Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – March 2021

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – March 2021

The Biden administration is making headlines with new appointments to key healthcare posts, while tech giants like Amazon and Google continue to make waves with novel offerings to support a new era of care delivery focused on telehealth services and improved data sharing.

Earlier this month the Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra’s nomination for U.S. secretary of health and human services, making him the first Latino person to hold the position. Only minutes after the confirmation, advocacy groups were reminding him of the need to bring the American healthcare system into the 21st century. In a statement, Connected Health Initiative executive director Morgan Reed said, “Secretary Becerra’s support for digital health tools and services’ increased use will be critical as we continue the fight against COVID-19 and to bring the best healthcare available to all Americans, particularly those in underserved communities.” Get the full story at Healthcare IT News.

Additionally, Amazon made a splash with plans to scale up telehealth services that will heat up market competition for virtual care giants like Teladoc Health. But traditional providers should also carefully watch Amazon’s moves into healthcare. In a report by Healthcare Innovation’s Heather Landi, she quotes Canaccord Genuity healthcare IT analyst Richard Close: “Amazon can offer things that other players can’t, and that is what makes it such a powerful company in the space. It can offer virtual healthcare visits, prescription medication delivery and also can deliver all the over-the-counter products and even durable medical equipment. In addition, they can offer on-demand, in-person visits with a provider.”

Lastly, Google published a blog post about using its technology to accelerate Covid-19 vaccination and improve data sharing in states across the country. STAT rightly points out that the company is far from alone as Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple published similar posts last week. “Just about every tech company under the sun has a legitimately positive story to tell. But taken together, they also tell you just how unprepared the U.S. health care system was to manage this rollout.”

Look out for the next Healthcare IT Newsletter in April!

 

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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 IT stories you may have missed – March 2021

Health IT stories you may have missed – February 2021

The U.S. healthcare landscape has evolved immensely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways the changes we’re seeing now have been in process for some time. Virtual care, patient data exchange and engagement strategies have been top of mind for industry professionals for years, but the pace of progress in the last year, particularly by nontraditional players, is noteworthy.  

From making telemedicine more consumer friendly to increasing access to care during the pandemic, retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens are further infiltrating the healthcare delivery system by ramping up their virtual care initiatives. A recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review details telehealth expansions introduced by these companies over the past year, and some may surprise you.

But retail companies aren’t the only ones making waves. Terry Myerson, best known for his work at Microsoft developing Xbox and Surface, is at the helm of a new healthcare company with an interesting value proposition. STAT reported that Truveta, which was formed by 14 U.S. health systems, intends to aggregate and sell de-identified data on millions of American patients to help answer some of medicine’s most pressing questions. Not surprisingly, Truveta’s launch is spurring important conversations about the way medical data is defined and put to use.

Lastly, while having an app to engage patients is widely considered table stakes today, some hospitals have been recognized for taking the concept a step further. Modern Healthcare details the journeys of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Health, and El Camino Health in developing and launching apps that engage their patients, particularly during a tumultuous time. As smartphones have become tightly intertwined into so many Americans’ lives, hospital executives have realized that to play a central role in their patients’ health, they need to meet them where they are—via their phone.

Look for our next Health IT newsletter in March!

Feel Good Stories You Might Have Missed – Feb. 2021

Feel Good Stories You Might Have Missed – Feb. 2021

The emergency approval of two coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. marks the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is working to get shots into the arms of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents and save lives in Massachusetts. EBNHC’s story is one of love for one’s community – CEO Manny Lopes worked at EBNHC as a college student and returned to lead the organization in time for the biggest public health crisis of the 21st century. “We’re going to have to redefine the new normal,” Lopes said to the Boston Business Journal, and EBNHC is looking forward to being a part of the solution.

While there is hope for a new normal, remote work appears to be here to stay for at least the next few months. It has had its skeptics, but, because of remote work, many businesses have discovered the importance of empathy, flexibility and strong company culture. Workhuman CEO Eric Mosley outlines different ways that workplaces have changed for the better in the past year in a conversation with Thrive Global. Human connection is something that many employees used to take for granted. Now, seeking it, employees are quicker to support a struggling colleague or offer congratulations for a job well done.

The past year has also been one of exploration. The WBUR podcast Anything for Selena seeks to understand the complex cultural legacy of Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Maria Garcia, who hosts the podcast, spoke to The New York Times about how Selena’s story mirrors her own and what she learned from this project. For Garcia, Selena represents finding clarity about her own identity: “There was this tension between these two parts of me, and to see somebody who embodied both of those parts fully in the States and in Mexico, who traversed the two countries without code switching, who was the same person on both sides of the border — I’d never seen anything like that.”

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Key lessons we learned from nonprofit partners in 2020

Key lessons we learned from nonprofit partners in 2020

It is no secret that 2020 had a profound impact on every aspect of life. Businesses were impacted in numerous ways from transitioning to a remote workforce overnight to facing supply chain issues. Nonprofit organizations faced many challenges, and yet they emerged from 2020 resilient.

Here are a few key takeaways we learned through our work with nonprofit organizations in 2020: 

  1. The need was great

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Massachusetts in February, many nonprofits faced unprecedented challenges. Human services organizations who hosted daily programs as part of their earned revenue were forced to bring them online via zoom. Homeless shelters and group homes were forced to depopulate and find alternative living accommodations. Food pantries saw an immediate increased need. Health care organizations needed funding for PPE and hazard pay. Public media saw its underwriting pipeline dry up overnight as small businesses slashed their marketing budgets. Immigrants rights organizations had to support a community with no other safety net. Museums were forced to close. School programs were brought online.

  1. Donors stepped up

Yet despite these challenges and the tireless work of nonprofit staff and volunteers, donors saw that need and stepped up. One nonprofit board came together to provide a significant bridge fund to carry the organization through the pandemic. Another organization created a unique fundraising campaign, raising $1.2 million, a number that exceeded its goal by 50%. Across organizations, when the ask was made, donors matched or exceeded goals.

  1. Virtual fundraisers were a success

Although a livestreamed gala or a virtual 5K pales in comparison to an in-person event, we found that nonprofits were successfully substituting their community events with virtual ones. As mentioned above, donors attended the events, paying full ticket price in some cases, bid on the silent auction items and exuded generosity with the fund-a-need appeals. Each organization had a different approach to their virtual fundraisers, but those whose events were authentic and true to the mission of the organization were the most memorable.

  1. There are needs beyond Covid-19

The urgent and increased needs brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic do not eliminate the needs the organizations were facing prior to the pandemic. Those needs remain ongoing and it’s important to remember that these organizations serve our communities in crucial ways, caring for our most vulnerable, screening for health conditions, supplying important information to the public, providing cultural and educational resources, among others. As we look ahead, we hope everyone remains committed to supporting nonprofit organizations with a renewed spirit beyond the pandemic.  

 

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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