ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * August 3, 2023

>>> Susan Armiger is President and CEO of Catalight Care Services, one of the largest behavioral health networks in the nation with 8,000+ practitioners serving 12,000 clients and families every day. Backed by more than a decade of experience and a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, Catalight's goal is ensuring that clients with developmental disabilities receive timely access to evidence-based treatment, including naturalistic developmental and language-based services, applied behavior analysis, occupational and speech therapy. Through the work of affiliate partners, Easterseals Hawaii and Easterseals Northern California, Catalight and its family of companies support their clients and their families across their care journey. At Catalight, Susan's primary focus is overseeing the continued growth of the organization's existing scope of services. She also serves as CEO of Xolv Technology Solutions, which provides Catalight with a fully-integrated suite of solutions. Prior to joining Catalight in 2019, Susan was CEO of Easterseals Bay Area, where she led the organization's growth from a small non-profit to a thriving $300M healthcare company delivering more than one million hours of service each year. Susan has joined the Bay Area Round Table.

  • 8/02 - Orange County ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "How Do Your Differentiate Your USP from Your Competitors'?" - Featuring Dan Forche, CEO of PreludeDx

  • 8/17 - Bay Area ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "How AI Is Already Improving Healthcare" - Featuring Grace Chen, CEO of LucidAct, and Robin Raff, Founder, CEO and Chief Strategist of Pulse Healthcare Marketing

  • 8/18 - Los Angeles ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Creating A Better Way for Providers to TRU$T Their Patients" - Featuring Mike Epstein, of The Tay Group

  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>
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ICYMI: Video Recordings and Slide Decks from ABL's recent event - "AI, ChatGPT & More Breakthroughs You Can Use!" - Are Now Available on the Password-Protected "MEMBERS ONLY" Section of the ABL Website, Under "Presentations"

Thanks to seven marvelous speakers - AI experts, all - and our host Harry Nelson, over 30 ABL Healthcare and Technology Members elevated their climb up the AI Learning Curve at ABL's recent in-person event, "AI, ChatGPT & More Breakthroughs You Can Use!" And now, we have made available recordings and slide decks of all the outstanding presentations, plus several attendees' takeaways.

Alegre Home Care (Charles Symes) Provides Caregiving Tips for Managing Anxiety Disorders + Optimizing Caregiver Wellness

In Caregiving Tips for Managing Anxiety Disorders, Alegre Home Care notes that anxiety symptoms can present differently in the elderly than in young people, and anxiety symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other existing disorders a person might have. For example, trembling is both a symptom of anxiety and a symptom of Parkinson's Disease. Alegre goes on to explain symptoms of general anxiety disorder and offers caregiving tips for managing such disorders.
AND, in 3 Important Ways to Optimize Caregiver Wellness, Alegre expands upon taking time to rest, relying on support from others, and continual training and education, plus offers nine more suggestions. (BA)

Biospectal (Eliott Jones) Named a Finalist in MIT Solve's 2023 Global Challenge

Biospectal is a finalist in MIT Solve's 2023 Global Challenge, chosen from 1,500+ submissions and 120+ countries. Biospectal's OptiBP is competing in the Health In Fragile Contexts Challenge. The finalist from each Challenge category with the most votes will be announced during the Solve Challenge Finals on September 18, 2023 - a live pitch event bringing together global investors, philanthropists, and other cross-sector leaders who are making big impacts across the world. (BA)

Choice in Aging (Debbie Toth) Wins Award, Announces Upcoming Block Party & More

For the fifth year in a row, Choice in Aging (CiA)'s Choice in Learning school has been named by Parents Press as the Best Montessori / Independent / Large Preschool and Child Care Facility in Contra Costa County.
MEANWHILE, CiA announced that its 6th Annual Bedford Block Party will take place on Saturday, October 7, 2023 - more information to come.
AND, click here to watch the latest episodes of Dishing With Debbie video interview series with senior industry leaders. (BA)

Donor Network West (Janice Whaley) Sets Organizational Records by Focusing on DEI

