Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|February 15, 2023

Iowa news

UI researcher wins global biomedical science prize

University of Iowa researcher Michael Welsh, Ph.D., will receive the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences for discoveries leading to the creation of cystic fibrosis treatments. The treatments correct the folding, trafficking and functioning of the mutated cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator. The Carver College of Medicine professor and director of the UI Pappajohn Biomedical Institute will share the award with three researchers from Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Welsh, who has been at the UI for almost his entire career, has been leading groups of scientists studying lung biology and cystic fibrosis for almost 40 years. (Corridor Business Journal)

UnityPoint ‘MyChart’ app to start charging for messages to physicians

One of Iowa’s biggest health care systems is now charging patients to message their physicians. UnityPoint Health has an app called “MyChart,” where patients can see their test results, schedule appointments and message their doctors. Messages to physicians now cost between $36 and $70. UnityPoint says that patients’ health insurance plans will cover some of them. The amount people pay is based on how much time it takes to fulfill the patients’ concerns, not about the subject matter. There are exceptions to the new charges. Messages about appointments and refilling prescriptions will not be billed. (KCCI)

University of Iowa Health Care to address health care access gap in southeast Iowa City

Although the southeast side of Iowa City is the most densely populated part of the city, it has the fewest primary care options, according to an analysis by UI Health Care. Many residents must travel outside of their immediate community to access care. The university has begun the request-for-proposal process to identify the developer and location to establish a new facility in southeast Iowa City. Completion is anticipated by 2025. Besides serving patients’ primary care needs, the southeast Iowa City facility will enhance the university’s ability to train future physicians to help address the shortage of physicians statewide and conduct medical research. (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics)

National news

Six health information networks to implement exchange agreement

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has announced the first six health information networks that will begin to implement the voluntary Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, a common set of rules required by the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 and finalized last year to securely and more easily exchange health care information among networks and providers. Commonwell Health Alliance, eHealth Exchange, Epic TEFCA Interoperability Services, Health Gorilla, Kno2 and KONZA will work with coordinating entity The Sequoia Project to begin the TEFCA onboarding process to become qualified health information networks. (American Hospital Association)

The No. 1 problem keeping hospital CEOs up at night

Workforce problems in U.S. hospitals are troublesome enough for the American College of Healthcare Executives to devote a new category to them in its annual survey on hospital CEOs’ concerns. In the latest survey, executives identified “workforce challenges” as the No. 1 concern for the second year in a row. Financial challenges, which consistently held the top spot for 16 years in a row until 2021, were listed the second-most pressing concern in the American College of Healthcare Executives’ annual survey. Although workforce challenges were not seen as the most pressing concern for 16 years, they rocketed to the top quickly and rather universally for health care organizations in the past two years. (American College of Healthcare Executives)

Why some hospitals are understaffing physicians

Private equity investors are taking over more medical staffing companies, leading to physician cuts being made in emergency rooms to save money and increase profits. More third-party staffing companies are deploying this cost-saving strategy: reduce physician labor and replace them with practitioners, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who can perform many of the same tasks for less than half the pay. American Physician Partners — one staffing company who employed this strategy — said this is a way to ensure emergency rooms remain fully staffed, calling it a “blended model” that allows physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants “to provide care to their fullest potential.” (National Public Radio)

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