2012, and Director of Epigenetics Technologies, since mid-2014. Yap has joined the Orange County Round Table.

>>> Barry Clark is Founder, President and CEO of WestFax, Inc., which operates the largest TDM fax platform on earth with multiple data centers. WestFax is a Secure Cloud Fax and Document Workflow company, which offers HIPAA-compliant Cloud Fax services through the WestFax online portal, the company's API, and mobile apps. WestFax continues to innovate though Direct Message Protocol ready document capture, OCR, and managed document workflow. Customers come from nearly every major healthcare company in the Fortune 100 to a single-line mobile app user. In 1999, countless people told WestFax that FAX as a medium was going away. But WestFax is living proof of the power of secure document transport. Today they've moved well beyond the traditional fax machine into new and creative ways to securely send and receive documents and the company is prepared for whatever tomorrow brings. WestFax is headquartered in Denver, CO, with additional offices in California, Florida, and Washington State. Barry has experience in fax, telecom, medical document transport, OCR and AI Extraction, MFP integration, mobile app development, M&A, B2B sales, offshore manufacturing, import, and non-profit board leadership. Barry has also joined the Orange County Round Table.

>>> Nick Focil is CEO of FOMAT Medical Research, which he has led through its expansion to being a top Integrated Research Organization in the U.S. With 10+ years of participating in Phase 1-4 clinical trials in a variety of therapeutic areas, FOMAT relies on a highly experienced clinical research team with the expertise necessary to assist Sponsors and Contract Research Organizations in reaching their project goals quickly and effectively. Nick is also the Co-Founder and Chairman of Febo Health, a Health ToolBox used globally by chronic condition patients to help make life a little bit easier. Febo is the first mobile application to offer several condition-management tools as well as the most current news and findings surrounding a patient's condition(s). Also, Nick sits on the board of hyperCORE International, a super network of highly experienced and awarded clinical trial sites working together to accelerate and advance clinical research, in which FOMAT is a partner. Earlier in his career, Nick was recruited by the Medtronic MiniMed Diabetes division to operate pre-pivotal trials and, shortly after, became the Managing Director of Diverse Research Solutions tasked with expanding clinical research operations in the U.S. Nick has joined the Los Angeles Round Table.

>>> Jack Higgins, MD, is President and Chief Medical Officer of Global Telehealth Network (GTN), which he founded in 2015. A nonprofit that recruits physician volunteers to evaluate and treat patients located in medically underserved areas using a web-based video communication system, GTN enables physicians to use computers in their offices or homes to treat patients virtually anywhere. GTN partners with other NGOs working in underserved areas, and can also help in disaster areas, war-torn regions, and more. Jack is also currently President of RotaCare Bay Area since 2020, and has served on its Board of Directors since 2000. RotaCare is a nonprofit that operates 10 free clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area, where volunteer MDs and nurses provide free medical care for people who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay. Previously, Jack was CMO at Avantis Medical Systems, a medical device company based in Silicon Valley. He also trained physicians in the U.S., Europe, and Japan to use the devices and supported investigators in five countries as they conducted clinical research studies involving them. Still earlier, Jack practiced Family Medicine in Chico, CA area for 20 years. Jack has joined the Silicon Valley Round Table.

  • 5/04 - Orange County ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Overcoming Healthcare Career Obstacles" - Featured Member Presenter: Dan Forche, President & CEO of Prelude Corporation

  • 5/10 - Silicon Valley ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Is the Healthcare Market Still Hot? led by Mike McKinnon, M&A Partner, Sheppard Mullin" - Featured Member Presenter: Lisa Cooper, CEO, Santa Cruz Surgery Center and Principal of Advocare+

  • 5/11 - Bay Area (SF) ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "So, How Does Kaiser Permanente Set Its Prices Anyway?" - Featured Member Presenter: Marcos Vasconcelos, Executive Director, Strategic Market Planning & Execution at Kaiser Permanente Health Plan

