Visit our website ⇒

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Making MRI easier for kids
St. Luke’s recently acquired new equipment to make MRI easier for children. The hospital obtained an anesthesia machine with funding from UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Children’s Miracle Network last June that can be used in the same room with diagnostic equipment with a strong magnetic field. The machine allows anesthesia to be administered to a child to put him or her to sleep. The machine also allows hospital staff to properly ventilate the patient and monitor his or her heart rate during a scan that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. (Sioux City Journal)

Grassley tours busy Genesis ER
As part of his annual 99-county tour of Iowa, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley stopped at a Davenport hospital’s emergency department Thursday and questioned nurses about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. The longtime Republican member of Congress made a visit to Genesis Medical Center-East Rusholme Street, where he checked out the ER with two trauma physicians, spoke to the nurses, got a quick overview of the $138 million construction project underway on the Genesis campus and hosted a question-and-answer session with hospital employees. (Quad City Times)

University of Iowa launches state’s first virtual health clinic
As a pediatric kidney specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Patrick Brophy has seen a lot of patients from around the state who wish they didn’t have to travel so far for care. But Brophy believes they won’t always have to. UI Health Care moved one step closer Thursday to providing comprehensive virtual health care by launching the state’s first Internet-based clinic for minor illnesses and injuries. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Cancer is getting more expensive, forcing doctors to take notice
The rising cost of care is a source of growing alarm — and not just for patients. It will be a subject of debate at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago this weekend, where doctors are examining new ways to package cancer treatment to make it more affordable. Cancer care has long been costly. There are signs it’s getting even more expensive for consumers, who are now required to shoulder a greater portion of medical bills in the form of insurance copays. (Bloomberg)

FBI investigating medical device suspected of spreading cancer
The question being asked: whether medical device makers, doctors and hospitals broke the law by failing to report problems linked to the device. The device, used in gynecological procedures, has been linked to several deaths and a number of injuries. The FDA has allowed it to stay on the market, but says it shouldn’t be used on most women. (CBS Philadelphia)

CDC investigates live anthrax shipments
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still trying to figure out how the military managed to ship anthrax spores that were apparently live from one of its facilities to more than a dozen labs across the United States. “We have a team at the [military] lab to determine what may have led to this incident,” says CDC spokesman Jason McDonald. In addition, he says, the agency is working with health officials in nine states to make sure the potentially live samples are safely disposed of and the labs affected are decontaminated. (NPR)

Leave a Comment

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Iowa boat mishaps spiking upward after a 4-year decline
It happens every summer. A good time on a boat, suddenly turned deadly, as was the case twice over Memorial Day weekend. So far this year, there have been three fatalities in seven reported boating accidents — with the heavy boating season just getting underway. Boating safety experts hope those accidents don’t signal the continuation of a pattern that began appearing on Iowa waterways last year. (Des Moines Register)

St. Luke’s perinatal conference
Nurses, physicians, and health care providers gathered at the St. Luke’s Institute for Health Education Auditorium for the 41st annual Perinatal Conference. The conference mainly focused on prenatal topics, neonatal issues, and pregnancy complication in diabetic women. Attendees also had the opportunity to browse through numerous exhibits. (Siouxland News)

Student stuns teachers, doctors with graduation walk
A Lincoln High School teenager was told he would never be able to walk across the stage at graduation, but he proved everyone wrong. Despite being born prematurely and with cerebral palsy, Daniel Shamblen, 18, never stopped working hard in school. In front of a standing ovation, Daniel walked across the stage at graduation. (KCCI)

National News

Administration asks judge to toss house health care suit
Obama administration attorneys urged a skeptical federal judge on Thursday to throw out a lawsuit by House Republicans over the president’s health care law. At issue are payments to insurance companies not expressly appropriated by Congress but being made by the administration, anyway. The House argues this constitutes an unconstitutional appropriation of Congress’ power of the purse. (Associated Press)

