A roundup of the week’s top healthcare technology news.
1. Walmart unveils new health clinic
Walmart took a giant leap into the healthcare industry when it opened Walmart Health in Dallas, Georgia, on Sept. 13. The 10,000 square-foot center offers a wide range of health services including: primary care, dental, optometry, counseling, a lab and imaging, hearing, wellness education and behavioral health.
The new health center offers more services than Walmart’s 19 existing Care Clinics that only take up about 1,500 square-feet in its stores in Georgia, Texas and South Carolina. Walmart plans to open another Walmart Health Center in Calhoun, Georgia, in early 2020. Will Walmart Health open in a city near you? Stay tuned to find out.
2. New York bans flavored e-cigarettes
Vaping is making people deathly ill. That’s why New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday a ban on flavored e-cigarettes except for tobacco and menthol. New York also plans to raise the age of e-cigarette sales from 18 to 21 come November.
“These are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people,” said Gov. Cuomo in a press conference on Sunday.
Close to 400 people have suffered lung illnesses and six have died so far this year. Vaping is more than likely the cause, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Michigan also banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes earlier this month and the Trump administration is expected to do the same across the country.
3. Health systems call for actionable insights at point of care
Administrators at both Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute laud the advances of digital health across the globe. But the Boston-based health systems also recognize digital health services still need tweaking to help data flow more effectively.
“I often hear from clinicians, ‘If a (digital health solution) is not in our health record, we’re not going to use it because it’s not in our workflow,’” said Lesley Solomon, senior vice president and chief innovation officer at Dana-Farber.
John Halamka, M.D., chief information officer at Beth Israel and a Harvard professor, agreed. Dr. Halamka said digital health startups could be doing more to help healthcare providers “…deliver the right care, at the right time, to the right patient.”
4. Siri, what’s my heart rate?
Apple plans to launch three medical studies via a new Research app for Apple Watch. The studies will look at how the Apple Watch monitors hearing, heart and movement, and women’s health issues. For the women’s health study, Apple will partner with researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
“Women make up half of the world’s population, yet even today there has been limited investment in studying their unique health needs,” said Michelle A. Williams, a reproductive epidemiologist and dean of faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School. “This study, unprecedented in scope, will greatly advance our understanding of the biological and social determinants of women’s health and lead to better health outcomes.”
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association will work with Apple on the heart and movement study. University of Michigan scientists will examine hearing health for Apple and share its data with the World Health Organization’s Make Listening Safe campaign.
5. Employer health benefits costs on the rise
U.S. employers should expect to pay 6.5 percent more for health benefits in 2020, found an Aon study. The study shows that costly drugs, higher cost of care and less use of services are to blame. Employers are responding to rising costs by taking “activist” roles to find solutions and safeguarding employees from carrying the increased financial burden.
Will Sneden, Aon’s U.S. health and benefits practice leader, believes how employers interact with provider networks may change over the next few years. “There’s a lot more interest among the employer-sponsored programs in looking at those different types of network structures and maybe a willingness to consider a tighter network of higher-value providers,” Sneden said.