In this 6:29-minute video, Janice Whaley, CEO of Donor Network West (DNW), along with several of her colleagues, discuss how DNW reached organizational records with multicultural donors by focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
AND, DNW shared a recent Forbes article, noting that DNW was one of the driving forces behind the incredible organ, eye, and tissue transplantation progress: New Breakthroughs In Cryopreservation Poised To Transform Organ Transplantation.
PLUS, DNW has been named a finalist in the Extraordinary Business Category for the 2023 PBS Reno Spotlight Awards. (BA)

Eitan Medical (Roger Massengale) Launches Award-Winning Infusion Management Platform

Eitan Medical has launched Eitan Insights, a new cloud-based infusion management system designed to meet the unique needs of home and specialty infusions. Eitan's infusion systems, Sapphire with its new universal plug and play cellular accessory Sapphire Connect, and Avoset with the AvosetGo app, are now within reach, connecting and transmitting infusion treatment data to Eitan Insights, which has already been awarded the "Best New Technology Solution - Drug Delivery" designation from MedTech Breakthrough, an independent organization. (OC)

El Camino Health (Cecile Currier) Wins Multiple Awards for Patient Care, Nursing, Innovation & More

El Camino Health (ECH) won the American College of Cardiology's NCDR Chest Pain - MI Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2023 - one of only 262 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor.
AND, ECH's Mountain View emergency department has been honored by the Emergency Nurses Association with the 2023 Lantern Award for demonstrating exceptional and innovative performance in leadership, practice, education, advocacy and research.
PLUS, ECH is named to the 2023 "Great Hospitals in America" list by Becker's Hospital Review - hospitals known for clinical excellence, patient safety, innovation, research and education, patient satisfaction and more.
FURTHER, ECH Mountain View earned five stars from CMS's updated Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings for 2023. (BA)

Elevance Health's (David Pryor, MD, Anthem) Profits Eclipse $1.8 Billion

Elevance Health reported a second quarter profit of more than $1.8 billion as the health insurer added health plan members and grew its Carelon health services business. Elevance, which operates an array of government and commercial health insurance including Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, recently reported second-quarter profits increased 13% to $1.85B compared to $1.63B in the year-ago quarter. Revenue jumped 13% to $43.67B. Elevance's membership grew by 938,000, or 2%, to 48 million as of June 30, 2023 compared to a year ago. (LA)

FOMAT Medical Research (Nick Focil) Launches Phase 1 Services, Elevating Site Ops & Improving Patient Diversity

FOMAT Medical Research has announced the hard launch of its new Phase I capabilities, including new state-of-the-art facilities, specialized staff, and innovative technology. FOMAT will now offer a full range of Phase I services, including early-phase clinical trials, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies, and first-in-human trials. The clinic and site-specific processes are designed to carry out simple and complex clinical trials. The phase I unit has been vendor qualified by industry-leading CROs and Sponsors, and multiple studies have already been awarded. (LA)

Illumination Foundation (Pooja Bhalla, DNP) Shares How an Ad Hoc Stakeholder Network is Helping Redefine Medical Respite Care in LA

In a recent post, Illumination Foundation (IF) said it's "pleased to be part of the Los Angeles Recuperative Care Learning Network and to share this Issue Brief by the California Health Care Foundation." The article highlights how medical respite/recuperative care service providers have come together to share best practices on implementing CalAIM. IF CEO Pooja Bhalla, DNP, said, "The network gave us a collective voice to have honest conversations with each other - and then, pretty soon, with the health plans, the hospitals, and the state." (OC)

Kaiser Permanente (Marcos Vasconcelos) Earns Five Stars from CMS + Commits to Fill 10,000 Union Jobs

CMS updated its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings for 2023, awarding 483 U.S. hospitals with a rating of five stars as of July 26. Hospitals with five stars include: Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Rehab Center in Vallejo; Kaiser Foundation Hospital - Fremont; and Kaiser Foundation Hospital - San Jose.
MEANWHILE, Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions set a joint goal of hiring 10,000 new people for coalition-represented jobs this year. The coalition represents about 88,000 employees at Kaiser hospitals, clinics and facilities throughout the U.S. (BA)

