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where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.

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Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• The FDA is recommending that all blood donations in the U.S. be screened for the Zika Virus as additional precautionary measures against the spread of the virus. Not all states are required to test blood donations at once. Testing will begin within the next four weeks for 11 states that are within proximity to areas where Zika is actively spreading via mosquitoes. The expansion of blood testing to all states will occur within a 12-week time frame.  Read More

• Physicians are concerned that the new MACRA payment system, which rewards quality over quantity of care based on quality benchmarks, will put small practice or solo practice doctors at high risk of incurring payment penalties or even push thousands of these physicians into larger practices.  With the way this payment model is structured now, larger practices will do well and smaller practices are likely to do worse. Read More

• Less than one-third of ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) qualified for bonuses from Medicare in 2015, according to CMS. However, ACOs participating in the past two years have improved on 84 percent of the quality performance measures used and have grown 13 percent in savings since 2014.  Read More

• A new ultrasound-enabled genetic therapy called sonoporation may one day be the new cancer and heart disease fighting tool. This strategy involves the use of "microbubbles" and ultrasound energy to poke holes in cells, administering genes on a molecular level. This approach allows researchers to deliver therapeutic agents to the precise location of the disease while sparing its healthy surroundings. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Dr. Karen DeSalvo officially stepped down as National Coordinator of the ONC (The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) as of last Friday. Her predecessor, Dr. Vindell Washington, has been with the ONC since January 2016 and is a longtime proponent of health IT and information exchange. Read More

• The U.N. admits to playing a role in the Haiti cholera outbreak that began in the fall of 2010, just months after the devasting earthquake had struck Haiti. The strain found in Haiti was a perfect match for a strain found in Nepal. The source was believed to have come from Nepalese peacekeepers who were staying at the U.N. camp in Haiti. Coupled with poor sanitation, the infectious disease spread into local waterways from the camp's sewage. Cholera is spread through contaminated water and causes dehydration and can lead to death if left untreated. Read More

• Aetna is pulling back its Affordable Care Act exchange presence in 11 states, which leaves some counties with zero insurers offering plans in the 2017 open enrollment period starting November. This exit, combined with that of United and Humana's, will impact approximately 1 million to 1.5 million of the 13 million people who signed up during the 2016 open enrollment period. Read More

• Within the past three weeks, the number of confirmed Zika infections have increased to 35 in the greater Miami area. While public health officials do not expect the virus to spread as rapidly as it has in other countries, pregnant women are still worried. Expectant mothers are taking precautions by confining themselves indoors, spraying exposed limbs with insect repellent, wearing long clothing in 90-degree weather and even going so far as to stay with family and friends far outside of the Zika zone until they've given birth. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Some hospitals have established a separate medical unit for the treatment of elderly patients. Hospitalization can be very taxing on the elderly, especially when faced with drug side-effects, interrupted sleep, unappetizing food and long days in bed. San Francisco General opened the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) ward in 2007 and focuses on how to get patients back home and living as independently as possible. With only about 200 of these units around the country, they are rare yet promising. ACE units have been shown to reduce hospital-inflicted disabilities in older patients and decrease the length of stay. Source

• The greatest impact on reducing costs to health care organizations and maximizing ROI comes from remote patient monitoring. Coming in second and third are patient engagement platforms and EHRs (electronic health records systems). In order to help strengthen the quality of technology implementation in health care organizations, there should be priority in designing workflows that improve efficiency and technology adoption. Source

• A new, alternative approach to treating psychosis allows the voices in the patients' heads to be directly addressed by support group members. In this holistic, nonmedical approach, members help one another understand each voice, as a metaphor, rather than try to extinguish it. The Open Dialogue treatment approach begins with a team of mental health specialists who visit homes and discuss the crisis with the affected person rather than resorting to medication. The culture aims to provide a nonpsychiatric label, avoiding the words "patient" or "treatment". Source

• Studies have found that 20 percent of hospital patients are sent home before their vital signs are stable, increasing their likelihood of readmission or even death. Researchers suggest hospitals take further action to prevent such mishaps by closely monitoring patients' vital signs and conducting thorough outpatient follow-up education. Source

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Medicare is dinging U.S. hospitals for excessive 30-day readmission rates. More than half of U.S. hospitals are being penalized this year, taking effect with the new fiscal year in October. These penalties mean that hospitals will lose upwards of $520 million in payments from Medicare. While these readmission penalties are controversial, fear of penalties are pushing hospitals to work harder torwards reducing their readmission rates. Source

