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Prescription Drug And Healthcare Costs Are Rising – Forbes

Over the last 100 years, the practice of medicine has come a long way. More focus on evidence-based research, new innovations in medical technology, and novel therapeutic and treatment methods are just some of the ways that modern medicine has been able to increase both quality of life and the average life expectancy of society. However, one major area of concern in the last decade has been prescription drug pricing.

Late last week, famed pharmaceutical information and discount company GoodRx published a report titled Prices for Prescription Drugs Rise Faster Than Any Other Medical Good or Service. After comparing The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index to the GoodRx Drug List Price Index, the comprehensive report found that while prices for most medical goods and services are rising, prescription drugs have seen the largest increase. Since 2014, prescription drug prices have increased by 33%. During the same period, other medical services, like inpatient hospital services, nursing home care, and dental services have increased by 30%, 23%, and 19%, respectively.

Pharmaceutical production line of capsule medication.

But the rising cost of healthcare services is a long-standing debate. The American healthcare system is complex, and has many key stakeholders, each with their own opinion on how to fix healthcare spending. However, one of the most researched and emerging solutions to reducing healthcare costs is to address social determinants of health (SDOH), which, according to the CDC, include conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes. Numerous studies continue to find that resolving problems centered around SDOH often mitigates downstream health problems, leading to an overall cost-savings for the patient, healthcare system, and community. In essence, the idea is to shift focus to making proactive healthcare choices, rather than finding reactive solutions.

Fixing SDOH however, will take significant effort by multiple parties. Indeed, more emphasis will need to be given to primary care services, which are often the lifeline for preventative and routine healthcare services in a given community. By emphasizing routine primary care screenings, healthier lifestyles, and working with individuals at a grass-roots community level, more progress can be made towards creating healthier societies, thereby fulfilling the proactive approach.

Overall, sustainable changes in this arena will likely require a significant shift in mindset and culture one that prioritizes creating healthier lifestyles to prevent sickness, rather than management of illnesses as they arise.

Though this is not an easily resolved issue, one thing is for certain without sustainable and effective solutions, healthcare prices will only continue to rise, inevitably making it more difficult for communities and individuals to achieve long-term success in healthcare outcomes.

The content of this article is not implied to be and should not be relied on or substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment by any means, and is not written or intended as such. This content is for information and news purposes only. Consult with a trained medical professional for medical advice.

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Prescription Drug And Healthcare Costs Are Rising - Forbes

Change Healthcare-HCEG Research: COVID-19 Reshuffles Healthcare Executives’ Priorities – Business Wire

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Most healthcare leaders are rethinking critical issues and reordering eight of their top ten priorities in the processincluding changing their #1 priorityas a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research conducted by InsightDynamo and commissioned by Change Healthcare (Nasdaq: CHNG) and the HealthCare Executive Group (HCEG).

The Industry Pulse COVID-19 Flash Report, published today, reveals how healthcare leaders are accelerating digital and payment transformation, with an emphasis on the consumer experience, telehealth, and interoperability. As a result, stakeholders are increasing investment in healthcare IT and fast-tracking initiatives to help prepare for the pandemics aftermath and future pandemics. One priority which did not change: privacy/security, which remains front and center for C-suite survey respondents, especially as the industry migrates towards a digital future.

Researchers presented 288 healthcare leaders with the 2020 HCEG Top Ten, a list of priorities compiled by the HealthCare Executive Group annually for the past decade. InsightDynamo then asked respondents if the 2020 HCEG Top Ten still reflected their priorities in the wake of COVID-19. The majority of respondents (66%) indicated they would re-order, add to, or delete certain priorities.

Healthcare executives are re-thinking everythingfrom how and where care is being delivered to how it is being reimbursed, said David Gallegos, senior vice president of Consulting Services, at Change Healthcare. Theres long been a recognition and desire to advance healthcares digital transformation, but the pandemic has brought the industry to a tipping point. Looking back at what the Industry Pulse research revealed just eight months ago, and comparing that to this new study, we can see how far and how fast the industry has moved in just a few months. The impact could be a real game-changer for payers, providers, and consumers.

Among the key findings from the Industry Pulse COVID-19 Flash Report are:

Comparing the Industry Pulse COVID-19 Flash Reports results to the 2020 HCEG Top Ten list, one item of concern stands out: Privacy/Security remained unchanged in its ranking, holding its lower Top 10 position in both the original 2020 HCEG Top Ten and the new Flash report.

We have seen more change in 10 weeks than we have in the last 10 years, but privacy and security didnt budge on the list, which indicates it is still not being taken as seriously as it should be, said Ferris Taylor, executive director of the HealthCare Executive Group, a non-profit association of healthcare leaders. Privacy and security should be top-of-mind when you consider a main take-away from the Flash Report is the acceleration of digital transformation. Given the rise of cyberattacks since the pandemic began, privacy and security should be of paramount importance.

To compile the report, InsightDynamo researchers surveyed 288 stakeholders from healthcare providers, health plans, technology vendors, consultants, and other organizations between June and July 2020. More than half of respondents came from provider or payer organizations, with 17% from technology providers or vendors; 14% from healthcare consultancies; and the remainder from academia, labs, or government. Nearly 40% were within the C-suite and 25% in manager, director, or consultant roles.

The full Change Healthcare-HCEG Industry Pulse COVID-19 Flash Report can be accessed at https://inspire.changehealthcare.com/Industry-Pulse-Results-2020.

For more information on Change Healthcare, please visit our website, hear from our experts at Insights; Follow us on Twitter; Like us on Facebook; Connect with us on LinkedIn; and Subscribe to us on Libsyn, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

About InsightDynamo

Acting as an extension of the companies it services, InsightDynamo delivers insight-powered intelligence to drive innovation. Founded in 2014, InsightDynamo provides market research and analysis expertise to companies building new products, developing new markets, or refining their current product and service offerings. Learn more at https://www.insightdynamo.com.

About the HealthCare Executive Group

The HealthCare Executive Group is a national network of executives who help navigate the strategic and tactical issues facing their organizations. HCEG provides a forum where the open exchange of ideas, opportunities for action, collaboration and transformational dialogue can freely ensue and supports a platform for its members and partners to promote healthcare innovation, technology, and the development of lifelong professional relationships. For more information on the HCEG, please visit http://www.hceg.org. Read our blog at hceg.org/blog, follow us on Twitter at @HCExecGroup, connect with us on LinkedIn, and subscribe to our newsletter at hceg.org/newsletter-signup.

About Change Healthcare

Change Healthcare (Nasdaq: CHNG) is a leading independent healthcare technology company, focused on insights, innovation, and accelerating the transformation of the U.S. healthcare system through the power of the Change Healthcare Platform. We provide data and analytics-driven solutions to improve clinical, financial, administrative, and patient engagement outcomes in the U.S. healthcare system. Learn more at changehealthcare.com.

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Change Healthcare-HCEG Research: COVID-19 Reshuffles Healthcare Executives' Priorities - Business Wire

Monument dedicated to health care workers, victims of COVID-19 to become part of artificial reef – Suncoast News

A special monument and plaque dedicated to the efforts of frontline and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to the memory of those lost to the virus, will soon be erected by Hernando County.

Well, perhaps a better way of putting it is a monument will be submerged soon not within the county, but a few miles offshore at the Bendickson artificial reef site.

The monument is a project of the Hernando County Port Authoritys Waterways and Aquatic Services division. The idea was spawned in April to commemorate the sacrifices of those in the health industry risking their own health to help those afflicted with the potentially deadly virus, said Keith Kolasa, Aquatic Services manager. It also will honor the memory of those who died. The concrete base of the memorial is built and awaiting a metal plaque in the works.

Kolasa said it was hoped the plaque would have been ready sooner, but like many businesses the company making it has experienced backlogs related to the pandemic.

Everybody is backed up, said Kolasa. Its amazing how many things are hard to get now and how long it is taking.

Kolasa said his fellow county employees have a personal connection to the project, as many have friends and family in the health care field working to care for the infected. Data as of this week showed Hernando County has seen 2,876 cases of the virus, with 380 people hospitalized since data collection began in March. Of those infected, 105 have died.

Thankfully were seeing cases (of COVID-19 infection) going down, said Kolasa. But weve had a lot of people die from it.