Life Adjustment Team (Cynthia Sampson) Examines Rising Tide of Social Anxiety Disorder

In The Rising Tide of Social Anxiety Disorder, Life Adjustment Team (LAT) says it's essential to distinguish Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) from fleeting moments of stage fright or the occasional nervousness before a major event or certain social situations. SAD represents a constant, gripping fear of social interactions that is broadening its grip, being felt by more individuals, and manifesting at earlier ages than ever before. This surge in SAD cases compels LAT to ponder: what fuels this upswing in this disorder? Can we identify the intricate gears driving its amplification? LAT also discusses effective treatments. (LA)

LigoLab (Suren Avunjian) Shares Dire Consequences of Neglecting Laboratory Modernization

In Cost of Inaction: The Dire Consequences of Neglecting Modernization in Laboratory Operations and Informatics, LigoLab discusses the high risk of sticking with outdated laboratory information systems, delving into the costs of: reliability, functionality, competitive edge, stagnation, revenue, missed opportunities, compliance and security, labor, frustration, and patient care. (LA)

MedWand (Bob Rose) Featured as a CES Success Story

The Consumer Technology Association is spotlighting MedWand in CES Success Story: MedWand, which details MedWand's experience as a 2023 CES Innovation Award honoree as well as the company's FDA-approved device and software platform. (OC)

Mission Hospice (Dolores Miler) Co-Sponsoring Workshop Series & Announces Fall Gala

Mission Hospice & Home Care, along with California Hospice Network members, Hospice of Santa Cruz County, YoloCares, and Kitchen Table Conversations are co-sponsoring a multi-part workshop series - Hope & Healing Grief - free, online, and open to anyone. Upcoming sessions include: The Guilt of Grief, on August 23, 6-8 pm; and The Anger of Grief, on September 27, 6-8 pm.
ALSO, Mission Hospice will hold its Auxiliary Fall Gala on the evening of Saturday, October 14, at the Grand Bay Hotel in Redwood City. (BA)

Nelson Hardiman (Harry Nelson, JD) Explores Future of Healthcare Privacy in Webinars & Article
Onward (Steve Grau) a Top Winner in Healthy Aging Sandbox Challenge

Onward was selected as a winner of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's Healthy Aging Challenge Sandbox Program. The Challenge seeks out innovators with solutions that support healthy aging by helping older adults live as well and independently as possible. Each of the four winners received $50,000 to use as tuition to work with their R&D Sandbox partner to further scope, test and validate their products. (BA)

Parentis Health (Tarek El Nabli) Hailed for Embracing DEI + Announces Upcoming Golf Tournament

The Orange County Business Journal has named Parentis Health one of Orange County's top companies for embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
PLUS, on November 13, the Parentis Foundation will present Swing Fore Literacy Golf Tournament, at Aliso Viejo Country Club, to support the One Kind Word initiative within Parentis Foundation's Intergenerational Reading Intervention Programs. (OC)

Providence Digital Innovation Group (Marcee Chmait) Discusses Digital Healthcare Topics

Providence Digital Innovation Group (DIG)'s recent article - The Digital Front Door is So Yesterday - explores if the digital front door has delivered on its promise. Despite most health systems making progress in building out their digital presence and making improvements in putting services online - the simple answer is no.
AND, Providence DIG's article - Distribution And Decentralization Are Crucial In the Healthcare Sector - declares that systems must leverage the expertise of partners to truly serve their community's whole health needs. They must invest in the power of digital to connect those relationships both on the front and back end for systems and consumers alike. Fueling healthier communities is not a one-person job. Health systems must lean into that reality - designing and steering a connected ecosystem that accelerates and streamlines a person's ability to take charge of their health. (LA)

