Experts predict severe but short allergy season | Calif. measles outbreak has ended, experts say | CMS launches patient-experience star ratings on Hospital Compare

April 20, 2015
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Experts predict severe but short allergy season
The long, difficult winter is ending late, causing a variety of trees and other plants to bloom at once, said allergist Joseph Leija. The result is a severe spring allergy season, but also a shorter season. Experts recommend measures such as keeping windows closed, using air conditioning and changing clothing and washing pollen out of hair before bed. HealthDay News (4/17)
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Calif. measles outbreak has ended, experts say
The California Department of Public Health has announced the end of the measles outbreak that originated at Disneyland in December. The CDC linked 147 measles cases in seven states to the outbreak, with 131 of those seen in California. Legislation that would require all public school students to be vaccinated against measles and other diseases was introduced and is stalled in the state. Reuters (4/17)
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An Investigation on Medicare Advantage Dual Eligible Member-Level Performance on CMS Five-Star Quality Measures
The new Dual's study provides insights into how clinical, sociodemographic and community resource characteristics impact health outcomes and Medicare Advantage (MA) plan Five-Star ratings. Learn more.
Providers & Suppliers
CMS launches patient-experience star ratings on Hospital Compare
The CMS has updated its Hospital Compare website to include a patient experience star rating system, designed to help patients make comparisons among Medicare-accredited facilities. Hospital Compare ranks nearly 3,500 acute care hospitals according to patient experience, which includes factors such as communication between clinicians and patients, cleanliness of the hospital, and responsiveness of the hospital staff. The ratings are based on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey. Medscape (free registration) (4/17)
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The desktop system is far from dead, physician survey finds
Microsoft data show desktop computers remain the tool of choice among many doctors for scheduling surgeries, contacting patients, sharing clinical data and communicating with pharmacists, specialists or other colleagues. Fifty-six percent of doctors said they use a desktop computer at work, 50% use smartphones, 49% use laptops and 23% use tablets. When asked about the benefits of mobile tools, 61% mentioned easy collaboration with colleagues and 58% said such technology makes it easier to view patient information from anywhere. (4/16)
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FEATURED ARTICLE: 10 Small-Business Predictions for 2015
Things are looking up for small businesses in 2015. We count down the 10 ways you can get ahead in the New Year. Read the article.

Medical UpdateSponsored By
Long-term aspirin intake tied to lower risk of GI cancer
Researchers found that people who regularly took 325 milligrams of aspirin at least twice a week over the long term are less likely to develop gastrointestinal cancers such as esophageal, colon and rectal cancer. Benefit was dose-dependent and largest when patients took aspirin for 16 years or more. However, lead researcher Yin Cao said more information is needed before clinicians recommend people take aspirin specifically to prevent cancer. The study was scheduled for discussion at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. HealthDay News (4/19)
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Heart rate metrics may predict metabolic risk factors, mortality
A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that heart rate variability and resting heart rate, which can signal autonomic imbalance, may indicate hyperglycemia and high blood pressure, and ultimately could warn of future diabetes, cardiovascular disease and early mortality. Healio (free registration)/Endocrine Today (4/17)
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How To Optimize Profitability In Real Time
In today's digital era, real-time business environments must be flexible to operate at an unpredictable pace, transform profit modeling to a continuous process and collaborate with key employees at the edges of the business.
Download 3 Steps To Real-Time Profitability Management to learn how you can assess your organization's processes and optimize profitability.

Emerging Trends
Report predicts growing use of population health data analytics
A HealthLeaders Media survey projects that close to 80% of health systems will use data analytics to predict and monitor population health by 2018. Among the factors that will drive the shift are improved outcomes and the transition to value-based care models. The survey also found three-quarters of the 8,000 respondents have plans to initiate or escalate investments in data quality within the coming year. More than half said poor analytics skills are a substantial barrier. (4/16)
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Health Insurance Plan Company News
Solutions Provider News
Hot Topics
Pharma News
FDA seeks nominees for advisory committees
The FDA has asked drugmakers to nominate candidates for 18 committees that advise the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Self-nomination is allowed, and industry groups will choose from the candidates. Regulatory Focus (4/15)
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Melanoma drug from RXi Pharmaceuticals gains orphan-drug status
RXi Pharmaceuticals' Samcyprone, a topical treatment with diphenylcylcopropenone, has been designated an orphan drug by the FDA for use in patients with stage IIb to IV malignant melanoma. Trials are underway to evaluate the drug's effectiveness against cutaneous lesions from melanoma and alopecia areata. Healio (free registration)/Dermatology (4/17)
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Policy Watch
Senate bill seeks stricter review of opioid drugs
A bipartisan Senate bill would require the FDA to convene an advisory committee or panel to review submissions for approval of new, altered or generic opioid drugs. It also would make the FDA commissioner responsible for clearing any approvals made despite negative committee recommendations. Regulatory Focus (4/16)
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Accelerated learning for long-term care professionals
Now earn the Long-Term Care Professional (LTCP) designation with just one in-depth course and one comprehensive exam. Curriculum includes everything you need to know about financing long-term care, long-term care insurance products and more. Learn more about this new combined course.
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Trying to stand out from the crowd?
In a market where most companies offer the same core services, how can you differentiate yourself? Do you retool to serve the individual market, dive into government programs, add even more emphasis to the consumer experience, focus more on analytics, move into the retail environment or choose a combination? One thing is certain; you should start at Institute 2015. Early registration discounts apply through April 22, 2015, so register today.
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Improved business operations for better care. TPA Direct
TPA Direct comprises third-party administrators and offers guidance to health insurance plans and other potential payers and administrators interested in outsourcing. Long Term Care Partners, a member of TPA Direct, is a premier benefits administrative services company with a mission to enhance the customer experience via accessibility, cost-effectiveness, security and quality.
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There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."
-- Aldous Huxley,
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