  • 5/19 - Bay Area (OAK) ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Dealing with Inflation's Impact on Healthcare"

  • 5/20 - Los Angeles ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Is the Healthcare Market Still Hot?" - Featured Guest Member Presenter: Mike McKinnon, M&A Partner in the Corporate Practice Group of Sheppard Mullin

  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>
Click on Headlines to Read Articles
Angle Health Partners with H1

Angle Health, a healthcare insurance and benefits provider for startups and other employers, has signed on to use H1's Precise provider data management solution, in order to equip Angle Health patients with the most actionable and up-to-date data to identify and connect with providers to meet their individual healthcare needs. (Andy Leeka, LA)

Biospectal Chosen by ConnectedLife Health + Vies for Medtech Award

Biospectal announced the signing of a new partner - ConnectedLife Health - to provide OptiBP optical fingertip smartphone blood pressure monitoring to the ConnectedLife vital signs digital health services platform.
ALSO, Biospectal is one of three Finalists for the Swiss Medtech Award 2022. The Winner will be announced June 14. (Eliott Jones, SV)

Change Healthcare Launches InterQual 2022

Change Healthcare has released InterQual 2022, the latest edition of the company's flagship clinical decision support solution for the delivery of the latest, evidence-based appropriate care. It includes new criteria for emergent trends, restructured and interactive criteria to streamline workflows, and artificial intelligence to drive proactive insights and efficiency. (Marcia Augsburger, JD, Bay Area)

Choice in Aging CEO Interviewed in Webcast

Debbie Toth, CEO of Choice in Aging (CiA), was recently interviewed by Ann Notarangelo, External Relations Manager of Shell Martinez Refinery and a former celebrated Bay Area journalist - click here to watch the video.
ALSO, watch a replay of CiA's recent virtual media event in partnership with the California Department of Aging and Ethnic Media Services, entitled "Isolated by the Pandemic: Older Adults Regain Social Life with Vaccines & Reopened Day Health Centers."
MEANWHILE, on May 3, CiA is participating in the virtual 2022 Senior Rally Day - virtually visit with your legislators to make them aware of the need to provide funding for senior programs. (Debbie Toth, Bay Area)

Cigna Honored as Best Employer for Health and Well-being + Teams with Kaiser Permanente

Cigna Corporation was honored by the Business Group on Health for its commitment to advancing the health and well-being of its workforce - the 15th consecutive year Cigna has been recognized with this distinction, and this year the company also received the "Best Employers: Excellence in Mental Health" Award.
ALSO, Evernorth, Cigna's health services business, and Kaiser Permanente (KP) announced a new, five-year collaboration, initially focused on bringing greater convenience, affordability, and access in two areas: Access to Cigna's PPO provider network for KP members who need urgent or emergency care and are traveling outside of KP's service areas, and specialty pharmacy services. (Chris De Rosa, OC, & Marcos Vasconcelos, Bay Area)

Elemeno Health Chosen for 2022 KidsX Accelerator Cohort

Elemeno Health is among the eight digital health companies invited to participate in the 2022 KidsX Accelerator, chosen from 150+ applicants. Since its first pediatric-focused accelerator program ended in June 2021, KidsX startups have launched 20+ pilots, research studies, and enterprise-wide rollouts at KidsX member organizations - 30+ hospitals across the US and internationally. (Arup Roy-Burman, MD, Bay Area)

FOMAT Medical Research CEO Spotlighted for Entrepreneurship

Nick Focil, CEO of FOMAT Medical Research, and Founder and Chairman of Febo, was recently interviewed by Adam Mendler, CEO of The Veloz Group, on entrepreneurship and defining success.
AND, USA Wire recently published an article - Discover Febo: The Health ToolBox App.
MEANWHILE, Nick announced that hyperCORE International, where he is an Executive Board Member, was named Runner-Up for Best Clinical Trial Network at the VIE Awards, presented at The World Vaccine Congress 2022. (Nick Focil, LA)

