Are New Health Care Partnerships Truly Revolutionary?

Are New Health Care Partnerships Truly Revolutionary?

Healthcare Blog
There has been a thunderous response to the new partnership announced by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, but is this response deserved? When Amazon and its partners announced that they would create a new company to provide health care to U.S. workers at their companies, the stock prices of many major pharmaceutical and health care companies fell dramatically.  Pharmacy manager Express Scripts Holding Co. experienced an 11 percent drop in share prices, while CVS and Anthem saw a 6.4 and 6.5 percent devaluation respectively. Shareholders are obviously afraid that Amazon could do to health care what it has done to retail—completely overtake and reshape the industry.  Although the initial announcement was short on details, it did paint the broad outline of the new organization “that is free from profit-making…
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Defining Value in a Value-Based Healthcare Payment System

Defining Value in a Value-Based Healthcare Payment System

Healthcare Blog
The transition from a Fee For Service (FFS) healthcare payment system to a Value-Based System (VBS) has been gathering steam for years as more payers incorporate reimbursement protocols based on patient outcomes. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has for many years been introducing a variety of “Value Modifiers” that reward providers for superior patient outcomes, and this leadership by the largest payer in the nation has encouraged others to adopt similar payment models. In 2015, almost one-fifth of Medicare reimbursements were made through alternative payment mechanisms. Last month, the value in value-based payments entered the spotlight once again as Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway announced a new health care partnership.  Although there were few specific details about what this new partnership intended to accomplish, there is…
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Should Health Care Be a Basic Human Right?

Should Health Care Be a Basic Human Right?

Healthcare Blog, Medical-Legal Blog
In February of 2018, an attempt to add an amendment to the Oregon Constitution to declare health care as a basic human right, came to an abrupt halt. Although the state’s House had already voted 35 to 35 in support of the amendment, the Senate Health Care Committee never even brought it up for a vote because they believed it wouldn’t pass in the Senate.  The amendment would have ensured that every resident had access to cost-effective, medically appropriate care. Despite Democratic control of both state legislatures, there were serious concerns that the state could not guarantee universal access to health care and this would leave the state vulnerable to litigation. Lawmakers said that there wasn’t enough time to secure the necessary number of votes during the five-week legislative session.…
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Are Temporary Doctors Less Qualified?

Are Temporary Doctors Less Qualified?

Healthcare Blog
It is only natural to assume that a physician who is only temporarily taking the place of a permanent staffer would be less committed to a higher standard of care.  After all, a locum tenens (temporary doctor) replacement has fewer ties to the community and only a limited time to cement relationships with patients.  They are also new to the working environment, so they possess less experience massaging the system to the benefit of their patients. On top of that, they have no long-term commitment, so they might not be as interested in impressing their peers. At least superficially, it would appear that temporary physicians are riskier than those in it for the long haul.  However, common sense falters in the face of evidence.  A new study published in the…
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Amazon Poses Major Threat to Disrupt the Healthcare Industry

Amazon Poses Major Threat to Disrupt the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare Blog
Amazon has long been the most dominant force in online retail, but a new push to diversify could soon spread that dominance to the healthcare sector as well. Given its enormous resources, broad technical proficiencies and renowned ability to recognize emerging markets, Amazon poses a major threat to many of the traditional players in healthcare. Amazon's Industry-Leading Logistical Capacity The $400 billion company based in Seattle has been developing its highly secret “1492” healthcare division for some time, but it is finally ready to enter the market in a profound way by introducing a suite of disruptive services related to pharmaceuticals. In a bid to increase competition and undercut the traditional drug retailers, Amazon will use its advanced logistical capabilities to speed up drug delivery especially to patient homes. The online portal for…
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The Extinction of Private Practices Is Resulting In Rising Health Care Costs

The Extinction of Private Practices Is Resulting In Rising Health Care Costs

Healthcare Blog
As the health care sector wrestles with an epidemic of consolidation dominated by hospitals (and their parent companies), and large medical groups backed by billion dollar private equity firms, one concern remains paramount—without robust competition, prices for consumers will continue to rise.  Even health care, which is resistant to most free market principles, is experiencing rampant inflation fueled by a shrinking number of regional players.  With less competition, these big healthcare groups are able to negotiate higher rates with insurance companies resulting in higher costs without additional value. Private Practices Cannot Compete At the heart of the matter is a business environment that is strangling small and mid-size provider operations.  These behemoth groups and hospitals are able to negotiate significant rates with the insurance companies that are sometimes 3-4x the…
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More Americans Want Pricing to Be a Part of the Medical Conversation

More Americans Want Pricing to Be a Part of the Medical Conversation

Healthcare Blog
  The dollars and cents of medical care have long been shrouded in mystery, but renewed efforts by government leaders and consumer groups are compelling more physicians to bring up the issue of cost. A poll conducted by Public Agenda found that almost 70 percent of Americans would like for their doctor to discuss cost with them. In part, this has been sparked by the national debate surrounding health care reform and the continual rise in out of pocket expenses, but it is also being fueled by strengthening consumer activism that empowers patients to shop around. Most medical providers are unwilling to broach the issue of treatment costs, perhaps out of deference to the medical ethic to provide the best care possible regardless of the price tag.  While this idealistic…
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Why Virtual Health Care is Exploding in Popularity

Why Virtual Health Care is Exploding in Popularity

Healthcare Blog
For most people in the modern, digital world, it seems only natural that medicine would incorporate virtual tools like video calls and remote data collection to improve patient outcomes. So it should hardly come as a surprise that a recent survey by Accenture found 78 percent of respondents eager to try virtual medicine. As the public learns more about this technology-based care delivery system and more providers implement it, there will undoubtedly be an enormous surge in utilization. Gaining Popularity Through Word of Mouth At the moment, there are some obstacles to widespread implementation. Only a small percentage of the public knows what virtual health care is; in the Accenture survey, 27 percent had never been exposed to the concept and another 36 percent had heard of the term but knew nothing…
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When Should Doctors Retire?

When Should Doctors Retire?

Healthcare Blog
Competency is the foundation of sound clinical practice and is essential to preserving the lives of patients.  However, unlike many other critical professions like airline pilots, air traffic controllers and law enforcement officials, the medical profession does not mandate that physicians of a certain age retire. Competency Concerns with Aging Doctors There is considerable evidence that physician fitness does degrade following age 65; a 2005 report by Khaliq, et al, found that physicians who have served for forty years or more had a 6.6% likelihood of receiving some form of disciplinary action as opposed to the 1.3% rate among those with only ten years of service. With the wellbeing of patients at stake, many within the healthcare community have argued that there should be a mandatory retirement age for physicians.…
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Making Healthcare More Accessible: The Intersection of Locum Tenens and Telemedicine

Making Healthcare More Accessible: The Intersection of Locum Tenens and Telemedicine

Healthcare Blog
One of the most exciting developments in modern healthcare is telemedicine which enables providers to effectively engage and monitor patients through telephone and video conferencing. Telemedicine promises to revolutionize much of the healthcare industry in the coming years, but could be especially important for specialists in the locum tenens field. A burgeoning field that is quickly penetrating much of the healthcare sector, telehealth is rapidly becoming a fixture in physician-patient interactions.  Major organizations like Kaiser Permanente now visit more patients via telehealth platforms than in-office visits. According to the American Telemedicine Association, telehealth is expected to grow at an annual rate of 27.5 percent and reach a market value of $9.35 billion by 2021. The Physician Shortage This important technology is maturing at a critical point in modern healthcare.  There…
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