Next Things First

The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
May 1, 2009, 10:33 am
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Installment #16:

… the WSJ’s Laura Landro today details how the government already has invested billions of dollars over two decades to develop a software for a records system that’s available free for any hospital that wants to use it. [WSJ Health Blog]

Barry Hendrix, a primary-care physician in Paragould, Ark., says he paid dearly for just such a mistake, wasting $100,000 on an electronic records system. “It was a complete disaster,” he says of the equipment he bought… [BusinessWeek]

… a conservative group is mounting a $1 million television ad campaign asking Congress not to enact a government-run health plan along the lines of Britain and Canada. [FierceHealthcare]

So where will lawmakers find the money? President Obama proposed a $634 billion “reserve fund,” paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy, but even if that passes, experts say it won’t be enough to cover even half the cost of comprehensive health-care reform over the next 10 years. [Time]

… average healthcare costs for those involved in the [pharmacist coaching] project were reduced by $1,079 per patient annually… [HealthLeaders Media]

Senate may add 5 percent bonus to Medicare for primary care MDs [FierceHealthcare]

“We’re not producing enough primary care physicians,” Mr. Obama said at one forum. “The costs of medical education are so high that people feel that they’ve got to specialize.” New doctors typically owe more than $140,000 in loans when they graduate. [New York Times]

More than one in five American adults is reporting that they have a disability, a number that has increased by 3.4 million between 1999 and 2005… [HealthLeaders Media]

…employees who smoked got as much as $750 spread over a year if they quit. Nearly 15% did after a year, compared with 5% of those who didn’t get incentives. [Wall Street Journal]

Over the 35+ years since, Steve and Sherry have been photographed on more than 127 different tandem bikes and used in advertising for more than 1,400 hospitals and health systems. [Weekly Probe]


Posted by CharlotteGee



The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
April 17, 2009, 8:57 am
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Installment #15:

RUSS CUCINA, 37, lives a double life. For two months of the year, he practices internal medicine, treating patients at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. The rest of the year, he helps the hospital develop its electronic medical records and other data systems.

A year ago, she switched her 3,000 patients from paper charts to electronic health records, a core feature of most plans for healing the nation’s ailing health system. Now, working with computers and printouts, her staff of part-time nurses and shared front-office workers has more time to help her meet the needs of patients. “I’ll never go back to the old system,” said Dr. Brull, 37, who runs a solo practice in Plainville, Kan.

According to the survey, 64 percent of the CIOs say it’s impossible to balance the demand for health information technology with the need to cut costs, and half of the CIOs who preside over hospitals with at least 500 beds say federal funding is “crucial” to the implementation of EHRs.

The survey found that while only 9% of consumers surveyed have an electronic personal health record, 42% of respondents are interested in creating an online PHR that connects to their physicians.

Express Scripts Inc., one of the country’s largest pharmacy-benefits managers, said it saw prices rise more than 10% to 15% between the 2008 first quarter and this year’s first quarter.

New figures indicate drug reps don’t get in the door to see a doctor on 13% of their visits.

The American Medical Association launched a Twitter profile on April 1 as a way to keep physicians informed on important issues.

Only 40 venture capital firms in the U.S. raised money in the first quarter, the lowest level in six years. That was nearly half the number of firms raising money in the first quarter of 2008 and nearly 15 percent fewer than firms raising money in the final quarter of last year. Fundraising for venture capital firms nationwide came in at $4.3 billion.

EB Brands is voluntarily recalling fitness balls after receiving 47 reports of balls “unexpectedly bursting, including reports of a fracture, and multiple bruises.” (Yikes. I used to sit on one of these in my cubicle. An unexpected bursting would have been quite embarrassing.)

Posted by CharlotteGee


The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
April 10, 2009, 7:48 am
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Installment #14:

Venture capitalists’ confidence in the U.S. economy rose in the first quarter from a five-year low … to an average of 3.03, on a scale of 1 to 5, from 2.77 in the fourth quarter.

She used an ID purchased on the black market to get roughly $530,000 worth of hospital care, some of which was paid for by Medicaid.

A Three-Way Fix For Health Reform That Saves Money … From Tom Cigarran, Healthways

The AMA said  that it’s laying off 100 people as part of budget cuts to offset falling revenue.

President Obama announced plans on Thursday to computerize the medical records of veterans into a unified system … The Veterans Affairs system has a backlog of 800,000 disability claims, which means that veterans typically wait six months for decisions on their cases.

China is pumping in 850 billion yuan ($124 billion) to reform the ailing [public health care] system in the next three years as part of an ambitious — and still only hazily outlined — plan to provide basic medical coverage and insurance to all of China’s 1.3 billion people.

(How many health care companies made it on Business Week’s list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies?)

Posted by CharlotteGee

The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
April 3, 2009, 7:52 am
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Installment #13:

Kaiser Permanente opened a state-of-the-art, $600-million hospital in Hollywood on Tuesday, a feat that illustrates the vitality of the healthcare sector and of Kaiser itself

Nine patients account for nearly 2,700 Texas ER visits

Some 20% of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital are readmitted within a month, and 34% return within three months

GE and Intel Invest $250 million in New Market Opportunity; Companies to Market and Develop Innovative Technologies for Independent Living and Chronic Disease Management

Put away $240K for health care in retirement, Fidelity says

Bill for MA’s subsidized employee health coverage $794M in 2008

Google reportedly plans to invest up to $100 million over the next year with a focus on consumer Internet, software, clean-tech, bio-tech and health care start-ups

Just 68 venture-backed companies were involved in an M&A event in the first quarter, generating $3.2 billion. That’s down 65% from $9.1 billion produced a year earlier and is the lowest quarterly total since 2003. …no venture-backed company has gone public in the last eight months as the market has see-sawed.

