Hospitals Accused Of Paying Doctors Large Kickbacks In Quest For Patients

(Image: from the original news at khn.org – Caitlin Hillyard/KHN illustration/Getty Images)
May 31, 2019 by Jordan Rau

Hospitals are eager to get particular specialists on staff because they bring in business that can be highly profitable. But those efforts, if they involve unusually high salaries or other enticements, can violate federal anti-kickback laws.

For a hospital that had once labored to break even, Wheeling Hospital displayed abnormally deep pockets when recruiting doctors.

To lure Dr. Adam Tune, an anesthesiologist from nearby Pittsburgh who specialized in pain management, the Catholic hospital built a clinic for him to run on its campus in Wheeling, W.Va. It paid Tune as much as $1.2 million a year — well above the salaries of 90% of pain management physicians across the nation, the federal government charged in a lawsuit filed this spring.

In addition, Wheeling paid an obstetrician-gynecologist a salary as high as $1.3 million a year, so much that her department bled money, according to a related lawsuit by a whistleblowing executive. The hospital paid a cardiothoracic surgeon $770,000 and let him take 12 weeks off each year even though his cardiac team also routinely ran in the red, that lawsuit said.

Despite the losses from these stratospheric salaries and perks, the recruitment efforts had a golden lining for Wheeling, the government asserts. Specialists in fields like labor and delivery, pain management and cardiology reliably referred patients for tests, procedures and other services Wheeling offered, earning the hospital millions of dollars, the lawsuit said.

The problem, according to the government, is that the efforts run counter to federal self-referral bans and anti-kickback laws that are designed to prevent financial considerations from warping physicians’ clinical decisions. The Stark law prohibits a physician from referring patients for services in which the doctor has a financial interest. The federal anti-kickback statute bars hospitals from paying doctors for referrals. Together, these rules are intended to remove financial incentives that can lead doctors to order up extraneous tests and treatments that increase costs to Medicare and other insurers and expose patients to unnecessary risks.

Wheeling Hospital is contesting the lawsuits. It said in a countersuit against the whistleblower that its generous salaries were not kickbacks but the only way it could provide specialized care to local residents who otherwise would have to travel to other cities for services such as labor and delivery that are best provided near home.

The hospital and its specialists declined requests for interviews. In a statement, Gregg Warren, a hospital spokesman, wrote, “We are confident that, if this case goes to a trial, there will be no evidence of wrongdoing — only proof that Wheeling Hospital offers the Northern Panhandle Community access to superior care, world class physicians and services.”

Elsewhere, whistleblowers and investigators have alleged that other hospitals, in their quests to fill beds and expand, disguise these arrangements by overpaying doctors or offering other financial incentives such as free office space. More brazenly, others set doctor salaries based on the business they generate, federal lawsuits have asserted.

“If we’re going to solve the health care pricing problem, these kinds of practices are going to have to go away,” said Dr. Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Institute, a Massachusetts nonprofit that advocates for affordable care.

‘It’s Almost A Game’

Hospitals live and die by physician referrals. Doctors generate business each time they order a hospital procedure or test, decide that a patient needs to be admitted overnight or send patients to see a specialist at the hospital. An internal medicine doctor generates $2.7 million in average revenues — 10 times his salary — for the hospital with which he is affiliated, while an average cardiovascular surgeon generates $3.7 million in hospital revenues, nearly nine times her salary, according to a survey released this year by Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruiting firm.

Last August, William Beaumont Hospital, part of Michigan’s largest health system and located outside Detroit, paid $85 million to settle government allegations that it gave physicians free or discounted offices and subsidized the cost of assistants in exchange for patient referrals.

A month later in Montana, Kalispell Regional Healthcare System paid $24 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that it overcompensated 63 specialists in exchange for referrals, paying some as full-time employees when they worked far less. Both nonprofit hospital systems did not admit wrongdoing in their settlements but signed corporate integrity agreements with the federal government requiring strict oversight.

“It’s almost a game of ‘We’re going to stretch the limits and see if we get caught, and if we get caught we won’t be prosecuted and we’ll pay a settlement,’” said Tom Ealey, a professor of business administration at Alma College in Michigan who studies health care fraud.

