Friday Forum

A weekly digest of our behavior – the good, the bad, the great

100M: The amount Ochsner Health in Louisiana committed to spending over the next five years to build community health centers in underserved areas. Louisiana consistently rates in the very bottom of US health rankings and the health system aims to increase their ranking by opening 15 centers across the state. They will be located strategically in rural and underserved areas, providing more alternatives to patients who frequently use the ER as primary care.

Interception: An adult and pediatric practice in Nevada says Anthem’s teledentistry partner has “picked off some of the patients we typically would have seen for pain-related issues,” as dentists face a new competitor. The teledentistry movement is more likely a maneuver to improve access but could become a hurdle for unsophisticated practices who rely on low acuity “complaint visits.” Pediatric dentists are also being denied operating room access due to COVID cases deemed more medically necessary, concerns about aerosol generation, and lack of protective equipment, a Health Policy Institute study has learned. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry are working together to address the issue, even as the oral health industry tries to make a comeback in Q4.

Proton Beam of Light: Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania Health System and Southern Jersey’s largest health system, Virtua, are extending their collaboration to open a proton therapy center in South Jersey. Construction of the center began this past summer at the Virtua Voorhees Hospital and is expected to open in 2022.

Amazing: News about Amazon beginning to sell and deliver prescription drugs through its own online pharmacy is not a surprise and 83% of 712 consumers we polled this week say they will likely consider it, particularly given most – more than 600 – already use Prime for a range of products. Prime members will be eligible for up to 80% off generic drugs and 40% off brand name medications, even without using insurance. Amazon Pharmacy shoppers will be able to input their insurance information directly to see if their price is lower through insurance or their Prime discount. Discounted prices will be available both online and at 50,000 participating physical locations. InsideRx (formerly Express Scripts) will manage the benefit. Insurers have started to piggyback on the Amazon experience. Several insurers now have dedicated portal pages on Amazon to allow their commercial members to buy eligible supplies using HSAs and FSAs.

Heart Beat: iRhythm Technologies, the maker of the Zio patch, released data this week showing that its wearable technology increased the rate of atrial fibrillation detection and reduced cardiac events. Aetna helped back the study, which included about 1,700 of their members who were deemed at moderate risk for atrial fibrillation.

Social Science Coming Soon: We sat down with Kimberly Harrison, VP of network engagement for Priority Health in Michigan, to talk about a new program starting next year to provide certain physician practices financial incentives if they screen patients and report back social risk factors. The full story in our next edition.

Extra Point: MAYBE IT’S JUST ME BUT IT SEEMS LIKE ALL THE SENIORS IN MY LIFE ONLY EMAIL IN ALL CAPS.  I DON’T THINK THEY ARE ANGRY. IT’S MORE LIKELY THE SAME PROBLEM THEY HAVE WHEN LEAVING THE LEFT BLINKER ON FOR 12 BLOCKS – THEY EITHER DON’T REALIZE IT’S ALL CAPS OR DON’T KNOW HOW TO CHANGE IT. AS MUCH AS IT MAKES ME LAUGH, IT IS A TAD BIT ALARMING TO READ AN ALL CAPS VERSION ABOUT UNCLE AUGIE’S ELEVATED LIVER ENZYMES OR THE EAR WAX DAD’S PCP FOUND THAT MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, WILL CURTAIL HIS VERTIGO PROBLEM. –BC