Healthcare reform has sparked a flurry of changes for all players in the healthcare industry, but one of the most fundamental changes has been the shift from provider-centered care to patient-centered care. As patients spend more than 99 percent of their time self-managing and less than 1 percent of their time with healthcare providers, it’s imperative that they are provided them with the tools and confidence they need to make informed decisions about their own well-being and healthcare.

Read more: Fully Engaged

Even though National Nurses Week ended in May, healthcare professionals continue to talk year-round about the changing role of nurses. With the shortage of primary care physicians, many have argued for expanding the role of advanced nurse practitioners, allowing them to work to the full extent of their training. In May, the results of a new study – “Perspectives of Physicians and Nurse Practitioners on Primary Care Practice” – were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Read more: Nursing Revolution

The initial wedding was remarkable. The eventual marriage, however, had disastrous Kardashian-like consequences.

We often hear the stories of healthcare providers preparing for the go-live event of their electronic medical record (EMR) system without a long-term plan to ensure that the technology will support improvements in clinical care. The wedding analogy as it is applied to healthcare stems from a myopic focus on the installation and implementation of software. Instead, we need to apply our attention and diligence toward adoption and use of the technology: the actual marriage.

Read more: Meaningful Marriage

An antitrust lawsuit and a consent decree by the Nevada Attorney General (AG) illustrates that physician practice group mergers and acquisitions continue to attract scrutiny by antitrust enforcers. The action appears to be part of a larger context of increased antitrust enforcement against healthcare providers. This enforcement action was brought after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) let it be known that “the FTC is watching” physician practice mergers.

Read more: Keeping a Lookout

This is going to be a game-changing year for the health insurance industry. Last June, the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and with the presidential election behind us the focus now shifts toward execution of health insurance exchanges in January 2014. Health plans are working feverishly to accommodate a radically changing environment that will disrupt their core business and eventually will totally transform what it means to be a health plan.

Read more: Planning for a New Market

A future where everyone can get the medications they need, when they need them. That’s a vision anyone with a stake in our modern healthcare system looks forward to someday seeing realized. But for those in urgent need of specialty drugs for a complex or chronic condition, that “better tomorrow” cannot come quickly enough.

That was the hard truth confronting my team of Lean Six Sigma-certified process reengineers as we set out to help a leader in pharmacy benefits management. Specifically, our client wanted us to improve the speed and cost-effectiveness of how it approved and delivered specialty drugs in the United States, where the market for such medicines stands at a jaw-dropping $45 billion today, and is expected to grow by as much as 40 percent through 2017.

Read more: Shorter Cycles, Shrinking Costs

In 1900, the three most common causes of death in the United States were typhoid, tuberculosis and pneumonia – all infectious diseases. In 2010, the three most common causes of death in the United States were cardiovascular, cancer and lung disease – all chronic illnesses, mostly lifestyle-related and all largely preventable. Not surprisingly, obesity and obesity-related diabetes have also emerged as major predisposing factors to chronic illness and are climbing the list of primary causes of death. The complexity of how nutrition, lifestyle and health are interwoven is having a dramatic impact on survival and the costs of care. Alarmingly, the presence of Alzheimer’s and suicide among the common primary causes of death illustrates the complexity of how aging and mental health are impacting illness and survival. They further signal the reality that mental health has become an entirely new segment of concern in the ever-growing list of chronic diseases in our society.

Read more: Dealing with Disease

Adopting mobile technologies to provide health services can ultimately enhance the quality of healthcare and reduce costs – benefiting everyone throughout the ecosystem, from doctors and patients to hospitals and insurers.

The move away from traditional medical practices is something everyone talks about in the healthcare industry, but few truly understand. That’s probably why there is more hype than reality about mobile health (mHealth) solutions. The thought of moving from handwritten charts to electronic EMRs and EHRs that can be remotely accessed using tablets and smartphones seems to make many in the medical profession uncomfortable – adoption and deployment is slow, and there is a need for some basic education.

Read more: Hype Versus Reality

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