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Health Management Technology News
  June 3, 2014
In this issue:
 Apple unwraps 'Healthkit' to propel
mobile-health ambitions

 Healthcare’s challenge: Cut costs but still meet demands of aging populace

 I had a scary encounter with North Korea’s crumbling healthcare system

 Hartford HealthCare eliminating 350 jobs

 Technology firms at the pulse of online healthcare needs

 10 top-performing healthcare payers

What you need to know about ICD-10
Download this white paper on switching from using ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes for all medical services. The deadline for completing the switch is October 1, 2015, which will be here sooner than you think. Healthcare facilities need to start planning their communication strategy now to be fully prepared to meet the upcoming transition.

Read the white paper.   Sponsor

Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction
Hospital reimbursements are now influenced, in part, by patient satisfaction scores. Read about seven areas to target in your hospital for happier, more satisfied patients.

Read the white paper.   Sponsor

Apple unwraps 'Healthkit' to propel mobile-health ambitions

Apple Inc took the wraps off a mobile application that can collect and analyze users' health data, part of a suite of new features outlined for its computing and mobile software, at its annual developers' conference on Monday.

Called "Healthkit," it will pull together data such as blood pressure and weight, collected by a growing plethora of healthcare apps on the iPhone or iPad, Apple executives told developers.

The company will work in tandem with Nike Inc, a major player in fitness tracking, and the Mayo Clinic on the new feature, which will be included with the latest versions of Apple's mobile software.

"That information lives in silos," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering. "You can't get a single comprehensive picture."

Apple, which will discuss new software features with the thousands of developers gathered in San Francisco this week, did not elaborate on Healthkit's features and capabilities.

The news follows arch-rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's announcement last week of a mobile health-data store called SAMI (Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions).

It is unclear how Apple will promote Healthkit. Samsung plans to market SAMI by hosting a developer challenge and setting aside a $50 million fund for early-stage digital health entrepreneurs.

Read the full article from Reuters here  

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Healthcare’s challenge: Cut costs but still meet demands of aging populace

The focus in healthcare has shifted to finding ways to reduce costs while providing the best possible medical services.

But other shifts – in demographics, and in the way those medical services are provided – may require doing something that usually drives up costs: hiring more people to meet the increasing healthcare needs of a more-insured, older population.

Panelists at a recent conference suggested that finding efficiencies – such as having qualified but lower-salaried nurses performing tasks sometimes done by doctors – could be part of the answer.

Health policy experts predict a move away from having highly trained professionals performing tasks that don’t require their level of training. But they say this will pose a fundamental challenge as a growing retiree population will depend on services provided by a relatively smaller workforce.

Former Gov. James Florio recently prompted a discussion of the issue when he noted that most businesses that invest in information technology and other capital costs like hospitals and doctors’ offices usually offset those investment costs by lowering labor costs. He raised the issue during a recent conference focused on the shift from providing healthcare from inpatient hospital settings to outpatient settings.

Read the full article from here  

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I had a scary encounter with North Korea’s crumbling healthcare system

I saw North Korea's notorious healthcare system first-hand when I got sick on a recent trip to the rogue state. Although they took good care of me, I'm glad that I was a Westerner and that I was not sicker.

Once well-respected, North Korea's health infrastructure is "crumbling" and "in dire need of help," according to Amnesty International. The country spent less on healthcare per capita than any other country in 2009 — under US$1 — according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, pervasive malnutrition has led to a tuberculosis epidemic, while infant mortality rates are far higher than neighboring South Korea, among other health crises.

The North Korean government denies there’s a problem, instead repeating unconvincing claims about providing free, state-of-the-art care for all of its 25 million people.

Getting Sick

My encounter with the system came toward the end of my eight-day visit in June 2013, when I was traveling through rural North Korea under the guise of a tourist, not letting on to customs agents that I was a journalist.

I was at a hotel on the edge of Kyongsong when I jolted awake with the worst stomach cramp I'd ever experienced. Next came the chills, so numbing I threw on my thickest jacket, a sweater, and two more shirts under that. It was almost 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Severe headaches followed and then diarrhea that wouldn't stop.

