Self Care

Virtual care company Teladoc Health launched a new app Thursday that allows users to access its full suite of services in one place. The app is also available in Spanish.

Purchase, New York-based Teladoc is a virtual “whole-person” care company, providing services including primary care, mental health, complex care, condition care and chronic condition management. It works with employers like SAP, American Heart Association and AAA Northeast, and health plans like UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Centene and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Through the new app — which is available to just select clients this month — users can navigate between all of Teladoc’s services, see all their physicians’ care plans and can seek care coordination services to be connected with in-person providers. Offering a range of services together can have major benefits on consumers’ health, said Kelly Bliss, president of U.S. Group Health at Teladoc. For example, people who are enrolled in the company’s chronic care program as well as its mental health program have proven to reduce A1C levels, improve their blood pressure and achieve weight loss, she said.

“[The app is] a front door, but I also think it helps that member navigate,” Bliss said in an interview. “A lot of times people talk about that front door and the front door only leads to one bedroom. So what I think is important and different for this integrated app is that it’s a front door and it’s really allowing you to navigate in a way that is personalized into services that matter most to your health.”

All of the services are available in Spanish. After determining that there was a gap among the company’s Hispanic users, Teladoc hired more than 100 new Spanish-speaking providers in the last year. It also added new components to its programs, like expanding its nutrition plan to include foods from users’ cultures, Bliss said.

“I would argue that it’s not just language in an app,” Bliss said. “That’s relatively easy to do, especially for a tech company. We weren’t just trying to add Spanish, we were looking to improve health outcomes for Spanish-speaking members.”

The Spanish language feature is partially what sets the revamped app apart from what the company previously offered, as well as its additional care coordination services and allowing patients to review their care plans in one spot. By offering this new app, Teladoc hopes to make it easier for patients to receive care, Bliss said.

“Our mission has been to improve the healthcare experience so that it’s more personalized, it’s more convenient, it’s more targeted at what the members’ needs are to drive better health outcomes … People are sick and tired of five apps that all manage different components of their health,” she said.

Other virtual health companies include chronic disease care companies like Omada Health or Virta or telemedicine companies like MDLive.

Photo credit: Sorbetto, Getty Images

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CommonSpirit Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit over a ransomware attack it suffered last fall.

How perilous is this for a health system already strained by challenging finances?  At least one lawyer believes that like many lawsuits following a data breach, it will be settled out of court.

“It’s almost axiomatic,” said David Balser, a partner at Atlanta law firm King & Spalding. “If a data breach is announced, litigation is going to follow — whether or not the claims are meritorious.”

That litigation is being brought by Leeroy Perkins, who is one of the 623,774 patients notified by the health system that their data had been breached in a ransomware attack. Perkins filed the complaint December 29 against CommonSpirit, a nonprofit health system with headquarters in Chicago. Perkins has been a patient at Seattle-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, one of CommonSpirit’s subsidiaries, since 2003.

CommonSpirit operates 140 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites across 21 states, according to its website. The health system did not respond to MedCity News‘ request for comment on the lawsuit.

An unauthorized third party obtained access to “certain portions of CommonSpirit’s network” from September 16 to October 3, according to a notice the health system posted about the data breach. During this time, CommonSpirit experienced EHR downtime and suffered appointment cancellations across its network of hospitals.

The exposed patient information included names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and “a unique ID used only internally by the organization,” according to CommonSpirit’s notice. The health system said it “has no evidence” that any of this personal information was misused as a result of the cybersecurity incident.

The lawsuit claims that the health system “failed to properly implement basic data security practices” and did not “employ reasonable and appropriate measures” to protect against unauthorized access to patient data. The complaint also said that this negligence has left patients vulnerable to identify theft and financial fraud. 

In his complaint, Perkins asked for class-action status. He also demanded damages, restitution, all other forms of equitable monetary relief, and declaratory and injunctive relief.