He added that while most will never see the underwater monument, it will stand for generations as solemn reminder for those diving the reef.

We had the idea to basically do something nice to recognize those in the medical field and also the victims, said Kolasa. We have people who have a lot of family in the medical field.

The Bendickson Reef is about 20 miles off Hernandos coast and is the site of concrete rubble, decommissioned U.S. Army tanks, and cast concrete reef balls specially designed to support marine life. The reef also is the final resting place of the infamous Ghost Ship, a 46-foot sailboat scuttled to become part of the reef last year.

The wording of the plaque will read: This monument is placed to honor the victims of COVID-19 and pay tribute to the heroic actions of health care providers and frontline workers.

Its perhaps fitting that a habitat designed to foster and sustain life will be the site of a memorial honoring those whose careers are dedicated to the same goal.

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Monument dedicated to health care workers, victims of COVID-19 to become part of artificial reef - Suncoast News

Fact check: Bollier claims Marshall voted against health care protections – KSHB

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Two doctors are competing for a Kansas U.S. Senate seat and health care is emerging as a topic the candidates are both hitting hard.

Truth Be Told took a closer look at a television ad by the Barbara Bollier for Kansas campaign that claims U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall voted against protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

The campaign ad references a bill called the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act." The legislation, sponsored by a Minnesota Democrat, said it would lower drug prices, encourage Medicaid expansion and protect people with pre-existing conditions.

According to voting records, the bill passed in the House of Representatives on a party-line vote 234-179. Rep. Marshall was one of the 179 lawmakers to vote no.

Congressman Marshall released a statement after the vote and said his action was a vote against "Medicare for all." The Republican lawmaker argued quality and innovation would be compromised. Instead, Marshall said he's part of a Republican solution that "solves the pre-existing conditions issue, increases patient choices and decreases costs."

On Bollier's campaign website, the Democrat said Marshall's plan would result in underfunded high-risk pools, elimination of essential health benefits, introduction of short-term health plans and cuts to Medicaid.

The topic of pre-existing conditions and health care is personal for many voters, including Percy Monroy, who has diabetes.

Monroy is from Guatemala and has lived in the United States for 20 years. He explained his quality of life is better dealing with the disease in the U.S.

I would say that in another country your life span is way shorter and especially with all the complications that diabetes has and the damages that happens in the body," Monroy explained.

Yvonne Ornelas-Rios is a nurse practitioner with Vibrant Health and said diabetes is just one of many common health issues patients come in with.

"The diabetes, the hypertension and the high cholesterol or dyslipidemia they come in threes," she said.

While Bollier and Marshall work to convince voters they're the best choice for the Senate, Monroy said he's able to enjoy his life thanks to the care he's receiving.

With all that support, my life has been almost relatively normal," Monroy said.

41 Action News is committed to providing comprehensive information on the 2020 primary and general elections with an emphasis on several key issues the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and race relations. Count on us to provide news and information to help you make an informed choice at the polls.

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Fact check: Bollier claims Marshall voted against health care protections - KSHB

Mayo’s Chief Digital Officer: The hospital of the future isn’t just about technology – MedCity News

Technologists conjure up images of the hospital of the future as a network of connected devices, automated systems and virtual visits. While all these innovations are important, Rita Khan said planning for the future of healthcare should go beyond technology alone.

I think there are a lot of opportunities to step back and not just think about interesting technologies that can be applied, she said at MedCity INVESTs virtual conference. I think care delivery itself will change significantly over the next 10 years.

Khan was named Mayo Clinics first chief digital officer in December. Though Mayo Clinic was no slouch when it comes to technology, Khan was tasked with building solutions that lead to a better consumer experience.

For instance, shes interested in remote patient monitoring and remote diagnostics. But more broadly, she sees an important opportunity to improve the patient experience and take a more holistic look at care, whether it takes place in patients homes, the hospital, or another setting.

We should rethink or reinvent the whole system. How do you support distancing with your family? How do you make it safe for employees? she said. All of these things we need to rethink and build into the hospital of the future.

Dr. Genevieve Melton-Meaux, chief analytics and care innovation officer for Minnesota-based M Health Fairview, is also taking a closer look at how to strike a balance between virtual and in-person care. For example, the health system is looking to use virtual visits for behavioral health appointments when possible, and is also using remote patient monitoring for patients with Covid-19 who dont need to be hospitalized.

Melton-Meaux is also looking at ways to make the entire process smoother for both patients and providers. For example, most telehealth platforms currently are not fully integrated with health record systems.

Were still working through a lot of these pains, she said. We are at such an interesting time where it is clear that healthcare is going to become and has to becomes much more consumer centric.

Payers and policy

Payers will also have a big role to play in the future of digital care something that both leaders are watching. Prior to the pandemic, virtual programs traditionally were reimbursed at a fraction of the cost, or in some cases, werent covered at all.

Now, legislators and insurers are stuck with the task of figuring out what that rate should be in the long term.

The idea of being reimbursed for a phone visit at party was unheard of, Melton-Meaux said. Theres not an expectation for parity. Theres an expectation that it can be viable. That a provider with expertise can provide these services in a way thats convenient for patients.

Khan said that Mayo Clinic was actively having conversations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and private payers. Notably, a handful of insurers have committed to offering plans with no-copay telehealth next year, a broad expansion from what was covered prior to the pandemic.

Everyone understands care and models of care are changing. Theres a huge push for better health outcomes and driving affordability and frankly I think viMrtual care can be a part of that, Khan said. We cant lose this opportunity and this moment of transformation.

Both leaders are also keeping an eye to other legislation that could change the patient experience, such as new interoperability requirements that are going into effect, and HHS price transparency rules, which would require health systems and insurers to disclose their negotiated rates.

There is an absolute responsibility for all members of the value chain for healthcare to move in the direction of consumer transparency and empowerment, Khan said. That means we all have to do a little lifting. The interoperability rules will help with that.

Photo credit: nevarpp, Getty Images

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Mayo's Chief Digital Officer: The hospital of the future isn't just about technology - MedCity News

What’s Next: Will health care industry, individuals act on the lessons learned? – Crain’s Detroit Business

COVID-19 has challenged the U.S. health care industry like no other pandemic, disaster, regulatory or payment change in modern history.

Hospitals have streamlined over the past 40 years to efficiently deliver care at the highest possible quality, but also to maximize profits or stretch limited resources. They have drilled on emergency preparedness plans.

But the COVID-19 pandemic upended cost-saving approaches and exposed weaknesses in hospital staffing strategies designed to limit nurses and other health care workers to daily inpatient volumes.

The failure of hospitals to be prepared for COVID-19 in March and April is a systemic problem that has been criticized for years by nurses and health care unions. The "short staffing" of critical departments often leads to employee dissatisfaction, burnout and resignations.

COVID-19 exposed many hospitals' lack of personnel and supplies to adequately treat the hundreds and thousands of patients requiring critical and intensive care. Of the nation's nearly 1 million hospital beds, only 10 percent are reserved for intensive care.

The federal government also was woefully unprepared, with insufficient reserves of ventilators, respirators and other personal protective equipment. A national emergency coordination plan for COVID-19 testing, use of face masks and stay-at-home orders in regions of high viral spread also failed to materialize.

Governments have underfunded public health systems for decades. As county hospitals have closed, public health clinics have been used to provide free or low-cost services for the under-insured or uninsured.

Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and behavioral health providers also were caught flat-footed. The pandemic sliced through many long-term care facilities predominated by seniors in their 70s, 80s and 90s, many with multiple chronic diseases and weakened immune systems.

Nearly 25 percent of the deaths to COVID-19 in Michigan were at nursing homes.

Long-term underfunding of post-acute care facilities and of behavioral health care also has played a role in unpreparedness in Michigan for the influx in COVID-19 patients and community impact.

So far in Michigan, more than 84,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 with more than 6,200 deaths. Probable cases and deaths are about 5 percent higher than those totals. The infection rates and deaths also are much higher in the minority population with 26 percent of Blacks and 8 percent Hispanic groups affected, indicating to federal officials social and health inequities.

What we've learned: Within one week of the first COVID-19 positive case on March 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the shutdown of a number of businesses, including theaters, bars, casinos and indoor restaurant dining, to limit community spread. She has issued more than 170 executive orders and directives related to COVID-19.

