Doctors, Hospitals Went Digital, But Still Can’t Share Records
After spending billions to switch from paper to digital records -- much of it taxpayer subsidized through the economic stimulus package -- providers say the systems often do not share information with competitors. Meanwhile, Walgreen Co. warns that higher generic drug costs and lower reimbursement rates will cut profits and UnitedHealth buys a doctor management company.
The New York Times: Doctors Find Barriers To Sharing Digital Medical Records
Regardless of who is at fault, doctors and hospital executives across the country say they are distressed that the expensive electronic health record systems they installed in the hopes of reducing costs and improving the coordination of patient care — a major goal of the Affordable Care Act — simply do not share information with competing systems. The issue is especially critical now as many hospitals and doctors scramble to install the latest versions of their digital record systems to demonstrate to regulators starting Wednesday that they can share some patient data (Creswell, 9/30).
The Wall Street Journal: Walgreen Profit Remains Pressured By Drug Price Miscalculation
Walgreen Co. continues to pay the price for a miscalculation in the pricing of generic prescription drugs. The pharmacy chain shocked investors in August when it slashed its long-term profit forecast because it had failed to account for a rapid rise in the price of generics as it negotiated contracts to provide prescription drugs under Medicare's Part D program. On Tuesday, it warned that lower drug reimbursement rates and higher costs for generic drugs will continue to hurt profits (Ziobro and Calia, 9/30).
Reuters: UnitedHealth To Buy Doctor Management Company MedSynergies
UnitedHealth Group Inc said on Tuesday it agreed to buy MedSynergies, which manages physician practices, adding about 9,300 doctors to the hospital and health system services that its Optum technology-based business currently serves. UnitedHealth, the nation's largest health insurer, has been expanding beyond its core business of managing care for large employers and the government's Medicare and Medicaid programs through its fast-growing Optum business. Optum clients include about 4,000 hospitals such as the Kaiser Permanante and Dignity Health systems. With the acquisition it will expand its reach to manage doctors and other healthcare professionals who are part of the 4,000 systems as well as add new systems like the Catholic Health Initiatives and Texas Health Resources (9/30).