Software Advice Summaries of Medical News

on August 12, 2019

Read this roundup of healthcare news articles to learn about what’s happening in the world of medicine and how this news will impact your practice.

Week of August 12, 2019

Blockchain could save healthcare billions by 2025, Amazon’s PillPack facing pushback from CVS and Walgreens, and more healthcare news

Google’s DeepMind says its AI can accurately detect acute kidney injury before doctors
Researchers for Google’s DeepMind Health have developed an artificial intelligence system that can analyst 600,000 data points like blood tests and heart rate to determine whether a patient will develop acute kidney injury, a condition in which the kidneys suddenly stop functioning. The AI algorithm could identify the diagnosis two days before doctors would normally identify symptoms. [Read more]

Healthcare blockchain could save industry $100B annually by 2025
BIS Research recently published a report that found blockchain applications in healthcare could save the industry up to $100 billion a year by 2025 by reducing costs associated with IT, operations, support, personnel, and data breaches. Additionally, the report predicts that pharmaceutical companies will be able to use blockchain to track drugs, reducing the money lost due to counterfeit drugs. [Read more]

Cerner collaborates with Amazon Web Services on cloud innovation, machine learning
Healthcare IT provider Cerner has announced a new collaboration with Amazon Web Services in which AWS will become a preferred cloud provider for Cerner. The two companies aim to explore a number of ways to advance patient outcomes, such as enhancing clinical experience, increasing efficiencies, developing and improving artificial intelligence and machine learning. [Read more]

Amazon’s PillPack is battling with CVS and Walgreens over getting patient prescriptions
With the purchase of the internet pharmacy company PillPack in 2018, Amazon has been applying it’s mail-delivery model to pharmaceuticals to deliver prescriptions to patients. Recently, though, PillPack has run into issues with acquiring prescriptions from traditional pharmacies CVS and Walgreens, both of which have rejected a number of requests from PillPack due to claims that patients aren’t consenting to these prescription transfers. It’s unclear at the moment how this dispute will be resolved. [Read more]

Week of August 5, 2019

Democratic candidates debate Medicare for all, CMS has a plan for patient data, and more healthcare news

Rite Aid goes live with virtual healthcare in-store
Rite Aid has partnered with InTouch Health, using their virtual care platform to power their RediClinic Express kiosks in stores. These kiosks will provide users with convenient virtual healthcare by connecting patients with clinicians via secure two-way audio and video connections. This launch marks an interesting and potentially impactful application of telemedicine that could make it more ubiquitous and accessible to many patients. [Read more]

CMS pilot to give docs direct access to Medicare claims data
CMS announced a new pilot called “Data at the Point of Care” that will aim to provide healthcare facilities with better access and control of patient data to improve decision making and care. Among the information physicians will now have access to will be patients’ historical Medicare claims data. The pilot will begin running with a limited number of providers in September and October. [Read more]

Democratic debate 2019: Candidates spar over trade, healthcare and gun control
The Democratic presidential debate took place last week, and healthcare was one of the most talked-about issues of the night. Most notably, centrist candidates spoke against Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over their “Medicare for all” plans, claiming that many American workers and union members with job-based healthcare coverage could lose access to insurance under such a plan. [Read more]

Week of July 29, 2019

Contact lens start-up catches heat, President Trump signs an EO on kidney health, and more healthcare news

In a review of 337,000 patient cases, this was the No. 1 most common preventable medical error
The BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical research journal, has released a new study on the impact of preventable medical errors. In it, they found that the majority of instances of preventable harm were related to medication and other forms of treatment. Coordination of care has long been a cause of issues like these, so medical providers must continue to push for interoperability as well as engage their patients on their own healthcare. [Read more]

Contact lens start-up, big on social media, may be bad for eyes, doctors say
Hubble, a retail start-up that provides contacts directly to consumers, bypassing medical professionals entirely, has recently come under fire from optometrists and ophthalmologists who say it’s dangerous. Professionals criticize the business model that enables patients to access contact lenses without proper medical supervision, and some have accused the company of failing to properly vet prescriptions. [Read more]

