News Headlines for September 2, 2014

News Headlines Article

Health care spending in Massachusetts on the rise
San Francisco Chronicle

A new report says health care spending in Massachusetts continues to grow faster than the rate of inflation. The report is scheduled to be released Tuesday by the Center for Health Information and Analysis, created under state law in 2012 to monitor health care spending. The report says overall spending grew 2.3 percent last year. That is below the cost growth benchmark of 3.6 percent set by the state, but higher than the inflation rate, which was 1.5 percent.

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Charity HealthCare Conundrum Brewing Among Providers
Health Leaders Media

As millions of previously uninsured Americans gain access to affordable healthcare coverage, hospitals and health systems are reconsidering the generosity of their charity care policies.

Improved healthcare coverage access, mainly through Medicaid expansion and the new insurance exchanges, has raised a thorny question for hospitals and health systems: Should low-income people who refuse to obtain affordable coverage be eligible for charity care?

News Headlines Article

Will More Pioneer ACOs Defect?
Health Leaders Media

A lack of financial viability, cited by some organizations as a reason for abandoning the program, does not surprise one longtime critic of the federal accountable care organization program.

Sharp HealthCare’s withdrawal from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Pioneer ACO program, brings the number of defecting organizations to 10 out of the original 32 and raises questions about how many of the other 22 will remain in the program.

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Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession
Wall Street Journal

All too often these days, I find myself fidgeting by the doorway to my exam room, trying to conclude an office visit with one of my patients. When I look at my career at midlife, I realize that in many ways I have become the kind of doctor I never thought I’d be: impatient, occasionally indifferent, at times dismissive or paternalistic. Many of my colleagues are similarly struggling with the loss of their professional ideals.

It could be just a midlife crisis, but it occurs to me that my profession is in a sort of midlife crisis of its own. In the past four decades, American doctors have lost the status they used to enjoy. In the mid-20th century, physicians were the pillars of any community. If you were smart and sincere and ambitious, at the top of your class, there was nothing nobler or more rewarding that you could aspire to become.

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Why Physicians Are Turning to Startups
The Health Care Blog

To appreciate the potential impact of the startup movement on health and medicine, you really need look no further than Drs. Rushika Fernandopulle and Farzad Mostashari (disclosure: I was colleagues with both at college and later at MGH). Both are passionate about transforming healthcare – Fernandopulle has an M.D.

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Sharing Risk Can Help Tame The Cost Of Infertility Treatment
National Public Radio

Infertility treatment is a numbers game in some respects: How many treatments will it take to conceive a child? And how much can you afford?

Even as insurance plans are modestly improving their coverage of such treatments, clinics and others are coming up with creative ways to cover the costs to help would-be parents reduce their risk for procedures that can run tens of thousands of dollars.

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Easy Online Access Changes Doctor-Patient Relationships

The days of waiting on hold and playing phone tag with the doctor’s office are diminishing for patients across the state and nation as more and more health providers implement patient portals.

These interactive sites, which allow patients to message physicians, refill prescriptions and schedule appointments online, are bringing medical interactions into the digital age and prompting dramatic changes in doctor-patient relationships.

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Pretending To Be A Medical Patient Pays Off For This Teen
National Public Radio

Some of us are lucky enough to stumble into a job that we love. That was the case for Gabrielle Nuki. The 16-year-old had never heard of standardized patients until her advisor at school told her she should check it out.

“I was kind of shocked, and I was kind of like, ‘Oh, is there actually something like this in the world?’ “

Since Nuki wants to be a doctor, the chance to earn $15 to $20 an hour training medical students as a pretend patient was kind of a dream come true.

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Low carb diets more than low fat ones may help protect against heart disease.
Washington Post

THE QUESTION: Cutting carbohydrates has become a popular way to lose weight. In the process, might you also be helping your heart?

THIS STUDY involved 148 men and women, about 47 years old on average, who were obese but did not have cardiovascular disease or diabetes. They were randomly assigned to follow either a low-carb diet (no more than 40 grams of carbohydrates daily) or a low-fat diet (less than 30 percent of daily calories from fat).

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Federal funds help Sonoma County clinics integrate health care
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Three Sonoma County health centers will receive federal funds aimed at site improvements that will allow the clinics to accommodate a wave of newly insured patients and better integrate aspects of medical care that include mental, dental and preventative health service.

The goal is part of a national health care movement toward comprehensive, patient-focused treatment and away from the traditional model that treats a single symptom or illness when individuals visit their doctor.

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Free flu vaccines for 60,000 Oakland kids
Contra Costa Times

The largest ever seasonal flu vaccine program for Oakland youngsters will roll out Oct. 1, with the Alameda County health department targeting 60,000 elementary school students with free vaccines at 130 schools.

And one of the better parts of the Shoo the Flu program, besides keeping kids and by extension older folks healthy, is that most kids won’t get a shot.