• Will the latest health food trend arise from one of the least revered insects? Cockroach milk, secreted from the Pacific Beetle Cockroach, is actually a liquid that takes the form of protein crystals in the guts of baby cockroaches. It's high in protein, fat and sugar and researchers indicate this may someday be a food supplement worthy of human consumption. Source

• The largest settlement yet paid by a single entity for potential HIPAA violations came from Advocate Health Care to the tune of $5.6 million. In an investigation starting in 2013, it was revealed that Advocate Health Care was in violation of HIPAA-compliancy involving electronic protected health information. Source

• Researchers have found that microbes from farm animals, carried into the home via dust, could be the magic ingredient in preventing asthma in children. Children who are exposed to microbes that stimulate their immune system at an earlier age are more likely to be protected against asthma. Studies have shown that children who lived in far too clean environments were developing asthma at rate higher than those who grew up in other environments, such as a farm.  Source

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Thirty percent of pediatric readmissions may be preventable by making improvements in post-discharge engagement. Family engagement and proper care assesment after a child is discharged from the hospital both play a huge role in preventable readmissions. It is essential for organizations to take an active role in preparing patients and their families for discharge. Source

• The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its first overall hospital quality rating this Wednesday. The results were far more than dismal for many of the nation's best-known hospitals, while dozens of obscure hospitals were awareded top scores. Health care organizations are concerned about the potential consequences for patients that could result from painting such an overly simplistic picture of health care quality using a star rating system.  Source

• Four cases of Zika infection are traced back to a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. No mosquitos have tested positive yet for the Zika virus but people in that specific area are being tested to ensure there are no additional cases. Mosquitos have a very short range and tend to cluster, zip code by zip code, and at the moment avoiding widespread transmission. Source

• Rising costs of generic drugs may be blamed on insurers. Traditionally, health care professionals point the finger towards drug manufacturers but insurers can simply change the design of their health plan's drug benefit, moving drugs into a higher tier, for example, requiring consumers to pay a bigger chunk of the cost. Drug price increases can sometimes also be blamed on the rising cost of manufacturing or distributing the drug.  Source

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  A new genome sequencing test that detects mutations can guide cancer treatment with more than 95 percent accuracy. Scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine say EXaCT-1 has proven to be reliable and reproducible. How does it work? EXaCT-1 scans 21,000 genes and detects genetic mutations that drive cancer. It's about a three-week process on average but may be feasible to perform the test in only 6 days. Source

• The government plans to invest more than $149 million to increase the primary care workforce in the U.S. The funds will go towards 12 different health care workforce programs across the country and will promote education and training for health care professionals, increasing presence in high-need areas. Source

• A second possible locally-transmitted Zika infection in Florida is being investigated. There are more than 1,300 confirmed Zika cases in the U.S. but all have been contracted abroad. If either of these two cases are confirmed, it would be the first time a person has been infected by a mosquito carrying the virus in the continental U.S. Source

• Microhospitals are popping up in fast-growing urban and suburban markets. These tiny, full-service hospitals provide residents quicker access to emergency care and possible other services such as outpatient surgery and primary care. Microhospitals have the potential to help medically underserved areas, where currently they're most prevalent in larger urban and suburban metro areas.  Source

 

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• The health care industry is continuously driving job growth in the U.S. In June, approximately 39,000 health care jobs were added to the economy, according to the Department of Labor. This upward trajectory falls in line with gains in ambulatory health care services of 19,000 and hospitals adding 15,000 jobs.  Source

• Participants of an insurer-led care transition program led mainly by pharmacists, saw a 50 percent reduced relative risk of readmission within 30 days of discharge by identifying high risk readmission patients and reconciling medication lists. One study noted that adverse drug events contribute to two-thirds of 30-day readmissions.  Source

• The senate is set to approve a bill that intends to reframe opioid addiction as a health problem as opposed to a crime. The bill will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to give grants to organizations on a state and community level for improving or expanding treatment and recovery programs. The House and Senate Republicans agreed to a version of the bill that will likely fund only about half of President Obama's requested $1.1 billion to help pay for more addiction initiatives and treatment programs. Source

 

On The Front Lines:


This week, Android took back .04 percent of the mobile device pie from Apple. With an enticing Buy One Get, One Free offer from AT&T, it's no surprise that Android is ahead this week.