WestFax (Barry Clark) Pledges to Plant 10,000 Trees

In line with WestFax's dedication to environmental conservation, the company is proud to partner with the National Forest Foundation, and has pledged to plant 10,000 trees this year, contributing to reforestation efforts and restoring vital ecosystems. (OC)

Wipfli (Jeff Johnson) Addresses AI's Ability to Elevate the Power of Small Businesses

Wipfli has published a perspective article - Artificial Intelligence Will Elevate the Power of Small Businesses,
AND shared a short video of the recent Wipfli segment on the television program, Military Makeover: Operation Career, hosted by Montel Williams.
MEANWHILE, Wipfli's technology team has been named to Accounting Today's and Bob Scott's top VARs lists for 2023. The annual rankings list the top value-added resellers, technology consultants and implementers in the accounting software space. Wipfli was ranked #13 on both lists. (BA)

CuraeSoft's (Mark Parinas) Virtual Operating Headquarters Model Featured on Nasdaq.com

Nasdaq.com recently published an article - Unleashing Workforce Potential: How Virtual Operating Headquarters Revolutionize the Fundamental Nature of Work - which spotlights CuraeSoft and its CEO Mark Parinas, along with the concept of a Virtual Operating Headquarters (VOHQ). This model supports remote, hybrid, and onsite work, including business process outsourcing and organizations with offshore teams. Nasdaq reports that a recent embodiment of this trend is seen in the enhancements introduced by CuraeSoft to its coAmplifi SaaS workforce management platform. Mark shares that these enhancements convert the traditional platform into a VOHQ, enabling consolidation of operations whether global, national, or local. This digital transformation piques the interest of professional service organizations seeking to streamline varied functions while offering employees the freedom to work optimally. (LA)

Eckert & Ziegler (Frank Yeager) Collaborates with French Tech Co on Radiopharmaceutical Synthesis Solutions

Eckert & Ziegler (EZ), via its subsidiaries EZ Eurotope GmbH and PentixaPharm GmbH, and PMB Alcen, a French technology company focusing on solutions for radionuclide and radiopharmaceutical production, have announced the signing of a Letter of Intent: the three companies will combine their expertise in different fields to jointly develop and commercialize a robust, GMP-compliant solution for the scalable synthesis of radiotherapeutic agents. Following promising results obtained using iMiDEV's microfluidic technology, the partnership aims to address the growing demand for advanced radiopharmaceuticals used in the treatment of various types of cancers. (LA)

Google, CareCloud Aim to Bring Generative AI to Small Practices

CareCloud has announced that it's working with Google Cloud to help ambulatory practices and other small and medium healthcare providers make use of generative artificial intelligence to inform clinical decision making and boost operational efficiencies. CareCloud already uses Google Cloud to help power its own operational needs and enable generative AI and search functionality in its products. By using Google's offerings such as Vertex AI and Generative AI App Builder, the company is developing tools to bring physicians at smaller practices the same AI-enabled capabilities that are increasingly available at large hospitals and health systems. The first CareCloud solution with generative AI developed for clinics and doctor's offices is expected to be made available in the next few months, the company says. (https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/google-cloud-teams-carecloud-bring-generative-ai-small-practices)

AWS Offers Generative AI Documentation Through API, Medical Imaging at Scale

Adding to its suite of cloud-based health services, Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently announced two new services that could improve clinical documentation and image management:
AWS HealthScribe is a HIPAA-eligible generative AI tool that can eliminate the need to integrate and manage underlying machine learning infrastructure or train an organization's own healthcare-specific LLMs. It has text-to-speech capabilities that can create conversation transcripts, then use natural language processing to segment the content into categories - such as key takeaways, the reason for a visit and a history of the present illness - and create summaries. Clinicians can review and finalize transcripts and summaries in their electronic health records.
HealthImaging is a new medical imaging service handling data at a petabyte scale, which the cloud provider said could save organizations money when they transition from self-managed infrastructure for DICOM ingestion. (https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/aws-offers-generative-ai-documentation-through-api-medical-imaging-scale) (https://www.modernhealthcare.com/digital-health/amazon-aws-healthscribe-generative-ai-ehrs)

