ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * February 7, 2023

>>> Janice Whaley is President and CEO of Donor Network West, the federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for northern California and northern Nevada. It is the second largest OPO in the U.S. Donor Network West serves 13+ million people and connects organ donors to those in need in 45 counties in northern California and northern Nevada. It's a federally designated nonprofit 501(c)3 and OPO committed to helping save and heal lives, supporting donor families, and developing organ donation as a fundamental human responsibility. Donor Network West's mission is made possible by its partnership with 175 hospitals, doctors, nurses, 500+ funeral homes and 44 coroners and medical examiners. The organization works in close partnership with researchers in academic medical centers, hospitals, universities, and biotechnology centers to advance their research programs with organ and tissue donations. Janice joined Donor Network West in January 2019. Subsequently, the organization substantially increased organ recovery performance across multiple metrics, saving hundreds more lives. She previously held leadership and clinical roles in three other OPOs, achieving similar results: COO of LifeShare of Oklahoma; Managing Director of Clinical Operations at LifeGift in Houston, TX; and provided operational oversight for all aspects of tissue recovery at Alabama Organ Center. Janice has joined ABL-Health's Bay Area Round Table.

>>> Welcome back to Naresh Menon, Ph.D., Founder, President and CEO of ChromoLogic LLC, where he leads a team of world-class technologists in developing innovative solutions that save lives and make the world secure. The company is actively engaged in multiple cutting-edge applied research and development programs in the medical, aerospace, and security markets. The ChromoLogic team brings a unique, multi-disciplinary approach to compelling scientific challenges; their core capabilities stem from the team's diverse talents. Prior to founding the company, in 2007, Naresh's early career was spent at Corning Incorporated and Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, where he was groomed for leadership positions in multiple businesses. Naresh earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Purdue University, with an emphasis in sensor fabrication, instrumentation, and novel data analytic methods that were applied at multiple national and international laboratories towards fundamental physics discoveries. During his Ph.D. training, he spent three years at Cornell University's Laboratory of Nuclear Studies, and one year at the European Center for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland. Naresh has re-joined ABL-Health's Los Angeles Round Table.

  • 2/14 - Silicon Valley ZOOM Table - "What Can Healthcare Leaders Learn from the Nonprofit World" - Featuring Cathy Conway, Hospice of Santa Cruz County

  • 2/16 - Bay Area ZOOM Table - "Robots to the Rescue? Solving the Caregiver Shortfall" - Featuring Alex Huang, Founder & CEO, and Daniel Haddick of Aeolus Robotics

  • 2/17 - Los Angeles ZOOM Table - "The Shifting Battleground for Healthcare Privacy" - Featuring Harry Nelson, JD, Nelson Hardiman

  • 3/01 - Orange County ZOOM Table - "Making Partnerships Work" - Featuring Bob Rose, MedWand

  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>
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Angle Health Raises $58 Million To Modernize Access to Comprehensive Healthcare Benefits

Angle Health announced $58 million Series A funding led by Portage, with participation from PruVen Capital, Wing Venture Capital, SixThirty Ventures, Mighty Capital, Wormhole Capital, Mindset Ventures, Crew Capital, Aloft VC, and Pilot founder Waseem Daher; and support from existing investors Blumberg Capital, Correlation Ventures, TSVC, and Y Combinator. Following its recent expansion into Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and South Carolina, Angle Health is already covering tens of thousands of members on its fully-insured and self-funded products since launching in 2021. Powered by its integrated, AI-enabled technology platform, Angle Health provides a digital-first care navigation experience with its fully tailored comprehensive healthcare benefit plans for employers. (Andy Leeka, LA)

Alegre Home Care Provides Caregiving Tips for Anxiety & Depression
Greg Buchert Announces Makani Science's Crowdfunding Campaign

Greg Buchert has shared that Makani Science, a company for which he is a Director, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Start Engine. The innovative respiratory monitor has many potential uses that include multiple medical applications, mindfulness, athletic performance monitoring and more. MEANWHILE, Greg recently moderated a panel discussing Novel Capital/VC Funding Innovation for Change at the HealthTech4Medicaid Innovation Forum 2023 in San Francisco. (Greg Buchert, MD, OC)