HHS Announces $90M to Support New Data-Driven Approaches

The US Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, has announced the availability of nearly $90 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support new data-driven efforts for HRSA Health Center Program-supported health centers and look-alikes to identify and reduce health disparities. HRSA's modernized data collection and reporting initiative, called Uniform Data System Patient-Level Submission, is designed to collect more and better data on social determinants of health, while also streamlining and improving data quality reporting for health centers. This effort will enable health centers to tailor their efforts to improve health outcomes and advance health equity, more precisely targeting the needs of specific communities or patients. The funding announced can be used for various COVID-19 activities and for modifying, enhancing, and expanding health care services and infrastructure by improving health information technology, enhancing data collection, and supporting related staff training. (Bonnie Preston, Bay Area)

HumanGood Highlights Recent Event

Each year HumanGood brings together its leadership team, board members and partners to showcase how they are designing experiences that inspire residents, team members, and prospective customers to live their best lives possible. Click here to watch highlights of the recent event. (Tara McGuinness, Bay Area)

Kaiser Permanente Finds Medical Assistants Help Facilitate Better Virtual Doc Appointments + KP Medical School Among Nation's Most Diverse

Patients participating in video visits with their primary care doctors in fall 2020 benefited from having a medical assistant help connect the call, particularly if they needed language interpretation or lived in a low-socioeconomic-status neighborhood, according to Kaiser Permanente research published April 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The process included training for both medical assistants and clinicians, with updates as new and better methods were identified - such as texting the patient a link to the video meeting. Along with helping with technology, medical assistants also determine the patient's main goal for the visit and whether preventive care or screenings are needed.
MEANWHILE, in U.S. News & World Report's 2023 Best Medical Schools study, the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine is ranked as the 6th most diverse medical school in the nation - and the 2nd most diverse in California. (Marcos Vasconcelos, Bay Area)

LifeLong Medical Care CMO Discusses Congress's Push for Additional COVID Relief

Mike Stacey, MD, CMO of LifeLong Medical Care, recently spoke with KQED's Brian Watt about Congress pushing for another round of COVID relief funds. In a LinkedIn post, Mike added: "The resistance happening in congress to pass more funds for COVID-19 is already affecting communities that have been most impacted by the pandemic. As much as we all want to be done with COVID, it is still with us. The HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program is the first casualty, but without federal funding there will be more." [Editor's Note: For background, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a $10 billion COVID-19 supplemental funding proposal on April 4, but concerns related to establishing an amendment process prevented a vote on the measure before members departed for the two-weeklong congressional recess, according to aamc.org.] (Michael Stacey, MD, Bay Area)

LigoLab Named to Capterra 2022 Shortlist as an "Emerging Favorite"

LigoLab is on the Capterra 2022 Shortlist as an "Emerging Favorite" in the medical billing software category. To create the list, Capterra analyzed hundreds of software products and eliminated those that didn't meet requirements for functionality and reviews. LigoLab particularly excelled in customer satisfaction. (Suren Avunjian, LA)

Mazzetti Reinforces Commitment to Decarbonization

As an employee-owned Benefit Corporation, Mazzetti is committed to generating public benefit - societal and environmental. The company recently published its 2021 Benefit Corporation Report, in which CEO Walt Vernon wrote: In our design business, Form Follows Function. That means that our designs create the stages on which our clients do their work. And, if quality to our clients means no carbon, then quality to us must mean no carbon. Today, we re-commit ourselves to building not a brick, not a wall, but a cathedral - a company committed to helping our clients decarbonize. Our new Corporate Benefit will be to create zero-carbon, healthy, enduring environments."
ALSO, Walt has recently published a series of articles: The "Business Case" for Decarbonization (read); Slightly Different Take on "The Business Case" (read); Healthcare Decarbonization Business Case Part III (read); and Healthcare Decarbonization Business Case, Part IV (read). (Walt Vernon, JD, Bay Area)