FINAL RESULTS:


iOS: 90.19%
Android: 9.81%

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care alongside the front lines of the iOS-Android wars among pMD's physician charge capture users. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Hospitals are now offering more mental health and emotional wellness programs to children and teenagers in an ongoing effort to improve population health. Mental health issues are very prevalent in young children and is the most common childhood affliction above cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Including mental health screenings in primary care is another approach that is currently being explored. Source

• The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is calling for health care providers to use a 90-day period for Meaningful Use reporting, in contrast to a full calendar year. By shortening the reporting period, hospitals and health systems can continue to make progress in adopting technology systems that support new payment and care delivery models. Source

• While experts agree that mosquitos are Zika's main driver, intimate contact may account for more Zika infections than previously believed. In most parts of the U.S., health officials have presumed that Zika infection risk is low in the non-summer months. However, widespread sexual transmission may alter those numbers. The evidence is still emerging and many of the findings will merit further study.  Source

 

On The Front Lines:


After a three week skid, Apple finally showed some positive growth in the iOS-Android wars among our health care providers! This week, Apple took back .08 percent of the mobile device pie from Android. If the rumors true, the reverse sticker shock of the upcoming iPhone 7 may be a driving factor in Apple's slow crawl back to the top.

FINAL RESULTS:


iOS: 90.23%
Android: 9.77%

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care alongside the front lines of the iOS-Android wars among pMD's physician charge capture users. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  New RAA ransomware allows access to Windows registry and connects to web servers. The latest virus strain is coded in JScript and is launched from .js attachments via email. What does this mean? Most of these infections utilize email attachments, so employees need to be cautious on how they handle emails from unknown senders. It's also important that health care organizations install a security product that offers behavioral detection rather than standard definitions, due to the constantly evolving nature of the virus. Source

• The Department of Health and Human Services proposes to alter the Medicare appeals process in an effort to trim the backlog of over 700,000 cases, which would take 11 years to clear entirely. Under this new proposal, the decision-making process would be accelerated and fewer cases would be sent to the third level of appeals. The minimum amount required to lodge an appeal would also change from the current $150 by using Medicare's allowed amount rather than the amount billed by the provider. The proposal would also request increased funding to help clear the backlog of cases by 2021. Source

•  The risk-adjustment program serves as a way to prevent insurers from cherry-picking the healthiest members by distributing the insurance risk of all Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange enrollees. Companies who cover riskier patients with complex health conditions receive money from companies that have generally healthier members. CMS has vowed to make changes in response to some criticism from insurers that the risk-adjustment formula favors bigger payers with more claims experience and leaves out important drug data, making smaller companies with less claims data seem as if their membership base looks healthier than it actually is. Source

 

On The Front Lines:


For the third week in a row, Android has topped Apple in net devices for the week, taking away an additional 0.10 percent of the mobile user base. Could the "sweet" new name reveal for Google's next generation Android operating system, the Android Nougat, be enticing enough for mobile users to make the switch? 

FINAL RESULTS:


iOS: 90.15%
Android: 9.85%

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care alongside the front lines of the iOS-Android wars among pMD's physician charge capture users. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• The Department of Health and Human Services earlier this week announced that it will spend approximately $100 million over the course of five years to provide training and education to help individual and small group practices prepare for the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). MIPS falls under the newly proposed payment program which will change how Medicare pays physicians and other clinicians. The funds will help provide hands-on training tailored to small practices, more specifically for those in under-resourced and underserved areas in the U.S.  Source

• Google, Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic have partnered together to take the confusion out of symptom searching. Symptom search, which is available in Google iOS and Android apps, as well as Google.com search results on mobile devices, is only currently available in the U.S. and only in English. Veronica Pinchin, a product manager on Google's search team, cautions users that the search "is intended for informational purposes only, and you should always consult a doctor for medical advice."  Source

• A growing number of unregulated clinics across the globe claim they can treat, even cure, diseases such as muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's etc by injecting patients with stem cells. In theory, these stem cells could repair damage from an illness or injury. It is estimated that the "stem cell tourism" industry is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, drawing in tens of thousands of patients around the world. While researchers say stem cells hold enormous promise, they caution against the dangers resulting from rapidly-dividing stem cells that can form tumors and mutations.  Source

 

On The Front Lines:


This week, Android took away 0.02 percent of the mobile device pie among our health care providers. Is Apple on a slow and steady decline or will we expect a comeback in the upcoming weeks?

FINAL RESULTS:


iOS: 90.25%
Android: 9.75%

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care alongside the front lines of the iOS-Android wars among pMD's physician charge capture users. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.