New push ties cost of drugs to how well they work
Express Scripts Holding Co., a large manager of prescription-drug benefits for U.S. employers and insurers, is seeking deals with pharmaceutical companies that would set pricing for some cancer drugs based on how well they work. The effort is part of a growing push for so-called pay-for-performance deals amid complaints about the rising price of medications, some of which cost more than $100,000 per patient a year. (Wall Street Journal)

New rule ignites fight over insurer profits
A sweeping new Obama administration regulation is reigniting the debate over the profits of health insurance companies. The rule, released late Tuesday, states that insurance companies that manage Medicaid plans have to spend at least 85 percent of their revenues on medical care, as opposed to profit or administrative expenses. Similar limits, known as a medical loss ratio, were imposed on commercial insurance plans during the implementation of ObamaCare. (The Hill)

 

Leave a Comment

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Iowa legislative negotiators hope for breakthrough on budget deal
House and Senate negotiators said Tuesday they were optimistic this 20th week of the 2015 legislative session would net a budget deal that will hasten the end of their overtime work. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get together today and things will start to break,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, told reporters after a skeleton crew of senators convened for four minutes Tuesday — the session’s 135th day — to send a budget piece to conference committee and gavel out until Wednesday. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Coventry wants to raise health insurance rates 18 percent
Iowans buying Obamacare-subsidized health insurance could be in for a big price increase next year. The main insurance carrier selling such plans to Iowans wants to raise rates to most of its customers by at least 18 percent. Coventry Health Care has notified the Iowa Insurance Division of its proposed 2016 rate increases, which would affect about 47,000 Iowans. (Des Moines Register)

UI employees aim to get more ‘SHUTi’
Being sleepy at work — something millions of Americans experience regularly — can be challenging, annoying, or even dangerous. And according to experts at the University of Iowa, America’s 24-hour culture has made the affliction rampant and fueled a slew of sleep-related conditions among today’s workers — from simple sleep inefficiency to full-blown disorders. In response, the UI Employee Assistance Program has started offering guidance for workers wanting to improve their sleep hygiene and habits through a computer-based program called SHUTi. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Tech rivalries impede digital medical record sharing
Since President Obama took office, the federal government has poured more than $29 billion into health information technology and told doctors and hospitals to use electronic medical records or face financial penalties. But some tech companies, hospitals and laboratories are intentionally blocking the electronic exchange of health information because they fear that they will lose business if they share information on patients with competing providers, administration officials said. In addition, officials said, some sellers of health information technology try to “lock in” customers by making it difficult for them to switch to competing vendors. (New York Times)

Hospitals find new ways to monitor patients 24/7
Hospitals are trying new early-warning systems to monitor patients for subtle but dangerous signs of a worsening condition. After surgery or during hospitalization for illness, patients are at risk for complications that can quickly turn fatal, such as a depressed breathing rate that can lead to cardiac arrest caused by over-sedation or an adverse reaction to narcotic pain medications. Patients can show signs of deterioration—known in medical terms as “decompensation”—as many as six to eight hours ahead of a cardiac or respiratory arrest, studies show. (Wall Street Journal)

 

Leave a Comment

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

GAO appoints Fort Dodge hospital CEO to MedPAC
Sue Thompson, chief executive officer of UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge, has been appointed to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, usually referred to as MedPAC. Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, announced Thompson’s selection Thursday along with the reappointment of five current members of the commission and the designation of Dr. Francis “Jay” Crosson, of Palo Alto, California, as chairman. (Fort Dodge Messenger)

Contact Obama administration to stop plan to privatize Medicaid
Spending on Medicaid in Iowa has been held down by reducing fraud, paying lower reimbursements to providers and giving seniors alternatives to expensive nursing homes. On average, the annual cost to insure an Iowan with Medicaid is significantly less than insuring an individual with private coverage. Yet Gov. Terry Branstad is seeking to hand over administration of the huge health insurance program to for-profit managed care companies. With $4.2 billion on the line, businesses are salivating at the idea of landing one of these contracts with the state. (Des Moines Register)

