Category: Science and Other News

Private Cost of Public Queues for Health Care

Suppose you lived in an otherwise free country where you were forced to get medical care from a government-controlled monopoly funded by your taxes. Suppose that country made it almost impossible, by law and regulation, to get medical care outside that monopoly within its borders.

Because the government’s rationing of care would affect your ability to work or otherwise enjoy life, it would impose a private cost upon you greater than the tax burden. That country would be Canada, and the average cost imposed on patients by the government monopoly is $1,289, according to The Fraser Institute.

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Goldman Sachs: $32.4 Billion Digital Health Market; Savings “Indefinitely Large”

GS LogoGoldman Sachs analysts, covering medical technology, life sciences, capital goods, and healthcare supply chain and services, to produce a research report on the potential for the “Internet of Things” to disrupt health care.

The conclusion: The total addressable market is $32.4 billion, and the savings resulting from digitizing health care are “indefinitely large” (see Exhibit 2).

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Rock Health: $2.1 Billion in Digital Health Funding Q2

Rock LogoRock Health has published its account of 2015 Q2 funding of digital health ventures. According to Rock Health, funding so far this year is keeping pace with 2014.

What is especially interesting about Rock Health’s report is that it compares venture funding of digital health to other areas and concludes that digital health is growing at a significantly faster rate than other areas, especially biotech and medical devices.Rock

Digital Health Market is Maturing

StartUp LogoStartUp Health has published its analysis of 2015 Q2 digital health funding. Covering a somewhat broader portfolio than Mercom Capital does, StartUp Health reports $1.7 billion in new funding.

By far the biggest deal discussed in the report was Zenefits’ $500 million raise. Zenefits, I get. The deal I don’t get is Oscar, which comes a distant second with $145 million raised. Oscar is the only health insurer in America that actually wants to enter Obamacare’s exchanges. What are they thinking? I can’t figure it out, but Goldman Sachs is an investor, and it’s not a good idea to bet against Goldman Sachs.StartUp IPO

The report also notes that there have been some significant IPO’s in digital health, providing liquidity and some transparency in valuations.

Telehealth Has Best Funding Quarter Ever

MercomVenture funding of health IT deals in 2015 Q2 amounted to $1.2 billion in 138 global deals, according to Mercom Capital Group. This was smaller than 2014 Q2, which saw $1.7 billion raised in 159 deals.

However, telehealth and mobile health continue to blow the doors off. Two of the top four deals were $50 million each for Doctor on Demand and MDLIVE. (Mercom Capital also reports public equity financings, but I do not believe this Q2 report includes the successful IPO of Teladoc, which went public on July 1.)

Although I cannot claim to have studied every deal, it appears that the ones which raised the most money are focused on the employer-based market. If the technologies they deploy really do engage employees to lower health costs, that is good news. What would also be beneficial is these tools being deployed in the individual market. Perhaps that will come as the space becomes more competitive.

Happy Independence Day

American Eagle

Best wishes for the July 4th long weekend. Blogging recommences on Monday.

 

Health Jobs Outpace Soft Employment Report

Health jobs keep growing faster than other civilian, nonfarm jobs. Health care added 40,000 jobs in June, almost one in five of the 223,000 jobs added. At a seasonally adjusted growth rate of 0.27 percent, health jobs continue to grow significantly faster than other jobs, which grew at 0.14 percent (see Table I).

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U.S. Busts 243 Providers for $713 Million Medicare, Medicaid Fraud

man-in-wheelchairThis blog does not often congratulate the Obama administration. However, it has been relatively successful at prosecuting Medicare fraud through old-fashioned, gum-shoe type investigations.

From yesterday’s news:

In Miami, the owners of a mental-health treatment center allegedly billed Medicare for tens of millions of dollars’ worth of intensive therapy that actually involved just moving people to different locations. Some of them had dementia so severe that they couldn’t even communicate.

And in Michigan, another physician allegedly prescribed unnecessary narcotic painkillers in return for the use of his patients’ IDs to generate additional false billings. When they tried to escape the scheme, authorities say, he threatened to cut off the medications, to which his patients were addicted.

In the single largest crackdown in an eight-year campaign against health-care fraud, the Justice Department charged 243 people Thursday with $712 million in false billings to Medicare — the medical insurance program for the elderly — and Medicaid, which serves the poor. (Lenny Bernstein & Sari Horwitz, “Government arrests 243 in largest crackdown on health-care fraud,” Washington Post, June 18, 2015)

88 Percent of Nurses Use Smartphones at Work

Patients and providers alike use mobile technology. New data from market intelligence provider InCrowd indicates that the majority of nurses, 93 percent, own smartphones.

Of these nurses, 88 percent use their smartphones’ apps on the job. Though smartphones are becoming integrated into the daily nursing workflow, the majority of nurses are absorbing the costs themselves. Approximately 87 percent of nurses reported their employers do not cover any costs related to smartphone use.

Less than 1 percent of nurses indicated that smartphone use was prohibited on the job. (Carrie Pallardy, Becker’s Hospital Review, June 3, 2015)

I’m all in favor of information technology, but might this not pose a risk to privacy? I had understood most hospitals had very strict policies on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

Health Jobs Growth Doubled in May

This morning’s employment report was greeted as good news, with 280,000 jobs added in May. Health hiring doubled its April pace, adding 47,000 jobs (versus only 22,000 in the previous report), comprising about one of six nonfarm jobs. At a seasonally adjusted growth rate of 0.31 percent, health jobs are still growing faster than non-health jobs (0.18 percent)

As shown in Table 1, job growth continues to be concentrated in ambulatory settings, while nursing and residential care facilities added few jobs.

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