Healthcare provider news articles you may have missed – February 2021

Healthcare provider news articles you may have missed – February 2021

All eyes are on the vaccine rollout, but despite a bumpy start, COVID-19 case numbers are dropping and the fall is not just a result of mass vaccinations. In a column published on the New England Journal of Medicine’s Journal Watch website, Brigham and Women’s Hospital infectious disease specialist, Dr. Paul Sax, says there are five factors that could be behind the weakening of the coronavirus pandemic across the nation, but it’s not clear which factor, or combination of them, is responsible.

Additionally, with equitable distribution at the forefront of the vaccine conversation, community health centers (CHCs) are gearing up for an expanded role in Massachusetts’s vaccination effort. CHCs often serve the most vulnerable populations and provide direct access to the neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. During a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Michael Curry, CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, said “Our health centers want to make sure that the patients that are closest to the disease are closest to the vaccine.” Manny Lopes, CEO of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and Greenough client, added, “When you open up the doors, you’ll see that first flood of people, the strong yesses. But you’ve got to stay focused on those that are on the ‘maybe’ list, and those that are saying the hard ‘no.’ ”

On the health policy side, Xavier Becerra’s pathway to becoming the next health and human services secretary appears smoother after this week’s confirmation hearing. During his first day of questioning, the California attorney general threw his support behind efforts to improve access to care, aligning himself with President Joe Biden’s healthcare agenda. He also embraced price transparency, which received widespread, bipartisan support from the Senate committee. Becerra said that HHS would aggressively enforce price transparency under his leadership, suggesting that Congress should give the agency more power to create and enforce transparency rules.

President Biden’s pick for CMS administrator, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, will also face senate confirmation. A health policy veteran, Brooks-LaSure worked at the agency in the Obama administration. According to Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson, “Chiquita has very broad experience at CMS and also has experience in the major governmental organizations where CMS collaborates. She is also an outstanding listener which combined with her experience will help her succeed.” It will be interesting to see how these two appointments impact the Affordable Care Act and the transition to value-based care as the year progresses.

Healthcare provider news articles you may have missed – February 2021

Recent healthcare articles you may have missed – Jan. 2021

 

The U.S. has surpassed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, nearly one year after the nation’s first confirmed case. This grim milestone comes as a highly transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus threatens to cause a new surge in infections. Simultaneously, new presidential administration looks to speed up vaccinations and restore trust in public health agencies. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, incoming director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that one of her top priorities is strengthening the nation’s public-health departments: “We need to build a sustainable public-health infrastructure across the country, because one of the reasons that we’re in this mess is because we didn’t have it.”

Even amid a new surge in COVID infections, healthcare executives are moving “with haste” to forge new strategic and financial partnerships. According to a new report by BDO and Kaufman Hall published in Healthcare Dive, 44% of hospital CFOs expect the pandemic to drive an increase in partnerships across the healthcare ecosystem and 42% predict further consolidation. Additionally, 77% of healthcare organizations are looking to invest in primary care, 63% in specialty services, 61% in post-acute residential care, 59% in home care, 56% in elder care, 54% in virtual care and 50% in behavioral health, BDO said.

Physician-owned ASCs face similar pressures to merge with larger organizations to survive, especially amid the pandemic, which has accelerated the shift from in-hospital surgery to the outpatient setting. In this Becker’s ASC Review piece,  Jim Freund of ASCs Inc. says that in addition to hospitals and healthcare systems expanding their freestanding surgical facilities footprint, “we have seen an influx of new investment coming from the private equity and investor markets, through their own firms or partnering with ASC industry organizations and individuals.”

Finally, as more seniors look to age in place, home health aide jobs will skyrocket, growing the most out of nearly 800 job titles, with an expected addition of 1.16 million positions. The Wall Street Journal details how other healthcare jobs are expected to fare over the next decade.

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Healthcare provider news articles you may have missed – February 2021

Healthcare provider stories you may have missed -10/15/20

Are hospitals and health systems ready for a second coronavirus surge? As cases climb, clinicians and government officials are shifting focus towards protecting vulnerable populations. The Boston Globe examined plans for safeguarding the elderly, essential workers, homeless people and inmates. They found high awareness of the challenges, but in some cases, efforts are lacking.

Additionally, a patchwork response and a government focus on nursing homes left many assisted living facilities in the lurch when it came to testing, PPE and other COVID-19 precautions. Elaine Ryan, vice president for state advocacy and strategy integration at AARP, says assisted living has “almost been third tier in terms of focus during this pandemic.” According to AARP Magazine, more than six months later, the federal government has finally recognized assisted living facilities as providers. Much-needed financial help may finally be on the way too.

Safety-net hospitals also face an uncertain fate as federal reimbursement rates change and metropolitan hospitals lose some their best-insured patients to facilities in affluent city neighborhoods. NPR explores how the pandemic only exacerbated these woes at a time when these hospitals’ role – caring for the poor and people of color – has become more important than ever.

Finally, a moratorium from the CDC spotlights a message experts have preached for years without prompting much policy action: Housing stability and health are intertwined. Kaiser Health News reports on social determinants of health and discovers why many families are still being ordered to leave their homes despite an eviction freeze.

Healthcare provider news articles you may have missed – February 2021

Healthcare Provider stories you may have missed – 09/10/20

Bringing the Hospital Home

Common in Australia, hospital at home enables some healthcare services to be provided to patients directly in their homes, freeing up hospital beds for more serious conditions and bringing down the overall cost of care. Seeing room to create the same result in the U.S. several hospital-at-home startups are now bringing this model to markets and patients across the country.

Read the full story at Fast Company

The Major Metric Missing from ‘Best Hospital’ Rankings

COVID-19 is shining a light on mental illness, chronic illness, and inequities. But when it comes to the various “Best Hospital” rankings, not even one considered the work hospitals do to mitigate disparities in care and outcomes.

But this could soon change as hospitals rethink and reinvent themselves in the wake of the pandemic and the social justice movement. When it comes to “measuring what matters,” providers, payers and the entire healthcare industry have a chance to develop new metrics that assess hospital contributions to community health and equity.

Dive deeper into the data with Fortune

A New Specialty Emerges

Many coronavirus patients struggle with symptoms such as muscle aches and memory loss months after contracting the virus. As this patient population grows, medical centers have begun setting up new specialty clinics. In its first three months, Mount Sinai Health System’s post-COVID-19 clinic is seeing exponential growth. The wait for treatment is now more than two months as these so-called “long haulers” continue to battle the virus.

 Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

Mixed Results for Nation’s Largest Nonprofit Health Systems

The second quarter captured the full weight of the pandemic’s drag on hospital operations. Many health systems experienced a drop in revenue as patient volumes decreased. At the same time, expenses are rising. With cold and flu season around the corner and the pandemic waging, it will be interesting to see how hospitals remain solvent and if consolidation across the industry will continue.

Read more in Healthcare Dive