Choice in Aging Discusses Services for Seniors with Fellow Advocates

Choice in Aging will hold its (already sold out) 48th Annual Crab Feed on the evening of February 24, in Walnut Creek; a waitlist is available for tickets and sponsorships.
MEANWHILE, recent episodes of Choice in Aging's "Dishing with Debbie" video series include:
>> Guest Rick Gamache, CEO of Aldersbridge Communities, which offers affordable assisted living, skilled care, rehab, long-term care and more.
>> Guest Jeannee Parker Martin, CEO of LeadingAge California, an association that focuses on housing, care, and services for older adults.
>> Guests Joseph Villarreal, Exec Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Contra Costa, and Kurt Wiest, Exec Director of the Housing Authority Of The County Of Alameda, in a conversation about housing for the future.
>> Denise Likar, Principal at DL Solutions, who is leveraging her 20+ years of experience focused on community-level services and advocacy to help develop and improve services for older adults. (Debbie Toth, Bay Area)

ChromoLogic's OCTiCell Spotlighted in Industry Journal + CEO Joins University Advisory Board

Naresh Menon, CEO of ChromoLogic, has co-authored an article in Science Direct - Cell monitoring with optical coherence tomography - in which a team of researchers evaluated a commercially available instrument from ChromoLogic, OCTiCell, for monitoring cell growth in suspended agitated bioreactors based on optical coherence tomography. They concluded that this novel cell monitoring method can adapt to different bioreactor form factors and could reduce the labor cost and contamination risks associated with cell growth monitoring.
PLUS, the Company was hailed in a recent post from Ensun about ChromoLogic's development of software to accelerate the development and implementation of neuromorphic computing.
AND, Naresh has joined the Advisory Board at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland. (Naresh Menon, Ph.D., LA)

Cigna Sees Whole-Person Health as the New Vitality of Well-Being

Chris DeRosa of Cigna recently published an article in Advisor Magazine - Measuring Whole-Person Health; The new dimensions and new vitality of well-being - in which he introduces vitality as the next-generation measure of health. "Vitality is both a driver and an outcome of health and work/life engagement. It's essential to individuals and a catalyst for business and community growth." Chris also discusses the Evernorth Vitality Index and its eight dimensions: physical; emotional; occupational; social; spiritual; financial; environmental; and intellectual.
A study released by Cigna finds that triple integration of medical, pharmacy and behavioral benefits resulted in lower healthcare costs for employers. Cigna ALSO earned the #1 ranking among the healthcare industry in the list of "America's Most JUST Companies" by JUST Capital and CNBC, AND Cigna was was named a top workplace for diversity, earning the highest possible score in a study by Newsweek and Plant-A Insights. (Chris DeRosa, OC)

Donate Life / OneLegacy Rose Parade Float Wins Sweepstakes Trophy

Donate Life's 2023 Rose Parade float, for which Tom Mone of OneLegacy was Chairman of the Donate Life Rose Parade float committee, was awarded the sweepstakes trophy also known as the "Most Beautiful Entry" award, which encompasses float design, floral presentation and entertainment. The best award, however, was the media attention this year's OneLegacy Donate Life float garnered, according to Tom: "2.2 Billion media impressions... well beyond last year's 1.5 Billion and dwarfing our founding year's (2004) 100 million.” (Tom Mone, LA)

Elemeno & URMC Golisano Children's Hospital Partner to Launch Workforce App

Elemeno Health and University of Rochester Medical Center - Golisano Children's Hospital have partnered to implement a user-friendly application to support perioperative staff with just-in-time resources, digital communication, and actionable insights. The customizable clinical and resource app condenses otherwise-overwhelming information into bite-sized content accessible and easy to consume, and specific to each department's needs. The Elemeno app is helping GCH maintain consistency in surgical care and workflows, improve the onboarding experience, and promote an optimal experience for patients and their families. (Arup Roy-Burman, MD, Bay Area)

HyperCORE International Celebrates 4th Anniversary + Nominated for Award

hyperCORE International - founded by FOMAT Medical Research, Benchmark Research and Centricity Research - is celebrating its fourth anniversary AND it's a nominee for Best Clinical Trial Network in the ViE Awards (Vaccine Industry Excellence) 2023, which will be presented in April. (Nick Focil, LA)