MedWand CEO Spotlighted in Magazine Feature + MedWand Performs Live Cross-Country Medical Exam

Bob Rose, CEO of MedWand, was recently interviewed in Authority Magazine, in an article entitled, Health Tech: Robert Rose On How MedWand Solutions' Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness. The article highlights Bob's background, character traits instrumental to his success, particular problems MedWand is aiming to solve, five things one needs to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact, and more.
MEANWHILE, on May 2, at the American Telemedicine Association Conference and Expo in Boston, MedWand presented a special live exam on the show floor's mainstage, in which Co-Founder & CMO Samir Qamar, MD, conducted a real-time MedWand telemedicine exam and consult with a patient located on the West Coast. (Bob Rose, OC)

Mission Hospice Gala to Celebrate Dean Martin

On the evening of June 4, Mission Hospice & Home Care will present That's Amore, A Tribute to Dean Martin, in downtown San Mateo, a special night of dinner, live music, and supporting Mission Hospice. (Dolores Miller, Bay Area)

Nelson Hardiman Discusses Shifting Mask Mandates; Medical vs Recreational Models for Controlled Substances; & Making Websites More Accessible for the Disabled; + Announces Westwood Village Sublease Opportunities

Spectrum News recently talked with Harry Nelson, Managing Partner of Nelson Hardiman, about shifting face-mask mandates in transportation in California and around the world.
ALSO, recent articles from Harry and Nelson Hardiman include First Cannabis, Now Psychedelics: Tensions between Medical and Recreational Models and DOJ Guidance to Make Websites More Accessible for the Disabled.

MEANWHILE, Nelson Hardiman is offering office subleases in their premiere class A building in the heart of Westwood Village, at 1100 Glendon Ave., offering ocean and mountain views from the tower's 15th floor. MORE DETAILS & INFORMATION. "A" offices begin at $1,800 per month (additional amount for certain offices based on location, such as corner offices). "B" offices begin at $1,300 per month. (Harry Nelson, JD, LA)

Pangea Laboratory Donates 50,000 COVID-19 PCR Tests for the Uninsured

Pangea Laboratory is donating 50,000 COVID-19 PCR tests, which have been made available for free to the uninsured in Los Angeles and Orange County. The donation, worth more than $5 million, was made possible with help from Zymo Research offering their Emergency Use Authorization Quick SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR Kits at a discounted rate. Through collaborations with CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), the Orange County Health Care Agency, and community health organizations, Pangea will continue running PCR tests with a 24-hour turnaround at no cost to uninsured patients until this supply is depleted. (Yap Ching Chew, Ph.D., OC)

Parentis Health Acquires Pop-In Care to Expands Services

Parentis Health, a healthcare company focusing on senior care, has acquired Pop-in Care, a licensed home care firm catering to elderly, individuals with disabilities, and those recovering from surgeries or other acute illnesses. Pop-in Care specializes in short visits, without minimum hourly or weekly time or visitation requirements, and rounds out the care offerings of Parentis Health. It will continue to operate under the Pop-in Care name, as a Parentis Health subsidiary company. The acquisition was covered in the Orange County Business Journal and Hospice News. (Tarek El Nabli, OC)

Royal Ambulance CEO Joins Call for Increased Medi-Cal Reimbursement to EMS

Steve Grau, CEO of Royal Ambulance, has published an article - California's EMS is on life support and needs your help. An excerpt: "Our industry and profession are in a bind because we are handcuffed to legacy Medi-Cal rates from 1999. These inherited rates are preventing EMS providers from paying higher wages to front-line teams, making the profession less attractive to enter. Decreased interest in the field has dramatically reduced the applicant pool to our current state. ... This inherited Medi-Cal rate is the number one problem our industry faces today. ... In California, this rate is $118 + $3/mile, which for context, is less than a quarter of the cost to run a trip." Steve shares that the California Ambulance Association is collecting signatures at Fundfirstresponders.org to support an initiative to provide ambulance providers a Medi-Cal increase that ensures a sustainable living wage. (Steve Grau, SV)

