Longer Looks: Behind The Hospital Money Curtain; Medical Data Breaches
Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy plumbs the Web to find interesting health policy reading.
Scientific American: Money Over Matter: Can Cash Incentives Keep People Healthy?
Think you would stick to a diet if someone paid you for it? Would you be more likely to exercise if you were fined each time you bailed on your scheduled workout? Research in recent years suggests-and a handful of new businesses are betting-that you might. Depending on whether the incentives are positive (such as payment for good behavior) or negative (fines for bad behavior), they are thought to play on different psychological processes. ... The 2010 Affordable Health Care Act allows employers to offer rewards-or to exact penalties-worth up to 30 percent of health insurance premiums for employees who meet certain health targets, such as quitting smoking or getting their blood pressure below a certain measure. But scientists are just beginning to tease out the circumstances in which financial incentives work best-and why (Jordan Lite, 3/21).
Salon: The Planned Parenthood Government Shutdown
Could a successful defense of Planned Parenthood force a government shutdown? The news that a handful of moderate Republican senators Massachusett's Scott Brown, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Maine's Susan Collins oppose cutting federal funding for the family planning nonprofit has defenders of the high-profile organization breathing a huge sigh of relief. pressure from the right is stepping up. A letter sent earlier this week to Congress signed by representatives of two dozen conservative groups called the struggle over Planned Parenthood "a fiscal issue with symbolic resonance." No matter what side of the issue you fall on, there's no doubting the truth of the second part of that statement(Andrew Leonard, 3/23).
Modern Healthcare: Short Of The Mark
A crush of new information about hospital finance is finally starting to roll in and the results suggest that some highly profitable hospitals are skimping on subsidized care to the needy while others with narrower margins appear more generous. After more than a decade of discussion and preparation, the most comprehensive public disclosure of what not-for-profit hospitals do to earn significant tax breaks has begun, with more disclosures to follow in coming months. Even if healthcare reform succeeds in shrinking the ranks of the uninsured and fewer people need what's now referred to as charity care, the results are destined to be parsed and analyzed for years to come (Joe Carlson and Melanie Evans, 3/21).
American Medical News: Carelessness Behind Many Health Data Breaches
For all the high-tech security work that physician practices do so that no outsiders get unauthorized access to their patients' data, one very low-tech cause of data insecurity often is overlooked: plain old forgetfulness. Kaufman, Rossin & Co., an accounting firm in South Florida, issued a report in February that found practices and hospitals are more likely to experience a breach because of an employee losing a thumb drive, mobile device or stack of paper files than because they were targeted for a malicious hacking. ... Whether patient data are stored on a stack of paper files or a mobile computing device, many organizations don't have, or don't enforce, written policies on how the data should be handled(Pamela Lewis Dolan, 3/21).
O, The Oprah Magazine: Can She Change the Way We Treat Cancer?
As the cancer diagnosis sank in, (Laura) Shawver launched into scientist mode. She figured her first step would be to get a molecular profile-or blueprint-of her tumor. "Blueprinting" was a new technique revolutionizing cancer treatment: It identified the exact genetic glitch causing a tumor to grow so that doctors could design a precisely targeted treatment. To Shawver's shock, however, not a single commercial lab in the United States was profiling ovarian tumors. The big cancers-breast, lung, colon-were at the forefront of genetic testing, but no one was applying the tactic to smaller cancers (Emily Stone, April 2011).