HumanGood Contributes to Senior Living Executive Forecast 2023

HumanGood's CEO John Cochrane recently shared his views with Senior Housing News, in an article entitled, Senior Living Executive Forecast 2023: Pivoting Away From 'Crisis Mode,' including the leadership mantra at HumanGood - California's largest nonprofit provider of senior housing - "we must have one foot in today and one foot in five years. Of course, that is easy to say, but much harder to do, particularly in a disruptive, chaotic, inflationary environment. It has never been more difficult, yet it has never been more necessary." (Tara McGuinness, Bay Area)

Illumination Foundation Celebrates 15 Years; Receives Grants; Co-CEO to Present on Preparing for CalAIM

This year, Illumination Foundation (IF) is celebrating 15 years of disrupting the cycle of homelessness - watch this 49-second video as IF's Co-CEOs kick-off a year of celebrations.
AND, on February 16, Co-CEO Pooja Bhalla will be a presenter at the 2023 Open Minds Performance Management Institute, in a session entitled, "Preparing For CalAIM: Success & Sustainability - The Data-Driven Path Forward."
ALSO, Pooja has recently written an article: The Value of a Diversified Workforce.
MEANWHILE, IF and My Private Professor (MPP) have partnered so that MPP is providing free, 1-on-1 online tutoring to students residing in IF's emergency shelters. PLUS, IF is the recipient of a $125,000 grant through the annual Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Awards program AND the Golden Eagle Foundation has provided a $150,000 donation to IF.
On March 12, IF will host its 10th Annual Chef's Table Culinary Gala at the Disneyland Hotel, featuring 40 of Southern California's top chefs and restaurants. (Pooja Bhalla, DNP, OC)

Kaiser Permanente: Medi-Cal Plans Top Ratings; Commits $25M to Center for Gun Violence Research & Education

Kaiser Permanente (KP)'s Medi-Cal health plans in California are the highest rated in the state for quality care, according to a December 2022 report from the state's Department of Health Care Services. KP's Medicare and commercial health plans are also rated highest in the state, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
MEANWHILE, KP is expanding its work to address the causes and health consequences of gun violence with a $25 million commitment to its recently established Center for Gun Violence Research and Education. This move will further enable the center to address the public health crisis of gun violence through care innovation, research, education, and partnership. (Marcos Vasconcelos, Bay Area)

Life Adjustment Team Explains Wraparound Services, Care Coordination, Assertive Community Treatment & More
LigoLab Provides On-Demand Webinar + Articles on Lab Business Issues

LigoLab and G2 Intelligence recently teamed up for a timely webinar - "Changing Times and Eroding Margins: RCM Solutions" - now available to watch on-demand - focused on laboratory revenue cycle management. Current issues were discussed along with practical, technology-based solutions.
AND, in this short video, learn how much an all-in-one data management solution like LigoLab Operating Platform, can improve your lab's operational and financial performance.
MEANWHILE, Clinical Lab Products magazine recently posted its top 5 articles for 2022, based on Google Analytics data as of Dec. 30, 2022. Two of the 5 articles had direct ties to LigoLab, including 10 Clinical Laboratory Predictions for 2023, which features input from LigoLab CEO Suren Avunjian.
PLUS, recent articles from LigoLab include: Questions Labs Should Ask When Evaluating LIS Software and Support and Primary Medical Care in Transition; Effects on the Lab Test Ordering Market. (Suren Avunjian, LA)

MedWand Wins Innovation Award, Exhibits at Arab Health & Planning a Pilot Program with VA

At the recent CES in Las Vegas, MedWand received an innovation award and conducted hundreds of demonstrations to an incredible number of visitors to its booth. MedWand was visited by representatives from multiple foreign governments and companies, including H.E Abdulla Bin Mohamed, Chairman of the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi. Subsequently, for the first time since 2021, MedWand exhibited at Arab Health, in Dubai, UAE.
MEANWHILE, MedWand said it will launch a pilot program with the VA to test its impact on outcomes, access, and efficiency of healthcare delivery in their home nursing programs, remote clinic operations, and disaster recovery. (Bob Rose, OC)

