Friday Rounds: Wheelin', dealin' and leavin' in the new year
Welcome back to the working week. News about the industry, which began at a trickling pace on Monday, burst and bloomed as the first week of 2016 wore on, potentially leaving some to ask if it was March Madness yet.
After the Monday holidaze wore off, Aetna spokesperson Cynthia Michener announced Tuesday the insurer would not be renewing its membership with the trade group AHIP. The decision comes months after another major insurer, United Health, decided to leave the organization. While the fate of the organization isn’t in question yet, it stands to reason AHIP is not too pleased with Aetna’s decision. AHIP President Marilyn Tavenner stated in a release, “Our members depend on AHIP to advance their key priorities, to strengthen the public-private programs that provide coverage for millions of Americans, and to deliver solutions that improve access to high quality, affordable care for consumers.”
Also on Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced several executive actions to limit access to guns. One of the actions was to change HIPAA to allow mental health providers to identify patients who have been barred from shipping, transporting, or possessing firearms. Of course, mental healthcare is gaining more mainstream acceptance and conversations over behavioral practices are on the national stage. (Vulture noted that 2015 was the year mental health issues “finally got some respect on TV”.) However, as noted in The Washington Post, some mental health advocates worry about gun control guiding the mental health conversation.
Another topic that's no stranger to controversy is the Affordable Care Act. A reconciliation bill repealing major revisions of the ACA finally hit the president’s desk this week. After years, the GOP has found a way to get a veto for an ACA repeal.
EHR luminary Epic Systems purchased Mayo Clinic’s Rochester, MN data center for $46 million. The announcement signals Mayo’s increasing reliance on Epic for technical and healthcare software support. Epic reportedly manages the health records of more than half of U.S. patients and 2.5% of patients worldwide
Zipnosis CEO and co-founder Jon Pearce spoke with Healthcare Dive this week. After the announcement the company raised $17 million in Series A funding, Pearce outlined where he saw the health IT industry moving toward. He posits the current concept of telemedicine will die out while patient access management platforms will ultimately prove successful in the market. This is particularly interesting, as more data points equals more potential threats for cyberattacks. If the multi-pronged access platform does succeed, especially developing alongside wearables, the need for cybersecurity will be greater than ever. And even with guiding hands like the CISA, it may take some time for the industry to be able to handle such security at so many data points.
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