CVS Health launches social determinants provider network
CVS Health and Aetna health insurance announced a collaboration with “social care coordination platform” Unite Us in an effort to address social determinants of health by reaching patients outside the doctor’s office. The goal is to reduce health costs and improve outcomes by providing a more rounded approach to care. [Read more]

New U.S. health law paves way for blockchain-based telemedicine
Earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order with the goal of moving patients with kidney-related issues undergoing blood dialysis away from hospitals and towards less expensive at-home care, opening the door for telemedicine integrations. Providers who specialize in kidney health already have specialty agnostic telemedicine software options, but the healthcare community should expect to see more specialized systems in the future. [Read more]

Week of July 22, 2019

Canadian government pledges big donation to cancer research, Baylor researchers identify strategies for EHR inbox overload, and more healthcare news

Over half of health organizations say patient portal security is above average
A recent LexisNexis report found that over half (58%) of healthcare organizations believe their patient portal systems are more secure than others. Sixty-five percent of respondents—made up of representatives from organizations like hospitals, independent practices and payers—said they use some form of multi-factor authentication to access portals, including question and answer prompts, email verification and device identification. Medical providers who rely solely on username and password authentication for patient portal access may be operating a system that is less secure than their peers. [Read more]

House panel to vote on arbitration backstop for surprise medical bills
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) has proposed an amendment to the legislation banning surprise medical bills that will create an arbitration option for bills above $1,250. The original law has support from both democrats and republicans, and has already been signed into effect in Texas. The amendment came as a result from pressure applied by hospitals and other large health organizations. [Read more]

Study identifies strategies to reduce EHR inbox overload
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have recently published the results of a study on EHR notification management in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. In their report, these researchers provide five strategies to promote efficiency and better deal with the “EHR inbox” where notifications for things like patient test results, medication refill requests, and other events accumulate. [Read more]

America to face a shortage of primary care physicians within a decade or so
Despite a recent rise in healthcare hiring, the number of U.S. medical students filling primary care positions offered in the 2019 National Resident Matching Program (known as “the Match”) was an all-time low. Mona Signer, chief executive of the Match Program ventured an explanation for the turnout: “I think part of it has to do with income. Primary care specialties are not the highest-paying.” The low acceptance of primary care positions this year points to a shortage of primary care physicians in 2030. [Read more]

Government pledges $150 million to cancer research network that will use AI and big data
Last week, Canada’s Health Minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced a government pledge to spend $150 million on a cancer research network that will explore applications of artificial intelligence, big data, and genomics. Regarding the pledge, Taylor said the Canadian government is “committed to supporting innovative and collaborative cancer research to improve health outcomes for Canadians who are living with, or may one day be affected by, cancer.” [Read more]

Week of July 15, 2019

California signed major Medi-Cal coverage plan, HHS Summit will focus on quality programs, and more healthcare news

With rural health care stretched thin, more patients turn to telehealth
NPR recently conducted a survey of rural Americans that found that nearly one in four had used some type of telemedicine service in the past few years. The survey also found that one in five rural Americans had difficulty accessing high-speed internet that would allow them to access telemedical services. This is a problem that must be rectified quickly, as telehealth is a rapidly growing service delivery method in the medical community. [Read more]

California becomes first state to provide health care coverage to some undocumented adults
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has officially signed legislation providing healthcare coverage to undocumented adults between the ages of 19 and 25, making it the first state to do so. The plan will cost around $98 million and will provide coverage for 100,000 people. It’s unclear what day-to-day changes this new legislation will prompt for California healthcare providers—generally, the biggest change will be an increase in the number of patients they’ll see with Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid) coverage. [Read more]