Satellite Healthcare's Bernadette Vincent Receives "Women of Impact" Award

Satellite Healthcare President and COO Bernadette Vincent has received a Women of Impact award from the International Career and Business Alliance for Black professionals and entrepreneurs (ICABA). The ICABA celebrates the accomplishments of leading professionals and entrepreneurs and also provides mentoring and coaching opportunities for emerging leaders to grow their careers, with guidance from previous ICABA Women of Impact honorees.
MEANWHILE, Satellite has shared a new study from its research team which measured patient activation status changes over the first four months of dialysis.
AND, a recent article in the American Society of Nephrology's Kidney360 journal highlights two home dialysis mentoring initiatives led by Satellite Healthcare. (Bernadette Vincent, Bay Area, & Jeff Goffman, SV)

Savi Group Discusses Healthcare Tech & Importance of Reducing Coding Errors

In Healthcare Technologies That Can Change the Medical Industry, Savi Group reports that wearable devices will continue to help patients and providers track individual health data and build habits that improve their well-being. Virtual/augmented reality will help physicians and surgeons better prepare for taking care of their patients and continue to find new applications for positive health outcomes. And 3D printing could change countless lives by improving operations and providing anatomically correct tools shaped for patients' needs.
AND, in The Importance of Reducing Medical Coding Errors, Savi discusses how proper coding helps ensure strong cash flow within the organization while helping make sure fines and penalties are not incurred.
MEANWHILE, Athelas, where Sumit Mahendru is Head of RCM, raised $132MM million in January and has now announced that its flagship device, the Athelas Home, has been cleared by the FDA for home-use indication. From a small volume of blood, the Athelas Home measures White Blood Cells and Neutrophil percentages remotely within a patient's home or other near-patient setting. The system also has the ability to flag the presence of Blast Cells, Immature Cells, and other Abnormal Cell types often found in liquid tumors. (Sumit Mahendru, OC)

Select Data Provides On-Demand Coding Updates Webinar

Select Data has published a 5-minute on-demand video presentation - April Showers Bring Coding Updates. Click here to watch it. (Ed Buckley, OC)

WestFax Launches New Product, Comprehend

WestFax announced that it launched its "Comprehend" WestFax product at the recent Vive 2022 in Miami Beach. Watch a 1-minute video about the product.
MEANWHILE, CEO Barry Clark published a commentary article - Fax and the Sunken Cost Fallacy, in which he ponders this conundrum: the Sunken Cost Fallacy occurs when a person (or in this case, a company) is reluctant to abandon their current approach, simply because they have already invested a lot of time or money in it. This often occurs even when it's clear that abandoning the old approach would be more beneficial. (Barry Clark, OC)

Wipfli Announces Upcoming Healthcare-Related Webinars

Upcoming healthcare-related webinars from Wipfli include:
>> Provider Relief Fund reporting: What providers need to know, on May 10.
>> On May 17, The future of healthcare technology & digital transformation.
>> Optimized Care Delivery in the Rural Setting: What's the Right Number of Patients?, on June 21.
>> On July 19, Recruiting and retaining with unique employee benefits.
MEANWHILE, Wipfli's Jeff Johnson shares a good article from the National Chair of the Healthcare Financial Management Association - Reframe workforce challenges as opportunities. (Jeff Johnson, John Dao & Steve Rousso, Bay Area)

Eckert & Ziegler Collaborates with Alpha-9 Theranostics & Sirtex Medical

Eckert & Ziegler (EZ) has executed with Alpha-9 Theranostics, a Canadian biotech company, a clinical supply agreement for EZ's medical radioisotope Lutetium-177, which will be used for the clinical development of Alpha-9's investigational drugs.
AND, EZ and Sirtex Medical have extended their long-term supply agreement for the use of yttrium-90 in Sirtex microspheres for the treatment of liver cancer to the Chinese market. The agreement guarantees EZ a significant share of the growing global demand for Y90-based microspheres. (Frank Yeager, ABL-Tech SGV)

