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WWBR Week of October 13, 2014

by John Moore lll | October 17, 2014

Reference Pricing: A Small Piece of the Health Care Price and Quality Puzzle
Chapin White and Megan Eguchi for The National Institute for Healthcare Reform
“Researchers who examined applying reference pricing to ~530k workers in 19 metropolitan markets in the Midwest in 2011 estimated potential savings of only 5 percent of total healthcare spending. Study authors noted that reference pricing is limited as a cost control tool because shoppable services only account for about a third of total healthcare spending, and it only affects prices at the high end of the spectrum, according to the study. It also potentially leaves patients vulnerable to significant cost sharing, which makes health benefit designs even more complex.” – Matt

Be Scared of Telemedicine, Really Scared!
Rafael Grossman blog post
“More signs pointing to the emergence of telemedicine and virtual consults. While some of the leading companies paving the way have been plugging away for months and even years, the newfound media attention is a signal of consumer interest in more convenient access to health care.” – Naveen

With Electronic Medical Records, Doctors Read When They Should Talk
Abigail Zuger for The New York Times
“The limits to automation are highlighted in this article that describes the mismatch between actual clinical practice and EHR-driven workflow. The comments from physicians also speak loudly about how generating billing codes trumps basic patient care and impedes care coordination. This familiar characterization of EHRs points to the opportunities for change in HIT.” – Brian

Taking Digital Health to the Next Level (PDF link)
Martha Hostetter, Sarah Klein, and Douglas McCarthy for The Commonwealth Fund
“Commonwealth Fund issues a new report around major barriers to adoption of new digital tools by the delivery system. While this is a good high level read for the uninitiated, it is somewhat lacking in new insights, particularly around operationalizing innovation – workflows, reimbursements, promoting adoption by patients, etc.” – Naveen

The Influential Big Three: Credit Rating Agency Forecasts
Kevin Laidlaw for Lancaster Pollard
“An analysis by Lancaster Pollard noted that 5 financial trends stand out regarding the hospital sector regarding recent reports from the three main credit rating agencies – Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Services through the early part of 2014. These trends include:

  • Downgrades are outpacing upgrades across the board
  • Revenue growth has hit a record low
  • Expenses are growing faster than revenues
  • Strong liquidity metrics have partly compensated for negative profitability”
  • Mergers and acquisitions are driving up ratings, despite financial pressures in the sector.”


Google Is Testing A ‘Talk With A Doctor’ Feature Within Medical Search Results
Amit Chowdhry for Forbes
“When Google launched its ‘helpouts’ service – a video hangout session built around specific expertise sharing, health oriented use cases were a clear goal. Now, Google has launched an official beta built around providing medical consultations (initially with doctors from Scripps and OneMedical) for people who are searching for specific symptoms. Given their footprint on web and mobile search, this has the ability to be a game changer. Our big question of course is, what happens to the data generated during the course of an online consultation?” – Naveen

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