Still, some question whether the state response was quick or strong enough, given that Michigan ranked in top three states for positive cases and deaths into June. As of Aug. 3, the state ranks No. 8 in death rates by population at 65 per 100,000.

Hospitals have been shoring up supply chains by investing in American companies for personal protective equipment and rethinking "just-in-time" supply and staffing strategies.

They also have reorganized medical departments to quickly pivot to critical and intensive care uses if COVID-19 volume increases.

Physicians, dentists and other outpatient health care providers are preparing for a new normal that includes social distancing patients and using telemedicine and other technologies.

Doctors of COVID-19 patients now closely watch for blood clots, place ventilated patients on stomachs and monitor organs such as lungs, heart, liver, kidneys and brain.

Unanswered questions: Big ones are when will vaccines be available; how effective will they be and how long will they last. In 2019, the influenza vaccine was 45 percent effective but only about 65 percent get inoculated. More will be needed to stifle COVID-19.

What's next: Experts say the world must be prepared to more quickly contain and then coordinate a response to the next pandemic. Doctors and hospitals are preparing for a possible second wave this fall. They say they are more prepared now than in March and April. They have stocked up on personal protective equipment, ventilators and oxygen support machines and medicines known to minimize the virus' inflammatory effects. They also can quickly reopen intensive care units designed for COVID-19 patients and more appropriately triage and isolate patients.

Rapid and widespread viral testing and vaccine development must be perfected as a first line of defense.

But the bottom line, say experts, is that after public alerts are given and containment and protections are put in place, it is up to individuals to accept shared safety rules to reduce community spread and deaths.

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What's Next: Will health care industry, individuals act on the lessons learned? - Crain's Detroit Business

Commentary: Universal health care system will save money and lives – Times Union

"I can't breathe" the last words attributed to two victims of police brutality, Eric Garner and George Floyd has become a haunting refrain of the Black Lives Matter movement. I was struck by the confluence of events we've witnessed in the past three months when I noticed someone wearing a mask emblazoned with that phrase.

"I can't breathe" were likely the last words uttered, or at least thought, by hundreds of coronavirus victims as they faced intubation and attachment to a ventilator. If and it's a big if they were lucky enough to be in a well-financed hospital with available ICU beds and staff to monitor them.

Data published in The New York Times revealed that, even accounting for differences in underlying health conditions and age, poor people living in communities with underfunded safety-net hospitals in New York City were up to three times more likely to die from their coronavirus infections than patients in hospitals managed by the same large corporations in wealthier parts of the city.

It's likely that this inequity held true in many socioeconomically and racially segregated cities from coast to coast as the pandemic spread.

And yet, both for-profit and nonprofit hospital systems have poured our health care dollars into capital improvements and continue to do so even during the pandemic, a direct result of the perverse incentives built into our health care system. When patients become customers, and health care is marketed as an exclusive luxury, public health concerns and stewardship of health care dollars fall by the wayside.

While the continuing efforts of President Donald Trump and his Republican apologists to dismantle the Affordable Care Act are reprehensible and shameful, it is also now quite evident that the accomplishments of that law were sharply limited by the concessions made to the insurance companies and other middlemen who contribute little value to our citizens' health needs.

I hope that the energy produced by the groundswell of indignation and outrage will not be wasted trying to shore up the ACA. We need a national health program that offers the same access and quality of care to every human being in America. The money saved by eliminating the health care profiteering of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries would amount to nearly $1 trillion annually. This is one-third of the country's total health care expenditures, and would easily cover the cost of extending coverage to 100 percent of Americans, with money left over to improve and expand what Medicare already guarantees.

The possibility of coverage for home care through the end of life would reduce the warehousing of our elderly in nursing homes, some of which became coronavirus death traps. Essential services like mental health care, dental and vision care should be universally available. Multiple studies have shown that a nationwide Medicare for All program would reduce the total cost of health care for over 90 percent of Americans, with any increase in taxes for the majority more than offset by lower out-of-pocket expenditures, the end of co-pays and constantly rising insurance premiums.

We must avoid the trap of allowing the for-profit hospitals and insurance companies to continue to connive to skim off the healthy, less-expensive patients, which they would certainly learn to do if we simply add a competing "public option" or "Medicare buy-in."

The health insurance industry has its knee on our necks. As surely as unregulated policing is a danger to the health of the most vulnerable among us (and by association, all of us), so unregulated profiteering in health care is making us sicker as individuals and as a society.

We must tell our elected officials to let us inspire equality, fairness, and hope for our own, our children's and our grandchildren's health by creating a system of equitable health care for all.

Dr. David Ray is chairman of the Capital District Alliance for Universal Health Care.

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Commentary: Universal health care system will save money and lives - Times Union

What’s it like to be an Arizona health care worker during COVID-19? Valley 101 digs in – AZCentral

Nasal swab test tubes sit read for COVID-19 testing at a drive through testing site hosted by the HeroZona Foundation in the South Mountain Community College parking lot in Phoenix, Ariz. on July 9, 2020. Tests were free and vehicles waited in a line that stretched nearly 1.5 miles from Broadway Road to Baseline Road along 24th street. Earlier in the week Arizona reached number one in the world for COVID-19 cases. (Photo: Thomas Hawthorne/The Republic)

Health care workers in Arizona are struggling throughthe burdens of a public health crisis that has hospitalized thousands of Arizonansand pushed emergency rooms and ICUs nearfull capacity.

With higher than usual patient-to-nurse ratios, stringent PPE protocols and looming fears over exposing their loved ones to the novel coronavirus, health care workers in Arizona are feeling tired, dejected and desperate for lawmakers and the public to take COVID-19 seriously.

"They've been trying to do two to oneICU patients to a nurse, but that's starting to be hard,"Miranda Dunkelbarger, an ICU nurse in Apache Junction, said. Some days shesaid she's had three patients at a time.

When New York emerged as a national hotspot in March and Apriland becamethe subject of eye catching stories about overwhelmed hospitals andmass graves for the dead, health care workers in Arizonawatched in both fear and trepidation How long before it came to Arizona?

By early August, the novel coronavirus infected more than 185,000 Arizonans and killed more than 4,000. In June and July, Arizonawas thrust in the national spotlight as a global hotspot, at one pointrecording a 25% positivity rate of tests conducted,a key COVID-19 metric.

This week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, follows Dr. BradDreifuss and nurse Miranda Dunkelbarger. Dreifuss isanemergency physician based in Tucson and co-founder of HCWHosted, a coalition dedicated to building pandemic preparedness plans for communities.

Producer Taylor Seely dives into what they're experiencing and what they want people to know about their work.

Related: What's it like when you or someone you know gets COVID-19?

The best way to listen is to subscribe to Valley 101 on your favorite podcast app, but you can also stream the full episode below.

NOTE: Valley 101 is intended to be heard. But we also offera transcript of the episode.There may be slight deviations from the podcast audio.

Want to submit a question to Valley 101? Click here.

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What's it like to be an Arizona health care worker during COVID-19? Valley 101 digs in - AZCentral

Psychological impacts of this moment are overwhelming, Black mental health care providers say – Street Roots News

Portland therapists serving the Black community say theyre at capacity as protesters and others fill their appointment slots

ZaDora Williams is busier than ever. As a therapist and social worker in Portland who services the African American community, her waitlist has grown exponentially since Portlanders began rallying around the Black Lives Matter uprising.

Many people seeking counseling services at Williams private practice, Sankofa Center for Healing, are participants in the protests spurred by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

When Williams initially noticed this trend, she looked into how the regular deployment of tear gas and munitions might be impacting her clients mental health. She was shocked to find that while chemical irritants continue to be deployed on protesters,there was little peer-reviewed research exploring this topic.

So, in June, as part of the research team at Dont Shoot Portland, she helped expose the mental and physical health risks of tear gas being deployed on Portlands demonstrators.

If youre tear-gassed, that can also bring about anxiety and trauma symptoms, she said. Just witnessing someone getting tear-gassed, you can experience vicarious trauma.

A review widely cited in that report which aided Dont Shoot Portland in landing temporary court-ordered relief on the use of tear gas under certain circumstances was particularly revealing. It showed the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after collective actions like the ones taking place in Portland are comparable to the impacts of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and armed conflicts.