Budget cuts threaten inmate mental care
A new report from Human Rights Watch underscores what corrections officials and mental health experts have long recognized: Our jails and prisons have morphed into mental health wards, minus the care and treatment that typically defines such facilities. Beyond that, however, the report catalogs the physical abuse inmates are subjected to because of the behavior caused by their illnesses. They are pepper-sprayed, Tasered, strapped for hours to beds or to chairs, and subjected to solitary confinement and other punishment that only serves to aggravate their symptoms. (Des Moines Register)

Is your insurance data safe from hackers?
For hackers, the insurance industry is a virtual treasure trove of data. It’s one-stop shopping for data thieves, with a smorgasbord of consumer information — medical, financial and personal — all in one place. In recent months a handful of insurance companies have announced security breaches, including Anthem, Premera and CareFirst, that resulted in more than 90 million customer records exposed. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Obamacare’s big gamble on hospital productivity
Can hospitals provide better care for less money? The assumption that they can is baked into the Affordable Care Act. Historically, hospital productivity has grown much more slowly than the overall economy, if at all. That’s true of health care in general. Productivity — in this case the provision of care per dollar and the improvements in health to which it leads — has never grown as quickly as would be required for hospitals to keep pace with scheduled cuts to reimbursements from Medicare. (New York Times)

States quietly consider Obamacare exchange mergers
A number of states are quietly considering merging their healthcare exchanges under ObamaCare amid big questions about their cost and viability. Many of the 13 state-run ObamaCare exchanges are worried about how they’ll survive once federal dollars supporting them run dry next year. Others are contemplating creating multi-state exchanges as a contingency plan for a looming Supreme Court ruling expected next month that could prevent people from getting subsidies to buy ObamaCare on the federal exchange. The idea is still only in the infancy stage. (The Hill)

Addiction treatment hard to find, even as overdose deaths soar
With nearly 44,000 deaths a year, more Americans today die from drug overdoses than from car accidents or any other type of injury. Many of these deaths could be prevented if patients had better access to substance abuse therapy, experts say. Yet people battling addiction say that treatment often is unavailable or unaffordable. Only 11 percent of the 22.7 million Americans who needed drug or alcohol treatment in 2013 actually got it. (USA Today)

LinkedIn-esque app for doctors helped save lives after Nepal earthquake
Imagine a doctor having access to an extensive and refined network of medical professionals at his or her fingertips. They can access this network to recommend the best specialist or super-specialist in the city for their ailing patients in a few minutes. Imagine if this network was pan-India or even global. This is what this Gurgaon-based startup called Curofy aims to achieve -– create a LinkedIn-like app for doctors. (Mashable)

What was it like to be sick in Washington back in the day?
The very first thing most of us see is the inside of a hospital. It’s often the very last thing we see, too. Maybe that’s why a lot of us are fascinated by hospitals, even if between those two pivotal moments we try our best to avoid them. Washington’s rich hospital history is recounted in a new book published by the District of Columbia Hospital Association. It’s called “Heritage: Honoring Our Hospitals’ Early Years in the Nation’s Capital.” (Washington Post)

Leave a Comment

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

EMS week honors lifesaving work of first responders
Bret Carlson’s interest in becoming a paramedic began when he saw the difference paramedics made in saving his father’s life after a heart attack. Carlson is now one of the 25 paramedics that serve the Ames area through Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Mobile Intensive Care Services. May 17 to 23 is National Emergency Medical Service Week, honoring the people who provide lifesaving medical care out in the field.Carlson was in seventh grade when he saw his father have a heart attack right in front of him. (Ames Tribune)

