Amazon to hire a data scientist for its health team, Medicare deductibles and premiums to increase in 2019, and more.

1) Wanted: A data scientist for Amazon’s health benefits team

Amazon, one of the world’s most innovative companies, is looking for its first data scientist for its health benefits department. According to Amazon’s job listing, candidates must:

  • Document business intelligence and analytics for Amazon’s health plan.
  • Develop and manage health management solutions with partners JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.
  • Have a deep understanding of health plans, how they interact and how they impact population health.
  • Have previous experience with healthcare data sources such as claims, risk adjustment and provider profiling.
  • Possess a master’s degree or PhD in math, computer science, engineering, statistics or similar discipline.

The data scientist should help identify opportunities to improve employee health and wellness while reducing medical expenses.

2) Medicare deductibles and premiums to increase in 2019

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced that Medicare Part A deductibles and Part B deductibles and premiums will increase in 2019. Part A members will not see an increase in premiums since more than 99 percent of Part A participants don’t pay for premiums. Their deductibles may increase by $24, from $1340 to $1364. Part B monthly premiums may go from $134 to $135.50 and Part B deductibles from $184 to $186.

3) Patents for biometric sensing from Walmart and Amazon

Two of the country’s largest retailers have obtained patents for biometric sensing. Walmart has a patent for a shopping cart handle that will send signals to store employees if a shopper’s stress level begins to rise. The cart handle may also send readings about the customer’s visits and shopping habits. Walmart’s patent does not state how the data will be used, but suggests it may track the information to improve consumer shopping experiences.

Amazon’s patent is for a “voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users.” The patent covers tone of voice, user’s words and also things like coughs and sneezes on Amazon devices such as the Echo. By listening to a user’s voice and determining his physical or emotional condition, Amazon would be able to target audio content such as ads or promotions.

4) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid release Medicare Advantage health star ratings

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has released its 2019 ratings for Medicare Advantage (MA) health plans. Here are the results:

  • 19 MA plans earned a five-star overall rating including plans with Tufts, Cigna, Anthem, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and Anthem-Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
  • 74% of MA beneficiaries will have access to a plan with four or more stars.
  • Four MA health plans earned 2.5 stars or lower.

Overall, 90 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees will have access to more than 10 Medicare Advantage health plans in 2019 with enrollment expected to increase by 2.4 million members.

5) Google’s new AI tool detects breast cancer

Google’s artificial intelligence researchers have developed a tool that spots metastatic breast cancer with greater accuracy than pathologists. Scientists trained the algorithm, named LYNA (Lymph Node Assistant), to recognize differences in tumor characteristics and to identify cancer and non-cancer in pathological slides. LYNA’s rate of accuracy is 99 percent.

If the tool becomes available for clinical use, it could lead to more reliable diagnoses for patients and give healthcare providers more time to spend on patient care.

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