The vast majority of hospitals’ data breach lawsuits get settled, though, Balser declared. This is because there must be “some concrete harm or injury” to permit the case to go forward into court, he said. 

The mere fact that information was accessed by ransomware attackers doesn’t automatically create a claim for a plaintiff, Balser pointed out. He also said that health systems usually have insurance that will kick in to cover data breach claims.

Last year, Balser represented Capital One for a data breach case. The company faced a lawsuit over a 2019 data breach that exposed the information of more than 100 million customers, and the banking giant ended up issuing a $190 million class-action settlement. Balser said that to his knowledge, that case got further than any other data breach lawsuit. It went all the way through class certification and summary judgment briefing, but the case settled before the court could move on any of those motions. 

“At the end of the day, there is not a data breach case that I’m aware of that has actually gone to trial. Either the defendant gets the case thrown out or it gets resolved,” he said.

Photo: Valerii Evlakhov, Getty Images

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Fed up with poor staffing levels and excessive burnout, nurses continue to leave their hospital jobs in droves. In fact, experts predict that the U.S. healthcare industry will be short 2.1 million nurses by 2025.

Hydreight was founded in 2018 as a telehealth platform and medical network that addresses this issue by letting nurses be their own boss and work as independent 1099 contractors. Last week, the Las Vegas-based company launched an updated app so that the hundreds of nurses on its platform can have a more streamlined experience.

The startup’s platform makes it possible for nurses, med spa technicians and other licensed healthcare professionals to be in control of their own schedules and deliver services outside of a hospital or traditional medical facility, said Hydreight CEO Shane Madden.

“The platform operates as a marketplace, essentially as an ‘Uber for nurses,’ allowing them to connect directly with patients and deliver services anywhere,” he said. 

Nurses use Hydreight’s platform to offer services such as IV drip, Botox, Covid-19 testing and other medical and med spa treatments. These services can be delivered at the patient’s home, hotel, office or any other suitable location, Madden said.

Patients who join Hydreight’s medical network can use its app — which operates similarly to popular food delivery apps — to order a medical service from its pharmaceutical IV menu or aesthetic services menu.

Hydreight’s platform provides medical director oversight, liability insurance, HIPAA-compliant documentation and access to a digital pharmacy, Madden added. This means that nurses can work for themselves without the stress of operating their own business.

Across all 50 states, Hydreight currently has 688 accounts that provide medical services and tens of thousands of patients using its app. The startup said it’s difficult to say the exact number of nurses on its platform because each account is different — some have one nurse working solo and others consist of a team of nurses who joined using one account.

Some Hydreight nurses went viral on TikTok last year for posting videos saying they earn higher wages than travel nurses. Hydreight nurses said they earn as much as $3,500 a week. The average monthly salary for travel nurses is $9,790, which breaks down to about $2,500 a week.

Madden said Hydreight was founded to give nurses more autonomy and freedom, and the company will remain dedicated to serving their best interests.

“We are committed to continuous improvement and listening to what users need. This update gives nurses and other health and wellness service providers more control over what they offer, as well as overall improved performance, usability, reporting, and aesthetic and functional upgrades. For both patients and service providers, it includes an improved booking experience and more options for how each wants to use the platform,” he said.

Still, Hydreight is not the only company offering at-home IV services — there’s also The IV Doc. Madden believes his company differentiates itself with its proprietary HIPAA-compliant software, medical director oversight, medical liability insurance and infusions protocols.

“There is no other mobile wellness organization that provides its partners with everything they need to run their business all in one place,” he said.

Photo: Dilok Klaisataporn, Getty Images

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Withings, a company that makes connected medical devices, announced on Tuesday that it is developing a miniaturized platform that can analyze urine at home.

The company, which was founded in 2008, is based in France and has offices in the U.S., China and Hong Kong. With its new offering, Withings is seeking to sell a device that taps into the wealth of health information that is present in daily urine.

