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Health Management Technology News
  April 23, 2014
In this issue:

 Carestream’s Vue PACS with advanced features to support highly specialized care at Johns Hopkins Health System

 CDC would sacrifice kids to cut healthcare costs

 Earnings, healthcare help lift Wall Street

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 GOP to Obama: We don’t want healthcare subsidies

 Change your income, change your health insurance plan

 Medical Care Technologies Inc. to participate in an e-health program of the hospital authority in Hong Kong

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Carestream’s Vue PACS with advanced features to support highly specialized care at Johns Hopkins Health System

The Johns Hopkins Health System (Baltimore, Md.) has purchased Carestream Health’s Vue PACS which offers innovative radiology features that can further enhance the organization’s ability to help deliver exceptional medical services for patients with a wide range of diseases.

The new PACS will support multi-site reading of medical imaging exams and sharing of diagnostic information to help physicians determine the best treatment path for each patient’s condition. Vue PACS includes innovative tools to support physician segmentation and bookmarking of cancerous lesions and automatically register 3D imaging data sets (such as MR and CT) to help highlight subtle changes in anatomy and improve clinical collaboration. Vue PACS also can help optimize the reading of mammography studies including digital breast tomosynthesis exams, as it supports the reading of images from all breast imaging modalities on a single PACS workstation.

For more than a century, Johns Hopkins Medicine has been recognized as a leader in patient care, medical research and teaching. Today, this organization is known for its excellent faculty, nurses and staff specializing in every aspect of medical care. Johns Hopkins Medicine includes six academic and community hospitals, four suburban healthcare and surgery centers, more than 30 primary healthcare outpatient sites, as well as programs for national and international patient activities. The Johns Hopkins Hospital is the only hospital to have ranked #1 in the nation for 21 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report.

Representatives and clinical staff of the Johns Hopkins Health System evaluated all major PACS suppliers and then conducted multi-week, on-site evaluations of multiple PACS that were ranked highest by the organization’s selection team.

“Our latest PACS platform is designed to support large, multi-site reading environments and provide the advanced reading tools required by leading facilities like the Johns Hopkins Health System that deliver highly specialized care,” said Diana L. Nole, President, Digital Medical Solutions, Carestream. “In addition, we have committed to developing the next generation of innovative radiology-based IT solutions to address the evolving needs of Johns Hopkins Medicine.”

Read the full press release here  

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CDC would sacrifice kids to cut healthcare costs

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appears to have assumed a role that was never intended: reducing the ability of vaccines to save lives.  At their past two meetings, the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee, the Advisory Committee on Childhood Vaccines (ACIP), has debated whether to eliminate the fourth (and last) dose of the pneumococcal vaccine given to infants, although there is evidence showing this would cause more disease and even deaths.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by infection of bodily fluids and various organs by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus.  It can be relatively harmless, such as when it causes the self-limited ear infections that occur in hundreds of thousands of children annually, but it can also be extremely dangerous.  It can infect the lungs and cause pneumonia, and if it enters the blood stream, pneumococcus can cause invasive disease, resulting in infections of the blood, internal organs, brain or spine.  (Its presence in the blood is known as bacteremia and inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord is called meningitis; both are life-threatening illnesses.)

For years, the CDC has recommended four doses of pneumococcal vaccine — at 2, 4, 6 and 12–14 months of age (referred to as the “3+1” schedule — three primary doses, plus a booster) — as the way to protect children optimally against these infections.  Recently, however, the agency’s bureaucrats have favored eliminating the last dose, although it is known to boost children’s immunological response, making them better able to resist infection.  The primary reason cited is cost savings.  (The federal government is by far the largest purchaser of pediatric vaccines.)  Fortunately, the ACIP has remained skeptical.

Removing the fourth dose would result in savings of about $500 million a year, but consider that just over $100 per dose for the four-dose schedule provides lifetime protection against covered strains of pneumococcus.  Another benefit is the “indirect effect” of the vaccine – “herd immunity” protection of the recipient’s friends and family contacts.  And compare this penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to the absence of cost-benefit considerations in other areas of health care: A single 18-week regimen of a certain new lung cancer drug costs $80,000 to prolong a patient’s life just 1.2 months.

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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Earnings, healthcare help lift Wall Street

U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq on track for a sixth straight day, buoyed by a host of solid earnings reports along with strength in the healthcare sector.

Netflix Inc surged 5.9 percent to $369.04 a day after showing strong subscriber growth, a sign the trading favorite still had room to grow despite recent concerns over its valuation. With the day's gain, the stock moved to the plus side for the year after a 21 percent drop in March.

Healthcare .SPXHC, up 1.5 percent, was the best performing of the 10 major S&P sectors, as Allergan Inc jumped 15.8 percent to $164.48 a day after activist investor William Ackman teamed up with Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc to bid for the company. U.S.-listed Valeant shares gained 7.6 percent to $135.56.