Microsoft, Blue Shield of California Partner for Integrated Data Hub

Blue Shield of California announced a multi-year cloud development plan with tech giant Microsoft to offer its members an integrated data hub, dubbed the Experience Cube, that runs on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. The Experience Cube will utilize Azure's analytics and storage capabilities to tie together near real-time member, provider and payer data, aiming to create more personalized services for members and drive insights for providers. The platform will first be used as an integrated digital health record that includes a member's lab results, health conditions, emergency room visits, medications, plan coverage and other information related to their healthcare. The companies are also collaborating to move a Blue Shield software solution into Azure to help the health insurer analyze massive amounts of data to better respond to industry needs. The pair is also exploring new apps utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to meet healthcare stakeholders' needs. (https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/microsoft-blue-shield-california-partner-integrated-data-hub)

Senate Sends Organ Transplant Bill to Biden's Desk

Days after it was passed by the House, the Senate recently cleared legislation that aims to overhaul the organ transplant system in the U.S. The bill apparently is sitting on President Biden's desk for his signature. The bill would give HHS the authority to expand competition for contracts related to the operation of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which matches donor organs with patients waiting for transplants. The legislation comes as the Administration moves to open up the contracting process that has allowed one company [UNOS] to manage the system for nearly 40 years, despite claims of mismanagement that has allowed patients to die on waiting lists. (https://rollcall.com/2023/07/28/senate-sends-organ-transplant-bill-to-bidens-desk/)

FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill in U.S.

The FDA recently approved the oral contraceptive Opill for over-the-counter sales, making it the first hormonal contraceptive pill available in the U.S. without a prescription. Opill, also known as the "mini-pill," contains one hormone, progestin, and is taken daily. It was first approved by the FDA as a prescription in 1973. The FDA said it is approving the over-the-counter version for all users of reproductive age, including teenagers, a move that is expected to remove barriers to access and reduce the risk of unintended pregnancies. (https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/hormonal-birth-control-fda-nonprescription-contraceptive-pill-rcna93958)

GUIDING the way to Medicare's Dementia Care Model

HHS, through CMS, announced its Guiding an Improved Dementia Experience (GUIDE) Model, which aims to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia, reduce strain on unpaid caregivers, and help people remain in their homes and communities through a package of care coordination and management, caregiver education and support, and respite services. The GUIDE Model will be tested by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. (https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-announces-medicare-dementia-care-model)

Hospice Providers & SNFs to Get Billions in Pay Hikes from Medicare Final Rules

Hospice providers will see an additional $780 million in Medicare payments in fiscal year 2024 under an administration rule recently released. The increase represents a 3.1% boost in the payment rate, according to the final rule from CMS. (https://news.bloomberglaw.com/health-law-and-business/hospice-providers-to-get-780-million-pay-hike-from-medicare)
MEANWHILE, Nursing Homes Will Get a 4% Medicare Pay Bump in 2024 Under CMS Final Rule In what CMS described as a "parity adjustment recalibration," the agency said it will increase payments to skilled nursing facilities by 4%, or $1.4 billion, starting in fiscal year 2024. The payment bump will, in part, make up for a $2.2 billion underpayment to the facilities as a result of the Patient Driven Payment Model for SNFs that replaced the former payment system in 2020, CMS said in a fact sheet. In its final rule, the agency says that it overestimated overpayments to nursing homes, and that resulted in a 2.23% reduction in fiscal year 2023. (https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payers/nursing-homes-will-receive-more-funding-under-cms-final-rule-fy-2024)

CMS Releases 2024 Projected Medicare Part D Premium and Bid Information

CMS recently announced that the average total monthly premium for Medicare Part D coverage is projected to be approximately $55.50 in 2024. This expected amount is a decrease of 1.8% from $56.49 in 2023. The Medicare Part D program helps people with Medicare pay for both brand-name and generic prescription drugs. CMS is also releasing additional information - such as the Part D national average monthly bid amount - to help Part D plan sponsors finalize their premiums and prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment. (https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/news-alert/cms-releases-2024-projected-medicare-part-d-premium-and-bid-information)