More than 3,000 metabolic biomarkers can be assessed via urine, which makes it one of the gold standards of health assessment, said Withings CEO Mathieu Leombe. Analyzing these biomarkers can help diagnose and monitor certain diseases like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones and urinary tract infection, he pointed out.

Withing’s new device, called U-Scan, sits within a toilet bowl. It consists of a pebble-shaped reader and a changeable analysis cartridge designed to assess specific biomarkers. The device automatically captures small amounts of urine and channels it into the analysis cartridge, which quickly begins chemical analysis. U-Scan automatically transmits readable results via Wi-Fi to Withings’ app.  

The device is being developed for the consumer sector as well as the professional medical market. Leombe acknowledged that his company is often compared to other companies like Apple and Fitbit, but these companies have not come out with an at-home urine analysis product yet.

For the consumer market, Withings will sell a U-Scan with an analysis cartridge for women’s monthly cycle tracking and a U-Scan with a cartridge for nutrition and hydration monitoring. These devices will be available for purchase in Europe this year following regulatory clearance, Leombe said. 

He also said each U-Scan starter kit will be priced at $499. There is an additional subscription cost of $30 per month, which provides customers with automatic cartridge refills every 3 months. 

As for the professional medical market, Withings has some research collaborations underway with Dr. Marie Courbebaisse and Dr. Franck Perez, who are both medical researchers based in Paris. Dr. Courbebaisse is beginning a clinical study to see how the device improves follow-up care for patients with cystine renal lithiasis and uric acid renal lithiasis. Dr. Perez is studying how the device can be used to non-invasively detect bladder and ovarian cancer relapse.

Collaborating with medical professionals to understand the best use cases for U-Scan’s technology will remain a priority for Withings, Leombe declared.

“Presently [U-Scan’s analysis cartridges] can be tailored to analyze a combination of markers such as pH, specific gravity, ketones, vitamin C, albumin and creatinine, but Withings chemistry teams are available to help medical professionals create bespoke cartridges for their use case,” he said.

Photo: Withings

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Turning the page on 2022 will be a cause for celebration in the healthcare sector.

The past year was one of the worst financial years on record for hospitals, according to Kaufman Hall. New data from the healthcare consulting firm and the American Hospital Association indicates that 53% to 68% of the nation’s hospitals will end 2022 in the red. At the same time, hospital employment is down approximately 100,000 from pre-pandemic levels.

This is all happening amid a backdrop of growing margin pressures and an aging population.

So, what will the coming year hold for healthcare organizations and their patients? And how can businesses in the healthcare sector best position for success in 2023 and beyond?

Let’s examine the situation, assess what 2023 will look like and identify the best treatment.

High costs will dissuade people from getting the care they need

Past experience shows us that in recessions, Americans are quick to cut routine visits and medical advice that comes at a cost. Expect continued media coverage on the questionable economy, recession nerves and layoffs to keep people away from healthcare in the year ahead.

Concerns about the economy and the fact that as many as 15 million Americans could lose Medicaid access when the pandemic ends could exacerbate the trend of people putting their health on the backburner to save time and money or try to avoid stress.

Staff shortages and wage demands will pack a one-two punch

Healthcare employees are stressed as well. A recent report explains that nurses are “beyond burnout.” This problem has prompted the launch of a multimillion-dollar burnout prevention program pilot. But research suggests that turnover is highest for health aides and assistants.

High burnout keeps employers struggling to recruit and retain staff. And increasing wages make it increasingly difficult for healthcare institutions to afford the help they need and turn a profit.

One of the reasons there aren’t enough people to serve patients and generate more revenue is because there’s a lot of friction in the current model. Rather than spending time with patients, healthcare workers have to dedicate significant time to dull, inefficient administrative processes. If healthcare organizations don’t address it, this problematic pattern will continue.

A growing number of healthcare companies will automate back-office work

In a move to improve their situation and that of all healthcare stakeholders, healthcare companies in 2023 will automate accounts payable, claims processing, collections and other back-office work. At the same time, health insurance providers will automate most of the administrative work associated with processing claims. This will be especially prevalent at mid-sized companies, many of which previously felt automation technology was out of their reach.

