Healthcare Providers Boost Patient Outcomes, Save Costs With Quality Blue

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Quality Blue programs continue driving better health results while reining in costs.

Data from the second year of Blue Cross’ Quality Blue Value Partnerships program, in which healthcare providers can earn financial incentives if they successfully improve their patients’ health outcomes and cut spending, shows enrolled providers saved an average of 2.8% of their total healthcare costs during the past year, with the most successful savings reaching 6.25%.

The data also shows that Blue Cross customers who are seeing Quality Blue doctors had overall fewer hospital stays and ER visits, and they were more likely to have recommended preventive care like colorectal cancer screenings or mammograms, than customers seeing other doctors.

“Our Quality Blue programs have gotten great results in a fairly short period of time,” said Dr. Paul Murphree, Blue Cross interim chief medical officer. “Through the strong partnerships we are building with healthcare providers around the state, we have a real opportunity to improve Louisiana’s historically poor health outcomes and hold the line on costs.”

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With Analyte collaboration Teladoc integrates lab tests into telemedicine

The recent announcement involving Teladoc, a New York-based telemedicine service provider, and Analyte Health, a Chicago-based telehealth lab diagnostics company underscores how telemedicine is coming of age.

The partnership has been billed as a complete integration of doctors, patients and labs in a virtual environment.

The collaboration, which should be in full swing by April, will allow Teladoc physicians to connect patients with an Analyte technician in their area to collect the blood or specimen sample needed to confirm a diagnosis. Results are electronically available to physicians and patients within one to three days.

“It gives us the ability to significantly expand the scope of what we do and do it in a manner that is really convenient for the consumer,” said, Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic.

Analyte will provide lab services for chronic and acute care, behavioral health and preventive health services. Analyte has more than 1,000 locations with sites in all 50 states.

Plans call for expanding services to include in-home testing, which Analyte already does for patients getting tests for sexually transmitted diseases. Home testing involves having a technician come to the patient’s location but is still less expensive than a visit to an urgent care center, Analyte CEO Frank Cockerill, said in an interview.

Teladoc recently announced that it had recorded its 2 millionth patient visit. It also released findings of a study it commissioned that was led by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researcher Dr. Niteesh Choudhry which found thatthe 2 million Teladoc visits generated a total savings of $900 million to the healthcare system .

That corresponds to an average savings of $472 per visit.

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Johnson & Johnson plans more price transparency; eyes U.S. tax, healthcare changes

Johnson & Johnson's chief executive officer said on Tuesday that responsible drug pricing is a priority and discussed changes he would like to see on the U.S. tax code and healthcare policy, one day after meeting with President Donald Trump.

The diversified healthcare group got off to a rocky start to the year, forecasting 2017 sales and profit below Wall Street estimates and reporting 2016 fourth-quarter sales short of expectations. J&J shares fell 2.1 percent to $111.52

It also said it was reviewing strategic options, including the possible sale, for some diabetes care businesses.

High prices for prescription medicines have come under extreme criticism from health insurers and politicians, and J&J was the first major healthcare company to report results since Trump's scathing remarks on the subject.

J&J said it has generally limited annual product price increases to the single digits in percentage terms, something other companies have begun to pledge to do.

"It's important to price responsibly. We believe that has been our practice," CEO Alex Gorsky said on a conference call.

The company is planning to release what it is calling a pharmaceutical transparency report. It will include expanded disclosures on U.S. pricing, research and development expenses, and compassionate care programs, Gorsky said.

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