#WWBR Week of August 17, 2015

by | Aug 21, 2015

The Potential Hazards of Hospital Consolidation
Tim Xu, Albert W. Wu, and Martin A. Makary in The Journal of the American Medical Association
“At the end of the 20th century, consolidation in the financial services industry created firms that were deemed “too big to fail.” A similar wave of mergers and acquisitions in the hospital industry could have the same effect, two Johns Hopkins doctors argued in a recent JAMA editorial. Bigger hospital systems may bring better quality controls and improved outcomes, but only if local markets remain competitive. Otherwise, the authors say, the larger system could actually encourage increased utilization and higher prices — and if the system, like Lehman Brothers, does in fact fail, the health and well-being of an entire community will suffer.” – Brian E.

Translating Digital Health Into Practice Is Hard–So Give Credit To Those Trying To Get It Right
David Shaywitz in Forbes
“Digital/Connected health is a tough one to actually implement in a clinical setting. Any number of things can and do go wrong, thus is it any surprise that most HCOs wait until the dust settles?” – John

Healthcare IT: Zombie start-ups and vulture capital
Drew Boston and Marc Warren for Accenture
“A recent Accenture analysis suggests that more than half of digital health startups aren’t going to last more than 20 months. However, Accenture is quick to point out that these “zombie” startups can bring value to providers, payers and other healthcare stakeholders that traditionally struggle to both innovate and find the right IT talent.” – Brian E.

Learning from the Leaders in Patient Experience
Hanan Aboumatar in Armstrong Institute Blog
“Some nice insight about the role that physician leadership and behavior can play in optimizing the patient experience at health systems. However, in reading this, I couldn’t help but notice that there’s a glaring lack of mention of the critical role of “customer service,” such as integrating front office and administrative training and policies, into the overall experience. So long as doctors are operating in a bubble and unaware of the patient’s experience in other parts of their very own facilities, how are we going to improve? The easiest example to point to on this front is how front office staff frequently use HIPAA as a defense mechanism to keep data out of patients hands. A lot of work remains – while they’re trying, providers still don’t get it.” – Naveen

Four ways the AHA thinks mobile health research needs to improve
Jonah Comstock for MobiHealthNews
“The American Heart Association’s review of mobile health interventions for cardiovascular health has found a “paucity of published empirical evaluation of their effectiveness.” What’s more, researchers found, the field is “littered” with interventions that work in the short term but largely fail to support long-term behavior change. To better study the effectiveness of mobile health, the study concluded, researchers need more rigorous analytics, more diverse participation, more long-term focus and faster research methods.” – Brian E.

Most Health Insurance Co-ops Are Losing Money, Federal Audit Finds
Robert Pear for The New York Times
“In the reshuffling that ACA has wrought, federal insurance cooperatives have had either the toughest hand or the worst card sense. Many co-ops have suffered low enrollment and “adverse claims experiences” and will apparently face problems paying federal loans. Loan terms prohibit them from using the money for marketing. But a few are experiencing both strong subscriber growth and profits. This article suggest that co-ops as a category may have turned a corner.” – Brian M.

The Hospital Is In Network, But Not The Doctor: N.Y. Tries New Balance Billing Law
Elena Gordon for Kaiser Health News
“The problem of out-of-network providers for patients seems intractable. A quarter of states seem to be addressing at least the ED balance billing problem. The problem is much broader. This article overview some of the piecemeal approaches that serve only to underscore the heart of the problem — the absence of rational pricing for healthcare.” – Brian M.

The Employer-Led Health Care Revolution
Patricia A. McDonald, Robert S. Mecklenburg and Lindsay A. Martin for Harvard Business Review
“This long read from Harvard Business Review details how Intel led what was deemed a Healthcare Marketplace Collaborative in the Portland, Oregon area. The five-year project also included Cigna, three health systems and two public employers. The collaborative focused on applying lean principles to treating common conditions; for example, patients with lower back pain were screened for and sent to physical therapy without the need for PCP and specialist visits or imaging tests, which cut the cost of treating back pain by 24 percent. The article implies that large employers, with their clout and expertise, have little choice but to push the healthcare industry to change its ways.” – Brian E.


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