Anamosa hospital’s therapy facility nears completion
The new physical therapy and rehabilitation room at Jones Regional Medical Center are nearly complete, and they are expected to open for patient care at the beginning of June. Rehabilitation therapy director John Wager said the new facilities will include larger, more private patient rooms, more office space with windows, added bariatric beds for obese patients and a larger gym space for therapy. (Anamosa Journal-Eureka)

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s appoints new CEO
Lynn Wold has been appointed president and CEO of UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s effective June 1. Wold replaces current president and CEO Peter Thoreen who has led St. Luke’s for the past 12 years and will be retiring at the end of 2015. “St. Luke’s Board is impressed with Lynn’s leadership abilities and his vision for St. Luke’s going forward,” said Skip Perley, chairman of the board of directors. (Sioux City Journal)

Finley to open walk-in clinic in Peosta; October opening possible
UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital will open a new walk-in clinic and pharmacy in Peosta. The 7,500-square-foot facility will employ seven to 10 people, including physicians. A groundbreaking ceremony for the $1.9 million clinic is set for June 2 and the facility could open in October. Finley CEO David Brandon said hospital officials began evaluating Dubuque County communities last summer. He said they hoped to identify populated areas that were medically underserved. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Petitioners object to MHI closures in Clarinda, Mt Pleasant
Opponents of Governor Branstad’s push to close the two state-run Mental Health Institutes in southern Iowa delivered 2500 petitions signatures to the governor’s office this morning. Matt Sinovic is executive director of Progress Iowa, the group that organized the online petition drive. “This happened over the last week or so, so it’s been a very quick turn-around for these signers and we expect more to sign,” Sinovic told reporters. (Radio Iowa)

Fireworks legislation moves forward to the Senate
A bill legalizing fireworks in the state of Iowa faces an uncertain future and an ambiguous deadline in the Senate. The Iowa House passed a bill Wednesday that would authorize the sale, purchase and use of bottle rockets, Roman Candles and other fireworks. It also would allow cities to pass local ordinances banning or restricting them. The Senate has passed similar legislation out of a committee, but it has not been brought up on the floor for a vote. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Experts mixed on impact of hospital mergers
Mergers or partnerships between large hospitals grew for the third consecutive year in 2014 as medical institutions seek various and creative ways to overcome tighter finances and changes in laws governing health care and reimbursement. There were 95 across the nation, a 44 percent increase compared to 2010, according to an analysis by Illinois-based Kaufman, Hall & Associates LLC. The accelerated consolidations are spurred by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as hospital officials look for ways to combat funding changes created by the legislation and cuts to the Medicare program. (Shreveport Times)

Survey finds 3 out of 4 satisfied with their Obamacare plans
The vast majority of people who bought health insurance through ObamaCare exchanges are satisfied with their plans, according to a new national survey. People overwhelmingly said they felt positively about their choices of doctors and hospitals and their copays for appointments and prescriptions, delivering good news for the Obama administration one year into the law’s rollout. More surprisingly, that satisfaction also extended to people’s monthly premiums and annual deductibles, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (The Hill)

Health insurers seek hefty rate boosts
Major insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law, setting the stage for an intense debate this summer over the law’s impact. In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6 percent in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3 percent increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4 percent across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25 percent. All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act. (Wall Street Journal)

House committee approves 21st Century Cures Act
A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill to speed new drugs to the market, overcoming last-minute wrangling over how to pay for the legislation. The bill, known as the 21st Century Cures Act, requires the Food and Drug Administration to incorporate patient experience into its decision-making, streamline its review of drugs for additional uses, and consider more flexible forms of clinical trials. (Reuters)

Many PA hospitals aren’t getting paid for care they provide, report finds
The federal Affordable Care Act enabled millions of previously uninsured Americans to get health coverage, but a new report says Pennsylvania hospitals still provide lots of care they aren’t getting paid for. In Western Pennsylvania, that means many hospitals are operating in the red. “The continued growth of uncompensated care remains a major concern for Pennsylvania hospitals,” said Joe Martin, executive director of the independent Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council in today’s report release. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Leave a Comment