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Helpful information on the world of beauty and aesthetics supplies.
Newspaper company’s entry into clinical care may inspire other outside players
The Washington Post Co.’s investment in a home health care and hospice company is an indication of the growing interest of nonclinical companies seeing financial opportunities in businesses involved in patient care, investment analysts said. Up until the newspaper company’s Oct. 1 announcement that it was buying a majority stake in Mars, Pa.-based Celtic Healthcare, the nonclinical interest in patient care companies had been limited mostly to insurers or others that already had some connection to the health business. But analysts, without identifying other companies by name, said other non-health firms could follow the Washington Post Co.’s lead. An aging population that will need more care and the health reform movement — including an estimated 30 million new insured patients on the rolls in 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act — are creating what some companies believe to be a sure profit opportunity, analysts said. “It’s tempting,” said Sheryl Skolnick, [Read more]
MedPAC moves toward backing geographic pay reductions
patient service to be adjusted throughout the country based on the doctor’s geographic location. Evidence suggests that varying the work component — one of the factors that determines how much Medicare pays for a particular service — would not affect patient access, members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission said during an Oct. 4 hearing in Washington. Medicare statute requires budget-neutral geographic adjustments to payments, increasing rates in areas considered to be high-cost and paying for it by reducing pay in low-cost areas. However, since 2004, Congress has approved temporary measures to prevent the positive geographic adjustments from being paid by other jurisdictions, thus leaving the pay boosts in place but negating the downward revisions. Doing so costs the government about $500 million a year. All of the commissioners who spoke on the issue appeared to express approval for allowing the geographic payment floor established by lawmakers to expire. Sev [Read more]
Study provides further evidence to dispel HPV vaccine fears
Physicians have more research to help them reassure patients and families of the safety of the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine. A study published online Oct. 1 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found no significant adverse events associated with the vaccine. The findings should help alleviate concerns about the HPV vaccine, said Nicola Klein, MD, PhD, lead study author and research scientist and co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif. The vaccine has faced controversy since it received Food and Drug Administration approval in 2006. Its vaccination rates have been lower than other vaccines, Dr. Klein said. Thirty-five percent of girls 11 to 17 received all three recommended doses of the HPV vaccine in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest data. For the Archives study, researchers followed 189,629 girls and women 9 to 26 who received a total of 346,972 doses of the vaccine betwe [Read more]
Humana partners with Wal-Mart to offer discounts on healthy foods
Physicians caring for patients insured by Humana soon will be encouraged to tell them that they can get a discount on healthy foods sold at Wal-Mart stores. Starting Oct. 15, members participating in the HumanaVitality wellness program will be eligible for a 5% rebate on foods that qualify for Wal-Mart’s “Great for You” labeling initiative. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats are among the 1,300 products available. Members must register on the program’s website and take a health assessment. A gift card is then sent to them. The 5% rebate from purchasing healthy food is deposited on the card. Participants can use the money to buy anything sold by Wal-Mart. Information about the program will be included in regular communication from Humana to physicians, who will be asked to tell patients about the effort. “We know physicians have close relationships with many of our members and that relationship is trusted,” said Joe Woods, CEO [Read more]
User feedback is key to improving EHR systems
Practices shopping for an electronic health record system or seeking to improve an existing system should have a central clearinghouse of reviews, feedback and tips from other users, says an Institute of Medicine discussion paper. The paper, published in September, is intended to foster discussion of a recommendation the IOM made in an earlier report that examined ways EHRs can be improved. The institute recommended that the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology work with public and private sectors to make comparative EHR user experiences publicly available. The paper’s authors said there is no place for EHR users to share publicly their experiences with their systems. That means there is a lack of transparency and improvements to make EHRs easier to use. By creating a central database that is publicly available, health care organizations “will benefit from lessons learned by similar health care organizat [Read more]
Patients who read doctor notes feel more in control of their health
Physicians who share clinical notes with patients could help improve or resolve medication noncompliance and patients’ lack of involvement in their health care, according to a new study. A majority of patients who view the notes on secure Internet portals say they feel more in control of their health care. They also are more likely to take medications as prescribed and have a better understanding of their medical issues, said a study in the Oct. 2 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. “I want [doctors] to be enthusiastic about this prospect,” said study co-author Tom Delbanco, MD, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, one of three sites where the study was conducted. “I think that once [open notes] become part of standard practice and we learn how to use these well, it will enrich the doctor’s experience and the patient’s experience.” The other sites were Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. [Read more]
Patients won’t ask physicians to come clean on hand-washing
The vast majority of patients have never asked a physician or other health professional if they washed their hands before a physical exam or medical procedure, said a survey released in September. Only 21% of patients have asked about hand hygiene in the hospital, and just 17% have inquired about hand-washing at their doctor’s office, said the nationwide online survey of 1,020 U.S. adults. Fewer than 10% of patients said they ask “frequently” or “all the time.” The low rate of hand-hygiene quizzing comes despite widespread use of hospital signage encouraging such questions, as well as educational videos and urging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Joint Commission and others. Compliance with hand-hygiene guidelines is difficult to measure accurately and varies widely. The CDC says the hand-washing rate in hospitals hovers around 50%. Poor hand hygiene is a leading contributor to the estimated 1.7 million health care-associated infections that occu [Read more]
Insurers begin using standardized consumer guides
Health plans now are providing more consumer-friendly summaries of the insurance coverage they offer patients. The 2010 health system reform law required insurers to detail coverage using uniform documents and standardized definitions to explain patient benefits and cost-sharing responsibilities. Sept. 23 was the official deadline for health plans to begin using the new documentation. The summary of benefits and coverage form contains key information beneficiaries need during health plan enrollment periods, said Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a Sept. 24 conference call with reporters. The document, which she likened to a food nutrition label, tells patients what they need to know when comparing insurance plans without having to read through dozens of pages of fine print and footnotes. “Americans shouldn’t have to make a decision as important as picking a health plan for themselves and their family or their employees without having all [Read more]
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