News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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IOM Urges 10 Major Healthcare Fixes
Health Leaders Media

The U.S. healthcare system operates like an ATM machine that takes days to release cash. It functions like a home construction project whose carpenters and plumbers use different blueprints. And it does business like a store that prices items depending on who is making the purchase.

It fails to contain wasteful spending, estimated at about $765 billion in 2009 alone, largely from unnecessary and inefficiently delivered services, excess administrative costs and overpricing, and in fraud and missed prevention opportunities.

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Study finds path to big savings on health care
Sacramento Business Journal

Three private-sector health care partners saved the California Public Employees’ Retirement System $37 million in health care costs over two years by agreeing to work together in what is considered a national model for bending the cost curve on employee benefits. Blue Shield of California, Dignity Health and Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc.

shaved the annual cost increases per member to about 3 percent, less than half the rate at which premiums have risen over the last decade, according to new data showcased today in the September issue of the journal Health Affairs.

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Healthcare adds 16,700 jobs in August
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare job growth continued to drag in August as hospital hiring remained sluggish and physician offices added a mere 700 jobs. Healthcare added 16,700 jobs last month, a gain of 0.1%, to bring the industry’s total employment to 14.4 million jobs, according to seasonally adjusted estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. All figures are preliminary. On average, healthcare hiring has increased 0.2% each of the past 12 months.

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Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital to double in size
The Mercury News

The place that has healed so many profoundly sick children is finally fixing itself. Doubling in size to meet ever-growing demand for complex care, Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital celebrated the end of a decade of planning on Thursday with a ceremonial groundbreaking that will add 150 beds, private rooms and advanced treatments. “Think of how many more children this hospital can save,” said Miranda Ashland, 17, of Saratoga, confidently facing a crowd of celebrities, civic leaders and construction crews.

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Questions remain on value of robot prostate surgery

Men who get robot surgery for prostate cancer have fewer short-term complications than men whose procedure is done the old-fashioned way – but the newer treatment is pricier, according to a new analysis of close to 30,000 patients. Although the findings may help inform decisions about cancer surgery, a gold-standard trial comparing the two methods of prostate removal head-to-head is still lacking, researchers said.

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Waste in U.S. health care system
San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. health system wastes more than $750 billion a year – or 30 percent of medical expenses – in unnecessary, inefficient services, and each year tens of thousands of deaths could be averted through better care, according to a report released Thursday by the Institute of Medicine. Despite those sobering figures, the 18-member committee behind the national report, which includes several Bay Area health experts, concluded that improving quality and lowering cost or not only possible but could be done with tools and technologies that exist.

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CMS: EHR payments total nearly $6.6 billion
Modern Healthcare

According to the CMS’ latest report, 3,884 hospitals and 267,221 physicians and other so-called eligible professionals are now enrolled in the three federally funded electronic health-record system incentive payment programs. The numbers are based on data available through July.

So far, the programs—created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—have paid out not quite $6.6 billion, with $4.2 billion going to hospitals and almost $2.4 billion to physicians and other eligible professionals, such as dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and certain physician assistants.

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With Medicaid, Long-Term Care of Elderly Looms as a Rising Cost
New York Times

Medicaid has long conjured up images of inner-city clinics jammed with poor families. Its far less-visible role is as the only safety net for millions of middle-class people whose needs for long-term care, at home or in a nursing home, outlast their resources. With baby boomers and their parents living longer than ever, few families can count on their own money to go the distance.

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Park It: East Bay district seeks CDC grant to fight obesity
Inside Bay Area

Expanding its health-oriented partnerships with other public service organizations, the East Bay Regional Park District has applied for a Community Transformation Grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Grant money would be used to establish the “Get Outdoors! (GO!) Network for Kids Health,” a multiagency collaboration led by the park district.

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A Global Budget Pilot Project Among Provider Partners And Blue Shield Of California Led To Savings In First Two Years

Health care plans and providers in the private sector are developing alternative payment and delivery models to reduce spending and improve health care quality. To respond to intense competition from other organizations, Blue Shield of California created a partnership with health care providers to use an annual global budget for total expected spending and to share risk and savings among partners for providing health care. The patient population consisted of certain members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in Northern California.

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Sierra Vista’s new helistop enters test phase
San Luis Obispo Tribune

San Luis Obispo residents living on the west side of town may hear helicopters in coming days while Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center conducts test landings on its newly licensed helistop. The $1.8 million facility is atop the hospital’s five-story parking structure to support temporary landings to load or unload trauma patients. Sierra Vista has taken precautions to minimize noise by determining the landing and take-off flight paths that create the least impact, hospital marketing director Shannon Downing said.

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Radiation may up breast cancer risk in some women
USA Today

Mammograms aimed at finding breast cancer might actually raise the chances of developing it in young women whose genes put them at higher risk for the disease, a study by leading European cancer agencies suggests. The added radiation from mammograms and other types of tests with chest radiation might be especially harmful to them and an MRI is probably a safer method of screening women under 30 who are at high risk because of gene mutations, the authors conclude.

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California researchers create apps for health studies
The Bay Citizen

Does oversleeping make you depressed? Do certain types of patients do better on new medication? Which streets worsen asthma symptoms?

Right now, answering those questions is beyond the scope of most medical studies. Clinical trials determine whether new drugs are effective on average, but usually aren’t large enough to look at different subsets of people.

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17 News to air Health Care forum on Sunday

On Thursday, 17 News recorded a forum at our studios with local experts, on the Affordable Care Act.

The forum will air this Sunday after the NFL football game on TV-17. The discussion will be moderated by our Rachelle Murcia and Kiyoshi Tomono.

The idea is to foster a discussion free of political spin and focus on how this new law affects your family’s access to medical care.

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Legislature adopts health care overhaul measures
Sacramento Business Journal

Landmark legislation to implement health care reform in California was approved by the state Legislature in the final days of the session that ended Aug. 31. Some bills stalled — including those with policy changes that require federal approval — but are expected to come back in a special session after lawmakers reconvene in December.

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New IOM Report Details Shortcomings of the U.S. Healthcare System
Infection Control Today

In a new report released today, “Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America,” the Institute of Medicine points to the numerous shortcomings of the U.S. healthcare system. As the report notes, “Healthcare in America has experienced an explosion in knowledge, innovation and capacity to manage previously fatal conditions. Yet, paradoxically, it falls short on such fundamentals as quality, outcomes, cost and equity.

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New IOM Report Addresses Growing Complexity Of Health Care
HealthAffairs Blog

Health Affairs Blog commends to readers today’s newly released Institute of Medicine report, “Best Care At Lower Cost: The Path To Continuously Learning Health Care In America.” The report states that “achieving a learning health care system – one in which science and informatics, patient-clinician partnerships, incentives, and culture are aligned to promote and enable continuous and real-time improvement in both the effectiveness and efficiency of care – is both necessary and possible for the nation.”