Covered California to See 9.6% Rate Increase for 2024

Covered California announced its health plans and rates for the 2024 coverage year with a preliminary weighted average rate increase of 9.6%. The rate change can be attributed to many factors, including a continued rise in health care utilization following the pandemic, increases in pharmacy costs, and inflationary pressures in the healthcare industry, such as the rising cost of care, labor shortages and salary and wage increases. (https://contracosta.news/2023/07/31/covered-california-to-see-9-6-rate-increase-for-2024/)

Consolidation of Medical Practices "Brings Dishonest Billing" that Costs Patients & Taxpayers Billions

In a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal - Doctor's Office Care at Hospital Prices - Bobby Jindal and Charlie Katebi report that each year millions of patients visit their doctors' offices for a variety of routine services. But in recent years more Americans are being charged as if they had visited a hospital. This is because the doctor's office billing them is pretending to be a hospital. When a hospital bills a patient's insurer, it must report a federally required National Provider Identifier number on the claim form to identify where the care took place. Many hospitals use the same NPI number for care that happens at a doctor's office as at the main hospital, allowing hospitals to add a facility fee and charge far more than they would for a doctor's visit. More Americans than ever are paying these dishonest fees as large hospitals buy up the practices of local physicians. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/doctors-office-care-at-hospital-prices-dishonest-billing-identifier-number-out-patient-fe670b3e?mod=opinion_lead_pos6)

MEANWHILE, New Federal Antitrust Agencies Have Proposed Merger Guidelines Could Have Significant Chilling Effect on Healthcare Deals, by freeing up regulators to more successfully crack down on consolidation in the healthcare industry, according to antitrust experts. The new FTC and DOJ guidelines include several facets that regulators could use to target vertical and cross-market deals. Although the guidelines are non-binding, they're an authoritative roadmap that regulators use to decide which mergers to challenge. Courts also utilize them to determine the legality of proposed deals. The guidelines haven't been changed in upwards of a decade, sparking criticism that regulators have fallen behind on current market realities - including in the healthcare industry, where consolidation [as illustrated above] has been shown to drive up already sky-high medical prices. (https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/ftc-doj-merger-guidelines-healthcare/688392/)

Amazon Clinic Rolls Out Nationwide

Amazon's virtual clinic is now available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., the company announced, offering customers 24/7 access to third-party health-care providers directly on Amazon's website and mobile app. The company said that in addition to message-based consultations being available in 34 states, Amazon Clinic now supports video visits nationwide. Amazon Clinic currently does not accept insurance, but medication prescribed by clinicians may be covered by insurance (https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/01/tech/amazon-clinic-expands-nationwide/index.html)

COVID Cases Trending Up, But Nothing Compared to Last Summer

According to CDC data, 7,109 patients with confirmed COVID-19 were admitted to a hospital for the week ending July 15, up more than 10 percent from the previous week, when there were 6,444 new admissions. There is unlikely to be a significant spike in severe cases — largely due to existing immunity among the public — though some rise in severe disease is inevitable when the virus is circulating at higher levels, experts told Vox. Overall, hospitalizations are down significantly compared to last summer's omicron surge, when new weekly admissions topped 44,000. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/us-sees-largest-covid-19-hospitalization-bump-since-december.html)

Whose Rankings Do You Trust When CMS & Leapfrog Don't Agree?