Mission Hospice Debuts Men's Grief Support Group

Mission Hospice & Home Care has announced a new, free program - Men's Grief Support Group, running from January 25 to March 15, open to family members of Mission Hospice patients and residents of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Between societal pressures not to express emotion, and a national culture that perpetuates myths that grief should be over in a few months - as we need to get on with our lives, men need a place to understand and process grief. (Dolores Miller, SV)

Nelson Hardiman's Harry Nelson Named a 2023 Super Lawyer & Discusses Telehealth Abortion with NPR

Harry Nelson is among the Nelson Hardiman attorneys named to the 2023 Southern California Super Lawyers list, marking Harry's 13th consecutive year on the list.
ALSO, Harry was recently interviewed in an article on NPR.org - With telehealth abortion, doctors have to learn to trust and empower patients. (Harry Nelson, JD, LA)

Parentis Health Discusses Paying Options for Respite Care

A recent post from Parentis Health - Is Respite Care Covered by Medicare or Medicaid? - discusses options and resources available for paying for respite care, including private health insurance, long-term care insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits, and more. (Tarek El Nabli, OC)

PreludeDx Collaborates with Medical Cost Containment Professionals

Prelude Corporation (PreludeDx) has entered into a managed care provider agreement with Medical Cost Containment Professionals LLC (MCCP) to process out-of-network claims for PreludeDx's DCISionRT test. Under the agreement, MCCP's 150,000+ providers nationwide and their patients throughout the U.S. will now have access to DCISionRT, the only risk assessment test for patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) that predicts radiation therapy benefit. (Dan Forche, OC)

Providence Digital Innovation Group Urges Return on Digital Investment

Recent articles from Providence Digital Innovation Group include:
>> Digital Investments In Healthcare Must Be Measurable, Not Just Marketable: Building A Case For RODI, published by Forbes.
>> Providence Exec: The Definition of an Integrated Delivery System Will Change, published by MedCityNews. (Marcee Chmait, LA)

Select Data Partners with Corridor to Enhance Post-Acute Document Review

Select Data has partnered with The Corridor Group Holdings, a provider of outsourced coding, revenue cycle and education solutions for healthcare. Together, the companies will collaborate on continued enhancement of augmented document review technology using Select Data's SmartCare artificial intelligence solution. In a transaction related to the partnership, Select Data has sold its outsourced services business unit to Corridor, allowing Select Data to focus on SmartCare, and work to revolutionize post-acute document review. (Ed Buckley, OC)

Wipfli Honored by Built In, Surveys Rural Healthcare Providers + Provides Webinars & Articles

Wipfli has been honored with ten "2023 Best Places to Work" Awards by Built In, an online community for tech companies and startups.
MEANWHILE, Wipfli surveyed rural healthcare providers to get a pulse on their financial health, which has a direct impact on population health. AND, resources from Wipfli include:
>> Article by Jeffrey Johnson: Financial planning: The key to a successful strategic plan.
>> Upcoming Webinar: How FQHCs can leverage technology to streamline services and meet patient needs, on February 16.
>> Article: How the HITRUST CSF version 11 release helps make your assessments easier. (Jeff Johnson, Steve Rousso & John Dao, Bay Area)

Zymo Research / Pangea Lab's Yap Ching Chew, PhD, Co-Authors Article on Reversing Aging

A recent article - Loss of Epigenetic Information as a Cause of Mammalian Aging - is co-authored by Yap Ching Chew of Zymo Research and Pangea Laboratory, and published by ScienceDirect. Yap and her fellow researchers' findings show the aging process to be driven by changes in the epigenome and aging to be a reversible process with an ability to restore biological signs of youthfulness. (Yap Ching Chew, Ph.D., OC)

Alvaka on: Cybersecurity for Healthcare + a Quotable Quote

In Why Healthcare Entities Should Invest in Robust Cybersecurity, Alvaka reports that cyber-attacks on healthcare organizations are not focused solely on data: they are going after critical health management and medical support devices too. As increased reliance on technology continues, it is more critical than ever to prioritize cybersecurity in defense and resilience. Alvaka shares that healthcare organizations spend far less than the average company on cyber, and it's time that this must change.
MEANWHILE, Alvaka CEO Oli Thordarson shares this quote from Joe Atchison's quote of the week: "When times are good you should advertise; when times are bad, you MUST advertise." (Oli Thordarson, ABL-Tech SGV)