Automation will free up employees to spend more time serving patients, which is what attracted many of these workers to healthcare to begin with. It will enable healthcare organizations to know that administrative tasks are done exactly right every time. And it will allow healthcare organizations to improve efficiency and scalability and reduce their costs.

Typically, automation has been the domain of large organizations, which have the resources to do heavy integration work and bot maintenance. But now, platforms that don’t require such integration and continually optimize bots put automation within reach of mid-sized businesses.

In-person care will take a hit as more people embrace telehealth

Expect growing adoption of telehealth in the coming year and beyond. Many Americans now understand the value and ease of telehealth, which took off amid Covid-19 stay-at-home orders and dramatic policy changes. In the first year of the pandemic alone, 44% of continuously enrolled Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries had a telehealth visit, totaling more than 45 million visits.

Baby boomers and those in dire scenarios utilize in-person visits most often. Chronic pain cases, mental health concerns and pain points of younger people – who will look to mobile-first experiences rather than considering physical locations – will funnel into telehealth.

Meeting patients where they are, rather than requiring them to travel or overcome other barriers to get service, will help patients and every other stakeholder in the healthcare system.

Advances in AI will take wearable technology, healthcare applications to the next level

Major wearables companies like Apple and Google Fitbit have amazing proprietary data sets. Recent artificial intelligence (AI) breakthroughs will allow these major wearable companies to use their unique data and devices to unlock new and even more exciting applications.

OpenAI’s new GPT-3 chatbot, which delivers more advanced results than people expected, is one sign of where things are headed. This signals that AI models are becoming more advanced.

To date, wearable technology has primarily involved consumer applications that track how many steps you take or capture your workout history. And with recent advances in AI modeling, we’re likely to see some interesting new use cases in the healthcare and insurance arenas over the next year. But now, the major differentiator won’t be how you interface with AI but rather who has the unique training data needed to unlock new experiences and applications for end users.

Technology will move healthcare in the right direction

Running a healthcare operation and delivering quality care to patients isn’t easy, as the past year clearly demonstrated. Inefficiency and unnecessary friction are a large part of the problem. And healthcare is far more expensive than it needs to be. The U.S. spends nearly twice as much as the average OECD country yet has some of the worst outcomes.

But, with the right technology, healthcare organizations in the year ahead can become more efficient, make quality care accessible to more people, reduce their recruiting and hiring costs, prevent mistakes, and deliver better outcomes for themselves, their workers and their patients.

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Customers are at the center of business, and in the medical technology space quality assurance reigns supreme.

Quality assurance looks at a company’s services or products to make sure everything is running efficiently and up to par with what is desired and mandated by an industry. When this process is streamlined, quality assurance provides a significant benefit to both the consumer and the business.

For a company, quality assurance provides an opportunity to create efficiency in the business model. For customers in the medtech space, quality assurance can improve patient safety, effectiveness and user experiences, while also ensuring they are getting necessary outcomes at a fast and accurate pace.

Improving user experience with products can then translate into loyalty for the brand. When companies know what customers want, they can use that to innovate and keep people coming back for more.

Innovation is key. The customer is number one.

Without innovation everything is stagnant. Nothing evolves. Nothing improves. In the medical field where everything constantly changes, innovation is of utmost importance.

One way to figure out what could be the next big innovation is to listen to your customers.

Monitoring customer feedback and vigilance about a product goes both ways. It can be positive or it can be negative. Both are useful for the business to hear. A business can take that input and then make adjustments to the product to better optimize the user experience.

In addition, customer feedback is an integral part of quality control checks. In medtech, feedback is crucial. It is important that all medical devices and technologies work properly and efficiently for the user. A business wants – and needs – to know what is working and what isn’t.

If your customer is using a hearing aid, and it breaks after a few uses, there could be a structural issue with the specific device, or it could be a bigger manufacturing problem. Being able to listen to that feedback, pinpoint the problem, and look into a solution is important.