Three of the 20 U.S. hospitals that have earned consecutive "A" safety grades from The Leapfrog Group since 2012 received three-star ratings from CMS, according to the latest CMS 2023 star rankings. CMS gave five-star ratings to 11 of the Leapfrog straight-"A" hospitals and six hospitals received four-star ratings. For example, this is how CMS rated these Leapfrog "Straight A" hospitals in California: French Hospital Medical Center (San Luis Obispo) - Five Stars; and Kaiser Permanente Orange County-Anaheim Medical Center - Four Stars. To view a list of 2023 CMS' five-star hospitals, click here. To view a list of CMS' one-star hospitals, click here. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/rankings-and-ratings/which-3-leapfrog-straight-a-hospitals-got-3-stars-from-cms.html)

The End of COVID-Deferred Care Is Near

Patients' fears of contracting COVID-19 in healthcare settings have subsided, with older Americans who delayed or avoided healthcare services during the pandemic returning in droves. At least 36% of U.S. adults skipped or delayed necessary medical care in 2020 due to fear of COVID-19 exposure and limited care access during the pandemic, according to research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A separate CDC estimate put this figure closer to 41% in 2020. However, three years into the pandemic, data from insurers and healthcare organizations suggest this trend is reversing. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/care-coordination/the-end-of-deferred-care.html)

MEANWHILE, Median YTD Operating Hospital Margins Index Improved 1.4% in June, according to Kaufman Hall's latest "National Flash Hospital Report," which is based on data from 1,300+ hospitals. Fiscal year-end accounting adjustments contributed to a slight increase in performance, but most hospitals underperformed in June as high expenses and economic headwinds persist. As margins appear to stabilize on the surface, the gap between high-performing hospitals and those that are financially struggling may be widening. However, financial challenges - such as the rising costs for labor, drugs and supplies - have begun to stabilize. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/hospital-margins-improve-to-1-4.html)

Traditional Weight Loss Docs Wary of "Drive-Through" GLP-1 Providers

The popularity of GLP-1s, such as Novo Nordisk's Wegovy and Ozempic, has led to a growing number of weight loss entrants in the virtual health industry. In the last year, digital health companies such as Teladoc and Noom have launched virtual weight loss businesses with GLP-1 medication prescription offerings. Traditional weight loss company WeightWatchers acquired a telehealth company to begin prescribing the drugs. As the public's knowledge of the drugs increases, more patients are arriving at appointments with preconceived ideas of how their treatment plans should look, said Dr. Caroline Messer, an endocrinologist, clinical assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and assistant professor at Hofstra School of Medicine. "They're often not correct," she said. The increased number of virtual weight loss companies has some traditional clinicians worried about the types of care being offered to patients via these platforms. Amid the hype, Messer is concerned that many clinicians prescribing the drugs are not endocrinologists or trained in weight loss medicine or in how to deal with GLP-1's side effects. (https://www.modernhealthcare.com/digital-health/wegovy-ozempic-weight-loss-glp-1-telehealth)

MEANWHILE, Longevity Clinics Cater to Growing Number of People Obsessed with Fighting Aging as evidenced by medical clinics popping up across the country promising to help clients live longer and better - so long as they can pay. Longevity clinics aim to do everything from preventing chronic disease to healing tennis elbow, all with the goal of optimizing patients' health for more years. Clients pay as much as $100,000 a year for sometimes-unproven treatments, including biological-age testing, early cancer screenings, stem-cell therapies and hair rejuvenation. The centers capitalize on Americans' obsession with living longer and desire for personalized medical care, even if it comes from outside the mainstream, say industry investors and analysts. Many doctors and scientists caution that some clinics' treatments lack robust scientific evidence or introduce health risks. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/longevity-clinics-aging-living-longer-2b98e773?mod=hp_listb_pos1)

Countries Raid Each Other's Health Systems in Global Battle for Nurses

A global shortage of healthcare workers is setting off a bruising worldwide battle for talent, as rich countries raid other nations' medical systems for staff to care for their aging populations. The competition has helped countries such as the U.S. and Australia replace some nurses who quit in record numbers during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it is also leaving hospitals in developing countries and some wealthier nations such as the U.K. worse off, as they lose staff to countries offering bigger paychecks. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/countries-raid-each-others-health-systems-in-global-battle-for-nurses-b2de0429?mod=hp_lead_pos9)

