September 11, 2014

Health News Roundup - 9/11/2014

Datica Editorial Team
Datica Editorial Team

CVS, Hospital Hacks, VA, Obamacare, Interoperability

CVS Stops Tobacco Sales Today, Changes Name To Reflect New Era

CVS, the giant drugstore chain that shocked the U.S. public health community and Wall Street with its decision earlier this year to remove tobacco products from its shelves by October, said cigarettes are officially no longer on store shelves a month ahead of schedule.

The move to remove tobacco products effective this morning coincides with a company decision to also change its corporate name to CVS Health (CVS), from CVS/Caremark Corp. to reflect “its broader health care commitment” and desire to change the future health of Americans.

Hospital Hacks Are Skyrocketing Because Hospitals Are Super Easy to Hack

The security research firm Websense says that cyberattacks on hospitals have increased 600 percent in the last 10 months. Undoubtedly, much of that increase can be accounted for by the previously reported attack on Community Health Systems, which affected some 4.5 million patients in 206 hospitals across 29 states. Websense and other security research firms say that the now infamous Heartbleed vulnerability is to blame for many of the breaches, though patches have since been put into place. Those firms also say that hundreds of thousands of patients remain vulnerable.

VA to reimburse for certain clinical activity trackers

At the beginning of this month, MobiHealthNews noted in an In-Depth report that a new class of wireless, wearable activity tracker is increasingly finding its way into the clinical space, especially to help people with movement disorders or lower body injuries. That trend just got a big boost from the US Department of Veteran Affairs, which thanks to a recent change in its contracting template will soon begin reimbursing its doctors for activity trackers in some circumstances.

Some big Obamacare news: premiums will fall in seven big cities

In major cities across the country, Obamacare premiums are falling.

That is not normal; health-insurance premiums nearly always go up and up and up. They rarely, if ever, decrease.

But analysts at the Kaiser Family Foundation have scoured insurers rate filings and find that premiums for Obamacare’s benchmark plan will decrease, on average, by 0.8 percent across 16 large cities. That could be early evidence that a key premise of Obamacare is working: insurers are competing on the marketplaces, and that could be driving health insurance prices down.

Health IT Interoperability Requires Industry Collaboration

For data and systems interoperability to become widespread, both government and private stakeholders must clear roadblocks. As we approach National Health IT Week, it is a good time to take into consideration how we, as active members within our own healthcare organizations, can help forge a path that results in true healthcare interoperability.

The healthcare industry is at a critical point – although interoperability is poised to radically transform the healthcare system, achieving it poses unique challenges and barriers to success that are problematic around the world. Will true healthcare interoperability ever happen? I think it will. But first, key industry players must collaborate – not simply rely on our national agenda – to achieve it.

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