News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

House Calls Keep People Out Of Nursing Homes And Save Money
National Public Radio

When it comes to reining in medical costs, delivering more health care and bringing it right to the patient’s home can, for a select group of patients, save money.

These particular patients are elders struggling with multiple chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, stroke, diabetes or dementia. They make up just 5 percent of the people on Medicare, but they account for about half of all Medicare spending.

In a study conducted by MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., 722 such patients were provided with home-based health care delivered by a team: a physician, a nurse practitioner, licensed practical nurses and social workers. The visits were frequent, and there was someone on call for urgent situations 24/7.

News Headlines Article

Training Physicians for Empathy
HealthLeaders Media

The healthcare industry is rife with change, and how it trains new doctors is no exception. Healthcare organizations, already challenged to meet the demands of a growing patient population, are looking to develop fresh methods to teach young students how to care for segments of the patient population that may be neglected and underdeveloped.

News Headlines Article

The doctor is online (along with the nutritionist, the mental health counselor, etc.)
San Francisco Business Times

The $21 million Series A round of venture capital disclosed this week by Doctor On Demand is a dramatic example of the rising number of Internet companies providing on-demand care services ranging from routine video medical visits to nutrition coaching and even mental health advice. The ubiquity and power of smartphones in particular means that consumers can get easy access to doctors, registered dieticians and counselors at low fees, and that is driving a flurry of entrepreneurial activity and venture investment to transform models for delivering care that often have relied on in-person meetings.

News Headlines Article

Fewer Uninsured Face Fines as Health Law’s Exemptions Swell
The Wall Street Journal

Almost 90% of the nation’s 30 million uninsured won’t pay a penalty under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 because of a growing batch of exemptions to the health-coverage requirement.

The architects of the health law wanted most Americans to carry insurance or pay a penalty. But an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation said most of the uninsured will qualify for one or more exemptions.

News Headlines Article

Huge Increase in Cases Handled by Medi-Cal Complaint Office This Year
HealthyCal.org

The California office that handles complaints from people in the state’s low-income health program has seen its monthly caseload increase by 82 percent this year compared to 2013.

The Department of Health Care Services operates Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The department’s Managed Care Ombudsman Office responds to complaints from Medi-Cal enrollees. The office helps people access services that should be covered by their plan.

News Headlines Article

Hospitals’ EHR progress is tale of some progress, some inertia: study
Modern Healthcare

American hospitals fall into three groups in their adoption of electronic health records, according to a study in Health Affairs embargoed for a Thursday morning release. A small set of high achievers represents 5.8% of hospitals. These can meet the second-stage standards set forth by the federal government. A larger second group is in the middle, representing 53.1% of hospitals. These have adopted either a basic or comprehensive record. Last, a significant minority has neither a basic nor comprehensive record, making up the remaining 41.1%.

News Headlines Article

EHR Adoption Slow, Information Exchange Lagging
Health Leaders Media

Thousands of hospitals and physicians in small office practices will be left out of meaningful use incentive payments, and may eventually be financially penalized, unless they speed up adoption of electronic health records systems to satisfy meaningful use 2 requirements, analysis indicates.

The findings of two papers published Thursday in Health Affairs arebased on survey data showing how many providers have the essential system components required to obtain financial incentives and avoid penalties under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009.

The first report of hospital EHR prevalence from 2008 to 2013 as reported by the American Hospital Association Annual Survey—IT Supplement, found that while adoption has risen steeply to 59%, small and rural hospitals “lag behind their better resourced counterparts.”

News Headlines Article

Some new nurse grads struggle to find jobs
Southern California Public Radio

Five years ago Sandra Villarreal decided to pursue nursing as a second career after more than a decade in health administration. In June she graduated from Cal State LA with her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Villarreal has applied for at least a dozen nursing jobs but so far she’s had no luck.

“When I go out to open houses or job fairs I do my networking and meet other new grads and I find people that have actually been looking for a job for about a year now and so it’s a little discouraging,” she said.

News Headlines Article

Online medical records process ‘cumbersome’ in valley
The Desert Sun

When patients across the Coachella Valley wind up in emergency rooms, they undergo a battery of tests, screens and samples. Sometimes they are prescribed heavy medications with names they might not remember or recognize.

When they go to a primary care or specialist doctor later on — or even switch providers, doctors may have to call hospitals or request the medical records that are then faxed over. This can take hours or days.