Dubious payment arrangements are a byproduct of a major shift in the hospital industry. Hospitals have gone on buying sprees of physician practices and added doctors directly to their payrolls. As of January 2018, hospitals employed 44% of physicians and owned 31% of practices, according to a report the consulting group Avalere prepared for the Physician Advocacy Institute, a group led by state medical association executives. Many of those acquisitions occurred this decade: In July 2012, hospitals employed 26% of doctors and owned 14% of physician practices.

“If you acquire some key physician practices, it really shifts their referrals to the mother ship,” said Martin Gaynor, a health policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Nonprofit hospitals are just as assertive as profit-oriented companies in seeking to expand their reach. “Any firm — it doesn’t matter what the firm is — once they get dominant market power, they don’t want to give it up,” he said.

But these hires and acquisitions have increased opportunities for hospitals to collide with federal laws mandating that hospitals pay doctors fair market value for their services without regard to how much additional business they bring through referrals.

“The law is very broad, and the exceptions are very narrow,” said Kate Stern, an Atlanta lawyer who represents hospitals.

‘A Man We Need to Keep Happy’

Lavish salaries for physicians with high potentials for referrals was the key to the business plan to turn Wheeling Hospital, a 247-bed facility near the Ohio River, into a profit machine, according to a lawsuit brought by Louis Longo, a former executive vice president at the hospital, and a companion suit from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Between 1998 and 2005, Wheeling Hospital lost $55 million, prompting the local Catholic diocese to hire a private management company from Pittsburgh, according to the suits. In 2007, the company’s managing director, Ronald Violi, a former children’s hospital executive, took over as Wheeling’s chief executive officer.

The hospital remained church-owned, but Violi adopted an aggressively market-oriented approach. He began hiring physicians — both as employees and independent contractors — “to capture for the hospital those physicians’ referrals and the resulting revenues, thereby increasing Wheeling Hospital’s market share,” the government alleged. Along with greater market share came the ability to bargain for higher payments from insurers, according to Longo’s suit.

The government complaint said at least 36 physicians had employment contracts tied to the business they brought to the hospital. Hospital executives closely tracked how much each doctor earned for the hospital, and executives catered to those whose referrals were most lucrative.

In 2008, the hospital’s chief financial officer wrote in an internal memorandum that cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Ahmad Rahbar “is a man we need to keep happy” because the previous year “he generated over $11 million in revenues for us,” according to the government’s lawsuit.

Dr. Chandra Swamy, an obstetrician-gynecologist the hospital hired in 2009, was another physician whose referrals Wheeling coveted. By 2012, Wheeling was paying her $1.2 million, four times the national median for her peers, according to Longo’s suit.

An internal memorandum by the hospitals’ chief operating officer quoted in Longo’s lawsuit said that the labor and delivery practice where Swamy worked was the biggest money loser among the specialty divisions and that her salary made it “almost impossible for this practice to show a bottom line profit.” But the memo went on to conclude that Wheeling should “continue to absorb the practice loss” because it “would not want to endanger the significant downstream revenue that she produces” for the hospital: nearly $4.6 million a year, according to the lawsuit.

In some cases it was the specialists who demanded lopsided pay packages. When Wheeling, eager to get a piece of the booming field of pain management, decided to recruit Tune, the anesthesiologist responded that he wanted an “alternative/undefined model” of compensation that could earn him $1 million a year, according to Longo’s lawsuit.

Instead of making Tune an employee, Longo alleges, Wheeling leased clinic space to a company created by Tune and paid him $3,000 a day — more than $700,000 a year. In its initial contract, Wheeling also let Tune keep 70% of his practice’s net income, according to the government’s complaint.

Two years later, when the hospital’s chief lawyer raised legal concerns, Wheeling revised the contract, dropping the profit-sharing provision but boosting Tune’s daily stipend to $6,100. The government complaint said this was designed to make up for the lost incentives and thus remained illegally based on how much business Tune generated for Wheeling. Indeed, Tune and his clinic earned roughly the same amount of money as they had received before the new compensation package, the complaint indicated.

Longo said his resistance to such deals rankled both Violi and physicians. He was fired in 2015 because, he alleged, of his objections to various contracts the hospital struck with physicians. The hospital countersued in March, saying Longo had breached his fiduciary duties because he never reported any financial irregularities when he worked there. Wheeling said that after Longo was fired, he threatened to file his lawsuit unless he received a settlement. Longo has asked that the case be dismissed and said in court papers he told Violi about his concerns on “multiple occasions.”