Profi Hailed by Software Review Platforms

Profi has been recognized in the Capterra Shortlist and Software Advice Frontrunner for Training Software, as a top-rated software with an overall rating of 4.8/5.
AND, read This Subscription-based Wellness Consultancy Cut Admin Waste, Tripled Subscriptions and 60Xed Activations With Profi Network to learn about Ikigai Consulting's success story. (Alina Trigubenko, ABL-Tech WLA)

Tanner Research CEO to Present Virtual Nutrition Science Workshop in May & June

On the evenings of May 4 (click here) and June 2 (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., ABL-Tech SGV)

COVID Still in the News
Nearly 60% of U.S. Population Has Contracted COVID-19

Between December 2021 and February 2022, during the Omicron wave in the U.S., the CDC announced the estimated percentage of the U.S. population with infection-induced antibodies increased from 34% to 58% across all age groups, including 75% of children and adolescents. Kristie Clarke, MD, of the CDC's COVID-19 Emergency Response Team noted that they examined data on the proportion of the population who developed antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, which only appear after infection, not vaccination. (https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/98414)

Masks Back by Popular Demand on San Francisco BART & L.A. Public Transportation

A mask mandate for commuter rail passengers is back by popular demand in the San Francisco Bay Area, the region that two years ago imposed the nation's first coronavirus stay-at-home order and now is bucking the national trend away from required face coverings. The Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART), had decided last week to drop its rule in line with a federal court ruling but that decision prompted an outcry from riders, spokeswoman Alicia Trost said. BART's board of directors subsequently decided to temporarily restore the mask rule until at least July 18, the agency said in a statement. A week earlier, Los Angeles County restored its masking rule for all public transportation including buses, trains, subways, taxis, and airports. (https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2022-04-29/masks-again-required-on-san-francisco-bay-area-rapid-transit)

VP Harris Treated with Paxlovid Upon COVID Diagnosis - and Tested Negative Six Days Later

Just hours after it was announced that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19, it was also announced that she has been prescribed and has taken Paxlovid, an antiviral pill used to treat the virus. The pills were authorized in December, and now the Biden administration said the number of sites with available pills would be increased from 20,000 to 30,000 for the time being, with intentions of having 40,000 locations with pills "over the coming weeks." (https://thehill.com/news/administration/3467171-harris-prescribed-covid-19-antiviral-pill-after-testing-positive/)
ON MAY 2, it was reported that VP Harris tested negative on Monday for COVID-19, six days after she tested positive for the virus, and has been cleared to return to the White House on Tuesday, May 3. It was also reported that Harris would continue to wear a "well-fitting mask while around others" in accordance with CDC guidelines until through her tenth day after her positive test. (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/harris-negative-covid-19-taking-antiviral-pill-84448232)

Fauci Clarifies: US Transitioning Out of Pandemic Phase

In an April 26 "PBS NewsHour" interview, Dr. Fauci said, "We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase," pointing to low levels of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. However, he offered clarification in media interviews a day later. "I probably should have said 'the acute component of the pandemic phase.' And I understand how that can lead to some misinterpretation," Dr. Fauci told NPR's "1A" podcast. "We're really in a transitional phase, from a deceleration of the numbers into hopefully a more controlled phase and endemicity," he told The Washington Post. While the nation's "full-blown pandemic dynamic" was characterized by "900,000 cases a day, tens of thousands of hospitalizations, 3,000 deaths a day," Dr. Fauci told the Post the nation is moving into the "control" phase, where the virus will continue to circulate without causing significant waves of severe illness and death. Still, the nation is not quite there yet, he said. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/fauci-clarifies-us-transitioning-out-of-pandemic-phase.html)

