The Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase triumvirate announced that Atul Gawande, MD, will be the CEO of its partnership to transform employee health care. Gawande will lead the partnership as a new, independent entity, "free from profit-making incentives and constraints." Insiders say Gawande's successful work to transform care delivery through his innovation lab, Ariadne, put him over the top. It's unclear whether Gawande will continue his commitment to Ariadne Labs and his other interests; he practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School and is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. (Forbes;TechCrunch; Business Wire announcement)
The Labor Department unveiled its final rule for association health plans, allowing more small businesses and self-employed workers to bypass minimum requirements enacted under the Affordable Care Act. The plans, labeled “junk insurance” by Democrats, are expected to offer less extensive benefits, but they will also be lower priced and expected to attract an estimated 4 million away from the ACA marketplaces. They should extend coverage to about 400,000 who aren’t currently covered, according to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. The department estimates the exodus of mostly young, healthy workers into the leaner association plans will work against the risk selection in the ACA markets—where plan costs are likely to go up as a result. (Modern Healthcare; Associated Press)
Research shows health care prices rise after big provider mergers and acquisitions reduce competition in a community. Can employers, who foot the bill when costs rise, do anything to curb the trend? Suzanne Delbanco of Catalyst for Payment Reform lays out the pros and cons of employer strategies to keep costs in check, from tiered networks to Centers of Excellence, reference pricing and telehealth alternatives. (Employee Benefit News; [sign in may be required])
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Innovation in health care tends to be small scale—a new application for known technology, for instance. But for novel solutions to health care’s systemic problems, imagination is required. In this thought piece, imaginative and innovative ideas are explored for transforming primary care and public health, as well as government’s role in health care delivery. (JAMA Forum)
By using a neural network to analyze how radio signals bounce off people’s bodies, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a way for artificial intelligence to sense movement through walls. The RF-Pose is a wireless smart-home system that can extrapolate a person’s movements, even if they’re in the next room. That technology could help doctors monitor patients and track disease progression over time—without requiring patients to wear sensors. (Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report)
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General says it’s legal for a hospital to buy telehealth equipment on behalf of a health clinic, so it can provide consultations for HIV prevention. The hospital is 80 miles away from the clinic, which was a factor in agreeing that this arrangement is allowed under the Federal anti-kickback statute. This is the third time the OIG has weighed in on the legality of a telehealth relationship. OIG is keeping a close eye on telehealth service expansion; in April, OIG found $3.7 million in improper Medicare telehealth payments. (Fierce Healthcare; OIG report)
Data shows female medical students are more likely to suffer gender harassment than women in science and engineering graduate programs. Research by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that permissive environments like academic institutions are predictor of this behavior—e.g., comments from advisors like “Women don’t belong in science.” It’s the underlying culture that doesn’t engender respect, researchers note. Institutions with clearly defined policies and accountability have lower rates of harassment. Interestingly, the bylaws of the National Academies don’t address the issue. (Inside Higher Ed)
iPhones will send your location to 911: Your mobile phone knows where you are all the time, and soon it will share it when you dial 911. Apple’s newest software update will send emergency workers your precise location based on Wi-Fi access points, cell towers and GPS. The sticking point up until now has been connecting Apple’s data to aging 911 systems. More than 80 percent of 911 calls are made from mobile devices. (CNN)
The Veteran’s Health Administration has been tracking quality data on its 100+ nursing homes for years, but it only made some of them public last week after receiving media requests—and the news isn’t good. Nearly half of the nursing facilities received the lowest rating on measures like rate of anti-psychotic drug prescription and residents’ condition deteriorating. Unlike private nursing homes, the VA isn’t required by law to release detailed quality data on the care it provides in its nursing homes, although officials say the Trump administration has been pushing to make the data public. (USA Today)
“There shouldn’t be a gap between the reality of how we’re treating people under the government’s care and public understanding of it. This is not a situation where we’re concerned about some matter of national security, this is simply being honest about how well things are going." Alex Howard, former deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, as quoted by USA Today.