NuSci's John Tanner Spotlighted on Podcast

John Tanner, Director of The Nutrition Science Foundation (NuSci) and CEO of Tanner Research, was interviewed recently on Rip Esselstyn's Go PlantStrong podcast, in an episode entitled, "John Tanner - In a Heartbeat, from Death to Plants." John tells his harrowing story of his recovery from a heart attack that nearly killed him and discusses the remarkable advocacy work he is doing now with his non-profit NuSci and food delivery company, Little Green Forks. Toward the end of the podcast, listeners will get a coupon code good for $15 off their order of healthy food from Little Green Forks that now ships throughout the 48 states. (John Tanner, Ph.D., ABL-Tech SGV)

Project Insight PM Software Garners Results for ThedaCare and ICU Medical

Project Insight PM software helped ThedaCare streamline their project management process and increase their user adoption exponentially AND it helped ICU Medical monitor and report on all of their R&D projects more effectively, which resulted in a huge tax benefit. (Thomas Leffler, ABL-Tech OC)

Public Health Emergency to End on May 11

The COVID-19 public health emergency is ending on Thursday, May 11, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The announcement gives providers more than their promised 60-day notice of the end of the PHE and the termination of many of the waivers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put in place to ease restrictions on hospitals and other providers during the public health emergency. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/covid-19-still-a-public-health-emergency-says-who-5-updates.html)

CDC: Covid Antibodies from Infection and/or Shots in Nearly Every American Child

The latest figures from the U.S. CDC show that an estimated 96.3% of the U.S. pediatric population - ages 6 months to 17 years - have detectable antibodies from vaccination or infection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in their blood. Based on the data, the agency estimates that nearly 65.7 million American children have been infected. (https://khn.org/morning-breakout/covid-antibodies-from-infection-shots-in-nearly-every-american-child/)

Millions of Californians Are at Risk of Losing Medi-Cal Coverage

States are preparing to remove millions of people from Medicaid as protections put in place early in the covid-19 pandemic expire. The upheaval, which begins in April, will put millions of low-income Americans at risk of losing health coverage, threatening their access to care and potentially exposing them to large medical bills. In California, where about 15.2 million people are enrolled in Medi-Cal, up to 3 million could lose coverage because they no longer qualify or fail to reenroll, state officials forecast. This month, the state is launching a massive media campaign via radio, social media, and billboards to alert Medi-Cal members that they must apply to renew their coverage this year. In coming months, the state will enlist federally funded navigators and other community health workers to help people update their contact information and ease the reenrollment process - or to shepherd them into new coverage, if their income exceeds Medi-Cal's eligibility limits. (https://californiahealthline.org/news/article/medicaid-unwinding-coverage-loss-california-post-pandemic/)

California's COVID-19 Student Vaccine Mandate, On Hold Since April, is Dropped

California's student COVID-19 vaccine mandate - which has been on hold since April - has been quietly dropped as the state prepares to end emergency pandemic restrictions later this month, public health officials confirmed. The dramatic decline in deaths and hospitalizations over time gave Governor Newsom confidence to schedule an end date for the state of emergency on Feb. 28, three years after he made the declaration. Nearly all of the pandemic restrictions Newsom put in place have been lifted, and, come March, he won't be able to issue new ones with the same unilateral authority. (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-02-04/californias-covid-19-student-vaccine-mandate-on-hold-since-april-will-not-be-renewed)

CMS Issues Long-Awaited Medicare Advantage RADV Final Rule

CMS recently released the long-delayed final rule on risk adjustment data validation (RADV) audits of Medicare Advantage organizations (the Final Rule). CMS promotes the Final Rule as improving program integrity and payment accuracy as well as transparency and certainty. One thing that is certain, CMS can expect further challenges to its RADV audit methodology. More information: https://www.sheppardhealthlaw.com/2023/02/articles/centers-for-medicare-and-medicaid-services-cms/cms-issues-long-awaiting-medicare-advantage-radv-final-rule/