Compounding the trauma of a daily life punctuated by panic-inducing crowd-control munitions are centuries of oppression of Black people. Its happening now, and its happened for a long time, said Anthony Jordan, the addiction services manager for Multnomah County. He was moved to open Agape Healing and Consulting to provide training to workplaces following the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager in Florida.

I started doing research and looking at the manifestations of slavery and family history, and the impact that slavery had on my family over time, Jordan said. It started making sense to me that this situation with Trayvon Martin had impacted me, not necessarily because of his death but because of all the other historical things that had been felt. And it was unresolved.

When Jordan spoke with Street Roots in July, hed seen 10 requests for trainings in the span of a single week; its a lot more than hed get in a week before the movement began.

Adding to the current moment is the increased sharing of photographs and video footage of violence perpetrated against Black people on TV and across social media.

Making a spectacle of violent footage on TV and across social media, Jordan said, has deep historical roots related to the lynching of Black people in public squares. The difference now is that the audience is much larger because of todays technology.

To show us in the public square doesnt seem like a new concept. Theyre not understanding the impact its having on the people who look like the people theyre showing over and over again, he said. Its like, sometimes I wonder, what is the purpose? We know he was killed by the police. Do you have to show us so much to prove the injustice?

Paired with a raging global health crisis that disproportionately affects people of color in the U.S., the psychological impact of the moment for many is impossible to ignore.

I think its exhausting. Its exhausting for more than one reason because I think a lot of Black people, before anything the pandemic, before the protesting, before any of those things they were already experiencing significant racial injustices and systemic racism, he said.

Williams said most Black therapists she knows are fielding the same influx of new patients she has seen at her practice. When she spoke with Street Roots in July, she acknowledged she was on a waitlist for therapy services herself.

Theres not enough mental health services to meet the needs of the African American community right now, she said. Thats one of the detrimental effects right now, is that people need the services because theyre fighting against the system that is oppressing them. And then you also have to be harmed during the process.

Since protesting began, Williams is seeing more clients with symptoms like hypervigilance, panic and anxiety.

A word in the name of Williams practice, sankofa, comes from the Ghanaian language Twi.

It means to go back and fetch what has been lost or taken, she said.

Its often accompanied by the image of a bird walking forward, its head turned, looking back at the path it has carved. Looking back, Williams said, is a necessary part of sustaining oneself in the present moment.

Thats kind of my approach, she said.

Williams said that to better understand the Black experience, the history of abuse in the medical and school systems must be understood. Growing up on the east side of Chicago, she couldnt help but notice how many Black children were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or punished for behavior when their symptoms aligned more closely with signs of traumatic stress.

Historical trauma is here; we feel it. Its killing us; its killing Black moms. Its due to institutionalized racism and implicit biases, Williams said.

For those seeking services that account for these culturally specific traumas,the population of therapists and counselors in Oregon is overwhelmingly white.

A report from the Oregon Health Authority in 2018 surveyed more than 3,000 professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists across the state, and more than 90% of respondents were white. Black therapists and counselors encompassed less than 1% of the workforce, and even fewer were Indigenous.

The numbers do little to reflect the needs of Black people experiencing the burden of racism,who are disproportionately affected by higher rates of mental health issues. The increased need for mental health services is national, NPR reported in June.

It can be challenging not seeing someone that looks like you helping you, said Jonicia Shelton,who works as a therapist at Portland Public Schools and runs her own private practice, Talks with June.

I think we forget sometimes that were impacted by white people, and that people arent taking that into consideration, she said. It is always a different feel to have someone who looks like you talk with you. Because a lot of their experiences are close to yours.

At the moment, Shelton has around 30 clients and much to her dismay she also isnt able to accept any more. When she was 5, she lost her mother, and growing up, she began unpacking the inner workings of her own familys trauma. Interactions with a social worker growing up led her to pursue mental health and social work.

Shelton urges people who can't find or afford a therapist to engage in self-care by talking to trusted mentors and unplugging from social media.

"Everybody doesnt have to see a therapist all the time," she said. "They can go to church, they have preachers, they have life coaches, they have teahcers that they love."

She said that she knows a lot of people who would make amazing therapists but that the difficulties of attaining and affording licensures stand in the way.

Williams sees that, too. She said recruitment of Black individuals to mental health fields is lacking, and its really noticeable in school systems where Black counselors and therapists are few and far between.

And then the support of, when we get Black people into those fields, what does the support look like, to sustain and keep Black people in those lines of work? she said. There are significant gaps around even practitioners just not taking the time to account for what the Black experience is, and how that may be showing up.

The concept of trauma-informed care seeks to ensure, in part, that workplaces and health care systems account for the systemic impacts that racial, historical and familial trauma may have on people. Those who lead workshops on the topic, such as Steffannie Roache, have seen an increased demand for education around it since the protests began in late May.

Roache also provides culturally specific therapy services for Black, Indigenous and people of color at her private practice, which is also at maximum capacity. Its overwhelming, she said.

Thats one of the difficult parts of whats going on right now, she said, is people trying to feel OK and do what they need to bring about social justice, but at the same time, they have their own mental health issues, anxiety and depression.

She said she is seeing far more requests than usual for her workshops and has had to turn some of them down.

In June, Roache participated in Trauma Informed Oregons web discussion series, which features the Black mental health care providers doing this work in the state. The organization, formed in 2006, seeks to share resources around trauma-informed care, and is aimed at preventing and ameliorating the impact of adverse experiences on children, adults, and families, according to its mission statement.

On one hand, Roache said, shes glad to see companies and organizations wanting to learn.

On the other hand, she said, theres a demand for us and its not just me theres a demand for us to be the teacher-trainer for free.

Roache compares the requests to asking the victim of a violent crime to teach the perpetrator about the negative impacts of their actions.

When you are wanting to engage honestly, you want people at the table to actually help make changes to policy, procedures, to make real change; then we can chat about that, she said. Its got to be more than this piecemeal, one-off check the box sort of thing.

Will this increased interest in providing more equitable mental health care practices across the state be sustained when protesting in the streets stops?

Im hoping that people will become more trauma informed, especially as it relates to race and whats going on in the world, Shelton said. I definitely think its going to continue to grow and get better as long as were in this pandemic because people will open up the doors more. We shall see.

Charley McNeely, the director of outreach, inclusion and community engagement at Trauma Informed Oregon, said sustaining the momentum will require far more than an increased interest in trauma-informed training. She seeks to highlight marginalized populations and the movement of trauma-informed care and to make sure the care is inclusive to the people who need it most.

Right now, shes documenting the experiences of people with different racial, class and gender identities during the coronavirus pandemic, and through the Black Lives Matter movement. Shes also working on providing families with information navigating the uncertain future of the upcoming school year, while working with Trauma Informed Oregon to determine how the organization will move forward through the pandemic.

She told Street Roots that trauma-informed care can be summed up in two words: meaningful relationships. And while its been challenging to craft those relationships online during the pandemic, McNeely said that the United Sates current crossroads have pushed the concepts of trauma-informed care from theory to practice.

I think it shows that theres a need for trauma-informed care to happen all the time, she said. Now is the time to make it, operationalize it and make it part of your infrastructure and how your organization operates. Its the perfect storm for that to happen, unfortunately.

Creating a more trauma-informed workplace means undertaking a whole cultural shift, McNeely said, and true change calls for better representation for people of non-dominant culture identities in the Oregon Legislature, passing laws and using inclusive language.

I think having a seat at the table from the very beginning is where it starts if you want to shift power, she said.

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Psychological impacts of this moment are overwhelming, Black mental health care providers say - Street Roots News

Health Care Workers of Color Nearly Twice as Likely as Whites to Get COVID-19 – Kaiser Health News

Health care workers of color were more likely to care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, more likely to report using inadequate or reused protective gear, and nearly twice as likely as white colleagues to test positive for the coronavirus, a new study from Harvard Medical School researchers found.

The study also showed that health care workers are at least three times more likely than the general public to report a positive COVID test, with risks rising for workers treating COVID patients.

Dr. Andrew Chan, a senior author and an epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the study further highlights the problem of structural racism, this time reflected in the front-line roles and personal protective equipment provided to people of color.

