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Health Management Technology News
  June 16, 2014
In this issue:
 Once again, U.S. has most expensive, least effective healthcare system in survey

 The app-based healthcare of the future

 If universal healthcare is the goal, don't copy Canada

 Seven reasons healthcare in the United States is costly and irrational

 Surge in healthcare spending now appears to be a mirage

 Indonesia's poor swap garbage for healthcare

What you need to know about ICD-10
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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.

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Once again, U.S. has most expensive, least effective healthcare system in survey

There are painful losing streaks that don’t really matter — say, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-game disaster in 1976 and 1977 — and losing streaks that really mean something. This one means something.

A report released Monday by a respected think tank ranks the United States dead last in the quality of its healthcare system when compared with 10 other western, industrialized nations, the same spot it occupied in four previous studies by the same organization. Not only did the U.S. fail to move up between 2004 and 2014 — as other nations did with concerted effort and significant reforms — it also has maintained this dubious distinction while spending far more per capita ($8,508) on health care than Norway ($5,669), which has the second most expensive system.

“Although the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country and has the highest proportion of specialist physicians, survey findings indicate that from the patients’ perspective, and based on outcome indicators, the performance of American healthcare is severely lacking,” the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that promotes improved healthcare, concluded in its extensive analysis. The charts in this post are from the report.

Read the full article from The Washington Post

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The app-based healthcare of the future

There isn’t a thing about healthcare that isn’t costly. Clinical treatment of any kind costs patients an immense amount of money, an inordinate amount of time, and sometimes doesn’t even work the way we hoped it would. Given the huge level of investment it requires, it’s kind of remarkable that for much of the process, patients are kept in the dark. After all, our health care providers already know so much about us.

But what if that dynamic was reversed?

At the Northside Festival in Brooklyn on Thursday, a small panel convened to discuss the ways our data-driven tech scene can work to the advantage of every patient in healthcare--but hasn’t. Called “Empowering the Most Important Caregiver: The Patient,” members included Chris Bradley, CEO of Mana Health, Mario Schlosser of health insurance startup Oscar, Rachel Winokur of Aetna’s tech services division Healthagen, and Paul Wilder of The NY eHealth Collaborative.

Read the full article from The Daily Beast here  

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If universal healthcare is the goal, don't copy Canada

The heated and often emotionally charged debate over the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) hasn’t subsided despite it being the law of the land for more than four years. Indeed, with the VA scandal, continuing problems in the rollout of aspects of Obamacare and the upcoming mid-term elections, the likelihood of increased acrimony is high.

One aspect of the health care debate in the United States that is, unfortunately, riddled with misinformation is the state of Canada’s single-payer health care system. Too often advocates of Canadian-style health care in the U.S. present limited or even misleading information about the true state of Canada’s health care system and worse, often times present the ideal of Canadian health care rather than its reality.

It’s first important to recognize that a single-payer model is not a necessary condition for universal health care. There are ample examples from OECD countries where universal health care is guaranteed without imposing a single-payer model.

Amongst industrialized countries — members of the OECD — with universal health care, Canada has the second most expensive health care system as a share of the economy after adjusting for age. This is not necessarily a problem, however, depending on the value received for such spending. As countries become richer, citizens may choose to allocate a larger portion of their income to health care. However, such expenditures are a problem when they are not matched by value.

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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Seven reasons healthcare in the United States is costly and irrational

The U.S. health care system is neither a true market system, nor a government managed system. It’s complicated and hard to navigate. The same forces that make it a bloated drain on the economy drive it out of poor neighborhoods where it’s sorely needed.

Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt compares the system to one where employees are told they’d be reimbursed for clothing deemed “necessary” and “appropriate” for the job, but are forced to shop blindfolded, stuffing items into a cart without knowing what they cost or what they look like — and only informed months later whether they’d be reimbursed.

This is what makes the system expensive and inefficient:

1. A twisted focus

Health care is dominated by nonprofits that receive tax exemptions in exchange for providing community benefits. Such benefits can include research and medical education as well as free or low-cost service to the poor. But charitable care is so loosely defined that many hospitals focus on profitable patients — those in higher-income brackets with private insurance — to the detriment of care of the low-income patients who justify the tax-free status.

A 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study found that, on average, 7.5 percent of nonprofit hospitals’ operating expenses go toward IRS-defined community benefits. Many hospitals contribute around 2 percent to actual charitable care.

Yet only a small number of hospitals have had their tax-exempt status challenged or revoked on the grounds that the community benefits they provide are inadequate to justify the tax exemption.

Read the full article from Pittsburg Post-Gazette

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Surge in healthcare spending now appears to be a mirage

In late April, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released an advance estimate of first-quarter GDP that had one noticeably eye-popping statistic — spending on healthcare grew 9.9%, the biggest percent change in more than three decades.

Those numbers were questioned by former OMB Director Peter Orszag and others, because the data didn't quite square. With healthcare spending surging but employment growing at a steady year-over-year pace, could there really be an absurd boom in healthcare productivity?

A month and a half later, we have a more definitive answer. And it appears healthcare spending didn't explode as high as the BEA's advance estimate had suggested.

The Commerce Department released its quarterly services survey (QSS), which provided a few important points of data. 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.

Read the full article from Business Insider here

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Indonesia's poor swap garbage for healthcare

Mahmud hauls bags full of rubbish to the small, dilapidated clinic next to a busy road on Indonesia's main island of Java several times a month.

There he exchanges grubby cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and other garbage for something he would struggle to afford otherwise -- medical treatment.

"I know I can sell my garbage here so I keep it," said the 60-year-old, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. "I used to throw everything onto the street but I have started telling myself that actually the garbage is useful."

Mahmud, who suffers from arthritis, is one of many members of the Klinik Bumi Ayu in Malang who regularly bring in rubbish in exchange for check-ups and medicine.

There are five such centres in the city that are part of a scheme dubbed "Garbage Clinical Insurance" by its 24-year-old founder Gamal Albinsaid, offering treatment and advice for free to some of the country's poorest.

Read the full article from Yahoo News here  

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June 2014  HMT digital book

White Papers

What you need to know about ICD-10

Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction

Click here to read the white papers

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