News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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States Selling, Sharing Risky Personal Health Data
Health Data Management

Nearly all states collect hospital discharge data with 33 states selling or sharing de-identified information–not covered under HIPAA.

That raises concerns that the hospitals are turning over data potentially vulnerable to re-identification, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

De-identified information is generally defined under the HIPAA Privacy Rule as information that does not identify an individual and for which there is no reasonable basis to believe an individual can be identified from it.

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LA County prepared for threat of MERS
Southern California Public Radio

Los Angeles County hospitals and infectious disease experts are on high alert for MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday confirmed the second case of the disease in the US. This case was confirmed in a healthcare worker who recently traveled from Saudi Arabia, where there have been 450 cases of the disease, including 112 deaths.

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The doctor’s in — through webcam, smartphone
San Francisco Chronicle

Mark Matulaitis holds out his arms so the Parkinson’s specialist can check his tremors. But this is no doctor’s office: Matulaitis sits in his rural Maryland home as a neurologist a few hundred miles away examines him via the camera in his laptop.

Welcome to the virtual house call, the latest twist on telemedicine. It’s increasingly getting attention as a way to conveniently diagnose simple maladies, such as whether that runny nose and cough is a cold or the flu.

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More Insured, but the Choices Are Narrowing
New York Times

In the midst of all the turmoil in health care these days, one thing is becoming clear: No matter what kind of health plan consumers choose, they will find fewer doctors and hospitals in their network — or pay much more for the privilege of going to any provider they want.

These so-called narrow networks, featuring limited groups of providers, have made a big entrance on the newly created state insurance exchanges, where they are a common feature in many of the plans.

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Golden Life Healthcare shaves $10M in Medicare costs
Sacramento Business Journal

The group of 65 Sacramento-area doctors at Golden Life Healthcare LLC cut the cost of caring for their Medicare patients by $10 million last year. Claims costs were $959 in December, less than half the $2,112 spent per member per month in January 2013. Costs went up slightly in May and a lot in October, but the trend line for the year is a definite down. The key is keeping patients out of the hospital, says president and CEO Dr. Venu Kondle.

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How Community Health Centers are Taking on Accountable Care for the Most Vulnerable
The Health Care Blog

Like many participants in the Medicare Shared Savings ACO Program (MSSP), Family Health ACO is sailing in uncharted waters. All ACOs are facing significant challenges in better understanding patient utilization patterns, identifying high-risk patients, and implementing care coordination strategies. Even more unique is that Family Health ACO (“Family Health”) is composed entirely of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).

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Hospitalists team up to provide best care for patients
The Union

The specially trained hospitalists at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) are physicians who have chosen hospital inpatient care as their vocation, specializing in the more acute, challenging and intensive health needs of hospitalized individuals.

For a full decade, SNMH has utilized skilled hospitalists, and for the past several years the hospital has partnered with Cogent Healthcare, the largest privately held hospital medicine and critical care company in the nation.

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San Francisco’s public health subsidies ‘unsustainable,’ could top $4.3 billion by 2019
San Francisco Business Times

City of San Francisco subsidies to its public health system could surge to an unsustainable $4.3 billion over the next five years without major structural reforms and an influx of patients with health coverage, according to an early March city report that so far has netted no public scrutiny. The department’s revenue will slump 16 percent over that period, as federal and state safety net dollars vanish, the city report warns.

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Portola Pharmaceuticals starts Phase III test of emergency bleeding drug
San Francisco Business Times

Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc. started enrolling patients in a late-stage clinical trial of a treatment for major bleeding in patients taking common anticoagulants. The South San Francisco company (NASDAQ: PTLA) intends the drug — andexanet alfa — to counteract anticoagulant drugs that some patients take for short-term or chronic conditions.

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John Gioia: State, Kaiser, Muir not willing to save Doctors Med Center
San Francisco Business Times

John Gioia, the Contra Costa County supervisor most involved with troubled Doctors Medical Center, slated for closure unless a fiscal miracle occurs, said options for saving the safety net hospital are vanishing. The state of California has made it clear it won’t play a role, Gioia told me late Monday, and Kaiser Permanente and John Muir Health “so far are not willing to be part of any long-term, continued funding of the hospital,” which provides ER and other services to about 250,000 residents of West Contra Costa County.

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UCSF e-cigarette study stamps out public health benefits
San Francisco Chronicle

If all traditional cigarette smokers switched to electronic cigarettes, lives would be saved and overall public health would improve, scientists and doctors say.

But UCSF researchers, in a paper published Monday, say a growing body of research shows that people who take up e-cigarettes aren’t necessarily giving up conventional cigarettes, and on top of that, the devices are being heavily marketed to young people, creating a potential new market for the nicotine and tobacco industry.

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Palm Drive foundation requests mediation in hospital battle
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The nonprofit foundation that wants to reopen Palm Drive Hospital and take over its management has asked a federal bankruptcy judge to intervene in its stalled talks with the hospital board.

The Palm Drive Health Care Foundation, which has been negotiating for weeks with the hospital district board, filed a legal motion on Friday requesting a court appointed mediator “to resolve an impasse” that is preventing the hospital from reopening.

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Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center is awarded an ‘A’ for patient safety, according to Leapfrog
Fontana Herald News

The Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center is among all 14 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California that have received an “A” on the Hospital Safety Score from the Leapfrog Group, an independent industry watchdog.

This marks the second year all Kaiser Permanente Southern California hospitals were awarded the highest grade.

“This recognition demonstrates the superior medical care our Fontana Medical Center provides to the more than 450,000 members Kaiser Permanente serves in San Bernardino County,” said Dr. David Quam, the area medical director and chief of staff.

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