Having that direct line of feedback to make necessary adjustments is a win-win for the customer and the business.

Is it functioning at the high level that it was designed in the research and development (R&D) to achieve including user needs? What can be improved to better satisfy and improve patient outcomes? Did one part of the device malfunction or break? Can that malfunctioning part be replaced, or is it a bigger manufacturing issue in the supply chain?  These are all necessary and important questions to address.

Performing quality control checks on products is integral in the future developments of the products. Being able to control and streamline how a business will respond to changes will resolve issues quicker and more smoothly.

Follow the regulatory mandates.

Our environment is constantly changing. Technology is being updated, and new laws are being passed every day. It’s important to make sure medical devices follow all regulatory mandates.

Furthermore, quality R&D and regulatory oversight must work together in developing a product to make sure all needs are met. Having a well-documented product lifecycle can help streamline the process and keep everything in check from all angles.

Businesses working in the medical device space must not only be financially compliant, but also regulatory agency compliant across the board. Regulatory compliance ensures products have been tested to make sure it’s effective, safe and have the proper usage directions laid out for the customer.

Following all mandates and government guidance is necessary and advised.

Automation increases accuracy.

Automation can lead to more accurate results by reducing variability and increasing the overall quality of the system. It can also help ensure your company stays compliant with regulatory mandates.

If a business has an organized system, it can improve supplier management and help the business operate at an optimal level.

All in all, quality assurance helps a business make sure its process meets the standards and regulations of an industry – a key component in medical technology. Having a streamlined process to get customer feedback, adhere to regulations, and automate processes not only helps make sure a business delivers the best quality products, but also helps ensure that customers are satisfied.

Photo: marchmeena29, Getty Images

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Life science organizations faced down an array of daunting challenges during the last three years: a global health crisis, supply chain upheaval, and uncertain economic climate, just to name a few. But if we can say the dust is beginning to settle, we can also look to the future with the knowledge that uncertainty will persist – and that we should be prepared. How can companies prepare for an unpredictable year ahead?

Many pharma and medical device companies will look inward, with the goal of standardizing and modernizing even highly regulated activities. They’ll lean into new approaches for specific challenges, and apply purpose-built technology across drug and device development. Here’s a closer look at some important industry trends for 2023.

Tech maturation matters

Pharmaceutical companies continue to forge ahead in their quest to create a truly end-to-end insights management function. Teams understand that insight generation and analysis are vital to the success of new drug development – but may lack the willingness to devote significant business resources to solving the problem.

Happily, even in a notoriously conservative and risk-averse industry, leaders are coming around to the idea that they can solve the problem with technology. Next year, pharma companies will begin putting both minds and money behind the push to put insights management into the spotlight as a strategic business pillar.

One way they’ll do this is by using artificial intelligence to support – not replace – talented humans who don’t have enough time to manually comb through reams of patient data, medical records, and other important sources of information. For pharmaceutical teams, 2023 will be the year of understanding that AI can be a benevolent partner rather than an intimidating threat.

What’s the danger of ignoring AI? Teams that don’t understand AI applications run the risk of missing out on key insights, and all the opportunities those can provide. This can have a particularly meaningful impact on applications like precision medicine, where developing the best treatment pathway often requires analyzing information about different aspects of the patient experience.

While much of this information is obtained from structured data from electronic medical records, there is also valuable information contained in the unstructured text of physician notes, referral forms, and medical charts. Developing precision therapies also requires input from global experts who won’t necessarily turn up in the usual publishing and speaking circuits. This is an ideal case for technologies that are specific to life science, where gaps in knowledge can interfere with the expedient development of precision and targeted therapies.

Adding agility where it counts

Like other industries, pharmaceutical and medical device companies are eager to return to the days of in-person meetings and busy show floors. But as folks return to racking up frequent flyer miles, an old problem is rearing its head: at in-person events, where do the insights go?

