March 11, 2024
Providers | Tea Leaves
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has named its first chief competition officer, a new role that aims to boost competition in health care in an effort to lower rising costs. Stacy Sanders, who previously served as a counselor to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and as a Senate staffer, will work with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to focus on consolidation in the health care industry by sharing data, creating reciprocal training programs and developing new competition policy initiatives, the agency announced on Monday. The appointment comes as the Biden administration has focused on cracking down on consolidation in health care, which critics say increases costs and downgrades care quality. (Article here)
  • The landscape of maternal health care in the United States is undergoing a seismic shift as rising costs, low reimbursement, a declining birth rate, and legal challenges cause labor and delivery wards to shutter. Health experts are increasingly alarmed by the closures, pointing to their potential to further exacerbate disparities in access to care at a time of high maternal mortality rates. While the full scope of the problem is unknown, a maternity health researcher at the University of Minnesota says the rate of labor and delivery ward closures appears to be accelerating. As birthing infrastructure shrinks, providers and officials are rethinking maternal health care delivery strategies to sustainably address access and social determinants of health. (Article here)
  • A new study finds that diagnostic errors such made in intensive care units have hurt patients more often than previously estimated.  The research was patterned on other studies of adverse events in hospitals dating back to the early 1990s, which helped lay the groundwork for health care monitoring and other strategies to improve patient safety. Further study is needed to understand whether certain patients or certain conditions may be prone to missed or incorrect diagnoses. One researcher said it may be that physicians with higher workloads or certain types of patients are more likely to make an error. (Article here)
  • The American Red Cross has declared an emergency blood shortage, saying patients are at risk of not getting lifesaving transfusions. The number of people volunteering to donate blood is at the lowest level in 20 years, and over the past two decades, the number who donate through the Red Cross has fallen about 40 percent, the nonprofit announced Sunday. Now, there does not appear to be enough donated blood to meet demand among hospitals and patients in need. Data from the national organization America’s Blood Centers indicates that, as of Monday, at least 17 community blood centers have a one-day supply or less, a “critically” low supply that suggests they need donations as soon as possible. (Articles herehere, and here)