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#WWBR Week of February 9, 2015

by John Moore lll | February 13, 2015

Coverage of our recently released Clinical Patient Engagement Report:

Health Affairs Web First: Recent US Hospital Productivity Growth
Chris Flemin for Health Affairs
“One of the biggest criticisms that economists have had of healthcare and higher education is the lack of productivity exhibited in these 2 industries compared to much of the rest of the U.S. economy. In a ‘first of its kind’ analysis, Health Affairs released a study that looked at productivity gains by condition but also factored into the equation the severity of the patient’s condition along with the quality of care when evaluating productivity gains. The study found that the annual rates of productivity growth were 0.78 percent for heart attacks, 0.62 percent for heart failure, and 1.90 percent for pneumonia. When the severity of the patient’s condition and quality of care were removed, the productivity growth appeared to be negative for each condition.

This is a really important study for several reasons most notably showing that hospitals might be actually improving productivity more than generally perceived and coinciding with what has been a general slowdown in healthcare costs compared to historical norms. The question is can hospitals show the kind of productivity improvements in pneumonia across a wide ranger of conditions and sustain them. Given the trends in moving towards a VBP payment environment, it is really important that productivity in hospitals and other provider settings is better understood and potentially more accurately quantified as it will likely have an impact not only on the MedPAC recommendations but also CMS payments.” – Matt

Boston hospitals battle to get patients out, staff in
Kay Lazar for The Boston Globe
“The snow keeps falling and the hospitals keep scrambling here in Boston. With all subway and commuter rail service in or out of town canceled on Tuesday, hospital workforces are straining with “unprecendented” patient populations. Discharges are being sent home in taxis. The patient case mix is storm-related and consumables are being rationed. Parking, a logistical challenge under optimal conditions, is shaping up to be a limiting factor for care delivery.” – Brian

Number of Hospital Transactions Remains High in 2014 According to Kaufman Hall Analysis
Press Release
“2014 brought 95 hospital transactions, making it the third consecutive year in which at least 95 hospital transactions were announced, according to a new analysis from Kaufman, Hall & Associates. Of the 95 transactions between acute-care hospitals, 80 involved acquisition of nonprofit organizations and 15 involved acquisition of for-profits. What is interesting to not is that more of these transactions are moving away from the simple M&A of years’ past and focusing on more innovative ways to build more larger, more flexible organizations. Given the recent value-based payment announcements, the level of hospital transactions should remain elevated at a considerable level for the next several years especially as NFP community hospitals try to figure out how they will position themselves in this new financial environment.” – Matt

When Hospitals Buy Doctors’ Offices, and Patient Fees Soar
Margot Sanger-Katz for The New York Times
“The President’s budget proposal includes language that would “encourage efficient care by improving incentives to provide care in the most appropriate ambulatory setting.” This measure aims to eliminate the pricing arbitrage that makes it attractive to bill Medicare from a hospital-owned practice rather than from an independent practice. This article describes how cardiologists as a group stampeded out of private practice, apparently for the sole purpose of maximizing reimbursement. Hospital lobbyists will soon be, or already are, making money fighting this. Private payers will no doubt follow suit.” – Brian

Google to reshape how it provides health information, Mayo Clinic joins as a partner
Dan Verel for MedCity News
“Mayo Clinic strikes a deal with Google to provide curated clinical content directly into Google’s search results. Current Google search results include health information call-out boxes on the right hand of the screen; while the source of this information may shift to Google itself (vs. the National Institute of Health) and include more illustrations or a small amount of incremental content, the depth and breadth of such data will be limited compared to other competitors including WebMD. It certainly is a helpful step for consumers who are using ‘Dr. Google’ to look up basic information or using it as a starting place for their medical or health-related searches. As for Mayo Clinic, their website is already one of the most trafficked on the web for health content and this should give them an additional leg up vs. their competition.” – Matt

The Site Where Doctors Share X-Rays of Weird Things in People’s Butts
Sarah Zhang for Gizmodo
“This debatably not-suitable-for-work, but highly informative article illustrates the challenge of scrupulous observance of HIPAA requirements in day-to-day clinical practice. Anyone who has worked in healthcare for a while has observed this or has heard first-hand accounts from colleagues; I thought it was just urban myth. Amazingly, this clinical event does not seem to suffer from lack of interoperability – the word gets out. To be fair, the comments clearly show that this is really hard not to talk about with co-workers and anyone else for that matter.” – Brian

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