Impact Insights

Week in Review 7/24/15

RETURN OF THE HOUSE CALL?… A great Associated Press article looks at Uber-like apps for healthcare (such as Pager, Heal, and Medicast) that patients can use to request a house visit from a physician. The service is not covered by insurance – and can get pricey.  With Pager, a patient pays $50 for the first visit from a participating doctor or nurse – but $200 for each subsequent visit.  Some physicians interviewed for the story expressed concerns that “on demand” physician services could disrupt the continuity of care – particularly for chronically ill patients.  However, the article suggests there are signs that makers of “on demand” healthcare apps are actually “converging with traditional medicine, not breaking away from it.”  For example, Providence Health & Services recently partnered with Medicast to roll out an “on demand” app for the health system’s Seattle patients.

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts: A fascinating article and a great example of how innovative healthcare organizations can leverage proven technologies (like Uber) from other industries that consumers already know and use.  In the near term, it will be interesting to see how many health systems consider rolling out similar “on demand” house call apps as a way of differentiating themselves in crowded markets.

ONC RELEASES A ROADMAP FOR A POSSIBLE “NATIONAL HEALTH IT SAFETY CENTER”… The roadmap, developed by RTI International, outlines the plan for a “National Health IT Safety Center” that would perform four types of activities: 1) collaborating on solutions; 2) improving the identification and sharing of health IT safety information; 3) reporting on evidence related to health IT safety; and 4) promoting health IT safety education and competency.  However, the Center would not directly collect data, engage in direct investigation or surveillance, or perform any functions of existing Federal entities. The estimated costs to fund an “optimal” version of the Center would be $18-$21 million over 5 years.  In a blog about the roadmap, ONC indicated it will “review the recommendations [in the report] to determine any next steps.”

Impact Advisors’ ThoughtsThe “National Health IT Safety Center” has generated a fair amount of press coverage, but it is important to remember that this “roadmap” is a report that was prepared for ONC by a third party; it is not a proposal from ONC.  In fact, it is not entirely clear to us when more information on next steps will be announced – or what the chances are that the Center will ever even become a reality.

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT’S “BEST HOSPITALS”… U.S. News & World Report published its annual list of “Best Hospitals” in the country Scores used to rank hospitals in 2015-16 consisted of four components: reputation with specialists (27.5%); survival rates (32.5%); patient safety (10%); and “other care related indicators” such are nurse staffing and use of technology (30%).  This year, there were 15 hospitals that made the “Honor Roll” (i.e. hospitals that ranked in the top 20 nationally in at least 6 different specialties).  The top 5 in 2015-16 were: 1. Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston); 2. Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN); 3(T). Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore); 3(T). UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles); and 5. Cleveland Clinic.

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts: Earning a spot on the U.S. News & World Report “Honor Roll” (or even scoring highly in the regional rankings) is a prestigious accomplishment for any delivery organization – so congrats to all who were recognized!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT… According to Modern Healthcare, there are signs that hospitals and health systems are increasing their focus – and spending – on new construction.  Per the article: “Most of the focus has been on outpatient services as healthcare increasingly shifts to lower-cost-care settings. Health systems and hospital chains also are opening freestanding emergency departments to bring in additional volume. But even on the inpatient side, there’s a greater emphasis on service line planning as hospitals seek to become more competitive in high-margin specialties.”

IN CASE YOU (ALSO) MISSED IT… Becker’s Hospital Review published a great list of “60 statistics and thoughts on healthcare, hospital, and physician practice M&A.”