Amazon Health Care Efforts Boosted With First Enterprise Customer – Kaiser Health News

Precor, a fitness business recently bought by Peloton, has signed up to be part of Amazon’s new virtual care-first effort. Other news covers a $22 million boost for Atlanta Health Center, a new Houston Methodist hospital and more.

Amazon Care Signs First Customer For Burgeoning Health Business

Amazon Care signed its first enterprise customer this week, a significant milestone as the virtual-first health care platform looks to expand its footprint. The client, Precor, is a fitness business that was recently acquired by fitness technology company Peloton for $420 million in cash. Although small financially, the deal is a significant opener for Care, which in recent months has laid the groundwork for a national expansion, as STAT first reported in March. (Brodwin, 5/6)

Georgia Health News:
Mercy Care Is Receiving $22 Million Boost For Atlanta Health Center

On any given day, Mercy Care’s facility in Atlanta gets more walk-in traffic from patients seeking dental care than the health center can handle. Getting a behavioral health appointment can take months, and if patients need vision care, they are referred to Mercy Care’s Chamblee facility. The Atlanta safety-net provider is getting an injection of $22 million to resolve these and other needs. (Miller, 5/6)

Houston Chronicle:
Houston Methodist To Bring New Hospital To Cypress

The new hospital — to be modeled after Houston Methodist West and The Woodlands locations — is expected to have 400 beds, as well as medical office buildings and room for expansion. “We look forward to bringing our promise of leading medicine by adding a hospital to a rapidly growing area, and we understand the importance of offering comprehensive services in areas such as cancer, heart, neurosciences, woman’s services, orthopedics and sports medicine,” Marc Boom, M.D., president and CEO of Houston Methodist, said in the press release. “The population of this area is predicted to grow almost 9% over the next five years, and we are committed to providing the highest quality care, like we have for more than 100 years.” (Feuk, 5/6)

The Boston Globe:
Mass General Brigham’s Plan For Surgical Centers In Suburbs Stirs Controversy

An ambitious plan by Mass General Brigham to expand into affluent suburbs miles from Boston has set off a fight about the future of outpatient health care in Massachusetts. A group of rival health care companies has mounted an opposition campaign to block the expansion plan, worried that the state’s biggest health care provider will become even more powerful at their expense. They argue that Mass General Brigham’s plan to build outpatient surgery centers in Westborough, Westwood, and Woburn will encroach on the turf of important community health care providers and raise costs for the state by drawing patients away from these less expensive providers. (Dayal McCluskey, 5/6)

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Modern Healthcare:
Providers Fear HIPAA Changes Conflict With Interoperability, Info Blocking Rules

Providers, patient advocates and app developers broadly support a Trump-era rule that would make it easier to share patient health information, but they remain divided over how far the changes should go and concerned about inconsistencies across regulations, according to comments on the proposed rule due Thursday. Hospitals and medical groups said that easing the exchange of health information and allowing patients greater access to and control of their health records could enable better care coordination and management. But they’re worried about giving more access to smartphone apps and other entities that aren’t covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. (Brady, 5/6)

In other health care industry news —

The Baltimore Sun:
Johns Hopkins University, Health System To Increase Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour 

Johns Hopkins, Baltimore’s largest private employer, will increase the minimum wage at its university and health system to $15 an hour. The hike affects some 6,000 Maryland workers — 1,700 in Johns Hopkins Health System and 4,834 at the Johns Hopkins University — and about 300 workers in Florida at Hopkins’ All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, the institutions announced Thursday. (Mirabella and Miller, 5/6)

Some Call Hospital Visitation Bans During Pandemic Too Strict

Kenneth Newton never imagined his mom would die alone. He lives in Petaluma, Calif. Last winter his mother developed a tumor while she was living in a nursing home in Tennessee. Her health declined quickly. Newton longed to visit, but it was against the rules. His mom saw people who delivered food and those who made sure she took her medicine. But otherwise she was alone, though Newton and his four siblings talked with her regularly. Then, last January, they received the dreaded call. His mom had died at age 92 without any family present. (McClurg, 5/6)

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New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Louisiana House OKs Bill To Let Nurse Practitioners Work Without Doctors

The Louisiana House of Representatives has paved the way for nurse practitioners to practice independently of doctors, approving a bill Wednesday to keep in place an emergency executive order that Gov. John Bel Edwards issued earlier in the pandemic. The bill passed with a 60-41 vote and will proceed to the Senate. House Bill 495 has divided medical professionals. Doctors say patient safety is at stake, and nurses say they already practice relatively independently and that giving them more leeway will fill a worrisome gap in a state with a shortage of physicians. (Woodruff, 5/6)

NBC News:
Nurse Burnout Remains A Serious Problem, Putting Patients In Danger, Experts Say

Joanna Engman always believed a career in nursing was her calling .”I loved working in the hospital,” said Engman, a nurse in Colorado who entered the health care field a decade ago. “I wanted to be at the bedside of the disadvantaged, the sick, the dying, to be present with them in their most vulnerable times. “But Engman said that when Covid-19 reached the U.S. last year, her love of nursing came under unprecedented strain. “It’s almost like you’re in ethical warfare,” Engman said of treating critically ill Covid-19 patients. “You’re seeing someone who is scared and suffering, and you’re not able to be present with them because you’re so overworked.” (Plum, 5/6)

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Tossed Medical Records Spur Suit

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit this week against two chiropractic clinics, claiming they discarded patients’ personal information in a park near Mayflower. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Faulkner County, Rutledge alleged two chiropractic clinics, 501 Pain & Rehab, LLC in Conway and 501 Pain and Rehab Family Clinic of Russellville, LLC, violated the Personal Information Protection Act by dumping files with their patients’ personal information. The lawsuit names Dr. John D’Onofrio, a chiropractic physician, and Donny McCuien, an officer and a manager at 501 Pain & Rehab Conway, according to the complaint. (Earley, 5/7)

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Modern Healthcare:
Hospital Outpatient Payment Rates Vary Wildly Across States

The patchwork of state regulations on hospital outpatient reimbursement has led to a wide variation in healthcare costs, according to a new report. The average workers’ compensation payment for similar knee and shoulder surgeries performed in 2019 at hospital-owned outpatient departments in the highest-cost state, Alabama, was more than seven times the level paid in Nevada, the lowest-cost state, according to the Workers Compensation Research Institute’s latest annual report. The variation between the average workers compensation payment and Medicare rates for those procedures were even greater, reaching a low of 38% (or $2,294) below Medicare in Nevada to a high of 502% (or $24,758) above Medicare in Alabama. (Kacik, 5/6)

Covid Testing Has Turned Into A Financial Windfall For Hospitals And Other Providers 

Pamela Valfer needed multiple covid tests after repeatedly visiting the hospital last fall to see her mother, who was being treated for cancer. Beds there were filling with covid patients. Valfer heard the tests would be free. So, she was surprised when the testing company billed her insurer $250 for each swab. She feared she might receive a bill herself. And that amount is toward the low end of what some hospitals and doctors have collected. (Hancock and Norman, 5/7)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.


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