If you think to yourself, Health care workers should be on equal footing in the workplace, our study really showed thats definitely not the case, said Chan, who is also a professor at Harvard Medical School.

The study was based on data from more than 2 million COVID Symptom Study app users in the U.S. and the United Kingdom from March 24 through April 23. The study, done with researchers from Kings College London, was published in the journal The Lancet Public Health.

Lost on the Frontline, a project by KHN and The Guardian, has published profiles of 164 health care workers who died of COVID-19 and identified more than 900 who reportedly fell victim to the disease. An analysis of the stories showed that 62% of the health care workers who died were people of color.

They include Roger Liddell, 64, a Black hospital supply manager in Michigan, who sought but was denied an N95 respirator when his work required him to go into COVID-positive patients rooms, according to his labor union. Sandra Oldfield, 53, a Latina, worked at a California hospital where workers sought N95s as well. She was wearing a less-protective surgical mask when she cared for a COVID-positive patient before she got the virus and died.

The study findings follow other research showing that minority health care workers are likely to care for minority patients in their own communities, often in facilities with fewer resources, said Dr. Utibe Essien, a physician and assistant professor of medicine with the University of Pittsburgh.

Those workers may also see a higher share of sick patients, as federal data shows minority patients were disproportionately testing positive and being hospitalized with the virus, Essien said.

Im not surprised by these findings, he said, but Im disappointed by the result.

Dr. Fola May, a UCLA physician and researcher, said the study also reflects the fact that Black and Latino health care workers may live or visit family in minority communities that are hardest-hit by the pandemic because so many work on the front lines of all industries.

The study showed that health care workers of color were five times more likely than the general population to test positive for COVID-19.

Their workplace experience also diverged from that of whites alone. The study found that workers of color were 20% more likely than white workers to care for suspected or confirmed-positive COVID patients. The rate went up to 30% for Black workers specifically.

Black and Latino people overall have been three times as likely as whites to get the virus, a New York Times analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows. (Latinos can be of any race or combination of races.)

Health care workers of color were also more likely to report inadequate or reused PPE, at a rate 50% higher than what white workers reported. For Latinos, the rate was double that of white workers.

Its upsetting, said Fiana Tulip, the daughter of a Texas respiratory therapist who died of COVID-19 on July 4. Tulip said her mother, Isabelle Papadimitriou, a Latina, told her stories of facing discrimination over the years.

Jim Mangia, chief executive of St. Johns Well Child and Family Center in south Los Angeles, said his clinics care for low-income people, mostly of color. They were testing about 600 people a day and seeing a 30% positive test rate in June and July. He said they saw high positive rates at nursing homes where a mobile clinic did testing.

He said seven full-time workers scoured the U.S. and globe to secure PPE for his staff, at one point getting a shipment of N95 respirators two days before they would have run out. It was literally touch-and-go, he said.

All health care workers who reported inadequate or reused PPE saw higher risks of infection. Those with inadequate or reused gear who saw COVID patients were more than five times as likely to get the virus as workers with adequate PPE who did not see COVID patients.

The study said reuse could pose a risk of self-contamination or breakdown of materials, but noted that the findings are from March and April, before widespread efforts to decontaminate used PPE.

Chan said even health care workers reporting adequate PPE and seeing COVID patients were far more likely to get the virus than workers not seeing COVID patients nearly five times as likely. That finding suggests a need for more training in putting on and taking off protective gear safely and additional research into how health care workers are getting sick.

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Health Care Workers of Color Nearly Twice as Likely as Whites to Get COVID-19 - Kaiser Health News

LAFCO dissolves the Palm Drive Health Care District – Sonoma West

On Wednesday, Aug. 5, the Sonoma Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted unanimously to dissolve the Palm Drive Health Care District. LAFCOs action was recorded with the county the next day. The County of Sonoma, the successor agency for the health care district, now inherits all of the district's assets, liabilities, debts, records and taxing authority.

With the stroke of a pen or a keystroke LAFCO put an end to the 20-year saga of the Palm Drive Health Care District (PDHCD), which was founded in 2000 to provide support for Palm Drive Hospital.

The dissolution of the district will have no effect on the hospital, which was sold in 2019 to a private company, AAMG, for use as a long-term acute care facility.

Once the district sold the hospital, long-time critics, like former PDHCD board member Jim Horn, argued that the district no longer had a reason to exist and started a petition campaign to dissolve it. Under the gun of the petition, the district ultimately decided to dissolve itself and has spent the last few months negotiating the terms of the dissolution with the county. Last week, LAFCO simply took matters into its own hands and dissolved the district on its own accord.

Youd have thought that would be the end of it. Youd be wrong.

A new non-profit rises from the ashes

In a move that infuriated critics, the Palm Drive Health Care District granted $200,000 on its way out the door as seed money for a new nonprofit, the Gravenstein Health Action Coalition, which had until the dissolution operated as a subcommittee of the district, granting funds for local public health initiatives.

Critics say the $200,000 grant violates Measure W, the parcel tax measure that funded the district and for which most folks in west county pay between $100 and $155 a year. The dissolution of the district doesnt end these yearly payments. They will now be collected by the county and will continue for 15 to 20 more years, until the districts debts are paid off.

In a celebratory missive to his supporters after the dissolution of the district, Horn named this grant as one of the outstanding issues still left to be resolved.

First is the $200k in Measure W taxes that the district illegally granted in the last few weeks to a new non-profit group established by the district itself, Horn wrote. We will try to convince the county to claw back that money for use in paying down (the districts) debts.

A related question is whether the public will ever get to see the Hanson-Bridgett report, which supposedly contains a legal opinion on whether the district is allowed to use Measure W money to make such general public health grants in the first place.

The county is now the successor agency so it has the Hanson-Bridgett report, and it can decide what it wants to do about it, said PDHCD board member Richard Power, who ran on a platform of dissolving the district. They can decide whether they want to claw back the $200,000 from this new entity.

That phrase, claw back, came from an email from county assessor Erick Roesser who threatened that the county might do just that if the parcel tax proceeds didnt meet the costs of paying and administering the districts debts.

Will the hospitals new owner have to pay the county $1.2 million?

Power said that another outstanding issue is the question of whether AAMG, the hospitals new owner, will have to pay the county $1.2 million. The district sold the hospital for $2 million in cash and a $1.2 promissory note that, among other things, specified that AAMG would keep the urgent care open for at least 10 years or else pay an additional $1.2 million. AAMG closed the urgent care this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The question of whether to pursue AAMG for the additional $1.2 million is now a matter for the county to decide.

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LAFCO dissolves the Palm Drive Health Care District - Sonoma West

Employer Direct Healthcare Announces Partnership with Trend Micro, Inc. – PRNewswire

DALLAS, Aug. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Employer Direct Healthcare is excited to announce its partnership with Trend Micro, Inc. Beginning in January 2020, Trend Micro began offering Employer Direct Healthcare's SurgeryPlus benefit, a supplemental benefit providing surgical concierge services with a focus on quality care, lower costs, and a better member experience.

The members participating in Trend Micro's health plan will have access to the SurgeryPlus benefit's full-service health care concierge for over 1,400 non-emergent procedures. When they choose to utilize the SurgeryPlus benefit, members will be paired with their own dedicated Care Advocate. Their Care Advocate will assist them with everything from their selection of a surgeon, to scheduling appointments, transferring medical records, and even arranging travel, removing the stress and confusion often associated with planning for medical care.

As an added benefit, when participants elect to use a participating surgeon through the SurgeryPlus benefit, Trend Micro will waive their out-of-pocket financial responsibility (deductible and coinsurance).

John Zutter, CEO of Employer Direct Healthcare commented, "We are thrilled to partner with Trend Micro as part of their strategy to provide superior health benefits for their employees and their dependents. The current COVID-19 crisis has had profound impacts, both societally and financially. People across the country have had to put their medical needs on hold and are now struggling to navigate the system. At SurgeryPlus, we guide our clients' employees and their dependents through the health system, focusing on providing access to top-quality surgical care at fair prices."

About Employer Direct Healthcare and the SurgeryPlus Benefit

Employer Direct Healthcare is an innovative health care services business providing high-quality and cost-efficient solutions for self-funded employers and their members. The company's core product, the SurgeryPlus benefit, provides full-service surgical concierge services to covered members, managing the entire process on their behalf. The SurgeryPlus benefit helps members identify quality providers at lower costs, helping employers and their plan participants dramatically reduce surgical costs while providing satisfying outcomes for members. Employer Direct Healthcare is majority owned by Dundon Capital Partners, LLC, a Dallas-based private investment firm, founded by Tom Dundon.

