News & Commentary

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine rebuts the contention that hospitals will use observation stays to try and avoid penalties for readmitting Medicare patients within 30 days for certain conditions. Good news for patients, who face costs for observation stays that they don’t have with inpatient stays.

Richard G. Stefanacci, DO
Scott Guerin, PhD

Direct costs related to
people not taking their medications have been estimated at over
$100 billion dollars annually. Lack of adherence is associated with a 30% to 50% increase in treatment failures. Health plans that want to address this problem must be nimble and work on many fronts.

Jan Greene

People don’t adhere to treatment regimens for any number of reasons. IBM’s Watson Health thinks it can put its big-brain cognitive thinking cap on and figure us out, as revealed in the data fingerprints we leave behind when we enter the health care labyrinth.

Legislation & Regulation
Richard Mark Kirkner

Katie Holcomb

The FDA’s foot-dragging on drafting regulations on biosimilars, as spelled out in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) of 2009, has frustrated and confounded not only the biopharma industry, but also the public, health plans, and pharmacy benefit managers because potential lower-cost competitors to expensive biological agents are stalled in the regulatory pipeline.

Joseph Burns

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

News & Commentary

Researchers at the University of Southern California tapped into professional pride: Doctors care what other doctors think. They found that “the use of accountable justification and peer comparison as behavioral interventions resulted in lower rates of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections.”

Joseph Burns

Crushing drug prices are creating a move toward monthly limits on out-of-pocket medication expenses. California has already gone this route, with officials in its marketplace insurance exchange, Covered California, trying to make sure that members have access to the medications they need, even high-cost medications.

Cancer Watch
Peter Wehrwein

The reaction from oncology groups was overwhelmingly negative when CMS recently proposed altering the way it will pay for Medicare Part B drugs administered in physician offices or hospital outpatient clinics. But experimentation with value-based pricing still has its supporters.

Interview by Peter Wehrwein

Steven Pearson, MD

The head of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review is leading his comparative effectiveness shop into the drug value fray. “We’re kind of holding a mirror up to the system and saying, look, if you want to talk about value … this is what it looks like.”