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Health Management Technology News
  June 27, 2014
In this issue:
 
 Here's why the GDP report's healthcare spending estimate was such a disaster

 Tech giants vie to bring health apps to wearables

 U.S. healthcare profit outlook brightens on Obamacare, drug prices

 New medical technology allows brain to move paralyzed limbs

 Healthcare pros are feeling lukewarm on Google Fit debut

 Telemedicine catches blinding disease in premature babies

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Here's why the GDP report's healthcare spending estimate was such a disaster

Healthcare spending plunged in the Bureau of Economic Analysis' latest estimate of first-quarter GDP growth, accounting for two-thirds of the revision that tumbled overall growth to -2.9%.

In the BEA's first estimate of first-quarter growth, healthcare spending was projected to explode by 9.9%. It was subsequently revised to 9.1%. But the latest estimate had healthcare spending plunging to -1.4%.

"So much for the BEA's initial view that the start of Obamacare triggered a surge in spending on healthcare," Pantheon Macroeconomics' Ian Shepherdson said. "The press release offers no detail on what triggered this massive revision."

So what triggered that massive revision? The BEA told Business Insider the revision was based on a new set of data from the Commerce Department's quarterly services survey.

That survey provided a few important data points: Healthcare and social assistance spending, overall, plunged 2%. Revenue for hospitals (-1.3%), medical labs (-6.4%), and outpatient care (-3.6%) all fell in the first quarter of 2014 when compared to the final three months of 2013.

A BEA spokesman said the agency had previously used "information on Medicaid benefits and on ACA insurance exchange enrollments as well as other available data" to determine the spending increase.

"These data sources suggested a relatively large increase in health care spending. Based on these data sources, we had assumed that ACA related effects boosted consumer spending on healthcare services by about $37 billion for 2014Q1 (in current dollars). The QSS data now available does not show this same increase," the spokesman said.

Read the full article from Business Insider
here
 

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Tech giants vie to bring health apps to wearables

For decades, medical technology firms have searched for ways to let diabetics check blood sugar easily, with scant success. Now, the world's largest mobile technology firms are getting in on the act.

Apple, Samsung Electronics and Google, searching for applications that could turn nascent wearable technology like smartwatches and bracelets from curiosities into must-have items, have all set their sites on monitoring blood sugar, several people familiar with the plans say.

These firms are variously hiring medical scientists and engineers, asking U.S. regulators about oversight and developing glucose-measuring features in future wearable devices, the sources said.

The first round of technology may be limited, but eventually the companies could compete in a global blood-sugar tracking market worth more than $12 billion by 2017, according to research firm GlobalData.

Read the full article from Daily Finance here  

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U.S. healthcare profit outlook brightens on Obamacare, drug prices

U.S. healthcare companies are winning higher profit forecasts, bucking a wider trend on Wall Street, as pricey new biotech drugs hit the market and insurance enrollment rises under the Affordable Care Act.

Analysts' profit expectations for the group have risen sharply since the start of the year, while estimates for most of the other nine Standard & Poor's 500 macro sectors have fallen, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The jump in forecasts has come in the past two months, thanks largely to rising estimates for biotechnology companies such as Gilead, and for insurers, including Aetna.

It provides some early evidence that President Barack Obama's signature healthcare overhaul could be a long-term source of profit growth for managed care providers.

"Now you're actually seeing real numbers grow and that population start to take off," said Betsy Pecor, portfolio manager at Eagle Asset Management, based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Companies "are actually seeing that growth."

Read the full article from The Chicago Tribune
here
 

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New medical technology allows brain to move paralyzed limbs

An Ohio man has become the recipient of a technology that allows him to his paralyzed hand by using his thoughts.

23-year-old Ian Burkhart from Dublin was paralyzed four years ago during a diving accident. At The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center , Burkhart is the first patient to receive Neurobridge.

Neurobridge is an electronic neural bypass for spinal cord injuries that reconnects the brain directly to the muscles. This allows for voluntary and functional control of a paralyzed limb by going around the injury.

“It’s much like a heart bypass, but instead of bypassing blood, we’re actually bypassing electrical signals,” said Chad Bouton, research leader at Battelle Memorial Institute told the Medical Center News & Media Room. “We’re taking those signals from the brain, going around the injury, and actually going directly to the muscles.”

The technology has been in co-development between The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Battelle. The two teams began their collaboration two years ago, where Chad Bouton collaborated with Ohio State neuroscience researchers and clinicians Dr. Ali Rezai and Dr. Jerry Mysiw.

Read the full article from theindychannel.com
here
 

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Healthcare pros are feeling lukewarm on Google Fit debut

Google announced its Google Fit health platform at Google I/O on Wednesday, and while the overall response was good, some in the healthcare world question whether Google Fit will ultimately do much to improve the health of Americans.

Even if the platform aggregates lots of fitness and biometrics data, the question is whether Google will be able to do something meaningful with the data.

“The general population wants their data to be collected passively, interpreted by someone else, and fed back to them in the form of actionable insights,” Dr. Molly Maloof, MD, an expert in digital health technology, told VentureBeat via email.

“Google seems to be collecting companies that are great on data collection and aggregation, but as we have seen with Google Flu trends, sometimes the data scientists interpret information inaccurately.”

Still, Dr. Maloof says she’s glad to see an Android equivalent to Apple’s HealthKit platform.

Read the full article from VentureBeat here  

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Telemedicine catches blinding disease in premature babies

Telemedicine is an effective strategy to screen for the potentially blinding disease known as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), according to a study funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI). The investigators say that the approach, if adopted broadly, could help ease the strain on hospitals with limited access to ophthalmologists and lead to better care for infants in underserved areas of the country. NEI is a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The telemedicine strategy consisted of electronically sending photos of babies’ eyes to a distant image reading center for evaluation. Staff at the image reading center, who were trained to recognize signs of severe ROP, identified whether infants should be referred to an ophthalmologist for evaluation and potential treatment. The study tested how accurately the telemedicine approach reproduced the conclusions of ophthalmologists who examined the babies onsite.

“This study provides validation for a telemedicine approach to ROP screening and could help save thousands of infants from going blind,” said Graham E. Quinn, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the lead investigator for the study, which is reported today in JAMA Ophthalmology. The study was conducted by the e-ROP Cooperative Group, a collaboration that includes 12 clinics in the United States and one in Canada.

Read the full article from National Institutes of Health here  

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July 2014  HMT digital book

White Papers

What you need to know about ICD-10

Seven strategies to improve patient satisfaction

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