Today's News and Commentary

About healthcare IT

FTC letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology [ONC]: As previously reported, the ONC seeks to implement anti-data blocking and other guidelines which IT users say are too vague and require more time to implement. Now, the FTC has weighed in with comments to advise the ONC on how the provisions can be implemented “to help ensure that the final rule does not inadvertently distort competition or inhibit conduct that is affirmatively procompetitive and consumer friendly.”

Read the 2 page letter

About healthcare technology

BRAINBox Solutions™ Receives Breakthrough Device Designation from FDA for First-of-Kind Device to Aid in Concussion Diagnosis and Prognosis: Concussions are difficult to diagnose and a prognosis is difficult to make. This product is composed of a quantitative interpretation of test results derived from a panel of in-vitro diagnostic serum measurements in conjunction with computerized neurological assessments. It can be done in the ER.

Read the announcement

About the public’s health

MOH [Ministry of Health] to ban key source of artificial trans fats in food like cookies and pizzas from June 2021: Is there a lesson for our public health? “Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of artificial trans fats, will be banned as an ingredient in all foods sold in Singapore from June 2021.”

Read the story

Employee wellness programs do pay off, the research is wrong: Whether and what kind of employee wellness programs are beneficial is controversial. This evaluation is based on WebMD's scoring system. Here is the bottom line: “Based on survey results from over 110,000 participants, we found two-thirds of workers who received coaching on their overall health, and half of participants who received coaching for chronic conditions, lowered their health risk scores….A year of lifestyle health coaching drove down the average employee's medical expenses by nearly $200. For employees managing chronic conditions, the savings were even greater. A year of coaching yielded over $1,100 in savings per employee.”

Read the story and make up your own mind

About hospitals

11 hospitals closed so far this year — here's why: While many of the explanations cite vague financial excuses, some specifically say declining patient volumes and lowered reimbursement rates are to blame.

Read the brief stories of each closure

About health insurance

Will health care’s immediate future look a lot like the recent past? More public-sector funding, but more private-sector delivery and administration, too: This American Enterprise Institute article is by Wharton Professor Mark Pauly, one of the country’s leading health economists. In analyzing current insurance trends, he concludes:

  • Government spending on health care and health insurance as a share of total health spending will likely continue to grow.

  • Recent legislation and policy changes have made total health spending more “market-like,” as federal and state health programs rely increasingly on private-sector administration.

  • Shifting the share of any increased total public subsidies (explicit and implicit) to become more market-like can potentially provide some operational efficiencies and make balancing political demand and private supply more feasible.

Read the article