Chicago will be the center of the TV hospital world this fall, with not one but two new series based there, on different networks but in the same Thursday night time slot.
"Chicago Hope," to premiere on CBS in September, is set in the fictitious Chicago Columbia Hospital. Meanwhile, NBC's "E.R." will center around a group of young residents working in the "chaotic emergency room of a mammoth Chicago general hospital," network officials said. The network hired best-sellingauthor Michael Crichton-a Harvard Medical School graduate who wrote "Jurassic Park"-to be writer and executive producer.
"Chicago Hope" sounds similar to St. Elsewhere, an NBC drama that ran in the late 1980s and ran into legal troubles with Humana, whose hospitals now are owned by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. The hospital giant has six hospitals in Chicago, but none of them is named Chicago Columbia. Officials of Louisville, Ky.-based Columbia/HCA were unaware of the new series. In fact, they were wondering what information was available to Outliers on it.
The award-winning St. Elsewhere didn't do much for Humana's image. In the drama, the series' hospital, St. Eligius Hospital of Boston was saved from financial turmoil by Ecumena. However, Ecumena's business-like strategy was likened to the medical equivalent of voice-mail.
Louisville, Ky.-based Humana sued NBC claiming trademark infringement, saying that "St. Elsewhere" could "damage the public image and goodwill which Humana has developed."
We're not saying that's going to happen on "Chicago Hope." Still, we'll stay tuned.
Healthcare detente.The American Medical Centers-the only U.S.-run healthcare clinic in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia-further established its presence in the former Soviet republic this month after it signed an affiliation agreement with the largest insurance company in Russia.
The two-year deal with the Russian insurer Ingosstrakh Insurance Co. calls for American Medical Centers to become the exclusive healthcare provider for as many as 10,000 of Ingosstrakh's enrollees by the end of 1994. Terms of the deal weren't released.
In the past, AMC's walk-in clinics provided comprehensive healthcare services for Americans and wealthy Russian citizens who could afford to pay fee-for-service rates. AMC is a for-profit entity owned by Hospital Corporation International of Stamford, Conn., which established the clinic as a joint venture in 1991. The company also operates similar clinics in Latin America and the Middle East.
"The agreement will provide Western-type healthcare insurance for the first time in the history of Russia," said Susan Hecker, AMC's director of operations and vice president of its Moscow clinic. "It will also broaden the availability and use of Western medical facilities for both Russians and Westerners living (in Russia)."
Computing returns.Medicaid rebates are proving a windfall for states. They've garnered about $2.3 billion so far from the 1990 law requiring drug companies to pay back a portion of what state Medicaid programs spend on drugs. Trouble is, states think they've got about $1 billion still coming, and drug companies disagree.
Now comes IMS America with a tool to help states and drug companies sort out their disputes. The Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based market researcher says its MediVal data bases show what drugs Medicaid is paying for in about two-thirds of U.S. pharmacies and it can project purchases at the remaining pharmacies. It'll match that against the states' data bases and point out discrepancies. "We're positioning ourselves as an objective third party," said Kent Hiser, marketing director for the MediVal system. Manufacturers, however, will pay for the service. So far, IMS has persuaded 11 states, representing about half of Medicaid spending, to forward their data. It's negotiating with four more.
Mountain home.Boulder, Colo. will be home to the new corporate headquarters of Coram Healthcare Corp., Chairman and CEO James Sweeney told Outliers.
"However, we will continue to have a presence in Ontario, Calif., (home of Curaflex Health Services) and Atlanta (T2 Medical's headquarters)," Mr. Sweeney added.
His confirmation puts to rest speculation over whether the new home infusion company would choose one of four potential merger sites-T2's Alpharetta, Ga., location; Curaflex Health Services' Ontario, Calif. headquarters; HealthInfusion's Miami corporate offices or Medisys' Minneapolis base.
Decisions on the fate of HealthInfusion and Medisys's corporate offices weren't decided, he said. However, the company does plan to consolidate corporate overhead services upon completion of the deal.
Coram, created in February through a four-way, $550 million merger of home infusion firms T2 Medical, Curaflex, HealthInfusion and Medisys, still awaits Securities and Exchange Commission clearance and shareholder approval before it can begin establishing operations in Boulder.
Waste woes.Imagine if your hospital were forced to operate its own landfill to get rid of medical waste. Beginning this week, New York State's major academic medical centers face a similarly repugnant problem. A South Carolina-based storage site for low-level radioactive waste generated by New York's healthcare facilities stopped accepting out-of-state shipments. A 1980 federal law makes states responsible for their own radioactive waste, but New York has failed to create its storage site.
That means imaging agents and radioactive tracers will have to be stored on site. Animal carcasses injected with such substances in research labs will be kept in freezers. And those hospitals and labs that don't have storage facilities will have to build them, at a cost of thousands of dollars.
To help minimize the problem, many generators are pushing waste-reduction efforts. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, one of the state's largest healthcare generators, producing 2,800 cubic feet of the stuff in a year, plans to cut back on the use of radioactive isotopes in research by a more a third.
Such restraints will place New York's premier research and teaching institutions at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting for research positions, said Elizabeth Sommers Strevey, a senior vice president at the Greater New York Hospital Association.