Physician Payments Sunshine Act: CMS posts 2014 Open Payments Data Totaling $6.49 Billion

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today published 2014 Open Payments data about transfers of value by drug and medical device makers to health care providers. The data includes information about 11.4 million financial transactions attributed to over 600,000 physicians and more than 1,100 teaching hospitals, totaling $6.49 billion. This is compared to 4.3 million records attributed to 470,000 physicians and 1,019 teaching hospitals covering $3.43 billion dollars, according to CMS’s summary data. (more…)

Free Program Provides Information and Resources to Help Employers Support Employees Facing Cancer

Easy to use, web-based tool helps support communication between managers and employees to ensure a healthy and productive workplace

Individuals faced with a medical diagnosis often experience a variety of feelings and emotions as they try to integrate their personal and work lives. Returning to work after being touched by a cancer diagnosis or treatment can be psychologically and physically challenging for many people. Today, The Workplace Transitions for People Touched by Cancer program provides companies of all sizes with an innovative, tested, and free resource to support a healthy and productive experience when an employee is facing cancer. (more…)

Citrus Fruit Linked With Melanoma in Preliminary Study

(Reuters Health) – Using data from two long-term studies of women and men, researchers found a potential link between citrus consumption and malignant melanoma of the skin.

But the study did not test whether citrus fruits were the cause of the skin cancers, and more work will be needed to confirm the connection, the authors write in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. (more…)

Your Colonoscopy Is Covered, But Surprise! The Prep Kit May Not Be

With summer vacations coming up, one reader this week asked about travel insurance, while others had questions about coverage of preventive services, including costs related to colonoscopies.

Q. We know now that anesthesia for a screening colonoscopy is covered with no cost sharing  as a preventive service under the health law. As a plan administrator, I am also struggling to find guidance on how to handle bowel prep kits for colonoscopies. Can you help? (more…)

IBM’s Watson Takes On Cancer

IBM’s Watson, the computer that became a Jeopardy champ four years ago, is being further developed to provide diagnosis and treatment for cancer. Recent reports show how doctors are working with IBM to update the computer with medical updates that can help review a cancer patient’s DNA and provide result findings in a matter of minutes. (more…)

How Might Crushes Right In Healthcare

Dr. Melos is a gastroenterologist in solo practice in a medium-sized Midwestern city.  One day she hears a knock on her door.  When she answers, she finds two representatives of Athenian Health System, who request a few minutes of her time.  She invites them to take a seat in her office.

After exchanging pleasantries, the visitors get down to business.  They extend Dr. Melos an offer to join the ranks of Athenian’s employed physicians.  If she declines, they say, they will hire their own gastroenterologist, whose practice will grow rapidly on referrals from their large network. (more…)

Providers Fear Insurance Mergers Will Intensify Rate Pressures

Dr. Robert Wergin practices family medicine in Milford, Neb., population 2,000. His office interacts with many different health insurers. But three carriers—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, Aetna subsidiary Coventry Health Care and UnitedHealthcare—are the dominant private payers in his area. That number could shrink even more. (more…)

Beating Cancer: What Comes Next For Survivors?

Historically, cancer has been about the finish line — surviving.

Today, more and more, cancer is about living.

“We imagine the finish line and think once you get to the line, things will be different,” says Dr. Nancy Boutin, medical director of Salem Health’s Salem Cancer Institute. “But you have all of your life to put back together.” (more…)

Hidden Cancer Rarely Causes Out-of-the-Blue Clots in the Bloodstream

Blood clots can be lifesavers when they form outside the bloodstream to stop bleeding from an injury. But they can wreak havoc when they form inside the bloodstream. A blood clot in a coronary artery can cause a heart attack. One in the brain can cause a stroke.

Blood clots that form in a leg vein cause a problem known as venous thromboembolism, or VTE. If the clot stays in the leg, it can cause swelling or pain. If it breaks away and travels to the lungs, it can cause a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism. (more…)

Cancer Drugs vs. Value

A prototype tool developed by leading oncologists determines the survival benefit of high-cost medicine.

The pushback against soaring cancer drug prices is gaining steam. A leading doctors’ group on Monday proposed a formula to help patients decide whether a medicine is worth it – what it will cost them and how much good it is likely to do. (more…)