Some Hospitals Welcome RV Living for Patients, Families, and Workers

Oregon Health & Science University, a Level 1 trauma center, is one of several medical centers in the U.S. that maintain parking spaces specifically for RVs, electric hookups included. OHSU has offered the free amenity to patients since 2009. Medical and RV industry professionals say hospitals that offer RV parking are easing access to healthcare for some patients who drive long distances for care, like many rural residents. At OHSU, the average stay for a patient in the RV spaces is about seven days, and the limit is 30 days at a time. If a patient depends on the hospital for a recurring treatment like kidney dialysis, they'll stay every few months. The spots help patients keep close to their medical providers and avoid paying for hotels. Hospital staff also have an interest in on-site RV amenities. (https://kffhealthnews.org/news/article/home-sweet-parking-lot-hospitals-rv-spaces/)

City of Hope Scientists Develop Targeted Chemotherapy Able to Kill All Solid Tumors

Researchers at City of Hope have published a new study explaining how they took a protein once thought to be too challenging for targeted therapy, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and developed a targeted chemotherapy that appears to annihilate all solid tumors in preclinical research. As the scientists continue to investigate the foundational mechanisms that make this cancer-stopping pill work in animal models, they note that there is an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial testing the City of Hope-developed therapeutic in humans. (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/city-of-hope-scientists-develop-targeted-chemotherapy-able-to-kill-all-solid-tumors-in-preclinical-research-301888576.html)

Harvard Scientists ID Drug Combo that May Reverse Aging in Just One Week

Harvard researchers found a "chemical cocktail" that helped reverse aging in mice within a week by rejuvenating old cells within muscles, tissues, and some organs. The results were published in July in the journal Aging. The cocktail consists of a variety of molecules, including valproic acid, which is an anti-seizure medication used for migraine and mood disorders, and a drug used for cancer with anti-aging properties. (https://fortune.com/well/2023/07/18/harvard-scientists-chemical-cocktail-may-reverse-aging-process-in-one-week/)

New Ultrasound Therapy Could Help Treat Alzheimer's, Cancer

Ultrasound could hold a key to a problem that has long challenged drug developers: getting medicines to hard-to-reach places to treat diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer. A cutting-edge approach that combines ultrasound waves with tiny bubbles of inert gas injected into the bloodstream can get more chemotherapy to tumor cells and enable drugs to breach one of the most stubborn frontiers in the human body—the blood-brain barrier. It is also being explored as a new way to deliver gene therapy. The effectiveness of drugs in treating diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is often limited by poor penetration into tissues, whether in the brain or in tumors in other parts of the body. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/ultrasound-therapy-alzheimers-cancer-treatment-862f1390?mod=hp_lista_pos1)

Prenuvo Partners with Cenegenics to Bring Comprehensive Whole-Body Scans to Patients

Prenuvo, the company pioneering proactive whole-body imaging for the early detection of cancer and other diseases, recently announced its partnership with Cenegenics, a leading performance health age management platform dedicated to helping people achieve their peak cognitive, physical and metabolic health. Together, the two will bring Prenuvo's comprehensive, radiation-free scans to thousands of current and future Cenegenics patients, empowering their physicians to make more informed health decisions to help patients achieve longer, better, and healthier lives. Unlike conventional MRIs, which take hours and often involve contrast injections, Prenuvo scans for 500+ conditions, including most solid tumors which can be detected as early as stage 1, aneurysms, cysts, and more - all without radiation, in under an hour. (https://www.prenuvo.com/about-us/newsroom/prenuvo-partners-with-cenegenics)

How GNC Is Becoming the Newest Healthcare Disruptor

GNC, the health supplement retailer, is rolling out a yearly healthcare subscription service offering free telehealth appointments and generic medications. GNC Health memberships will be available for $39.99 a year to customers who subscribe to GNC Pro Access (which also costs $39.99 annually). Members get access to free telehealth visits for primary and urgent care and more than 100 generic meds - across specialties such as dermatology, mental health and sexual health - with no copay or additional costs. GNC joins other retailers that have entered the healthcare space in recent years, including Amazon, Dollar General, and Kroger. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/disruptors/how-gnc-became-the-newest-healthcare-disruptor.html)

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