Read the full article from Business Insider

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Hartford HealthCare eliminating 350 jobs

Hartford HealthCare, a statewide network of health care providers with 18,000 workers, is eliminating 350 jobs, the chief operating officer announced Monday.

About 230 people will be leaving through layoffs, buyouts and retirements, and the rest of the jobs are vacant positions, a spokeswoman said.

Hartford HealthCare includes Hartford Hospital and the Institute of Living, also in Hartford, as well as smaller hospitals in Meriden, Windham, New Britain, Southington and Norwich, nursing homes, physicians' practices and home health care services.

Jeffrey Flaks, chief operating officer, explained the layoffs in a note to staff Monday.

We are focused on creating a more cost-efficient organization," Flaks wrote. "We have reduced and targeted more than $200 million in non-staff costs. ... However, we have to ensure that our staff size is appropriate to our patient volumes and the current economic conditions."

Flaks said the cuts are needed because fewer patients are covered by private insurance and more have Medicare or Medicaid, which pays providers less. He wrote, "We have seen a significant drop in our core inpatient business."

According to the most recent internal newsletter at the end of May, during the first seven months of fiscal 2014, inpatient discharges were above budget by 0.6 percent and were 1.8 percent higher than the previous fiscal year.

The workers will be leaving over the next 30 days.

"There is a national mandate to lower the cost structure of health care. Today's announcement — although difficult and painful — shows how we are organizing ourselves to stay ahead of the change," said Rebecca Stewart, director of media relations. "Over the past several years, we have had an ongoing effort on driving efficiencies, lowering costs, reducing duplication in services and enhancing quality to make health care more affordable to patients. We expect to achieve a positive operating margin, but we need to reduce costs further."

Read the full article from The Courant here  

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Technology firms at the pulse of online healthcare needs

The internet has radically changed the old music industry model, arguably for the better. Likewise, traditional print media has begrudgingly reinvented itself, for the better. Could the web do the same for healthcare? Well, yes and no.

As much as we in The Irish Times believe our opinions to be more valuable than some no name blogger who offers his highfalutin views online for nothing, the same comparison could not be made between anonymous online medical advice versus visiting a medically trained doctor. Online healthcare providers will always be limited by their inability to physically interact with patients.

However, that doesn’t mean a lot of common healthcare needs couldn’t be dealt with remotely. We already have online medical services – both of the credible and quack variety. Plus if you want to get Viagra, sleeping tablets, antidepressants, or a variety of other, more extreme drugs, the web will find a way to help you self-medicate; Caveat Emptor being the order of the day.

You can also get professional advice and reliable prescriptions for some conditions from the likes of Ireland’s Lloyds Online Doctor service.

But what are the chances of a “Napster for the Health Care Industry” as the author of online financial column Diary of A Rogue Economist, Bill Bonner, put it? He says: “Most people do not have rare health problems; they have the kinds of problems most people have.

“These problems can be fingered in just a few questions . . . tested with a few additional questions . . . instantly assigned probability scores for the accuracy of the diagnosis . . . and given additional probabilities for the effect of suggested treatments.

“These diagnostic software systems could be open source (meaning there would be universal access by way of a free licence to the source code). This means they could be improved by an army of software developers all over the world. And they could be updated and deepened, second by second, by doctors and patients . . . to record, recall and deliver far more information than a doctor alone ever could.

Read the full article from The Irish Times here  

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10 top-performing healthcare payers

Last week, cloud-based software services provider athenahealth released its 2014 PayerView Report, which leverages the company's data to provide insight into provider-payer relationships. The report ranks healthcare payers based on metrics such as days in accounts receivable, first-pass resolution of claims, denial rate and provider collection burden. Based on overall performance, the following are the top 10 payers in the nation, according to athenahealth.

1. Humana

2. HealthPartners

3. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

4. Healthsource (a Cigna subsidiary)

5. Group Health Cooperative

Read the full article from Becker’s Hospital

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June 2014  HMT digital book

White Paper

What you need to know about ICD-10

Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction

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