QWay Health brings you the weekly update of healthcare news in the USA. Read through this carefully articulated news bulletin to catch up on the latest events of the medical industry.

HEALTH

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new set of guidelines for the control of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
  • According to the reports of the American Hospital Association, the new guidelines will focus particularly on protecting the spread in healthcare personnel.
  • The guidelines will also clarify doubts on the latest mandates of mask-wearing, screening tests, quarantine rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and other nursing home norms.
  • The CDC will be hosting the webinar on September 17, 2021, where the healthcare leaders can participate through registration.
  • With the growing curve of the virus spread since the last three months, America saw an overall decrease of case volume for the first time earlier this week.
  • The “Path out of the Pandemic” plan introduced by the White House has now made vaccination mandatory for all federal employees.
  • The plan, devised to tackle the rising cases of Covid-19 in the USA, has a six-pronged approach, this move being one of the latest mandates.
  • Earlier in July, the White House rule required the unvaccinated federal workers to get tested for the Covid-19 virus weekly.
  • The new mandate has overruled the ‘optional’ aspect of the vaccination policy and seeks to get all federal workers vaccinated within 75 days.
  • The rule comes at a time when over 50% of the American population has been fully vaccinated amongst the high prevalence of hospitalization.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Houston Methodist has partnered with Amazon Web Services to introduce voice assistants that will help in surgeries and other examination procedures.
  • The voice assistant can use the voice of medical personnel to check through the steps in case of an operation.
  • Once the step is done, the operator can check it off, and the assistant will automatically update the procedure on the EHR.
  • The assistant also has features to tap into the audio of the operating room with the patient’s consent to suggest treatment plans to the physician and also update the EHR as required.
  • “My digital voice assistant is listening, partnering with me in the room, managing the care of that patient,” said Dr. Desai, chief medical information officer at Houston Methodist.
  • Orthopedic surgeons at Wexner Medical Center, the practicing unit of Ohio State University, successfully performed a complex spine surgery.
  • The complex procedure of the spine, led by Dr. Safdar Khan, was the first of its kind in the state of Ohio.
  • Earlier augmented reality-assisted surgeries in America have taken place successfully, the first one being at Johns Hopkins University in June of last year.
  • The surgery used spine implant procedures from the Augmedics Xvision spine system. The technology helped the surgeon to see the 3D model of the spine.
  • Khan further added, “The addition of augmented reality to the full complement of complex spinal care available at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center will enhance our clinical team’s ability to develop an effective, personalized treatment plan for patients.”

BUSINESS

  • NorthShore University and Edward-Elmhurst health systems, based in Illinois, announced their plan to merge into one parent system by the end of the year.
  • The merger will lead to a single nine-hospital system with a common board of members headed by the current CEOs of the two systems.
  • NorthShore University has already acquired Northwest Community Healthcare of Illinois and Swedish Hospital of Chicago in the past few years, making it a six-hospital system.
  • Two community investment funds are proposed in the merger deal, where the two systems will donate USD 100 million each.
  • The merger still awaits all regulatory approvals, which might take the rest of the year to complete. The nine-hospital system will also include 300 ambulatory centers.
  • One Medical, the primary health care network, has acquired Iora Health as part of the deal completed in June 2021.
  • Iora Health has made its name as the technology-based primary care provider, catering to around 39,000 Medicare patients.
  • The shareholders of Iora Health received 56.1 million shares of One Medical, which amounted to USD 2.1 billion.
  • Through this deal, over 30,000 high-risk patients at Iora Health will receive quality care from One Medical’s care system.
  • Amir Dan Rubin, CEO of One Medical, said in the press release, “One Medical will extend its reach from children and adults to even more seniors, across 28 existing and announced combined geographies encompassing approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population.”

MEDICAL BILLING

  • According to the latest guidelines of the CMS, hospitals participating in the Medicare Promoting Interoperability program need to perform self-assessment of EHRs.
  • The new rule thus mandates the health systems to go through the ONC’s Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience Guides (SAFER) and implement them from 2022.
  • The SAFER document consolidates around 30 best practices to be followed by the hospitals to comply with the interoperability regime.
  • A 2019 JAMA study found that health systems had not conformed to about 40% of the given rules.
  • CMS aims to make the self-assessment system transparent and has advised the involvement of EHR specialists.
  • Anthem Healthcare and Hartford Healthcare have finalized an agreement on value-based care in Connecticut.
  • This new deal is aimed to achieve the fundamental goals of value-based healthcare like healthcare cost reduction, improving primary and preventative care, and community outreach.
  • They also announced that they would use Connecticut’s insurance exchange, Access Health CT, to increase the coverage.
  • Improved primary and preventative care help the patients to avoid any surmount healthcare charges for complex treatments in the future.
  • Lou Gianquinto, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said, “Together, we have both the opportunity and the experience to take ownership of improving health outcomes for people in Connecticut, and we hope others will join us.”

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