Lawmakers, political organizations, and associations with healthcare connections celebrate the 49th anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed both into law in 1965, presenting the first two Medicare cards to former President Harry Truman, who had advocated for the program during his presidency, and former first lady Bess Truman. Johnson quoted Truman during that signing, reminding his audience that “Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection.” Truman’s words still ring true to some extent, and the two programs have changed significantly in size and scope. Medicare’s future looks a bit brighter than Medicaid’s at the moment thanks to a recent decision to extend it until 2030. Medicaid, on the other hand, remains a contentious issue, particularly in the 22 states that have thus far refused to expand it.
Announcements and Implementations
The Children’s Health Alliance implements the Wellcentive Advance population health management platform to give its 100-plus pediatricians a fuller picture of patient health. The platform will integrate data from EHRs, insurance claims, schools, and social agencies.
Catholic Health Initiatives St. Francis Health’s Orthopedic and Milnor clinics (MN) implement Allscripts Enterprise Ambulatory EHR as part of the organization’s multi-year OneCare program.
Capital Women’s Care (MD) signs a 10-year agreement with NextGen for continued use of its revenue cycle management services. CWC is one of the largest private OB/GYN practices in the mid-Atlantic region with 45 locations and 178 clinicians.
The Canandaigua VA (NY) plans to offer veterans greater access to care, and likely shorter wait times, via its RV Rural Mobile TeleHealth Care Unit. Launching in September, the unit will visit several towns on a weekly basis.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stocks
Sage Technologies partners with Medseek to offer care management solution Navigate. The cloud-based population health and behavioral change platform enables providers to identify low-risk, rising-risk, and high-risk patients via the integration and assessment of patient data from multiple financial and clinical systems.
Mobile health question-and-answer service HealthTap launches HealthTap Prime, a $99-a-month subscription service that will give users access to medical consultations with licensed physicians through the company’s mobile app and website. HealthTap Prime plans to differentiate itself from competitors like American Well and Doctor on Demand by providing ongoing support through customized checklists, personalized health news, and reminders and notifications.
The New Jersey Medicaid Accountable Care demonstration project attracts an unexpected eight applicants. Slated to start in late 2014, the project will include all Medicaid patients within a geographic area, all of the hospitals that serve people who live within the ACO’s ZIP codes, 75 percent of the primary-care providers, and at least four mental-health providers.
Behavioral health software developer Qualifacts Systems secures a majority investment from private equity firm Great Hill Partners. Qualifacts will use the capital to accelerate product development, expand sales and marketing efforts, and identify strategic partnership and acquisition opportunities.
Caspio Inc. releases Caspio HIPAA Enterprise, a HIPAA-compliant edition of its rapid application development platform. The new edition features data encryption in transit and at rest, audit logs and an audit trail, HIPAA-compliant infrastructure, and a business associate agreement.
3-D medical animation and illustration company Nucleus Medical Media joins Greenway Health’s online Marketplace of value-added partners.
Research and Innovation
23andMe, which now bills itself as “the largest DNA ancestry service in the world,” secures a $1.4 million two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The company will use the grant to develop Web-based surveys to explore new genetic associations, enhance its survey tools to collect a broader data-set, utilize whole-genome sequencing data, and provide external researchers with de-identified data from its existing genetic database. The announcement follows news earlier this week that 23andMe has published findings from a study on new genetic risks for Parkinson’s disease led by researchers at the National Institute on Aging.
UCLA researchers select TrueVault’s SaaS platform to store and secure protected health information for a behavioral software platform being developed by the UCLA Gambling Studies Program. The platform will use mobile and Web technologies to promote and improve mental healthcare for patients using a data-driven approach, and will initially focus on treating gambling addictions.
UNC-Chapel Hill researchers develop the FutureDocs Forecasting Tool to evaluate the supply of physicians in various specialties down to a local level. The tool, which allows changes in key variables such as Medicaid expansion, changes in physician retirement rates, or the shifts in the locations of residencies and fellowships, has thus far shown that the anticipated lack of physicians is more about how doctors are distributed and what specialties they choose rather than a straightforward shortage.
Government and Politics
Former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald is unanimously confirmed as VA secretary.
The Government Accountability Office issues a report pointing out what went wrong with the Healthcare.gov roll out. CMS takes the blame for:
- Not clearly defining goals and expectations for the contractors hired to build the site.
- Using potentially risky cost-reimbursement contracts.
- Allowing contractors to use an agile approach to developing the data hub and website.
- Compensating contractors in a high-risk manner.
It will be interesting to see how Andy Slavitt, new principal deputy administrator at CMS, and the as-yet-unnamed marketplace CEO and marketplace CTO address these mishandlings as they prepare for the next go round.
Hangover Heaven “celebrates” the treatment of 20,000 hangovers since its founding in 2012. The Las Vegas-based medical practice, which also offers room-service calls and a mobile clinic, anticipates opening its second location in the next few months.
The Global Partnership for Telehealth and the Jackson Healthcare Foundation travel to Honduras to implement telemedicine at three Predisan Good Samaritan Clinics. The pilot project was initiated to determine the effectiveness of the system in a remote, global setting, and the potential of its clinical applications. Twenty consultations have successfully been conducted to date.
The next time you find yourself frustrated by long security lines at the airport, consider submitting an idea to move things along to the Next Generation Queue Design and Model Ideation Challenge. The contest will award a total of $15,000 to be divvied up between two or three winners. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 15, 2014. If the contest website’s phrase “Active Solvers” is any indication, then close to 4,000 ideas have already been received.
Steve Tarnoff, MD is promoted to president and chief medical executive at Group Health Physicians (WA).
Ryan Dorr is promoted to CIO of PhyMed Healthcare Group.
Naomi Fried, PhD (Boston Children’s Hospital) and Alexis Gilroy, JD (Jones Day) join the American Telemedicine Association Board of Directors.
Susan Salka (AMN Healthcare Inc.) is named Director of the Year for Corporate Citizenship by the Corporate Director’s Forum.