News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Flu vaccination rate rises for hospital workers, CDC reports
Modern Healthcare

The rate of flu vaccinations among hospital workers in November increased to 83.4% from 77.8% a year earlier, although the numbers were static for the overall healthcare workforce and the general public, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The hospital figures suggest that efforts that go as far as mandatory vaccinations at a small but growing number of hospital systems are paying off toward meeting the CDC’s goal of reaching a 90% vaccination for healthcare workers, but the overall rate of 62.9% for healthcare personnel across all settings remains far from that benchmark.

News Headlines Article

Patient Safety Programs Pay Off for Healthcare Workers
Health Leaders Media

The patient safety movement has made the healthcare workplace safer for employees too, a risk analysis suggests.

“We think the intense emphasis on patient safety has a direct implication on worker safety,” Martha Bronson Posey, senior consultant and actuary with the Actuarial & Analytics group within Aon Global Risk Consulting. “The patient and worker safety programs share a lot of the same characteristics. So if your environment is safer for your patients it is inherently safer for your workers.”

News Headlines Article

How Leaders Evaluate Leaders
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare leaders are inundated with pleas and demands from payers, the government, their boards, and even their patients to be more accountable to them in cost, quality, and patient safety. Frontline staffers are the focus of the day-to-day evaluation, but senior leaders are charged with developing strategies that will help the organization adapt to new roles. Senior leaders have no playbook from which to evaluate how well they and their most senior deputies are doing, but some innovative senior leaders are keeping it simple.

News Headlines Article

Raising Medicare age part of Republicans’ new fiscal offer to Obama
Modern Healthcare

Republicans in the House of Representatives responded to President Barack Obama on Monday, proposing a new 10-year, $2.2 trillion blueprint for avoiding the looming “fiscal cliff.”

The Obama administration quickly rejected the plan, which was sent to the White House by House Speaker John Boehner as a counteroffer to a proposal the president made last week. The White House said the Republican plan fails “the test of balance.”

News Headlines Article

High Desert Hospitals Fighting for Financial Solvency
California Healthline

Three rural, stand-alone hospitals in the Inland Empire are in various stages of addressing daunting financial challenges. Victor Valley Community Hospital in Victorville, Colorado River Medical Center in Needles and Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree are all attempting to emerge from financial distress, but in different ways. The bankrupt Victor Valley Community Hospital has been sold to a health care conglomerate in Riverside that plans to convert the not-for-profit hospital to a for-profit organization.

News Headlines Article

California Lawmakers Face Tight Deadline To Tackle Health Reform
KPBS

California lawmakers are up against a tight deadline to get the state ready for the full rollout of healthcare reform. A variety of major decisions need to be made quickly. States are required to launch their new online insurance marketplaces by January 2014. But California wants to open registration next October. Anthony Wright, who directs the non-profit group Health Access California, said the state must get ready to add about 2 million people to the Medi-Cal program.

News Headlines Article

Health insurers learn how to woo
USA Today

As the health care overhaul moves ahead, the nation’s health insurers are scrambling to reinvent themselves, hoping to boost their image and entice millions of Americans to enroll, some for the first time.

The new customers will mostly shop for and buy their own insurance — a different and harder-to-reach group than the industry’s traditional employer clients. So insurers are seeking novel ways to reach them — online, in shopping centers, even when they’re preparing their taxes.

News Headlines Article

Consortium aims to speed device reviews
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration has joined a public-private partnership to fund new evaluation tools and methods for assessing medical devices, according to a news release. The agency will provide an indeterminate amount of funding to the not-for-profit Medical Device Innovation Consortium, which was created by a biomedical science trade association. The group of industry, government and other not-for-profit organizations aims to fund projects that simplify the medical device design and approval process.

News Headlines Article

Sale of Thousand Oaks Surgical Hospital to Los Robles is complete
Ventura County Star

The sale of Thousand Oaks Surgical Hospital has been finalized, and the boutique hospital is now controlled by Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, according to Los Robles officials.

The Hospital Corporation of America, which owns Los Robles in Thousand Oaks, closed its deal to buy the 7-year-old surgical hospital Friday, officials said.

Employees of both hospitals were told in a letter Monday that the newly acquired hospital will continue to operate as a surgical facility at its current location.

News Headlines Article

Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands project promotes physical, emotional health among peers
Monterey Herald

Three years ago, 57 girls from all over Monterey County interviewed more than 600 of their peers to learn their most pressing health concerns.

