Managed Care e-News
May. 19, 2015 contractor Optum declares its job done
The Wall Street Journal
The contractor tapped to rescue the flailing in the fall of 2013 declared its work finished and said it doesn't plan to continue overseeing the website that sells subsidized insurance to millions of Americans as part of the federal health law. "Having achieved the goal of making a stable and reliable platform for people seeking coverage, Optum will not rebid to continue the role of senior adviser," said Matt Stearns, a spokesman for the company, the technology unit of insurer UnitedHealth Group. "Our job has been completed."More

Healthcare too costly? Don't fear telling your doctor
Los Angeles Times
Despite high medical costs topping Americans' list of financial concerns, many of us have a hard time telling our doctors that the care they're prescribing may break the bank. As part of a recent awareness campaign called "I Wish My Doctor Knew," the online health social network Inspire asked patients and caregivers what medical concerns they wish doctors better understood. In more than 700 responses, about 20 percent dealt with insurance coverage, disability insurance coverage paperwork and out-of-pocket medical costs.More

Ex-inmates navigate access to healthcare as many remain in Medicaid limbo
The Guardian
Jails and prisons are enrolling people in the hope that access to care will cut recidivism and costs in the long run. Several studies argue that without healthcare, former prisoners, and especially those struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, are likely to break the law again. But enrollment by itself may not be enough because it's just the first step in a long, often difficult, process of delivering care. More

Healthcare executives to CMS: Stop micromanaging quality
MedPage Today
Medicare would work a lot better if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would stop micromanaging quality measurement, a healthcare executive said recently. "I would love for the administration to recognize that they need to stay 'high-level,'" Dr. Richard Gilfillan, president and CEO of Trinity Health, a Livonia, Michigan-based healthcare network serving patients in 21 states, said at a briefing on the future of Medicare sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform. "Thirty-two quality metrics for accountable care organizations to meet is too much — we should have five to seven patient-reported functional status outcomes."More

Why hospitals must educate nurses about healthcare costs
Hospital Impact
Every day hospitals waste money, and the nonpersonnel expenses for a medical-surgical nursing unit at a typical hospital in America are thousands of dollars over budget. The nurse manager might investigate and find that one reason for the rise in costs is poor handling and labeling of lab tests, leading to repeat testing that is usually not reimbursed. Another potential reason is that nurses are taking far more supplies than are needed to patient rooms, often forgetting to charge for these items. The supplies cannot be used for other patients once they are removed from the storage room, and the hospital loses reimbursement as charges are not reported.More

Current fee-for-service models in US healthcare may jeopardize prostate surgery patients
A "perverse disincentive" for hospitals that have invested in expensive technology for robotic surgery may be jeopardizing prostate cancer patients who seek out the procedure, concluded a new study led by Henry Ford Hospital researchers. The study, which compared complication rates in hospitals with low volumes of robot-assisted radical prostatectomies to institutions with high volumes of the procedure, suggested that current fee-for-service healthcare models might be to blame.More

Can FDA reclassify generic drugs?
The Wall Street Journal
To what extent should the Food and Drug Administration be allowed to reclassify a generic drug when the agency believes it is no longer equivalent to the brand-name version? The issue is being raised in an unusual lawsuit claiming the agency overstepped its bounds by deciding two generic drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder should no longer be substituted for the widely used Concerta treatment. The outcome of the case may have implications for generic drug makers and the FDA.More

FDA: ERCP endoscopes pose unique reprocessing challenges
Effective reprocessing of endoscopes that are used in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedures requires continued vigilance to prevent dangerous infections, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel that met recently. The Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee met to discuss the unique challenges associated with reprocessing ERCP endoscopes.More

Cystic fibrosis drug wins approval of FDA advisory panel
The New York Times
A federal advisory committee recently recommended approval of a drug from Vertex Pharmaceuticals that might eventually help nearly half of patients with cystic fibrosis. The advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted 12 to 1 that the drug, which Vertex plans to call Orkambi, was safe and effective enough to be approved. The F.D.A. is supposed to decide by July 5.More

Can we identify every kind of cell in the body?
MIT Technology Review
How many types of cells are there in the human body? Textbooks say a couple of hundred. But the true number is undoubtedly far larger. Piece by piece, a new, more detailed catalog of cell types is emerging from labs like that of Aviv Regev at the Broad Institute, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which are applying recent advances in single-cell genomics to study individual cells at a speed and scale previously unthinkable.More

Study validates effectiveness of genomic test for lung cancer detection
Medical Xpress
A new test co-developed by a Boston University School of Medicine researcher will allow patients suspected of having lung cancer to be subjected to fewer and less invasive tests to determine if they have the disease. "We are seeing an increase in the number of lesions suspicious for lung cancer found on chest imaging of current and former smokers. In the past, these patients have been subjected to invasive tests when traditional bronchoscopy tests prove inconclusive. Today's announcement provides physicians and patients with an additional piece of scientifically reliable information to consider when determining their next diagnostic step," said senior author Dr. Avi Spira, MSc, professor of medicine, pathology and bioinformatics at BUSM.More

How much money is spent on healthcare and disease eradication around
the world?

Healthcare Global
With our global population growing larger year after year, more treatments for illnesses and sickness are necessary, and it's not cheap. The infographic below explores the amount spent (and projected to be spent) on healthcare from five first-world nations and what exactly it's being spent on.More

From cancer to feet: The power of Twitter in healthcare
MedCity News
Why should Twitter care about healthcare, other than the obvious reason that it's a $3 trillion industry just in the United States? Because consumers care about the kind of influence, support and resources that social media can uncover, according to Craig Hashi, one of two Twitter engineers dedicated to healthcare.More

A new way to use old tools against ovarian cancer
The Wall Street Journal
Cancer researchers have developed a new treatment strategy that holds promise for significantly extending the lives of women diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, one of the toughest to treat and most lethal malignancies. The approach doesn't involve a hot new drug or technology. Instead, it's based on being smarter about using the longtime mainstay treatments for ovarian cancer: surgery and chemotherapy. More

'Vaccine on demand' approach to personal cancer treatment steps closer
Medical News Today
Researchers behind a new study say their findings bring us closer to realizing the promise of personalized immunotherapy — the ability to rapidly produce a vaccine that trains a patient's immune system to destroy tumors and leave healthy tissue intact.More

Mental health advocates push for cultural understanding
U.S. News & World Report
Studies have revealed that coverage for treatment of mental illness often does not match that provided for other medical conditions, causing advocates to pressure Capitol Hill to enforce laws and pass new ones to reduce disparities in care. But advocates recently took a different route: Targeting doctors, teachers, parents and others in the general public who know someone with a mental illness, with the release of a guidebook offering details on mental disorders and how to get help treating them.More

Study: Chronic depression may increase stroke risk
If your older loved one is among the millions of Americans who struggle with chronic depression, beware: They have an extremely high risk for stroke. And a new study from the American Heart Association says the risk seems to remain high even after the depression goes away. "This study tells us that if you have a high depression screening score, you have more than a two-fold increase in risk of stroke," said AHA spokesperson Dr. Philip Gorelick, medical director of Mercy Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "Furthermore, in the follow up period, if the depression symptoms resolve, you still have 66 percent risk of having a stroke."More