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Growth spurt in spending on disease-management technology

Use of home monitoring systems is increasing, and expected to fuel an upswing in the personal health technology sector. Forecasts suggest the number of patients using disease-management technologies will grow exponentially over the next few years. A recent study by the market research firm Parks Associates projects that revenue will rise from about $100 million in 2008 to more than $460 million in 2013. The original and full article can be found at ...

The challenge and opportunity for health system reform

Four times in recent weeks, I've been in the White House on your behalf. This unprecedented access will cause some of you to rejoice and others to worry about why and what's the goal of your AMA leadership. The first trip to the East Room was for the signing of the CHIP reauthorization, ensuring continuation of health coverage for 7 million children, and its expansion to 4 million more. It was, as President Obama said, "a down payment on the promise of health insurance for all Americans." This should be viewed as a real victory. It will enable states to extend health coverage to more children whose parents cannot afford it, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. We are particularly pleased that the law will provide more flexibility to states to allow better coordination and partnership with existing employer-provided private health insurance. Enhanced premium assistance provisions should also help ease budgetary pressures on the CHIP program. The second trip, to the "fisca ...

When patients declare bankruptcy: What happens to your unpaid bills?

The number of individuals filing for bankruptcy protection is rising, and so is the likelihood that one or more of those filers is a patient of yours. There were 679,982 Chapter 7 filings in fiscal year 2008, a 40% increase over the 484,164 filings in fiscal 2007, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court reported. Chapter 13 filings rose from 310,802 in 2007 to 353,828 in 2008, a 14% hike. With Chapter 7 liquidation, most unsecured debt, including medical bills, usually are discharged. With Chapter 13 reorganization, you might get a portion of what is owed, but it could take years. Receiving notice of a bankruptcy filing may make you want to aggressively pursue any money you can get, set stricter payment rules for that patient, or even fire him or her from your practice. Experts warn, however, that there are rules protecting debtors. Failing to know and follow those rules could leave you facing fines or other court sanctions. Experts also call for some compassion. While you have the right to ...