These young researchers found out girls their age wanted more information about healthy eating, body image and pregnancy. The results of their investigation were compiled in “Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands: A Girls’ Health Action Research Project,” a 19-page document that spells out not just concerns for young women but specific proposals on how to address them.

News Headlines Article

Clinical decision support may boost HIV patient outcomes: study
Modern Healthcare

The use of a clinical computer decision-support system may improve HIV patient outcomes, according to a study of such a system in December’s Annals of Internal Medicine. The study, which for one year tracked the care of 1,011 patients with HIV being cared for by 33 providers at Massachusetts General Hospital HIV clinics, found that patients whose providers received interactive computer alerts fared better clinically as measured primarily by the patients’ CD4 cell count than those assigned to a group in which static alerts were used.

News Headlines Article

Gigantic Health Insurance Companies Might Not Be So Bad, After All
Mother Jones

Among other things, Austin Frakt has taught me to view the healthcare market as a competition between providers and insurance companies. If you have a market served by lots of hospitals and only one or two insurance carriers, then the insurance companies have a lot of leverage: they each represent a huge chunk of the customer base and can threaten to take their business elsewhere if a hospital charges too much. In the opposite situation, with only one or two hospitals in a region, they’re the ones with the leverage.

News Headlines Article

Dignity Health and CBCC partner to treat cancer patients
KGET.com

Memorial and Mercy Hospitals, along with the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center, are partnering to give cancer patients services at each medical center. This will allow the healthcare providers to combine their resources and enhance medical care for cancer patients here at home.

“There are so many children out there faced with this horrible disease and being home for care is beyond what’s important,” said Margaret Johnson, director of nursing at Mercy Hospital Downtown. Johnson said her grandson Isaac was diagnosed with a brain tumor three months ago.

News Headlines Article

Generic Drug Makers See a Drought Ahead
New York Times

They call it the patent cliff.

Brand-name drug makers have feared it for years. And now the makers of generic drugs fear it, too.

This year, more than 40 brand-name drugs — valued at $35 billion in annual sales — lost their patent protection, meaning that generic companies were permitted to make their own lower-priced versions of well-known drugs like Plavix, Lexapro and Seroquel — and share in the profits that had exclusively belonged to the brands.

News Headlines Article

U.S. HealthWorks acquires health care centers
Sacramento Business Journal

U.S. HealthWorks, a subsidiary of Dignity Health, has acquired four health-care centers and two work-site clinics in Wisconsin. The centers, U.S. HealthWorks’ first in Wisconsin, bring the company’s total number of clinics to 179 in 16 states, including five in the Sacramento region. Terms of the Dec. 1 transaction with Sensia Healthcare were not disclosed.

News Headlines Article

Questions and answers about insurance premiums and the Affordable Care Act
Washington Post

This week I answer readers’ questions about picking an insurance plan when leaving a job, small-business health insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act and salary-based premiums.

News Headlines Article

Health insurance rate hikes on horizon
Sacramento Business Journal

The New Year is coming — along with some whopping health insurance rate hikes. Anthem Blue Cross, California’s largest for-profit insurer and leader in the individual market, is seeking an average rate hike of 26 percent for 340,000 members, effective Feb. 1. Another 296,059 may get an average increase of 24.6 percent the same day.

News Headlines Article

FDA okays AliveCor’s iPhone heart monitor
San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco-based AliveCor Inc.’s new iPhone electrocardiogram app has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration and is now available for presale to medical professionals, the company said Monday. AliveCor’s $199 mobile ECG heart monitor uses electrodes that snap onto the back of Apple iPhone 4 and 4S smartphones, and it can take readings from a person’s fingers or chest.

News Headlines Article

Hepatitis C drug companies Presidio, BioCryst kill merger deal
San Francisco Business Times

Presidio Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s $101 million stock merger with BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. is dead. Despite both companies working in the hot hepatitis C drug-development space, San Francisco-based Presidio and BioCryst (NASDAQ: BCRX) of Research Triangle Park, N.C., killed the deal Friday. A conference call and webcast on the merger’s dissolution, however, isn’t scheduled until Dec. 7.

News Headlines Article

Deja Association: The Republican Health Reform Idea Hiding in Obamacare
The Health Care Blog

If the Administration wants to make good on President Obama’s election night promise to work across the aisle to solve the nation’s problems, a good place to start would be how it implements a key provision of Obamacare – namely, the Republican idea buried in Section 1334. The Affordable Care Act is a bulging sketchbook of ideas – some old, some new, some borrowed, some not-so-blue – for improving Americans’ access to health insurance.

Commands