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Health Management Technology News
  April 28, 2014
In this issue:

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 Healthcare options for undocumented immigrants

 America's broken healthcare system: The role of drug, device manufacturers

 What Big Data can’t tell us about healthcare

 Oregon panel recommends moving to federal healthcare exchange

 Nonprofit aims to raise $10 million to seed healthcare start-ups

 Healthcare apps offer patients an active role

Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction
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Healthcare options for undocumented immigrants

Arlette Lozano came to this country 18 years ago from Mexico at age 8 when her mother sent her and her 3-year-old brother across the border with the help of a coyote — someone paid to smuggle people across the border.

There wasn't enough money for their mother to travel with them, so the children came alone to meet an aunt living in East Los Angeles. "It was very scary," Lozano recalls. "I remember my mom telling me not to fall asleep because they can kidnap us."

Lozano, now a 26-year-old student at UCLA with a double major in global studies and anthropology, grew up in Fullerton with her brother and mother, who eventually made her way to the U.S.

Despite distant memories of the dangerous trek she and her brother took years ago, she says she knows no other life than the one she's lived here in America.

Yet, without legal immigration status, her family has been shut out of many benefits available to U.S. citizens, including access to health insurance. "It's always been a concern," Lozano says of living without coverage.

Undocumented immigrants have limited access to health insurance and medical care, a fact the Affordable Care Act does little to change. Though it increases access to Medicaid and private health insurance, the law bars millions of undocumented immigrants, including an estimated 1 million Californians, from these programs.

"Undocumented immigrants continue to be outside the coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act," says Steve Zuckerman, with the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.

Even when aware of the programs and services that are available to them, people can be apprehensive about trying to take advantage of them.

Read the full article from Los Angeles Times

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America's broken healthcare system: The role of drug, device manufacturers

Healthcare costs are dramatically higher in the U.S. than in the rest of the world. Yet our healthcare  outcomes – from life expectancy to infant mortality – are average at best. There is little dispute over these facts.

The real debate comes when we ask why. While there isn’t one single answer, the rapidly rising cost of drugs and medical devices is a significant factor.

And the magnitude of this problem is likely to spike in the future if not properly addressed.

Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers have been criticized for their role in health care for over a decade. Little has changed. Americans pay significantly more for prescription drugs and medical devices than patients in the rest of the world.

The justifications for these extraordinarily high prices vary, but the industry is well aware that most patients have no choice but to pay whatever they charge.

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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What Big Data can’t tell us about healthcare

Jean Malouin, a family doctor in Michigan, woke up one morning earlier this month to an e-mail from a Washington Post reporter, who informed her that a vast release of Medicare payment data from 2012 had identified her as the highest female biller in the country, and the seventeenth-highest over all, with more than seven million dollars in payments. Malouin was soon inundated by interview requests from reporters, and her name appeared in newspapers across the country.

Malouin is a family doctor, which is not a specialty that one typically enters hoping to get rich. Delivering primary care is seen by doctors as hard work that earns comparatively little pay, and it is a job that is only getting harder. That’s because the Affordable Care Act, with the broad ambition of containing costs while improving quality, hopes to move away from a fee-for-service model, toward one in which doctors are paid primarily for keeping their patients healthy, a responsibility that will fall largely on primary-care doctors. At this point, nobody quite knows how to make this vision a reality, but Medicare has funded various demonstration projects to test innovations in care—one of which is led by Malouin, who supervises three hundred and eighty primary-care practices that treat a million patients in Michigan. Payments for care improvement from Medicare at all these clinics are made under Malouin’s name, which is how she ended up in dozens of newspaper reports on the data dump.

Even doctors who didn’t end up making headlines like Malouin told me that they felt somewhat exposed by the release of the Medicare payments data. As one friend tweeted, “Imagine if you woke up one morning to find that every person in your profession had their income reported on the New York Times web site.” For nearly thirty-five years, the American Medical Association had worked to keep this information private, after securing a federal court injunction in 1979. Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, waged a legal battle against the injunction, which was overturned by a federal judge last year.

Read the full blog from The New Yorker here  

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Oregon panel recommends moving to federal healthcare exchange

The Obama administration is getting ready to rescue the failing Oregon state health care exchange, which has been hit by technical glitches from the start.

On Friday, the Cover Oregon board will take up a recommendation made Thursday by a partial panel to hand over the state- run exchange to the federal government.

The move comes nearly seven months after Oregon’s online system was supposed to go live, but never did so completely.

Cover Oregon official Alex Pettit said fixing the existing system would be too risky and take too long to implement.

He also said it would be too costly. Trying to fix the system would cost around $78 million, he said. Switching to the federal system would be considerably cheaper, estimated at $4 million to $6 million.

Oregon would continue using its current technology for Medicaid enrollments, but not for people who are buying private policies.

Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Fox News in a written statement Thursday, “We are working with Oregon to ensure that all Oregonians have access to quality, affordable health coverage in 2015.”

Read the full article from FOX News here  

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Nonprofit aims to raise $10 million to seed healthcare start-ups

The nonprofit Bridge to Cures Inc. is aiming to raise $10 million to seed health care start-ups involved in areas like drug development, medical devices and diagnostics.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will announce Monday that it is providing the new organization with a $140,000 matching grant. The group was formed in November by three Milwaukee-area academics.

Bridge to Cures plans to raise more money from private donors for a fund that would provide grants and convertible notes with entrepreneur-friendly terms to four state-based start-ups a year, said Dan Sem, president and chief executive officer.

The Bridge to Cures Health Care Innovation Fund hopes to be reviewing applications by fall, said Sem, a professor of pharmaceutical services and director of technology transfer at Concordia University Wisconsin.

"Our intention is to get start-ups going. In academia, there's too much bureaucratic infrastructure and not enough input from entrepreneurs and industry," Sem said.

Bridge to Cures will focus on companies that spring out of academic institutions or businesses, particularly in southeastern Wisconsin, and work to make them viable for venture capital funding, Sem said. It has partnered with six academic research institutions through the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin, which received a $20 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2010 to help move research more quickly to patients.

Read the full article from the Journal Sentinel here  

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Healthcare apps offer patients an active role

If you have young children, you’ve most likely endured caring for an ear infection or two. Or perhaps you’ve experienced a mysterious rash. Those situations generally mean a trip to the doctor’s office and time away from your job, if you work outside the home.

But what if you could snap a photo of your rash, or your child’s ear canal, and send it to your doctor? That’s the idea behind a new breed of apps and devices that increasingly put medical tools in the hands of consumers.

CellScope Oto, for instance, combines an app with an attachment that lets you turn your iPhone into an otoscope — the tool physicians often use to examine the inside of your ear. Various apps and online services now let you communicate with your dermatologist by snapping a photo of a rash or mole and transmitting it electronically. And with an app-and-attachment combination called AliveCor, you can turn your smartphone into a heart monitor, record an electrocardiogram and send it to your doctor.

The trend of do-it-yourself examinations and tests is part of a shift in health care toward consumer participation that began with online health information sites and is accelerating with advances in mobile technology. Consumers are increasingly comfortable using walk-in medical clinics for minor ailments, and they see at-home digital tools as yet another level of convenience, said Ceci Connolly, managing director of the Health Research Institute, an arm of the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“We know from our research that consumers are very interested in these conveniences, as opposed to going to sit in a doctor’s office,” she said.

Read the full article from The New York Times here  

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