37% of Nurses in Degree Scheme Passed NCLEX, Feds Say

More than one-third of aspiring nurses who allegedly purchased phony degrees to bypass coursework and training required to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination passed the test, The New York Times reported Jan. 27. The scheme involved selling more than 7,600 fraudulent diplomas and transcripts from three now-shuttered nursing schools in Florida to the aspiring nurses, many of whom had prior experience working in healthcare as certified nursing assistants or other positions, according to Omar Pérez Aybar, special agent in charge for the Miami region of HHS' Office of Inspector General. Aspiring nurses paid between $10,000 and $15,000 for fake nursing degrees and transcripts, which allowed them to qualify for the NCLEX exam. About 2,800 people - or 37 percent of those who bought fake documents - passed the test, according to Mr. Pérez Aybar. A "significant number" went on to gain licensure and secure employment at U.S. healthcare facilities, he told the Times. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/nursing/37-of-nurses-in-degree-scheme-passed-nclex-feds-say.html)

FTC Issues Proposed Rule to Ban Non-Competes in the Labor Market

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding non-compete agreements. The Proposed Rule would prohibit non-compete clauses in labor contracts for most workers, including independent contractors, and require employers to notify individuals with a preexisting non-compete clause via writing that the clause is no longer in effect. Such clauses are common for physicians, and the Proposed Rule could have a large effect on the healthcare industry. (King & Spalding Health Headlines: https://kslawemail.com/128/9827/pages/art1.asp?sid=6db1b7b2-1361-4b1d-8e0b-3c113c284ee8)

Blue Shield of California Launching Virtual-First Health Plan

Blue Shield of California is launching a virtual-first health plan in partnership with care navigation platform Accolade. The 'Virtual Blue" health benefits plan will offer $0 out-of-pocket costs for virtual primary care, specialty care for 20 specialties, urgent care and mental care, according to a Jan. 30 news release. Members will also be able to access Blue Shield's PPO network in California, along with national and international coverage options. Employers can purchase the plan as a benefit now, with a start date of April 1. (https://www.beckerspayer.com/virtual-care/blue-shield-of-california-launching-virtual-first-health-plan.html)

The Transformation in Behavioral Digital Health Services

Digital health services have exploded since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and behavioral health services have seen large increases in utilization. Prior to the pandemic, telehealth visits for mental health or substance use disorder represented less than 1% of outpatient visits, but by mid-2020 nearly 40% of telehealth outpatient visits were for mental health or substance use. Behavioral health is the highest-funded clinical indication within digital health, and digital behavioral health companies raised $1.7 billion in the first three quarters of 2022. Investments in behavioral digital health services have the potential to transform the healthcare system in several key areas. (https://www.sheppardhealthlaw.com/2023/01/articles/digital-health/the-transformation-in-behavioral-digital-health-services/)

Study: Telehealth for Opioid Use Disorder May be Comparable to In-Person Care

A study published in JAMA Network Open found no difference in visit frequency for opioid use disorder treatment, initiation of medication use or adverse outcomes between patients who were treated by clinicians with high or low levels of telehealth use, suggesting telemedicine could be comparable to in-person care. The research used de-identified claims data from about 11,800 patients with commercial insurance or Medicare Advantage coverage between March 2019 and March 2021. (https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/study-telehealth-opioid-use-disorder-may-be-comparable-person-care)

Private Equity and Digital Health in 2023: Policy Updates and Trends to Watch

As we approach the middle of the first quarter of 2023, private equity firms have continued to demonstrate their interest in investing in digital health. These companies strive to improve health outcomes and lower expenses by focusing on specific gaps, issues or illnesses, prioritizing technological innovation, and customizing individualized care plans. While the healthcare industry is experiencing an evolution towards digitally enabled care, this movement has been accompanied by a rise in regulatory oversight of digital health - an ostensible conclusion to recent shifts, including the COVID-19-era investment boom in telehealth and the persisting issue of narrowing the digital divide to ensure equitable access and outcomes. (https://www.sheppardhealthlaw.com/2023/02/articles/digital-health/private-equity-and-digital-health-in-2023-policy-updates-and-trends-to-watch/)

