Dive Brief: This flu season is proving to be the most severe in nearly a decade, with no signs of abating any time soon, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks influenza outbreaks. For the third straight week, 49 states have reported widespread flu activity, CDC officials said Friday, in contrast to most years when it hits different parts of the country at different times. Last week, 6.6% of all people visiting emergency rooms and clinics had flu-like symptoms — the highest level since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, when cases peaked at 7.7%. Dive Insight: At its current pace, the 2017-2018 flu season will equal or exceed the 2014-2015 flu season, when 34 million Americans got sick, 710,000 were hospitalized and roughly 56,000 died. Like then, the predominant strain is the H3N2 virus. “At this point, we don’t know what the season is going to end up like … but it’s tracking at the same level as 2014-15,” Daniel … [Read more...] about Flu season on track to be worst in a decade
Coordinated health care on demand
Since February 2007, when he announced his quest for the presidency, Barack Obama has been answering questions about health-care reform.And now that he's president, the third degree continues. But its success hinges on the question you're asking: What's in it for me? We wondered the same thing. So we asked him."IT'S NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN." President Barack Obama shakes my hand and smiles warmly.I first met candidate Obama a little less than a year ago, flying with him on his campaign plane from Lansing, Michigan, to Boston, on his 47th birthday. Back then, I had mentioned something about the rigors of campaigning, and he glanced around the cabin of his jumbo jet and said, with mordant humor: "I've got 3 more months, and then it gets harder."That's exactly what brings me to Washington on this steamy day in late July. The hard part has begun.Men's Health is, of course, a magazine with a mission to improve the health of its readers. Most of the time, it focuses on personal health: what … [Read more...] about President Obama Has a Health Plan for America
Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage that covers the cost of an insured individual's medical and surgical expenses. Depending on the type of health insurance coverage, either the insured pays costs out-of-pocket and is then reimbursed, or the insurer makes payments directly to the provider. In health insurance terminology, the "provider" is a clinic, hospital, doctor, laboratory, health care practitioner, or pharmacy. The "insured" is the owner of the health insurance policy; the person with the health insurance coverage. In countries without universal health care coverage, such as the USA, health insurance is commonly included in employer benefit packages and seen as an employment perk. Everybody at some time in their life, and often on many occasions, will need some kind of medical attention and treatment. When medical care is required, ideally the patient should be able to concentrate on getting better, rather than wondering whether he/she has got the resources to pay … [Read more...] about What Is Health Insurance?
For those in the health IT industry, athenahealth is a household name. The company was founded in 1997 by former HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and current athenahealth CEO, president Jonathan Bush and has since grown to a $1 billion publicly traded company. A lot has happened since 1997. Some of the events are obvious but others – such as the push for artificial intelligence in healthcare – are a little less so. Bush met up with Healthcare Dive during the HIMSS17 conference to discuss what's changed since the publication of his 2014 book "Where Does It Hurt?" with athena, how the company is prepping for a more networked approach and who the new "crazy ones" in healthcare are. Athenahealth CEO, President Jonathan Bush athenahealth "Between 2014 and today, I think the single headline that has emerged is digital health," Bush said. The company started its marketplace in 2011 where even if a company was internet-based, they were still … [Read more...] about Jonathan Bush on athenahealth’s next steps – and why doctors should get on board
Results from a recent study in the BMJ show medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 251,000 deaths every year, just behind heart disease and cancer. The study authors concluded medical error-related deaths are not being properly documented on death certificates due to limited ICD-10 codes, the study authors concluded. “There are only a few codes where the role of error can be inferred," they stated. Rick Pollack's, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA), responded to the study’s findings in a press release stating, “No matter the number, one incident is one too many." "Hospitals are constantly working to improve patient safety," Pollack added. "But there is more work to do and hospitals are committed to quickly adopting what works in every step of care provided." A 2012 article in the Journal of Health Care Finance estimated the economic impact of medical … [Read more...] about Spotlight on medical errors evokes stakeholders’ involvement
Although there are two pending mental health reform bills (S.1945, H.R. 2646) that have kicked up the national dialogue swirling around what many call “controversial” measures, there is a major shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals nationwide. In fact, there are an estimated 4,000 areas designated in the U.S. as having such a shortage where there is only one psychiatrist per 30,000 people. That is not a typo. It’s hard to imagine but explains in part why only 10% of individuals with mental health issues seek care. This leaves 90% of that population with unmet behavioral health needs, Lisa A. Marsch, PhD, director of the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health (CTBH) at Dartmouth College told Healthcare Dive. “There is a huge opportunity and unmet need to think about how we’re going to reach that 90%.” This is where technology fits into the new behavioral health paradigm. Telehealth is being adapted very quickly not … [Read more...] about Can technology shape the future of behavioral health?
This year has seen a bevy of new programs and initiatives aimed at moving providers toward a value-based model of care. In February, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews announced a major commitment by healthcare companies and organizations to support interoperability and ease use of electronic health records. Then on April 1, CMS launched its Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, which will test bundled payment and quality measurement for hip and knee replacements and other major leg procedures. And just weeks ago, the agency unveiled its largest-ever strategy to change primary care delivery and payment in the U.S. - a proposed final rule that will implement the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) under which providers can choose to participate in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or in certain alternative payment models. All of these programs, spurred by the Affordable Care Act, aim to improve the quality and … [Read more...] about Performance measures put heat on hospitals
Regulations in the last 10 years have been making a push toward mental health parity, which aims to prevent individuals receiving mental health and substance misuse services from getting less favorable benefits than their medical/surgical counterparts. However, as regulatory guidelines push the industry to compliance, a gap in technology persists as there are currently little incentives propelling major health IT vendors to build out data fields related to behavioral health services. CMS in late March released a final rule aimed to help ensure mental health services are covered the same as physical conditions for Medicaid and CHIP enrollees, a rule the agency estimated would benefit 23 million individuals. The rule was designed to be closely aligned to the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), which mandates group health plans and plan … [Read more...] about Increase in parity supports building out mental health informatics
Welcome to 2017. So far, so good, but it won't be quiet much longer for the healthcare industry. Obviously, the incoming Donald Trump administration casts a shadow of uncertainty on the Affordable Care Act, but the industry will have more than enough to deal with as the shift to value-based care continues. From MACRA implementation to Cancer Moonshot efforts, 2017 likely will be a banner year for an industry at a flashpoint of reform. Here are some of the storylines we'll be watching this year: For years, Republicans have called for the ACA’s repeal. With a Republican-controlled White House and Congress, it looks like the GOP will finally be able to make good on that promise. The only problem is...there’s no consensus over what should replace the ACA. Reports have noted it could be as long as four years before the GOP could implement a replacement. Hospitals may be none too happy over this development. Just yesterday, four medical organizations representing about 400,000 … [Read more...] about What we’re watching on the road ahead in 2017
Obamacare vs. the Holistic Approach Watching the engineered debacle of Obamacare unfold, exposing it as the planned disaster it was always meant to be, should beg the question, what would a real health care plan for America actually look like? The great healers and teachers of health, going back thousands of years and more, have always seen health from a holistic point of view. They never focused on covering up symptoms for the moment, even with natural remedies, but always taught that our whole life should be conducive to health. When there is sickness or disease, the causes have to be cleaned out in order to go back to our normal state of radiant health. Taking drugs, even if you call them “medicine,” just creates the conditions for the problem to get worse. Our concept of aging as the gradual breakdown of the body and mind, with increasing disease and disability, until we arrive at a completely helpless state and finally die an agonizing death, … [Read more...] about America’s Rx For Holistic Health: Compare This To Obamacare