Healthcare Workforce News
Stanford Nurses Overwhelmingly Ratify New Contract, Ending Week-Long Strike

Members of the union representing thousands of striking Stanford nurses voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract offer, bringing an end to the week-long work stoppage. Stanford and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital had to cancel some elective surgeries and call in replacement workers when 5,000 nurses hit the picket lines last on April 25. The contract will raise nurses' salaries by 17% over three years, boost health and retirement benefits, and add an additional week of vacation time starting in 2024. (https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2022/05/02/stanford-nurses-strike-contract-approved-crona/)

US to Recover Jobs Lost Amid COVID-19 by Summer, Fitch Forecasts

The U.S. labor market will fully recapture all jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of August, Fitch Ratings forecasts in a new report. The United States is only about 1.6 million jobs shy of February 2020 levels, making the forecast feasible. Thirteen states, including Florida, Georgia, Colorado, and Arizona, have already fully recovered all jobs lost during COVID-19, Fitch said. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/workforce/us-to-recover-jobs-lost-amid-covid-19-by-summer-fitch-forecasts.html)

Healthcare & Consumers
Walgreens Expands its Medical-Care Offerings in Major California Markets

Walgreens Boots Alliance recently said that it will expand the number of stores in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas with so-called Health Corners, which offer medical care in association with health insurer Blue Shield of California. It has opened 12 Health Corner locations in California and plans to open eight more by mid-year. Health Corners are discrete spaces in stores where a registered nurse or pharmacist can screen a patient for high blood pressure or diabetes, help set up a high-tech medical device, or schedule a mammogram. Blue Shield reimburses billable services that the health advisor provides to its members. For customers who are Blue Shield members there's a longer list of available health services and no copay, while customers who aren't covered by the insurer can also get select services from a Health Corner for a fee, (https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/06/walgreens-expands-its-medical-care-offerings-in-major-california-markets.html)

Health Systems are Making Over Shopping Malls

Hickory Hollow Mall - a full 1.1 million square feet of retail space in southeastern Nashville - was once the largest shopping center in Tennessee. Now the mammoth complex surrounded by acres of parking is on track to join the ranks of malls making a transition into a booming economic sector: medicine. Vanderbilt University Medical Center has had such success reviving a different mall that its health system, Vanderbilt Health, plans to add medical clinics at the mall. What big-city health systems need most is something shopping malls have plenty of: space and parking. They offer convenience for patients and practitioners, as well as costing less than expanding an existing hospital campus. Nationwide, 32 enclosed malls house health care services in at least part of their footprint, according to a database kept by Ellen Dunham-Jones, a Georgia Tech urban design professor. (https://khn.org/news/article/shopping-for-space-health-systems-make-over-malls/)

Lowering Healthcare Costs
New Tech Could Shorten Hospital Stays by as Much as 3-5 Days

In a recent Wall Street Journal Opinion piece, Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Billy Deitch write: "As with other parts of the American economy, healthcare has stretched its workforce to its limit. Doctors, nurses, administrators, respiratory therapists, and others have been in emergency mode for much of the past two years. Unpredictable surges of Covid-19 still threaten to increase the workload and sideline workers. No wonder there is tremendous burnout. People are quitting, causing serious workforce shortages, and compromising medical care.

"The solution is automation. For decades this has been a dirty word, viewed as an existential threat to American workers. Covid-19 and burnout, however, are making it a savior. The labor shortage in healthcare has put enormous strain on the industry. Largely because of employee burnout, the healthcare workforce shrank by 424,000 between February 2020 and March 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare executives complain it is harder to hire and retain employees than ever before. With 9% of job positions in healthcare unfilled, the industry must find ways to ease the burden." Read More: https://www.wsj.com/articles/automation-doctor-job-easier-artificial-inteligence-labor-shortage-digital-health-care-medical-worker-nurse-therapist-cost-healthcare-covid-19-hospital-capacity-11649967481?mod=hp_opin_pos_5#cxrecs_s