Also providing support to the sector was a deal between Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline, in which the two companies traded over $20 billion worth of assets in an effort to cope with healthcare spending cuts and generic competition. U.S.-listed shares of Novartis gained 1.4 percent to $86.67 while shares of Glaxo trading in New York advanced 4.1 percent to $55.31.

Facebook Inc shares rose 3 percent to $63.08 to help boost the Nasdaq 100 .NDX and S&P 500. Credit Suisse upgraded the social networking company to "outperform" on higher expectations for the company's long-term average revenue per user.

Read the full Reuters article here  

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GOP to Obama: We don’t want healthcare subsidies

Republican lawmakers are taking aim at the federally-provided subsidies provided to Congress members and some staffers to purchase insurance via state and federal exchanges.

Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), filed a lawsuit in January to overturn the restoration of health-care subsidies for members of Congress by the Office of Personnel Management. Currently, 38 GOP lawmakers have signaled support for the lawsuit.

The federal government used to subsidize health insurance for lawmakers and some of their staff, but the Affordable Care Act eliminated them. The OPM restored the subsidies in August 2013.

Johnson says the move shows “stunning disregard” for the ACA.

“I am not opposed to employers contributing to their employee’s health care,” Johnson says. “My issue is the way the president has changed the law, without the legal approval to do so. Millions of Americans are losing their employer-sponsored care because of the ACA, and only Congress and their official staffs are getting this tax-preferred subsidy for their insurance.”

Johnson says he signed up for coverage in Wisconsin’s private market, but does not criticize any member of Congress using the tax credit to buy insurance on an exchange. The subsidies cover about 75% of lawmakers’ care, he says.

“It’s not out of line with what many employers provide,” he says. “But its pre-tax and only members of Congress and their staffs can enjoy that. No other American gets that tax-preferred benefit and we need to rein in an out-of-control executive.”

Read the full FOX Business article here  

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Change your income, change your health insurance plan

People who qualified for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act aren't necessarily locked into the plan they chose. And that can be good news for people whose income fluctuates during the year. Here's our response to the latest reader questions on coverage through the health exchanges.

Do you have any idea how the exchanges will administer changes throughout the year? Our current income is about $38,000 per year, which qualifies us for an enhanced silver plan. My husband often gets seasonal construction work, and that can increase his income to about $65,000. When he reports that change in income, will he be required to stay in the enhanced silver plan and pay the full cost, or can he switch to a lower-cost plan that he can afford?

From your description of your plan and your income, it sounds as if you and your husband currently qualify for both cost-sharing subsidies and premium tax credits. The subsidies are available to people with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level (currently $38,775 for a couple), and the tax credits are available to those who earn up to four times the poverty level ($62,040 for a couple).

The premium tax credits lower the sticker price and can be applied to any of the four plan types. The cost-sharing subsidies can reduce deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs for insurance bought on state and federal exchanges, but are only available to people who buy silver-level plans.

If your husband's income rises above 250 percent of the poverty level, however, you'd lose those cost-sharing subsidies. Then your out-of-pocket costs for copayments for doctors' visits or for prescriptions, for instance, could be less affordable. And if your income reaches $65,000 you'd no longer qualify for premium tax credits. In that case, you might want to switch to a bronze plan with a lower premium, says Cheryl Fish-Parcham, private insurance program director at Families USA, a consumer advocacy group.

And you can do that. Under the health law, if your eligibility for cost-sharing subsidies changes you have 60 days to switch from one marketplace plan to another. A similar though broader rule applies to eligibility for premium tax credits, enabling people to switch plans or enroll for the first time if they aren't already on the exchange.

Read the full post here  

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Medical Care Technologies Inc. to participate in an e-health program of the hospital authority in Hong Kong

Medical Care Technologies Inc., a healthcare technology company providing information technology solutions and family healthcare services in China, announced that it will be participating in the Hong Kong Hospital Authority PPI-ePR Public Private Partnership (PPP) program.

Public Private Interface - Electronic Patient Record sharing Pilot Project (PPI-ePR) is the first step towards the goal of developing a territory-wide electronic Health Record (eHR) system according to the Hospital Authority in Hong Kong. The growing popularity of web technology has created a new window of opportunity for information communication, dissemination and assimilation. The PPI-ePR Project implemented a web-based electronic system to allow integrated, real-time patient-based information to be shared among clinics, private and public hospitals.

"The Hospital Authority in Hong Kong has long valued its collaboration with the private sector in expanding healthcare service and choices for our patients," commenting Dr. W L Cheung, the Director of Cluster Services Division, Hospital Authority. "In recent years, leveraging on available capacity and capability in the private sector through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) has become a key strategy for managing demands for and enhancing public patients' access to clinical services."

Read the full article from The Wall Street Journal here  

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