Today's News and Commentary

About pharma

BREAKING NEWS: Johnson & Johnson is responsible for fueling Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, judge rules in landmark case:”A judge …found Johnson & Johnson responsible for fueling Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, ordering the health care company to pay $572 million to redress the devastation wrought by the epidemic on the state and its residents.”

Pharma's shift away from TV to digital is inevitable, report says: With requirements for price transparency and inability to reach only targeted audiences, this prediction seems inevitable.

Four Generic Drugmakers Settle Pay-for-Delay Lawsuit: “Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Upsher-Smith Laboratories, and Sun Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay a combined $1.2 million, while Wockhard agreed to pay the remaining $340 thousand…” to settle pay-for-delay allegations over the Alzheimer’s drug Namenda (memantine).

The $6 Million Drug Claim (NY Times, subscription may be needed): This article takes an in-depth look at the incredibly high price of treating rare diseases.

About healthcare quality and safety

Minnesota Blues strikes up outcomes-based cancer care arrangement (Modern Healthcare- subscription required): “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Minnesota Oncology have entered a five-year value-based arrangement to pay for cancer care based on patient outcomes rather than the number of services performed.” The British call pay-for-performance “pay by results.” This Minnesota example is an example of a shift from paying for process compliance to outcomes.

10 Lessons From Health Care on Quality Improvement: This article, by authors from the Institute for Health Improvement, is a really good summary of some important lessons about how to implement quality healthcare programs. It also has many international examples.

About healthcare IT

Industry Voices—Survey shows 83% of patients want virtual health, but there's a problem:
“…83% of those consumers [in the survey] said they are interested in receiving virtual care, yet only 17% reported they have access to it.” Are we hyping a product before we can deliver it or will the hype spur faster development?

VA's paper health records digitization backlog is 5 miles high, VA OIG says: “If every single one of the paper documents that still need to be digitized at Veterans Health Administration medical facilities were stacked, it would reach more than five miles up, a federal watchdog said.

In addition, VHA medical facilities currently have a backlog of nearly 600,000 electronic documents that still need to be entered into the electronic health record system of July 2018, with some documents dating back to October 2016, according to an audit conducted by the VA's Office of Inspector General.”

Abernethy: FDA working with ONC on universal unique device identifier linked to EHR patient data:”The Food and Drug Administration is in discussions with multiple stakeholders to create a universal unique medical device identifier to be stored in electronic health records and linked to patient outcomes to improve medical device surveillance, said FDA principal deputy commissioner Amy Abernethy, M.D.”

Massachusetts General Hospital privacy breach exposed 10,000 patients' records, genetic information: While the headline is self explanatory, two lessons come from this mishap. First, even prestigious institutions are not immune to this problem. Second, third party breaches are becoming more common. “More than half of hospitals (56%) have experienced one or more vendor-related data breaches in the past two years, at an average cost of $2.9 million…”

About health insurance

U.S. Medicare readies new plan-shopping website, but timing prompts concern: In anticipation of open enrollment for health plans this fall, CMS says it will release its Plan Finder software by September 2. The new version is supposed to correct such problems as incomplete or incorrect information and difficulty with navigation.

Here's a look at health systems' financial performance in 2019 so far: “The nation's largest health systems made nearly $1 billion in profit in the second quarter as inpatient admissions largely grew across some of the top health systems.” The article provides more detail by systems.

Immigrant sponsors' assets will factor into Medicaid eligibility (Modern Healthcare- subscription required): “The CMS on Friday told states on Friday they can count the assets and income of the sponsors of legal immigrants when they're determining whether the immigrants qualify for Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance coverage.”