Contact for Employer Direct Healthcare: 855-200-2099.

SOURCE Employer Direct Healthcare

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Employer Direct Healthcare Announces Partnership with Trend Micro, Inc. - PRNewswire

Pharmaceutical companies are improving how they engage with healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic – Healthcare Finance News

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical companies are changing how they engage with healthcare providers, which in turn is helping providers better serve patients, according to findings of a global Accenture survey of 720 general practitioners, oncologists, cardiologists and immunologists.

For example, most providers said pharma companies are increasingly providing education on how to better treat patients remotely and help them manage their conditions in light of COVID-19.

Pharma companies are also helping patients understand where they can access labs, infusion centers or imaging centers, and are offering solutions to providers and their practices so they can more easily afford and keep stock of therapies. In the U.S., information on affordability programs that pharmaceutical companies offer have been particularly helpful.

The survey, which was conducted in May and June across China, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., indicates that many patients and providers expect these changes are here to stay.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

While the news is mostly good, the data suggests there's more that pharmaceutical companies could be doing to support providers and patients, who want more interactions that are virtual and self-directed. For instance, 65% of providers said they value self-administration methods for patients, including auto-injectors or wearable devices -- something that has been added to more and more wish lists as the pandemic has continued.

A clear majority, 62%, said they placed value on remote monitoring tools that can track health data from the home, a number that has increased since before the pandemic. Many patients have also said that they want to go to their providers' offices less often even after the public health crisis has abated, suggesting an opportunity for pharma companies to continue to respond to the public's changing needs.

Before COVID-19, 64% of meetings with pharma sales reps were held in person. During the pandemic, this shifted to 65% of meetings held virtually. Many providers reported they expect restrictions in access to healthcare facilities will continue for some time perhaps even permanently. Indeed, 43% said they are currently restricting who can enter the office for professional reasons (i.e.: no pharmaceutical reps). Twenty-eight percent of those with restrictions said they believe it is something they may implement permanently and another 44% said they would keep the restrictions "for the foreseeable future."

But providers also said they still want to learn about new treatments and interact with pharma sales reps -- they just want to do so in different ways. Eighty-eight percent of the providers surveyed said they want to hear about new treatments despite being in the middle of the pandemic. Four in 10 providers said the likelihood of starting a patient on a new treatment has increased, as they have a greater ability to monitor patient response, more access to information on new treatments and more time to learn about them.

And in fact, 61% said they are interacting with pharma sales reps more during COVID-19 than they did before. But they want pharma sales reps to have a better understanding of their needs and the needs of their patients. For example, 58% said they have been spammed by a pharmaceutical company.

THE LARGER TREND

Despite these positive developments, many Americans are still wary of the pharmaceutical industry, with nearly nine in 10 saying they're "very" or "somewhat" concerned the industry will try to raise drug prices during the pandemic, found a June survey by the nonprofit West Health and Gallup.

Similarly, 84% are very or somewhat concerned that the general cost of care will rise, with 79% very or somewhat concerned their health insurance premiums will go up in response to the pandemic. In each of the latter two scenarios, 41% of Americans are "very" concerned.

Twitter:@JELagasseEmail the writer:jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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Pharmaceutical companies are improving how they engage with healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic - Healthcare Finance News

Global Outlook for Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality in the Healthcare Market 2020-2025 – ResearchAndMarkets.com – Business Wire

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - Forecast (2020 - 2025)" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering.

The Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality market was valued at $543.23 million in 2017 and is projected to grow to $1467.83 million by 2023, at a CAGR of 18.02%.

The major drivers for Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in the healthcare market are the increasing demand for robotic surgeries instead of by-pass surgeries. Rising demand for cardiovascular surgeries is another major driver. The recovery time with these technologies is much less compared to other surgeries. The improvement in the skills of trainees by learning surgical procedures using this technology is also a driver for Augmented and Virtual reality in the medical field.

The major challenge for Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in the healthcare market is the lack of visualizing the depth, where there is a chance of making mistakes in the surgeries. The other challenge is the strain that is caused to eyes due to watching screens continuously for longer durations. The low battery capacity, that is the battery lasts only for five hours where the battery has to be charged again, when the surgery takes a long time which is also a challenge in this market. The other major challenge is the equipment cost which is very high.

The base year of this study is 2017, with forecasts up to 2023. The study presents a thorough analysis of the competitive landscape, taking into account the market shares of the leading companies. It also provides information on unit shipments. These provide the key market participants with the necessary business intelligence and help them understand the future of the market. The assessment includes the forecast, an overview of the competitive structure, the market shares of the competitors, as well as the market trends, market demands, market drivers, market challenges, and product analysis. The market drivers and restraints have been assessed to fathom their impact over the forecast period. This report further identifies the key opportunities for growth while also detailing the key challenges and possible threats.

Some of the Key players in this market that have been studied for this report include: CAE Health Care, Intuitive Surgical, Hologic Inc., Philips Health care, Microsoft, Siemens Health Care, Atheer, Augmedix and many more.

Market Research and Market Trends of Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in the Healthcare Market

Key Topics Covered:

1. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - Overview

2. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - Executive summary

3. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - Comparative Analysis

4. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - Forces

5. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - Strategic analysis

6. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - By Build-up system (Market Size -$Million / $Billion)

7. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - By Type (Market Size -$Million / $Billion)

8. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - By Application (Market Size -$Million / $Billion)

9. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - By End-user industry (Market Size -$Million / $Billion)

10. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - By Geography (Market Size -$Million / $Billion)

11. Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market - Entropy

12. Company Analysis

13. Appendix

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/agzw8

About ResearchAndMarkets.com

ResearchAndMarkets.com is the world's leading source for international market research reports and market data. We provide you with the latest data on international and regional markets, key industries, the top companies, new products and the latest trends.

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Global Outlook for Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality in the Healthcare Market 2020-2025 - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business Wire

Unions’ big lie to Quebec health care workers battling the pandemic: The government will protect you – WSWS

By Richard Dufour 10 August 2020

Nurses at the Cit-de-la-Sant Hospital in Laval, Montreals largest suburb, staged a sit-in Friday, July 31. They were protesting dire working conditionsincluding chronic understaffing and forced overtimethat have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sit-in was part of a growing series of demonstrations and work stoppages that have taken place at health care institutions in Quebec and throughout Canada in recent months.

Many of these protest actions have been organized on Facebook by rank-and-file workers, acting independently of the unions. Like their counterparts in the United States and internationally, these workers have been impelled to act by unsafe working conditions, in particular the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The palpable anger of health care workers is bound up with growing opposition among all sections of the working class to the ruling elites disastrous response to the health emergency and the economic fallout from the pandemic. But far from channelling this combative sentiment into a working class counteroffensive after decades of capitalist austerity, the unions are doing all they can to stifle and politically neuter it.

This was purpose of an op-ed column written by Jeff Begley, president of the FSSS-CSN, Quebecs largest health care workers union. Published last Tuesday in Le Devoir, a Montreal daily, the article was co-signed by many local FSSS-CSN union presidents.

It made extremely limited criticisms of the actions of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ)-led provincial government with the aim of pacifying the scorching anger of rank-and-file hospital and CHSLD (nursing home) workers over the governments criminally negligent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But a careful examination of the letters contents can only fuel the growing rank-and-file rebellion against the unions impotence and misleadership.

Under the title Repeating the mistakes of the first wave is not an option, the article echoes the lie that the pandemic took Canadian authorities by surprise and that their catastrophic handling of the crisis is simply due to mistakes. In reality, it is the result of a deliberate policy of putting profit before human lives.

For years, the various levels of government in Canada and Quebec ignored the repeated warnings of public health experts, epidemiologists and other scientists about the dangers from, and growing risk of, a global pandemic, and continued and intensified the budget cuts that have ravaged the health care system for decades. This was all the more criminal given that outside of East Asia, Canada was the country to experience the worst outbreak of the 2002-3 SARS epidemic, thereby exposing the devastating consequences of austerity and health care privatizations

For two critical months after the novel coronavirus had been identified at the beginning of 2020 as a major health threat, the federal Liberal and provincial governments did nothing to protect the population and front-line health care workers. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global health emergency on January 31 for the coronavirus, the federal Liberal government waited until March 10 to even request the provinces to identify potential shortages of key medical supplies, such as ventilators and PPE.