Colombian Judge Uses ChatGPT in Ruling on Child's Medical Rights Case

A judge in Colombia caused a stir by announcing he had used the AI chatbot ChatGPT in preparing a ruling in a children's medical rights case. Judge Juan Manuel Padilla said he used the text-generating bot in a case involving a request to exonerate an autistic child from paying fees for medical appointments, therapy and transportation given his parents' limited income. Padilla told Blu Radio that ChatGPT and other such programs could be useful to "facilitate the drafting of texts" but "not with the aim of replacing" judges. He ruled in favor of the child and wrote in his judgment, dated Jan. 30, that he had consulted ChatGPT on the matter, without specifying to what extent he had relied on the bot. Padilla also insisted that "by asking questions to the application we do not stop being judges, thinking beings." ChatGPT uses artificial intelligence and reams of data from the internet to generate answers to questions posed by human users. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/colombian-judge-uses-chatgpt-in-ruling-on-childs-medical-rights-case/)

ALSO, ChatGPT Passes US Medical Licensing Exam: An AI chatbot that generates humanlike responses passed all three parts of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, according to findings published in the preprint server medRxiv. Researchers evaluated the performance of ChatGPT - a model launched by OpenAI in November - on the exam. For Part 1 of the comprehensive exam, second-year medical students typically spend 300 to 400 hours preparing. It covers didactic and problem-based learning, including basic science, pharmacology and pathophysiology. The final part is completed by post-graduate students. Researchers found ChatGPT "performed at or near the passing threshold for all three exams without any specialized training or reinforcement." While it varies by year, the USMLE pass threshold is approximately 60% most years, study authors noted. ChatGPT performed above 50% accuracy across all examinations and exceeded 60% in most analyses. "These results suggest that large language models may have the potential to assist with medical education, and potentially, clinical decision-making," the researchers said. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/a-peek-into-healthcares-future-ai-passes-medical-licensing-exam.html)

Amazon Introduces RxPass: Unlimited Prescription Medications for $5 a Month, Delivered Free, Available Exclusively for Prime Members

Amazon has announced RxPass, a new Prime membership benefit from Amazon Pharmacy that offers patients affordable access to commonly prescribed generic medications that treat more than 80 common health conditions. With RxPass, Prime members can receive all of their eligible medications for one flat, low monthly fee of $5, and have them delivered free of charge. There are no hidden fees and no markups to the $5 per month subscription. RxPass is already available in most U.S. states. To enroll in RxPass, Prime members can go to Amazon.com or Amazon's mobile app to create or update their Amazon Pharmacy profile. Once there, customers will be guided through a simple sign-up process that verifies their eligibility and prescription information. If customers have questions during the enrollment process or after a prescription arrives, Amazon pharmacists are on hand 24/7 to coordinate with a customer's doctor or help with refills. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230124005495/en/Amazon-Pharmacy-Introduces-RxPass-Unlimited-Prescription-Medications-for-Only-5-a-Month-Delivered-Free-to-your-Door%E2%80%94Available-Exclusively-for-Prime-Members)

CVS, Walmart to Cut Hours at Most Pharmacies in March

Two national chains will reduce operation hours at their pharmacies this spring, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. CVS plans to cut or alter hours at about 6,000 pharmacies, or two-thirds of its U.S. locations, in March, according to the Journal. Walmart plans to end operation two hours earlier at 4,600 of its pharmacies - nearly all of its locations - at the same time. Walgreens has not announced similar plans but has also struggled with the pharmacist shortage. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/pharmacy/cvs-walmart-to-cut-hours-at-most-pharmacies-in-march.html)

