Vital Signs

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Unless they change, devicemakers may see shrinking profits

12:01 am, Oct. 20 |
A leading consulting firm is warning medical-device companies that they either embrace the changes taking place in the global healthcare system or they will face sharply declining operating margins in the years ahead.

The study, released Monday by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, estimates that the device industry faces a $34 billion decline in profits due to disruptive changes in healthcare.
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OSHA issues Ebola guidance but slow to implement rule

9 pm, Oct. 15 |
The federal body responsible for ensuring the safety of staff in U.S. workplaces has created a new Ebola Web page with information about protecting workers in industries at high risk of exposure, including healthcare. Advocacy groups, though, are calling on the agency to quickly move forward with an infectious-disease rule on the docket since 2010.

The new website announced Wednesday by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration provides information about protecting people who work for airlines, mortuaries, laboratories, customs, emergency response and other vulnerable fields.
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Surgical robot use criticized in new report

Using surgical robots for procedures on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or ovarian cysts does not produce better outcomes and also has higher costs, a study published this month argues.

Robotically assisted adnexal surgery—any surgery involving ovaries, fallopian tubes or ovarian cysts—had a small but statistically significantly increase in complication rates compared to laparoscopy, the common alternative to robotic surgery, according to the study, published in the October issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
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Prescription drug expenses seen steady for next decade

The United States spent $2.9 trillion on healthcare last year. Hospitals make up the single-largest share (31%) of the total, followed by doctors and clinics (20%) and prescription drugs (9%). Yet this picture is somewhat misleading.

About $109 billion in prescription drug spending last year was obscured within the $2.9 trillion total for U.S. health spending released by federal officials this fall, economists with the Altarum Institute said in a new report.
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Subsidy program for EHRs ineffective, draft report argues

The federal subsidy program encouraging hospital adoption of electronic health records has been ineffective, argues a draft paper posted on the National Bureau of Economic Research's website.

Absent subsidy funds, the level of adoption of somewhat advanced EHRs in 2011 would have been matched in 2013, according to the paper from the not-for-profit research organization. And, it elaborates, because the program gave out subsidy payments to early adopters that had already installed EHRs, it meant that $48 million in incentive dollars had to be given out for each new adoption.
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Gentiva chairman: There was 'no animosity' in Kindred deal

Six months ago from Thursday, Kindred Healthcare CEO Paul Diaz and Gentiva Health Services Chairman Rod Windley were eating salads in Windley's office in Atlanta. That was when Diaz first floated the idea of combining the two post-acute-care companies.

Several rejected offers, a shareholder protection plan and an unnamed buyer later, a deal is now done. Kindred said Thursday it will acquire Gentiva for $720 million in cash and stock and take on Gentiva's $1.1 billion of debt. Kindred, based in Louisville, Ky., is set to become a post-acute behemoth with roughly $7.1 billion in annual revenue.
Read more » will still have 'imperfections,' Burwell says

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell acknowledged on Wednesday that is still a work in progress, with little more than a month before the start of the next open-enrollment period through the state and federal exchanges.

“Will there be imperfections? Yes. Things will not be perfect,” Burwell said during an event at the Kaiser Family Foundation's Washington office.
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Accelerators investing too much looking for health-tech magic, report says

2:15 pm, Oct. 9 |
The number of so-called healthcare accelerators is growing, according to a report published by the California HealthCare Foundation, a not-for-profit that makes grants supporting research and innovation in healthcare. But the report also questioned whether there are too many accelerators throwing too much money at ideas that have little chance of coming to market.

The average investment for a healthcare accelerator—firms that provide funding, combined with mentorship and networking for new healthcare technology companies presumably speeding their development in the process—in a startup is roughly $10,000 to $25,000 for approximately a 2% to 6% equity stake in the fledgling company, the report outlined. But those terms may be changing.
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Exchange enrollees have high need for expensive drugs

6:45 pm, Oct. 8 |

Early analysis suggests many people who bought health plans on exchanges had multiple medical problems and frequently sought out costly drugs to combat those complex conditions. New data shows that they filled 59% more prescriptions for specialty drugs than other insured people.

The study, conducted by pharmacy-benefit manager Express Scripts, builds on an initial analysis it put out earlier this year. Express Scripts sifted through 80 million pharmacy claims between Jan. 1 and July 31 as a baseline for its study.
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Hospitals newer to 340B drug discounts found to serve less-needy patients

7:45 pm, Oct. 6 |
Tags: Tags: 340BRevenue

Hospitals that joined the federal 340B drug discount program after 2004 were more likely than other participants to serve wealthier communities with higher rates of health insurance, according to a new study. The finding conflicts with the program's purpose of helping healthcare providers better care for low-income or insured patients by receiving discounts on certain medications.

The 340B program allows certain healthcare providers, such as federally qualified health centers or disproportionate-share hospitals, to receive discounts up to 50% on some outpatient drugs as a way to help those providers stretch their resources and better serve the low-income or uninsured patients in their communities.
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