In their Le Devoir column, Begley and the other FSSS-CSN officials attempt to sow illusions in the CNESST (Quebecs Health and Safety Commission), calling on it to force employers to increase protective measures at work. The CNESST is an integral part of the capitalist state. Its role is to protect employers from heavy lawsuits in the event of workplace accidents, and provide injured and even permanently maimed workers with meagre compensation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CNESST has rejected the vast majority of complaints from workers who have invoked their right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions. Half of its board of directors is made up of senior union officials, such as CSN (Confederation of National Trades Unions) Vice President Caroline Senneville and QFL (Quebec Federation of Labour) President Daniel Boyer.

Begleys letter also promotes the lie that the CAQ government, which combines anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim chauvinism with an agenda of privatization and austerity, can be relied on, or at least pressured into, prioritizing working peoples lives and livelihoods over the profits of Quebecs capitalist elite. The government, public health authorities and CNESST must take responsibility, declares Begley.

Begley makes no specific demands to address workers concernsnot even for the provision of N95 masks and other vital PPE to all hospital and CHSLD workers, or for the lifting of the emergency decrees under which the government, in the name of fighting COVID-19, has given itself the power to override all collective agreements in the health care sector and effectively conscript workers.

This only underscores that the unions will not lift a finger to protect the workers they purport to represent in the face of a pandemic that has already killed almost 9,000 people in Canada, including 5,695 in Quebec; infected more than 13,500 Quebec health care workers; and caused a global health, economic and social disaster.

Instead, Quebecs unionsand this is as true for the QFL and CSQ (Centrale des syndicats du Qubec) as it is for the CSN intend to continue and deepen the policy of close collaboration with the CAQ government that they have followed since the beginning of the pandemic.

The unions immediate response to the eruption of COVID-19 in Quebec was to proclaim their readiness to work closely with the government, and agree to an indefinite suspension of negotiations to renew collective agreements for 550,000 Quebec public sector workers. Later, when the government reversed course, on the calculation it could exploit the crisis to impose further contractual rollbacks, the unions agreed to work toward three-year interim agreements in which all questions pertaining to staffing, workloads and work rules are set aside, thereby locking in the existing ruinous working conditions for a further three years. For the past four months, the unions have kept their members in the dark, while they negotiate behind closed doors with the CAQ government on this basis.

In his article, Begley did not so much as mention the ministerial emergency orders (decrees) the government has used to reorganize workplace tasks, eliminate summer vacations, and otherwise abrogate health workers rights. That is because the unions have no intention of opposing, let alone organizing defiance of these orders, just as they have done nothing against the steady deterioration in working conditions over the past decades and the repeated use, under Liberal and Parti Quebecois governments, of emergency anti-strike laws to impose concession contracts.

Canadas union leaders have backed Justin Trudeaus federal Liberal government in its bailing out of big business and the financial aristocracy with hundreds of billions of dollars, while providing working people who have lost their jobs and income because of the pandemic with a mere $2,000 per month. The unions are also supporting the reckless back-to-work campaign being mounted by all levels of government even as the pandemic continues to spread.

The treacherous role that the unions have played during the pandemic is the continuation of their decades-long suppression of the class struggle. Since the 1980s, they have systematically isolated and sabotaged workers struggles, while politically tying them to pro-austerity and pro-war parties, from the Parti Quebecois, Bloc Quebecois and Trudeaus Liberals, to the NDP.

With the pro-capitalist unions unable and unwilling to defend their interests, health care workers must take matters into their own hands to protect their own health and lives and those of the public. The fight against a resurgence of the deadly COVID-19 virus depends on workers own initiativethe formation of workplace safety committees, entirely independent of the unions.

These rank-and-file committees must establish and enforce measures to protect workers, patients and their families in health care facilities (including ensuring adequate PPE and staffing levels and humane scheduling) on the basis of what is necessary from the standpoint of health and safetynot what the government and management claim is financially affordable. They must demand a massive reinvestment of resources in health care and the protection of all workers from the economic consequences of the pandemic as part of a broader political struggle for a workers government committed to socialist policies.

Through these committees, health care workers will be able to forge close ties with working people throughout the public sector and industrynot only in Quebec, but in the rest of Canada, the US and internationallywho are facing the same big business assault on jobs, working conditions and their lives.

We urge workers who want to establish such rank-and-file health and safety committees to contact the World Socialist Web Site.

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Unions' big lie to Quebec health care workers battling the pandemic: The government will protect you - WSWS

Health care will cost this much in retirement but probably even more – MarketWatch

A 65-year-old couple retiring this year should expect to spend about $295,000 on health care costs alone in retirement but quite frankly, that estimate is conservative.

The figure, calculated by Fidelity Investments as part of its annual Health Care Cost Estimate, includes Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D premiums and deductibles, but it does not include over-the-counter medications, vitamin supplements and glasses. Long-term care insurance is also not included, which on its own could be an additional thousands of dollars a month. (Fidelity also didnt take COVID-19 or related costs into account when modeling its health care cost estimates.)

Long-term care insurance covers the expenses the elderly may face when theyre no longer able to conduct certain regular activities (such as bathing or feeding) or when they need to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. The expense was not included in Fidelitys calculation because of the sheer fluctuation in prices and variables necessary to determine the proper coverage plan, said Hope Manion, chief health and welfare actuary and senior vice president of Fidelity Workplace Consulting. To try to predict what long-term care expenses you may need is tricky and depends on the individual, she said.

See: Living in retirement during COVID-19? How to keep your cool

Some people may want to enroll in long-term care insurance, especially if they have a family history of dementia or other debilitating illnesses. The cost for coverage rises the closer someone is to retirement age, which is why Manion said people in their 40s and early 50s may want to look into plans now. The average cost of living in a semiprivate room in a nursing home in the U.S. was $6,844 a month in 2016, or $7,698 a month for a private room, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility was $3,628 a month. The cost for a health aide was $20.50 an hour.

Read: Choosing an HSA can save you money now, and make you even more later

Even without long-term care expenses, however, health-care costs are constantly increasing and future retirees will need to take that rise into account when saving and planning for their futures. The 2020 estimate of $295,000 is a 3.5% increase from last year alone, and an 18% increase from 2010. A single woman retiring at 65 in 2020 can expect to pay around $155,000 for health care during her retirement while a man at the same age may pay $140,000. This is separate from the money theyll need to pay for housing, groceries, any travel or leisure or potential inheritances they leave their loved ones (if they can or decide to do so).

Read: 5 things to know about health care in retirement

If youre thinking about your portfolio and saving strategy, you want to make sure you can take $300,000 of that depending on who you are and if youre single, half that and then look at whether or not you can live on what you saved aside from that, Manion said.

Also see: This is how much you need for retirement and how COVID-19 will change that

Along with savings strategies, Americans fortunate to have health benefits through an employer should review their offerings during open enrollment later this year. A fourth of companies said they changed employee health benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, but 79% of employees said they dont intend to spend any extra time sorting through their options.

Its a great time for employees to be digging in, Manion said. During open enrollment, employees can see if they have a Health Savings Account available to them, which offers triple-tax benefits but can be unaffordable to some participants because of its high deductibles. They should also review deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and what might be the impact of a major life event that occurred in 2020, such as a new baby or marriage.

There may also be benefits employees did not know existed or did not have much use for before, such as telemedicine, meditation services and wellness programs. With such a stressful and volatile year, some people and their workplaces are becoming more open to talking about mental health.

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Health care will cost this much in retirement but probably even more - MarketWatch

Anthem Foundation and March of Dimes Address Health Inequity in Maternal Healthcare – PRNewswire

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --March of Dimes, the leader in the fight for the health of all moms and babies, and longtime partner Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., today announced a $1.1 million grant with their latest plans to tackle America's maternal and infant health crisis, which is particularly devastating for communities of color. The partnership aims to close the health equity gap by addressing the racial disparities and social determinants of health that have disproportionally impacted Black mothers who are more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes and have premature babies compared to all other women.

