KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Mass. Hospitals See 70% Jump In Mistakes

A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, Maryland, Texas, California, Wisconsin and Illinois. 

The Boston Globe: Mass. Hospitals’ Mistakes List Widens
Massachusetts acute-care hospitals reported 753 serious medical errors and other patient injuries last year, a 70 percent annual jump that health officials attributed mostly to expanded definitions of what constitutes medical harm. So-called serious reportable events in other types of hospitals, including those that provide psychiatric or rehabilitative care, rose 60 percent from 2012, to 206. Instances where patients underwent a procedure on the wrong body part, were burned by an operating room fire or a too-hot heating pack, or were subject to contaminated drugs or improperly sterilized equipment saw some of the largest increases in reporting since 2012 (Kowalczyk, 8/14).

Baltimore Sun: Changes Coming To State Employee Health Plan
Maryland officials approved $16 billion in contracts Wednesday that are intended to change the way state employees use health care by offering rewards for taking steps to stay well — and imposing penalties for refusing to comply. Rewards would come in the form of free doctor visits and procedures, while penalties for failing to follow medical advice could go as high as $375 (Dresser, 8/13).

Chicago Tribune: Walgreens To Open More Health Clinics In Texas
Walgreen Co. said Wednesday it will expand its retail health clinics into the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, part of a nationwide push to extend its health care offerings. Walgreen has expanded the clinics into stores in five new states over the past 15 months, seeking to pivot from the mold of the traditional corner drugstore into a full-service primary care provider. The Deerfield-based drugstore chain plans to open clinics in 13 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 14 others in Houston by the end of the year. Nationwide, Walgreen operates more than 400 clinics in 23 states and Washington, D.C. Typically staffed with nurse practitioners or physicians assistants, the clinics are equipped to handle minor illnesses and injuries, as well as vaccinations and diagnosis and management of chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma and hypertension (Frost, 8/13).

The Sacramento Bee: MinuteClinic Opens Its First Walk-In Health Care Clinics In Sacramento Area
Increasingly, a trip to the local drugstore offers another option besides buying cold remedies, hair care products or energy drinks. Add medical care to the list. On Wednesday, Rhode Island-based MinuteClinic opened its first two walk-in medical clinics in the Sacramento region, both inside CVS pharmacies. Patients can see a licensed nurse practitioner for treatment of minor ailments, aches and pains; get a vaccination; have their blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes checked; or complete their child’s school, camp or sports-required physicals (Glover, 8/13).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: New Health Plan May Be Coming To Southeast Wisconsin
Froedtert Health is considering getting into the business of selling health insurance, a move that would put it in direct competition with the likes of UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin. The health system is negotiating with Ministry Health Care to buy an interest in Network Health, an insurer based in Menasha, with the goal of introducing a new health insurance plan in southeastern Wisconsin. The health plan would be tied to a network of hospitals and physicians — including Froedtert, Columbia St. Mary's and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare — that would compete with a similar new network tied to Aurora Health Care (Boulton, 8/13).

Chicago Sun Times: Oak Park Man Joins Health Care Innovation Charge
Adam Piotrowski got stuck when he tried to start a medical device company here three years ago. "I knew Chicago was a great place to start a business, but it was hard to find a place to be based where I could develop and set up prototypes, work with a variety of resources nearby and get in touch with all of the people I needed to," the Oak Park native said. "I had to find my own office space, start everything from scratch, and it was hard to find and hire talent. It was hard to have conversations and network because no life science hub existed." Piotrowski is trying again, and this time he is excited to apply for membership in Chicago’s newest innovation incubator, Matter, expected to open in early 2015 next to digital tech hub 1871 at the Merchandise Mart. On Tuesday, officials with Matter — an incubator for biopharma, health IT and medical device companies — announced at a news conference that they are taking membership applications at (Guy, 8/13).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.