GoodRx Shared Health Data with Google & Facebook, FTC Says

The Federal Trade Commission has alleged drug-cost and telehealth platform GoodRx shared consumers' personal health information with third parties like Google and Facebook. According to the FTC's complaint, GoodRx provided information about its users' prescription medications and health conditions for advertising purposes, like targeting users with health-related ads on Facebook based on drugs they had previously purchased. The agency also said GoodRx allowed third parties to use that data for their own internal purposes, misrepresented its HIPAA compliance and failed to set policies on how it should protect its users' personal health information.
GoodRx agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine to settle the case, but admitted no wrongdoing. In addition to the payment, the FTC said its proposed court order would permanently prohibit GoodRx from sharing health data for ads, require user consent before sharing information with third parties for other purposes, direct third parties to delete previously shared data, limit how long GoodRx can keep patient information and force the company to put a privacy protection plan in place. (https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/goodrx-shared-health-data-google-and-facebook-ftc-says)

Hospitals Suffer Worst Financial Year Since Pandemic

Eleventh-hour financial improvements were not enough for U.S. hospitals, making 2022 "the worst financial year for hospitals and health systems since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to Kaufman Hall. The declaration is hardly a surprise as hospitals' median monthly margins lingered in the red throughout the first 11 months of 2022, starting with the -3.4 percent recorded in January, driven by the omicron surge. December was the only month where hospitals realized a positive year-to-date operating margin at 0.2 percent, according to Kaufman Hall's latest "National Flash Hospital Report" - based on data from more than 900 hospitals. Approximately half of U.S. hospitals finished the year with a negative margin, Kaufman Hall reported. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/hospitals-suffer-worst-financial-year-since-the-pandemic.html)

'Hospital Purgatory': Confidence in Healthcare Plunges as Criticism Grows Louder & Larger

Payers, pharmacy benefit managers and drug manufacturers are no strangers to heavy criticism from the public and providers alike. Now another sector of the healthcare system has found itself increasingly caught in the crosshairs of constituents looking to point a finger for the rising cost of care: hospitals. As sharp words against the industry bubble up more often and encompass a wider variety of issues, it marks an important turn in the ethos of American healthcare. Most policymakers have historically wanted hospitals on their side, and health systems are often the largest employer within their communities and in many states.
Confidence in the medical system as a whole fell from 51 percent in 2020 to a record low of 38 percent in 2022. Though the healthcare system is among all major U.S. institutions facing record-low public confidence, are hospitals ready for an era of widespread distrust? "We're going into hospital purgatory. It's a period in which old rules may not work in the future," Paul Keckley PhD said. "The only thing we know for sure is that it's not going to get easier." (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/hospital-purgatory-confidence-in-healthcare-plunges-as-criticism-grows-louder-and-larger.html)

US Spends Most on Healthcare but Has Worse Outcomes: 6 Report Findings

The U.S. spends two to four times as much on healthcare as most other high-income countries, but the health outcomes lag behind, a new Commonwealth Fund study found. "U.S. Healthcare from a Global Perspective, 2022: Accelerating Spending, Worsening Outcomes" is an ongoing report by the Commonwealth Fund that compares healthcare spending and outcomes, health status and healthcare usage in the U.S. with 12 other high-income nations and the average for all 38 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development members. The U.S. remained the only nation within the OECD that does not offer universal health coverage despite spending nearly 18 percent of its GDP on healthcare, according to the report. Read article for five more findings: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/patient-safety-outcomes/the-us-outspends-other-high-income-countries-on-healthcare-but-its-care-outcomes-lag-behind.html)

OTOH: U.K.'s Government-Run Healthcare Service Is in Crisis

For more than a decade, the British government has run its National Health Service, the world's largest government-run healthcare system, on a tight budget. The NHS prided itself on being one of the leanest healthcare systems in the developed world, spending less per head on average than its large European neighbors - and far less than the U.S. Now the state-funded service is falling apart. People who suffer heart attacks or strokes wait more than 1½ hours on average for an ambulance. Hospitals are so full they are turning patients away. A record 7.1 million people in England - more than one in 10 people - are stuck on waiting lists for nonemergency hospital treatment like hip replacements. The NHS on Monday faced the biggest strike in its history, with thousands of paramedics and nurses walking out over pay.
The NHS's woes are an extreme example of issues playing out across the developed world. Healthcare systems, hit hard by Covid, are under pressure as people live longer and have a wider range of treatment options. Aging populations mean costs will keep growing. The U.K.'s experience is a warning of what happens when supply in healthcare provision can't keep up with demand. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/nhs-uk-national-health-service-strike-costs-11675693883)

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