How Hospitals Are Using AI to Save Lives

Hospitals are making a bet that artificial intelligence can help identify and treat patients at highest risk in their ERs, inpatient wards and ICUs, for dangers including the deadly infection sepsis and an impending cardiac arrest or stroke. AI algorithms are processing vast troves of data in electronic medical records, searching for patterns to predict future outcomes and recommend treatments. They are creating early-warning systems to help hospital staff spot subtle but serious changes in a patient's condition that aren't always visible or noticed in a busy unit, and predicting which patients about to be discharged from the hospital are at the highest risk of being readmitted. These systems are just one effort in a vast array of AI projects in healthcare - from helping detect cancer in radiology images to identifying which drugs to test on patients with different diseases. But this prediction technology holds especially significant promise to transform care and improve patient safety in ER and ICU cases - as long as the systems can be designed to avoid some of the medical, technological and ethical concerns that have emerged in mixing the science of machine learning with the art of medicine. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-hospitals-are-using-ai-to-save-lives-11649610000)

Healthcare & Government
Study: Medicare Advantage Saves Seniors Nearly $2K a Year Compared to Fee-For-Service

Seniors save nearly $2,000 on average a year in total healthcare spending in Medicare Advantage (MA) compared to fee-for-service Medicare, a new study by the advocacy group Better Medicare Alliance finds. Consulting firm ATI Advisory, which performed the study that examined 2019 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data, found that the average total spending in 2019 per beneficiary was $3,524 in MA compared with $5,489 for those in traditional Medicare. Researchers added that the study also showed savings across race and ethnicity. (https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payers/study-medicare-advantage-saves-seniors-nearly-2k-year-compared-fee-service)

CMS Outlines Strategy to Advance Health Equity

Pursuant to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, federal agencies, and departments, including HHS, have recently released their plans to advance equity. On April 20, 2022, CMS announced a plan of action towards providing affordable health care for all people, regardless of their background, driving health equity. Read More: https://kslawemail.com/128/9063/pages/art3.asp?sid=a2701ca5-9d13-4f7d-a527-ed8ad1bb9892

CMS Issues Proposed Rule for FY 2023 Rates for Hospitals and Hospices

CMS issued its annual Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule for FY 2023, on April 18, 2022. In the Proposed Rule, CMS proposes to update the IPPS and LTCH payment rates, modify the payment rules for direct graduate medical education to comply with a recent federal court decision, impose a permanent 5% cap on year-to-year wage index losses, and adopt a new supplemental payment for tribal hospitals and hospitals located in Puerto Rico. This article provides an overview of the key proposals in the Proposed Rule. Comments to the Proposed Rule must be submitted by June 17, 2022. (https://kslawemail.com/128/9063/pages/art1.asp?sid=a2701ca5-9d13-4f7d-a527-ed8ad1bb9892) Meanwhile, CMS also issued a proposed rule seeking to make routine updates to hospice-based payments and to the aggregate cap amount for FY 2023. CMS estimates that hospices will see a 2.7% ($580 million) increase in payments. Comments are due by May 31, 2022. Read More: https://kslawemail.com/128/9015/pages/article-4.asp?sid=17d55d0f-e273-4c98-8e78-7e7639f68dc7

CMS Seeks Feedback on Rules Impacting Skilled Nursing Facilities & Their Staffing Constraints

CMS issued its FY 2023 Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Prospective Payment System (PPS) proposed rule updating Medicare payment policies and rates for SNFs, on April 11, 2022. The proposed rule also includes proposals for the SNF Quality Reporting Program and the SNF Value-Based Program for FY 2023 and future years, and it seeks feedback on addressing staffing constraints and turnover in nursing homes and health equity disparities. Comments are due to CMS by June 10, 2022. The key highlights of the proposed rule are summarized here: https://kslawemail.com/128/9039/pages/article1.asp?sid=daa72c83-170a-4697-b914-3da83bd9b671

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