How are important observations collected and shared, and how will that information make its way into the mix with data from other channels, like virtual meetings and social platforms? As organizations balance traditional and tech-enabled ways of working, technology will stay in the picture to add process and consistency.

What does this look like in practice? Teams will gladly return to the muscle memory of an in-person medical congress, but it will be far less chaotic: they’ll use social listening to understand trending topics ahead of and during the event, adding currency to their real-time conversations. They might share same-day observations in a virtual venue and achieve alignment on important discussions before they pack to go home. And once the event is over, the conversations can continue online, with sentiment analysis tools to potentially shorten the time from insight to action by weeks, or even months.

Increasing the all-important agility factor simply equips life science organizations to have more choice in engaging truly global audiences, eliminating traditional roadblocks like travel time and expense, disparate geographical locations, and different preferred languages. Having experienced first-hand what it’s like to work in a world where travel – even as far as an in-town office or clinic – is impossible, the importance of this flexibility can’t be overstated.

As pandemic-induced limitations fell away, many old habits returned. Some, like traveling and meeting in person, were welcomed. Others, such as congress chaos and deluges of data, have been less well-received. The year ahead will be about figuring out how to move forward with flexibility and preparedness when – not if – the next challenge arises.

Photo: Feodora Chiosea, Getty Images

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About 51% of U.S. adults say the Covid-19 public health emergency should still be in effect, while 39% said it is no longer needed, a recent survey found.

The report came from Morning Consult, which conducted the poll between December 14 and December 19. It received responses from 2,210 American adults.

Currently, the public health emergency is set to end January 11. The Biden Administration has said that it will provide 60 days notice on when the emergency will expire, and because it did not do so in November, the public health emergency is expected to be extended to April.

Americans’ opinions varied based on political party, generation, race/ethnicity and location. For example, 72% of Democrats said they think the public health emergency should still be in effect, compared to 34% of Republicans. About 56% of “Baby Boomers” said it should still be in effect, compared to 45% of “Gen Zers.” Additionally, 66% of Black Americans believe the public health emergency should be in place, while 49% of White Americans said this. More adults in urban communities (58%) think it should be in effect, than rural adults (43%).

Almost half of the respondents said the public health emergency should be extended past January, but two in five said it shouldn’t. 

Under the public health emergency, Americans receive coverage for Covid-19 services, such as tests, treatments and vaccines. However, the survey found that once the period ends, 46% of U.S. adults are not interested in paying for Covid-19 products out of pocket. Meanwhile, 45% said they are interested and 9% said they don’t know.

On December 19,  25 governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to end the public health emergency in April. In 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed due to the pandemic. The Act bans states from disenrolling people from Medicaid during the public health emergency and gives them a temporary increase in the federal Medicaid match rates. The governors contend that this is hurting states and costing them substantial money.

“The [public health emergency] is negatively affecting states, primarily by artificially growing our population covered under Medicaid (both traditional and expanded populations), regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program,” the governors said. “While the enhanced federal match provides some assistance to blunt the increasing costs due to higher enrollment numbers in our Medicaid programs, states are required to increase our non-federal match to adequately cover all enrollees and cannot disenroll members from the program unless they do so voluntarily.”

About 18 million people could lose Medicaid coverage once the public health emergency expires, according to a recent Urban Institute report. This includes 3.8 million people who would become completely uninsured.

Photo:, Getty Images

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Hospitals’ operational margins are shrinking, and some financial analysts have said that 2022 may have been the worst year for hospital finances in decades. And the outlook for next year isn’t rosier — increases in hospitals’ labor and supply expenses are expected to continue to outpace their revenue growth.

Though hospitals’ financial circumstances were dire this year, some expansion projects have managed to move forward. Below is a rundown of the three of the most expensive hospital projects that were pursued in 2022.

$5 billion medical campus in Nevada

In March, the city of North Las Vegas, Nevada sold a 135-acre property for nearly $37 million to Pacific Group, a Salt Lake City-based developer. The developer bought the property to build a multibillion dollar medical campus that includes a hospital and research center, as well as office and retail buildings.

