Archive for November, 2008

Healthcare, Hospitals of the Future: Reviewing Blueprints for Reform

November 25th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

This week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update focuses on far-reaching blueprints for reform — for the healthcare industry in general and hospitals in particular.

We’ve been following the generally positive reception of Senator Max Baucus’s healthcare reform proposal a little over a week ago. Its goal is to make affordable healthcare available to all adults and children, after which it becomes the individual’s responsibility to have coverage. The Senate Finance Committee chairman’s Call to Action envisions an industry with prevention “as a cornerstone of the healthcare system, rather than an afterthought,” which translates into an investment in primary care access and delivery. In his 98-page policy paper, which received a thumbs-up from the AMA, Sen. Baucus calls current payments for primary care “undervalued, particularly compared to procedures and services furnished by specialists.” He also devotes a fair amount of ink to the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model, calling for additional PCMH testing and implementation and extending its designation to community health centers and rural health clinics, who can fulfill this role for underserved populations. Where medical home construction costs prove prohibitive, “community health teams that include nurses, nutritionists, and social and mental health workers” are capable replacements, he suggests, pointing to the success of this approach in North Carolina, which saved $231 million in healthcare costs in 2005 and 2006.

We learned about North Carolina’s success earlier this year when we talked with a Community Care Plan of Eastern North Carolina case manager about their medical homes for patients with diabetes. Get details here.

Also this week, the Joint Commission issued its Healthcare at the Crossroads: Guiding Principles for the Development of the Hospital of the Future report. The five-pronged plan calls for improvements in five core areas: economic viability, health IT, patient-centered care, staffing and hospital design.

Heart Health

November 20th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in the United States. This week’s DM Update looks at an alarming trend in heart disease risk — and a prescription for improved quality of life for this population.

New uses 4 ur cell phone: DM and Medication Adherence

November 18th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

Phone calls, pictures, video, Web surfing, IM-ing…now add disease management to the list of cell phone capabilities. A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that text messaging could be used to reduce children’s chances of becoming overweight or obese later in life by helping them monitor and modify their own behaviors.

And the Pill Phone from Vocel enables wireless customers to personalize and schedule audio and visual alerts reminding them to take their prescribed medications at the right time, whether they are at home or traveling. The company says the Pill Phone is expected to help improve therapeutic results and medication adherence rates while helping to control healthcare costs.

Wielding the Web for Health and Disease Management

November 17th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

Just as President-elect Obama tapped the Internet to raise campaign funds and get out the vote, healthcare is wielding the Web for disease management, health and wellness coaching and information management. Last week we learned that Google Flu Trends, a new Web tool from, may be able to alert us to regional flu outbreaks a week to 10 days before the CDC. Also last week, during HIN’s Health and Wellness Coaching in 2009 conference, OptumHealth and Gordian Health Solutions looked ahead to Health Coaching 3.0 — a relationship-driven multi-platform world that delivers health behavior change strategies via PDAs, telephones and home monitoring services. Read more of their comments in the HIN blog.

What’s behind this trend? Maybe the discovery by an iCrossing survey that in 2007, the Internet became consumers’ premier source for healthcare information for the first time — outranking physicians, family, friends and co-workers and other sources. The survey results were shared by OptumHealth’s Jennifer Hidding.

Kind of gives new meaning to the term “consumer-driven,” doesn’t it? It’s a direction echoed in this week’s stories, where you’ll discover the industry leader in the adoption of EHRs and other health IT as well as the four PHR vendors available to Medicare beneficiaries for the management of their health information in 2009.

Cholesterol Concerns

November 13th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

According to the American Heart Association, the cholesterol levels of nearly 106.7 million Americans are considered to be borderline-high risk, while an additional 37.2 million have high-risk levels of cholesterol. This week’s Disease Management Update showcases a study involving high-cholesterol treatments and low-cholesterol patients, while another emphasizes the positive effects of combination therapy in high-risk patients.

Health Coaching 3.0: Coaching the Whole Self in a Multi-Platform World

November 12th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

As the moderator during today’s HIN sponsored-webinar Health and
Wellness Coaching in 2009
, I thought you’d appreciate some of the
insight from today’s presenters on trends and developments in the
health coaching field.

Roger Reed from Gordian Health Solutions likened the developments in
health coaching to the developments of the Internet from Web 1.0
through to Web 2.0 and now into Web 3.0. The cornerstones of Health
Coaching 3.0, which is starting to emerge in the industry, is
individual-centric and relationship driven utilizing a multi-platform
world, including PDAs, telephones and home monitoring services.

Jennifer Hidding with OptumHealth described how health coaches need to
address the “whole” self, while recognizing barriers and the
likelihood of lapses. She also described how to incent behavior at key
junctures, making it personal and aspirational, utilizing social
networking, plugins with Microsoft Outlook and other calendar

You can hear interviews with Hidding and Reed on these and other health and
wellness coaching trends.

Trends 2009: Healthcare No Longer Recession-Proof

November 10th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

It’s the dawn of a new administration…and with the campaign promise of the “Change We Need,” the healthcare industry will be a major focus for President-elect Obama.

When we gathered the day after the election for our fifth annual Healthcare Trends and Forecasts conference, Dr. David Chin of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute reflected upon the historical election results and the fact that for the first time, the healthcare industry is no longer recession-proof.

“The fact that President Obama has been elected does not change the federal deficit. Obviously, everyone’s focused on the economy as the number one issue, and there’s going to be a lot of deficit spending associated with bolstering the financial system, which does not leave a lot of dollars available for healthcare.

“…With Obama coming into office, his approach is clearly to adopt more of the Massachusetts model….The net effect has been a real reduction in the uninsured. Massachusetts’ uninsured has dropped from 10 percent to 5 percent with the advent of the Massachusetts Health Connector program, and the Obama plan has many similarities to that. But that does not mean there will be more monies, because …they’ll take money out of the disproportionate share payments…so there will be essentially a zero sum game in terms of net new reimbursement.”

Fewer available healthcare dollars and a dip in consumer discretionary healthcare spending will certainly fuel wellness and retail healthcare efforts, two other 2009 industry trends discussed at length by Dr. Chin and co-presenter Perry Hanson, partner with Wipfli, a national accounting and business consulting firm. In case you missed last week’s “look ahead at the industry,” you can still benefit from their insight via an on-demand re-broadcast, CD or DVD.

In addition, this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update has an audio interview with Dr. Chin.

Rates on the Rise for Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis

November 6th, 2008 by Melanie Matthews

Despite every effort by the healthcare community to prevent disease, some conditions have been on the rise in the past decade. This week’s DM Update highlights the rise in the chronic conditions of diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis and what this trend means nationwide.