Healthcare hiring recovered in June after spring slump
The healthcare industry has faced challenges when it came to hiring recently, with numbers taking a bit of a nosedive in April and May; however, employment seemed to be recovering in June. Last month, nearly 35,000 jobs were added—an increase from the 15,700 new jobs added in May. Most of the new jobs in June were in home health and physicians’ offices, but outpatient care centers and hospitals also made plenty of new hires as well. [Read more]

HHS summit to tackle quality improvement across programs
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the focus of their upcoming Quality Summit will center on how the organization’s multiple healthcare initiatives can be “evaluated, adapted, and ultimately streamlined” in order to improve value-based care for patients. It marks the first “systemic objective external review” of HHS quality programs since their implementation, and healthcare professionals should be on the lookout for new changes that follow. [Read more]

Week of July 8, 2019

Bedside manner linked to post-op complications, patient skepticism of artificial intelligence in medicine, and more healthcare news

Kaiser, Centene and Molina must pay big risk-adjustment charges
According to CMS data released recently, several health insurers—including Kaiser Permanente, Centene Corp., and Molina Healthcare—owe millions due to the Affordable Care Act risk-adjustment program. This program penalizes insurers for cherry-picking healthy plan members by charging fees which are then transferred to insurers that enrolled riskier patients. The goal of the program is to stabilize health premiums in the individual insurance market. Fortunately, Kaiser has said it “expected to make a large risk adjustment payment and planned accordingly in 2018.” [Read more]

When surgeons are abrasive to co-workers, patients’ health may suffer
Bedside manner really does matter for surgeons according to a new study published in JAMA Surgery last week. Their research found that patients of surgeons who behaved unprofessionally when interacting with their teams suffered a higher rate of post-op complications. “Unprofessional behavior” was defined in this study as “unclear or disrespectful communication, poor or unsafe care, lack of integrity and failure to follow through on professional responsibilities.” [Read more]

Just one in five consumers trust AI-generated healthcare advice
A recent survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults found that only 20% would trust healthcare advice generated by artificial intelligence. That number decreases in older respondents to only 10% of adults over age 65. The healthcare AI market is expanding rapidly, but this survey makes it clear that patients aren’t entirely on board. Moving forward, doctors and administrators must figure out how to educate patients on the reliability of AI and maintain a human element in medical interactions. [Read more]

Week of July 1, 2019

AbbVie acquires Allergan, Trump signs an executive order, and more health care news

Botox maker Allergan is sold to AbbVie in $63 billion deal
Humira producer AbbVie has announced a $63 million deal to purchase Allergan, a pharmaceutical company most known for making Botox. The merger is the second-largest so far in 2019, and represents an attempt from AbbVie to diversify their offerings as their top-selling drug, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis faces the loss of its patent protection. It’s unclear at the moment how long this merger will take to be finalized or whether or not it will affect the cost of Botox or any other drugs produced by Allergan. [Read more]

7 alerts, tools that hospitals are adding to their EHRs
Seven prominent hospitals around the country have recently added new alerts and tools to their EHR systems that will improve the patient experience and reduce the workload for physicians. These updates include an algorithm that helps identify patients at risk of sepsis, another that determines risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and a digital messaging application that patients can use to send questions to radiologists about specific imaging results. Big health systems are typically at the forefront of EHR adaptations, so it’s likely these new features will become common in time. [Read more]

US National Cancer Institute approves blockchain project to create a shared data system
On Friday, the National Cancer Institute announced its approval of a project to create a system for sharing clinical data using blockchain technology. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will begin using IBM’s Hyperledger blockchain to share data between providers, patients, and researchers. The goal of this project is to create a more fluid and secure method of data exchange for the healthcare industry. [Read more]

Trump signs executive order to make health costs more transparent
After supporting proposed legislation to increase medical price transparency several weeks ago, President Trump has signed an executive order that will require pricing for health care procedures and services to be published before they can be performed on or for patients. The goal of this order is to provide patients with complete information regarding cost of care before they seek and obtain certain treatments. [Read more]

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