News Headlines Article

An O.C. couple do the math: Same drug is far cheaper in Canada
Los Angeles Times

Bent and Henni Christensen consider themselves patriotic Americans and strong supporters of Medicare.

Nevertheless, the Huntington Beach couple buy most of their prescription drugs from an online Canadian pharmacy at prices much lower than in the United States.

Bent Christensen, 78, said he appreciates the savings and also the opportunity to save Medicare some money. “It’s not right,” he said, to stick the federal program with bloated drug costs.

News Headlines Article

CalPERS rolls out online comparison shopping tool for medical care
Sacramento Business Journal

What does a prescription cost at CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart? Need a lab test? Which laboratory is closest to home? Public-sector workers insured by Anthem Blue Cross through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System have a new tool to find out. An online health-care “shopping” platform developed by San Francisco-based Castlight Health launched this week. Members of PERS Select, PERS Choice and PERSCare plans can compare doctors, hospitals, medical tests and procedures on a variety of factors, including cost, quality, patient satisfaction and convenience.

News Headlines Article

Kaiser asks a federal mediator to help jumpstart contract talks with CNA
Sacramento Business Journal

Unable to agree on basic ground rules like location and who can be in the room, contract negotiations between Kaiser Permanente and the California Nurses Association have been cancelled three weeks in a row. Now Kaiser has asked a federal mediator to come in and help. A highly unusual move this early in the game, the request does bode well for progress when talks do start. Most often, federal mediators are called in when neither side will budge on an issue after months of negotiations.

News Headlines Article

Expanded IT deal raises questions about Health Net jobs in Rancho Cordova
Sacramento Business Journal

Health Net Inc. and Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. said Wednesday they plan to expand their existing IT contract — raising questions about how the deal will affect Health Net employment in Rancho Cordova. The Woodland Hills-based health insurer has a local workforce of about 2,300. About 800 work for Health Net’s federal services division and would not be affected by the deal, Health Net spokesman Brad Kieffer said. The impact of an expanded deal with Cognizant on the other 1,500 Health Net employees in Rancho Cordova is unclear.

News Headlines Article

Alta Bates Summit shows off new $350 million Merrit Pavilion acute-care tower
San Francisco Business Times

Chuck Prosper, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s CEO, is so proud of his new $350 million inpatient tower, which opened Sunday, that he straightened chairs and rearranged wastebaskets during a tour of the 250,000-square-foot facility like a housewife preparing for her mother in law’s first visit. And no wonder. The 11-story structure (not counting two floors under street level) at 350 Hawthorne Ave. in Oakland took a decade to pass through the planning stages and took nearly four years to build. The project broke ground in late October 2010.

News Headlines Article

Organ donations on the rise among Latinos at County-USC Medical Center
Los Angeles Times

Latinos who die at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center are donating organs for transplantation at increasing rates, according to a new study.

Minorities have long been less willing than whites to donate their organs, a disparity widely attributed to mistrust of the medical system.

But among Latino patients at County-USC who met the medical criteria for organ donation, the share who consented — either through their families or in advance through the state organ donation registry — climbed steadily from 56% in 2005 to 83% in 2011.

News Headlines Article

Ambulances No Longer Welcome at East Bay Hospital Emergency Room
NBC Bay Area

No ambulances allowed. Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo has closed its emergency room to the vehicles. Now, thousands of people who live in west Contra Costa County are worried about where they can get help when they need it the most – in an emergency. The hospital has been in financial trouble for a long time because of a spike in the number of low-income patients who relied on Medi-Cal or Medicare.

News Headlines Article

Keeping Palm Drive alive
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Not long ago, Palm Drive Hospital was a place where sick west county residents were cared for, their vital signs meticulously monitored by doctors, nurses and technicians. Now, it’s the hospital itself that’s on life support, and Daymon Doss is the guy in charge of making sure the shuttered hospital doesn’t flat-line.

Doss, with the help of the hospital’s maintenance director, Clark Austin, and two housekeepers, walks the quiet, well-lit halls of the defunct hospital ensuring that all systems are fully operational.

News Headlines Article

Ambulance transport stops in San Pablo
KTVU.com

Ambulances are no longer taking patients to the emergency room at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo. Ambulance transport stopped Thursday morning, earlier than hospital employees expected. “It’s like a ghost town in the ER and all over,” said Barbara Celestine. Celestine is a 34 year veteran outpatient surgery assistant at the beleaguered hospital, and she’s seen the writing on the wall for years.

Commands