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The total number of licensed physicians has increased by 12 percent since 2010, with women and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) making up a greater share of the physician population, according to a report released by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).

Walla Walla General Hospital in Washington has been closed by owner Adventist Health, citing financial challenges and a failed plan to transfer ownership Providence Health & Services.

There appears to be a direct link between hospitals’ initiatives to improve blood use stewardship and a 20 percent decrease in blood utilization for 134 diagnoses which make up 80 percent of red blood cell usage.

Most healthcare organizations with revenue under $1 billion surveyed by the Ernst & Young LLP Advisory Health practice reported having no value-based reimbursement initiatives and placed a lower priority on bundled payments and alternative payment models than larger systems.

States would be able to waive requirements for insurers to cover the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s “essential health benefits” (EHBs) under Republican plans to replace the law. The benefits most likely to be waived, however, make up small shares of premiums compared to other costs, according to an analysis from Urban Institute fellows Linda Blumberg, PhD, and John Holahan, PhD.

 

Recent Headlines

Reducing Unnecessary Readmissions Requires Carrots, Not Just Sticks

Lowering unnecessary hospital readmission rates is an often cited solution to the problem of high U.S. health care costs. However, to effectively do so, the health care system needs to reward all stakeholders for collaborating, not just punish hospitals for unnecessary readmissions, a new report finds.

Wisconsin Hospitals Raise the Quality Bar—Across the Board

Reducing readmissions remains one of the most difficult challenges for hospitals everywhere. Members of the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), however, have been working together to reduce the incidence of hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge—and their performance runs far ahead of the national average.

Highmark May Gain Additional Leverage With Blues Merger

A merger agreement between Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) and Highmark Inc. could bring together two of Pennsylvania’s leading not-for-profit health insurance companies and become a factor in the long-running dispute between Highmark and UPMC, the region's largest health system.

BCBS of Michigan Adds Five Hospital Systems to New Reimbursement Model

Five hospital systems that together represent 24 Michigan hospitals have joined or expanded their participation in Detroit-based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s value-based hospital reimbursement model. Similar to the accountable care organization (ACO) idea of lowering costs while improving quality through better care coordination and a focus on outcomes, the new model requires the hospitals to “identify their provider partners in the community and work with them to develop and implement an infrastructure plan that includes an all-patient registry system that allows caregivers at the hospital and in the physician offices to measure an individual’s health performance against similar populations.”

Early Medicare ACO Results Mixed

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), one year into the Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiative, a little less than half (54) of the 114 participating organizations have achieved savings and of those, just 29 saved enough money to receive “shared savings” bonuses. In addition, an in-depth savings analysis for the 29 participating Pioneer ACOs showed that nine achieved significant savings while also scoring high quality metrics.

21 Hospitals Enter Phase 2 in Bundled Prospective Payment Bet

Among the 232 health care providers that have entered into agreements in the now 1-year-old Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative, 21 acute care hospitals have begun the second phase of the payment model that is the cleanest break with traditional fee-for-service.

Medicare Shared Savings ACOs: Crystal Run Shares Lessons Learned

Change isn’t easy, especially when it affects how much you are paid for services rendered. But the writing on the wall is clear: the fee-for-service model, especially for Medicare patients, is slowly but surely disappearing into the Affordable Care Act sunset. What’s a physician to do: work more and get paid less?

Supporting Value-based Care: UPMC’s Telehealth Strategy

Can a physician adequately serve multiple patients—in four or more different locations—in the same morning? Andrew R. Watson, MD, MLitt, FACS, knows the answer is yes because he has done it. Executive director of telemedicine for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and a practicing colorectal surgeon, Watson has found that his real world experience prepares him well for the naysayers—but patients are not among the skeptics.

Partner in Population-health Management: Walgreens, Anyone?

When Robert London, MD, received a phone call from an executive recruiter who suggested that he interview for a position at Walgreens, he was flabbergasted. “I wondered what I was going to do,” he recalls. “Would I stand at the door and greet people? Let them know about a new shade of nail polish?”

Peeling Off a Service Line How Hoag Reinvented Orthopedics

If Richard Afable, MD, MPH, president and CEO of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Newport Beach, California, told you he was closing down one of the largest orthopedics programs in California and entering into an orthopedics specialty hospital joint venture with his physicians, you might think about sending him job leads.

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