How employers are reducing health insurance costs, cybersecurity trends on the horizon, and more

Listen to BioIQ’s chief medical officer on the “The Incrementalist” podcast

Digital healthcare leader Nick van Terhyden, MD, recently interviewed BioIQ’s Chief Medical Officer Joshua Sclar, MD, MPH, on The Incrementalist podcast. The two healthcare experts discussed several topics including advanced trauma life support (ATLS), how to better connect patients to preventive health testing, and why BioIQ’s colon cancer testing programs are a great example of high-impact prevention at scale. Listen to the broadcast at 4 a.m., 12 p.m. or 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday on HealthcareNOW Radio.

Employers cut insurance costs in novel ways

Why pass along higher deductibles when there are other ways to reduce health insurance costs for employees? That’s the question employers are asking, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. Some employers have decided to negotiate directly with hospitals while others have opened their own clinics. “We’re seeing a really keen interest in moving away from high deductibles and coinsurance,” said Forrest Burke, CEO of national markets at UnitedHealthcare.

Even state health plans are jumping onboard. Utah’s state health plan reimburses employees who travel to Mexico to buy cost-effective medication. The health plan also pays employees an extra $500 for each 90-day supply of medication they get from Mexico.

Have you heard about “herd immunity”?

When a large group of people in a community get vaccinated, it lowers the risk of other people becoming infected. That’s called herd immunity and it’s one reason healthcare providers urge patients to get a flu shot this time of year. Herd immunity helps people who have not been vaccinated against the flu (and other diseases) from becoming sick, including people with weak immune systems. Even though the flu vaccine is only about 40 to 60 percent effective in any year, it is still important to get vaccinated.

“While herd immunity is an amazing benefit to having high vaccination coverage, direct protection if you can get vaccinated is the best way to protect your child and yourself from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Amanda Cohn, MD, a pediatrician and senior adviser for vaccines at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Healthcare cybersecurity trends for 2019

Security breaches continue to rise in the healthcare industry, costing more than $1 billion in losses in the U.S. Cybersecurity experts say the biggest threats are:

  • Mixing personal and business activities online – Many consumers use their work email address for personal activities which raises risk. Consumers also don’t know how to turn off tracking devices.
  • Phishing attacks – These activities are on the rise, especially on mobile devices. Data is collected then sold to other companies, leaving consumers vulnerable to targeted phishing emails.
  • Identity theft – In 2017, 27 percent of identity theft was due to healthcare security breaches. Experts recommend multi-layered authentication processes and the use of biometrics.

Security gurus also recommend continuing education for employees and implementing the right tools to address the complexity of an organization’s infrastructure.

Healthcare to see a big increase in big data

Big data in healthcare is projected to grow faster than any other industry over the next seven years, according to an International Data Corporation report sponsored by Seagate Technology. Analysts say healthcare data will sprint past manufacturing, financial services and media, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 36 percent through 2025.

“Providers are taking advantage of greater intelligence being built into diagnostic equipment and patient devices that can collect patient data, upload it to the cloud or a centralized data center for analysis or diagnosis, and then receive instructions or recommendations based on the patient’s specific needs,” the report said.


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