In October, Pacific Group broke ground on the medical campus, called Helios. The developer estimated that construction would cost about $5 billion and take 10 years to complete.

Pacific Group is building Helios to expand healthcare offerings in North Las Vegas. The city’s population exceeded 260,000 people in the 2020 U.S. Census, but North Las Vegas only has 209 hospital beds aside from its Veterans Affairs hospital, which is nearby the construction site. More than 70% of people transported to a hospital by the city’s fire department have to receive care outside the city, officials told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in March.

Helios’ hospital will have more than 600 beds, according to Pacific Group. The developer also said the campus will create more than 10,000 jobs for North Las Vegas once it’s complete, as well as add $3.2 billion to the economy each year.

Pacific Group has not yet found a healthcare partner for Helios.

UCSF’s $4.3 billion hospital

In May, the University of California’s board of regents granted approval to the University of California San Francisco to construct a $4.3 billion hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center, which is located in San Francisco’s Parnassus Heights neighborhood.

UCSF Health is building the new facility to address its capacity constraints. The health system said the new hospital will increase its overall inpatient bed capacity by 37% — from 499 beds to 682. UCSF also said the new facility will create about 1,400 new jobs.

The new hospital is scheduled to open in 2030, and it will meet California’s new earthquake-resistance standards set to go into effect that year. UCSF Health said it is funding the project through external financing, philanthropy and hospital reserves.

UC Davis’ $3.8 billion tower

In May, the University of California Davis Medical Center started demolishing temporary offices so it could begin construction on a nearly $3.8 billion new tower.

Just like UCSF’s new hospital, UC Davis’ tower is slated to open in 2030. The 14-story tower and five-story pavilion will replace parts of the medical center that don’t meet California’s upcoming earthquake-resistance standards.

The project, which spans a million square feet, will include about 400 single-patient rooms, new operating rooms, an imaging center, a larger pharmacy and more burn care units. Once the expansion project is finished, the medical center will have 675 to 700 inpatient beds.

Photo: Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

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Affordable Care Act Marketplace enrollment has reached a “key milestone,” with 11.5 million people choosing a health plan through the Marketplace as of December 15, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported Tuesday.

This is 1.8 million people more than the same period last year, representing an 18% increase, CMS said. It’s also a sharp increase from numbers reported last month: Nearly 3.4 million people had chosen an ACA Marketplace health plan, which represented a 17% increase from the same period last year, CMS announced November 22.

“This year, we’re so pleased to see so many new enrollees on, taking advantage of expanded financial assistance and new eligibility to purchase affordable, comprehensive health care coverage that they can use to help keep them and their families healthy,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a news release.

The 2023 Marketplace Open Enrollment Period began on November 1 and ends on January 15 for Deadlines vary for state-based Marketplaces, however.

Due to the Inflation Reduction Act — which passed in August — four out of five enrollees can find a plan for $10 or less after tax credits, according to CMS. Additionally, 92% of enrollees have plan options from three or more insurance companies. Standardized plans also made it easier for consumers to compare and choose plans, according to the news release.

The Biden-Harris Administration made a historic $98.9 million investment to 59 navigator organizations in August to help consumers during the 2023 open enrollment period. The year prior, the Administration invested $80 million. These organizations educate consumers on health insurance coverage and assist them in finding the best health plan for their needs. In contrast, the Trump administration gave $10 million to 39 navigator organizations for the 2019 period.

“Unprecedented investments lead to unprecedented results. Under President Biden’s leadership, we have strengthened the Affordable Care Act Marketplace with continued record affordability, robust competition, and historic outreach efforts – and today’s enrollment numbers reflect that,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The national uninsured rate was at a record low of 8% in early 2022, according to an August report released by HHS.

The next snapshot of plan selections will be released January 11, CMS said.

Photo: YinYang, Getty Images

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