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Health Management Technology News
  April 14, 2014
In this issue:

 8 things to know about incoming HHS Secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell

 Sebelius: Healthcare launch 'terribly flawed'

 We can find consensus on healthcare cost reforms

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 Technology will drive the promising future of medicine

 Four charts on how healthcare has changed since 'Mad Men'

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8 things to know about incoming HHS Secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Following news of Kathleen Sebelius' resignation, here are eight things to know about the Obama administration's new nominee for HHS secretary — Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

1. Ms. Burwell, 48, is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget. She was confirmed by the Senate with a 96-0 vote in April 2013. In this role, she oversaw preparation of the government's $3.8 trillion annual budget. HHS' budget for fiscal year 2015 is just over $1 trillion.

2. Before her most recent appointment, Ms. Burwell was previously president of the Walmart Foundation, which she joined in 2012. Before then, she was president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She worked with the Gates Foundation for 10 years, and was also its first COO.

3. During the Clinton administration, Ms. Burwell served as deputy director of the OMB under Director Jack Lew, deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton under Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, chief of staff to the Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, and staff director of the National Economic Council.

4. Before working with the Clinton administration, Ms. Burwell worked as an associate for the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. She was also a board member for MetLife.

5. She received her AB from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and her BA from Oxford University in the U.K., where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

Read the full article from Becker’s Hospital Review here  

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Sebelius: Healthcare launch 'terribly flawed'

The Obama administration's timeline for having ready the new health care law's online sign-up system "was just flat out wrong," outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview that aired Sunday.

The departing health chief also said the two months when was plagued with technical problems were "a pretty dismal time" and the low point of her five-year tenure. But she defended the law's impact and said millions of Americans now have access to health care because of it.

"People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market," said Sebelius, who last week announced her resignation.

But she acknowledged the rocky rollout for the online sign-up system fraught with technical problems that left Americans frustrated.

"Clearly, the estimate that it was ready to go
Oct. 1 was just flat out wrong," Sebelius said. was envisioned as the principal place for people to buy insurance under Obama's health care law. But its first few weeks were an embarrassment for the administration and its allies.

"Well, I think there's no question — and I've said this many times — that the launch of the website was terribly flawed and terribly difficult," Sebelius said.

Obama set a Dec. 1 deadline to have the website repaired, a move that left Sebelius nervous, she said.

"Having failed once at the front of October, the first of December became a critical juncture," she said. "That was a pretty scary date."

Read the full ABC News report here  

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We can find consensus on healthcare cost reforms

With the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period now closed, perhaps there is an opportunity for constructive, bipartisan policy discussion on health care reform. One thing that both Obamacare supporters and opponents can agree on is that our health care system remains inefficient. And, although health care inflation slowed in recent years, informed observers from across the political spectrum realize that population aging will produce a new bout of cost escalation – unless something else is done.

Although most progressive and market-oriented analysts agree that U.S. health care is too expensive, their approaches to control costs fundamentally differ. Progressives prefer mechanisms that promote equal access to health services, such as single-payer insurance. Market advocates focus on maximizing consumer choice and thus prefer greater competition.

In an era of divided government and routine filibusters, neither side will likely have the opportunity to push through a major reform any time soon. Rather than accept gridlock, we need to identify and implement reforms that appeal to both sides of the debate. There are smaller reforms that, while market oriented, may be attractive to progressives.

Prescription drugs – which account for 10 percent of the nation’s health care costs – are generally more expensive in the United States than elsewhere. Other countries use price controls or their exclusive buying power to hold down prices. While such measures are unattractive to market advocates, alternative reforms could reduce drug prices within a market context. These prices are often high because the government grants manufacturers a monopoly over their sales for periods of up to 20 years, through pharmaceutical patents and exclusivity periods. If we reduce the number and length of these monopoly grants, we can open up the pharmaceutical market to competition from generic drugs and bring down prices.

Patent protections are often justified as a way to compensate pharmaceutical companies for the benefits their inventions create and for the development costs they incur. But this argument doesn’t always apply. Many of today’s blockbuster medications, like Nexium, Crestor and Cialis, are “me too” drugs – pills that have similar effects to drugs that are already available – e.g.  Prilosec, Lipitor and Viagra, respectively. Studies show that Nexium, AstraZeneca’s remedy for acid reflux, has similar effects to Prilosec, an over-the-counter medication that contains the same active ingredient and is sold by the same company for a small fraction of the price. If Nexium hadn’t been patented, the vast majority of acid reflux patients would have achieved similar benefits with Prilosec – at an annual savings of over $4 billion.

Read the full article from Yahoo News here  

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Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

Register your company in Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide (July 2014 issue) and be listed within 3 categories for free!

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Technology will drive the promising future of medicine

Health care is a misnomer for our medical system. It should be called sick care. Doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies only make money when we are in bad health. If we could instead prevent illness and disease, it would turn the entire medical system on its head and increase the quality of our lives.

The good news is that technology is on its way to letting us do this. It is now moving so rapidly that within a decade the small handheld medical reader used by Dr. Leonard McCoy in “Star Trek” – the tricorder – will look primitive. We are moving into an era of data-driven, crowd-sourced, participatory, genomics-based medicine. Just as our bathroom scales give us instant readings of our weight, wearable devices will monitor our health and warn us when we are about to get sick. Our doctors – or their artificial intelligence replacements – will prescribe medicines or lifestyle changes based on our full medical history, holistic self and genetic composition.

It wasn’t long ago when our only recourse when we doubted our doctor’s prescription was to seek a second opinion. Now when we need information about an ailment we search on the Internet. We have access to more medical knowledge than our doctors used to have via their medical books and journals, and our information is more up-to-date than those medical books were. We can read about the latest medical advances anywhere in the world. We can visit online forums to learn from others with the same symptoms, provide each other with support and discuss the side effects of our medicines. We can download mobile applications that help us manage our health. All of this can be done by anyone with a smartphone.

Read the full article from Delaware
Online here

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Four charts on how healthcare has changed since 'Mad Men'

“Mad Men” returns for its seventh season on AMC, with Don Draper, Joan Holloway, and the rest of the extended Sterling Cooper family back for an extended final go.

As a health care wonk, one joy of watching “Mad Men” has been how the show’s creators have used the characters’ behaviors—and their interactions with the nation’s health system—to consistently tweak our nostalgic view of the 1960s. (When the show debuted, the plot was set in March 1960; by the time the sixth season wrapped up, “Mad Men” had advanced all the way to November 1968.)

Writing at the Advisory Board Daily Briefing in 2012, I took a deep dive into how health care’s changed since the days of Don Draper, interviewing doctors and nurses who began practicing 50 years ago and highlighting five examples from the show.

The macro-level transformation in health care is also captured in the charts below, which are excerpted from a massive infographic we created for the Daily Briefing. (For the full infographic, click here or scroll to the bottom of this post.)

Here are four of the biggest health care shifts from 1960 to 2014.

1. Health care has become big business.

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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