Posted by CharlotteGee

The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
February 15, 2009, 2:46 pm
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Installment #12:

What’s in store: $17.2B in CMS incentives for physicians & hospitals to adopt a “certified EHR”

Not-for-profit hospital CEOs average $490,431 per year

Researchers found that about 85 percent of health plans offer no-cost health promotion and wellness programs, and that 56 percent offer free biometric testing

At a time when other firms are scaling back or eliminating health coverage, Wal-Mart has made a serious dent in the problem of the uninsured. New figures being released today show that 5.5 percent of its employees now lack health insurance, compared with a nationwide rate of 18 percent.

The Cigna [Cost of Care Estimator] system, which uses proprietary software from Thomson Reuters, is accurate “within 10% of the cost of those services 90% of the time,” Nastri said.

UnitedHealth has already spent more than $1 million on three medical home experiments this year. The other two are in Colorado and Rhode Island. But the company says the Arizona pilot is getting the bulk of its money and attention. The experiment will initially involve about 7,000 patients who are the patients of 26 doctors at the seven medical groups.

The cost for Ms. Branch’s basic system, supplied by a health care provider called New Courtland as part of a publicly financed program, is about $100 a month, far less than a nursing home, where the costs to taxpayers can exceed $200 a day. In the two years Mrs. Branch has had the system, she has fallen three times and been stuck once in the bathtub, each time unable to call for help without it.

A study published this week in Tobacco Control found that more than 28 percent of smoking pet owners said information about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on their pets—exposure has been linked to cancer, allergies, and respiratory problems—would motivate them to try to quit.

A study by Harvard Business School indicates that successful serial entrepreneurs have a 30 percent chance of success in their next venture-backed company. That compares to a 22 percent success rate for entrepreneurs who previously failed and a 21 percent success rate for first-time entrepreneurs.

Posted by CharlotteGee

The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
February 6, 2009, 10:11 am
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Installment #11: “Everything’s gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better” – Mates of State

“This is not the time to say, ‘Honey, I’m making $300,000 a year but I’m going off to start a company,’ ” Higgins said. “You’re buying a divorce if you’re starting a company in this climate.”

Of that $6 billion, $2 billion would be for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) to support information technology.

But some experts, including David Brailer, former national coordinator for health IT, note that studies have estimated that it would cost $75 billion to $100 billion to implement EHRs nationwide. These observers also believe it would take up to 10 years to achieve this goal.

[The report] found more than 60,000 people were exposed to hepatitis, and at least 400 people were infected with it in 33 outbreaks linked with blatant safety violations. The report covered the period from 1998 to 2008. Many involved reuse of syringes.

Humana … has promised to adopt machine-readable patient ID cards and, in the process, won the acclaim of the Medical Group Management Association, which estimates the cards could save physician offices and hospitals as much as $1 billion a year.

Patients who have a clear understanding of their after-hospital care instructions are 30 percent less likely to be readmitted or visit the emergency department than patients who lack this information

The share of firms with fewer than 10 workers that offer health benefits has declined by 16 percent since 2001, to 49 percent, according to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, while the rate in larger firms essentially stayed flat.

It’s lottery day, and 45 county residents who lack health insurance and money to pay for medical care are competing for 30 openings [to a free clinic] on a cold afternoon in January.

Can 50,000 Workers Reinvent Themselves?

His co-worker, Daniel Fries, won the first month, after losing about 16 pounds to Mr. Ee’s 10, and Mr. Ee paid him $20. Then, Mr. Ee said, “it got serious.”

Posted by CharlotteGee

The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
January 25, 2009, 11:05 am
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Installment #10:

Venture capital investments plunged 33 percent in the fourth quarter, falling to the lowest level in nearly four years as the financiers of new business ideas became more reluctant to take on new risks during a recession that has shown no signs of easing.

Venture capital investments in Washington State fell to the lowest level in more than a decade last quarter

Last week, House Democrats unveiled a fiscal-stimulus bill that includes $20 billion for health-care information technology: “In some ways I am thrilled, because IT will need federal help,” said John Glaser, chief information officer for Partners HealthCare. “But you can bring in too much money too fast and not only waste it, but set us back.”

Health care is a sideshow, but $20 billion is still $20 billion, and given that the current health IT market is only between $20 and $30 billion annually, it’s a huge potential increase for the industry.

HHS formally recognized three new interoperability standards related to electronic health records, personal health records and electronic quality monitoring

In a number of states, Medicaid populations grew by 5 percent to 10 percent in the last 12 months and, in many, the growth rate was at least double what it had been in the previous year.

Britain reached this point and enacted universal health-care coverage in 1945, Canada in 1966, Australia in 1974. The United States may finally be there now. In 2007, fifty-seven million Americans had difficulty paying their medical bills, up fourteen million from 2003.

Despite the fact that the economy tanked in 2008, physician salaries managed a modest increase of 4.4 percent for specialists and 4 percent for primary care

Hospital Sued for Charging Patients 18% Interest

Posted by CharlotteGee