The new grant will support programs in 16 states and Washington D.C with a core component of the grant focusing on health equity partnerships with more than 20 hospitals, which includes Breaking Through Implicit Bias in Maternal Healthcare training. According to the 2003 National Academies for Science, Engineering and Medicine, "racial and ethnic minorities tend to receive a lower quality of healthcare than non-minorities, even when access-related factors, such as patients' insurance status and income, are controlled." In response, March of Dimes developed this training, in collaboration with Quality Interactions, to improve patient-provider communications and treatment decisions, contributing to improved quality of care at a critical intervention point. The course provides an overview of implicit bias, its impact on the maternal infant health crisis, history of structural racism in the United States, strategies for providers to both mitigate racial bias in maternity care and to commit to a culture of equity.

The grant will also support programs for moms and babies, such as Supportive Pregnancy Care and interconception care. Through Supportive Pregnancy Care, pregnant women receive their clinical care, share support with other women at a similar stage in pregnancy, and gain knowledge and skills related to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Interconception care programs help new moms to get information and services that promote birth spacing, smoking cessation, and mental health.

"The U.S. is in the midst of a maternal and infant health crisis, which is particularly devastating to women and babies of color. Data show that the U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations in the world for childbirth," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Chief Medical and Health Officer, Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Scientific Officer at March of Dimes. "Roughly every 12 hours a woman dies from pregnancy-related causes, and the CDC reports that 60 percent are preventable. Programs like these, supported by the Anthem Foundation, are invaluable in making a positive impact for moms and babies."

In the U.S. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causesi and Black babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthdaysii compared to their White counterparts. Systemic racial injustice has affected not only health care, but also social determinants of health, such as access to food, education, housing and jobs. These factors, together with the direct experience of racial discrimination and unequal treatment, have built a health equity gap that is directly and negatively impacting moms and babies of color.

"Anthem and its Foundation continue to lead with our commitment to improving lives and communities across our nation," said Razia Hashmi, MD, MPH, Vice President for Commercial Clinical Operations at Anthem. "For over 10 years, our partnership with March of Dimes has provided over 47,000 individuals with access to care. We are working tirelessly to create enduring change in communities across the country, and addressing the factors driving disparities in our health system and in society as a whole."

Over the past decade, Anthem Foundation has contributed close to $8 million to support March of Dimes programs aimed at reducing premature birth across the country. These programs have had a significant impact with only 7.3 percent of participants in group prenatal care delivering prematurely, compared to a national average of 10 percent.

About March of DimesMarch of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family. Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

About Anthem FoundationThe Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the organization's commitment to improving lives and communities. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on critical initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company's year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates' donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.

i [Petersen EE, Davis NL, Goodman D, et al. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths-United States, 2007-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68(35):762765.]ii [Ely DM, Driscoll AK. Infant mortality in the United States, 2017: Data from the period linked birth/infant death file. National Vital Statistics Reports, vol 68 no 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.]

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http://www.marchofdimes.org

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Anthem Foundation and March of Dimes Address Health Inequity in Maternal Healthcare - PRNewswire

Tenant at Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood received $67 million in COVID-19 money – Villages-News

A major tenant at the new Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood has received $67 million in COVID-19 money from the taxpayer-funded relief program.

The $67 million received by Florida Cancer Specialists makes it the largest recipient of Coronavirus relief funding in the Sunshine State.

Center For Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood

The money comes at a time when Florida Cancer Specialists continues to increase its market share in Floridas Friendliest Hometown. Florida Cancer Specialists is a headline tenant at the 240,000 square-foot state of the art healthcare facility, the Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood. Gov. Rick Scott was the guest of honor in 2018 when Florida Cancer Specialists broke ground at Brownwood.

Gov. Rick Scott was the guest of honor in 2018 when Florida Cancer Specialists broke ground at Brownwood.

Florida Cancer Specialists has three other locations in The Villages.

Earlier this year, Florida Cancer Specialists agreed to pay a $100 million fine after admitting in federal court that it had worked with unnamed co-conspirators to limit cancer treatment options for patients. You can read the complete deferred prosecution agreement to which Florida Cancer Specialists agreed at this link: FLORIDA CANCER SPECIALISTS DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENT

A $20 million state fine was also leveled against Florida Cancer Specialists which is based in Fort Myers.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has vowed that the $67 million in federal COVID-19 relief will not be used to pay the state fine.

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Tenant at Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood received $67 million in COVID-19 money - Villages-News

UT incubator takes the lead in health care consortium targeting Covid-19 and future pandemics – Austin Monitor

The University of Texas Austin Technology Incubator is leading a new consortium of more than 50 health care organizations from around the state working to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for future widespread disease outbreaks.

The Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium (TEXGHS) has started connecting medical school, community health care agencies and health care startups to work on pilot projects with issues related to the pandemic. Funded by the Austin-based incubator PandemicTech, the consortium is intended to solve some health care needs caused by the pandemic and will likely receive state or federal funding to expand its network and improve the states health care infrastructure.

Lisa McDonald, director of health care for ATI, said an early survey to gauge interest and potential needs brought responses from 70 companies and groups and led to partnerships between researchers and companies with similar interests. On one such partnership, researchers from the Dell Medical School at UT partnered with the Texas Advanced Computing Center for work on data related to contact tracing.

We used those pilot projects to prove out the model that something like this could be useful both for the company that were assisting and also for the community, she said. From this point on, the way were selecting pilot projects is designed to align with the state of Texas, so when the state tells us that PPE contamination is top priority we go and find pilot projects and companies specifically working on that.

McDonald said the consortium is focused on the immediate need for health care innovation related to the Covid-19 pandemic, while also looking for technologies that will be relevant to future large-scale public health events.

One of our priorities is building resiliency overall, so the tech were working with isnt necessarily around developing a vaccine specific to Covid-19 but creating a vaccine delivery system that could be used in any future mass vaccination of people. Were working to support technologies that can be used to address Covid-19 but can really be used in the future.

Andrew Nerlinger, co-founder of PandemicTech and venture partner at Bill Wood Ventures, said one issue relevant to Austin that the consortium hopes to address is the disparities in infection and recovery from Covid-19 among different demographic groups.

Its been well documented that Covid-19 has really kind of attacked different racial groups or different economic groups more severely, he said. One of the things this innovation consortium is well poised to do is take on that issue of health equity and health quality, particularly with community health organizations that weve been aggressive about getting in front of.

McDonald said that early feedback from health care startups involved in the consortium showed that access to funding, potential partnerships and subject matter experts are the three biggest obstacles preventing their success. Thus far, she said member groups have found success addressing those issues by tapping into the statewide network that could make Texas a national leader in health care security.

Doug Norton, vice president of business development at Inspire Semiconductor and a founding member of the consortium, said the economic development benefits from the connections made will keep medical school graduates in the state.

For years we had too many great talents created here in Texas, whether its at the Dell Medical School or UT Southwestern, and they all end up fleeing to either coast where the biotech startups are, he said. The idea here was to form a medical innovation district its been working well and helps unify the state even more.

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UT incubator takes the lead in health care consortium targeting Covid-19 and future pandemics - Austin Monitor

Consumer Assistance in Health Insurance: Evidence of Impact and Unmet Need – Kaiser Family Foundation

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created new health coverage options and financial assistance to expand coverage and help people remain insured even when life changes, such as job loss, might otherwise disrupt coverage. The ACA also established in-person consumer assistance programs to help people identify coverage options and enroll. A variety of professionals provide consumer assistance, including Navigator programs that are funded through state and federal marketplaces, brokers who receive commissions from insurers when they enroll consumers in private health plans, local non-profit organizations, and health care providers. Recent funding cuts have reduced the availability of Navigator programs.

In the spring of 2020, KFF surveyed consumers most likely to use or benefit from consumer assistancenonelderly adults covered by marketplace health plans (also called qualified health plans, or QHPs) or Medicaid, and people who were uninsuredto learn who uses consumer assistance, why they seek help, and what difference it makes as well as who does not get help and why. The survey also explored differences in help provided by marketplace assister programs and brokers. Key findings include:

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Consumer Assistance in Health Insurance: Evidence of Impact and Unmet Need - Kaiser Family Foundation



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