As a whistleblower, Longo is entitled to receive a portion of any money the government collects in its complaint. Longo’s lawyer said he would not comment for this story.

In financial terms, Wheeling’s tactics succeeded. According to the government’s suit, over the first five years under Violi, Wheeling earned profits of nearly $90 million. Violi’s management firm, R&V Associates, also prospered: Wheeling more than doubled the firm’s annual compensation from $1.5 million in 2007 to $3.5 million in 2018. Violi and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

“The hospital has benefited tremendously from Ron’s keen business acumen,” Monsignor Kevin Quirk, the hospital board chairman, said last week in announcing Violi’s retirement.

Wheeling’s quality of care has not excelled commensurately, however, according to Hospital Compare, Medicare’s consumer website. Patients with heart failure or pneumonia are more likely to die than at most hospitals. In April, Medicare awarded Wheeling Hospital its lowest rating, one star, for overall quality.

Original news can be found at:

International Hospital Federation Awards deadline extended to 3rd June

Due to overwhelming demand, entry submissions for the 2019 International Hospital Federation (IHF) Awards has just been extended to 3rd June. Hospitals and health service providers can still nominate their outstanding and innovative projects and programs.

The IHF Awards Committee announced that the extension of the deadline of entries is to give more organizations an opportunity to nominate exemplary programs that deserve international recognition.

There are four categories in total:
1. IHF/Dr Kwang Tae Kim Grand Award
2. IHF/Bionexo Excellence Award for Corporate Social Responsibility
3. IHF/EOH Excellence Award for Leadership and Management in Healthcare
4. IHF/Austco Excellence Award for Quality & Safety and Patient-centered Care

The Awards is open to all public and private healthcare provider organizations. The submission process is simple and at no cost. Interested organizations only need to create an account in the IHF Awards website to accomplish the entry form.

Winners will be awarded in front of industry peers at the Awards Ceremony during the 43rd IHF World Hospital Congress in Muscat, Oman in November.

The 2019 International Hospital Federation (IHF) Awards is sponsored by Dr Kwang Tae Kim, Austco, Bionexo, and EOH. For more information and to submit entries visit https://congress.ihf-fih.org/ihf_awards

About the International Hospital Federation (IHF)
Established in 1929, the IHF is an international not for profit, non-governmental membership organization. Its members are worldwide hospitals and healthcare organizations having a distinct relationship with the provision of healthcare. IHF provides its members with a platform for the exchange of knowledge and strategic experience as well as opportunities for international collaborations with different actors in the health sector. IHF recognizes the essential role of hospitals and health care organizations in providing health care, supporting health services and offering education. Its role is to help international hospitals work towards improving the level of the services they deliver to the population with the primary goal of improving the health of society.

Original news can be found at: hhmglobal.com

6 Predictions on how ultrasound systems market will expand through 2022

Due to the increasing adoption of advanced imaging systems in healthcare industry, ultrasound systems continue to be an irreplaceable commodity. In the view of rising healthcare costs, affordable and accurate imaging & diagnosis achieved through ultrasound technology will continue to attract patients, and render profits even in conventional medical settings.

The report on the global market for ultrasound systems projects a steady growth for the market during 2017-2022. The global ultrasound systems market, which is pegged to reach $6Bn by end-2017, will soar steadily at a 5.5% CAGR to reach $7.8Bn towards the end of 2022.

Following are key projections on the global ultrasound systems market, excerpted from the report:

The report highlights the application of ultrasound systems in cardiology. Alarming rise in incidence of cardiac disorders throughout the globe is expected to drive the adoption of ultrasound systems, which are effectively used in cardiology diagnostics. Between 2017 and 2022, more than US$ 430 Mn worth of incremental opportunity will be created by application of ultrasound systems in cardiology. The report also predicts that nearly half of ultrasound systems sold in the global market during the forecast period will be developed on 2D ultrasound imaging technology.

Healthcare infrastructure in developed economies such as the US and Canada is expected to promote the adoption of ultrasound systems. The report projects that by the end of 2022, North America’s ultrasound systems market will have reached an estimated value of US$ 3.2 Bn. During this forecast period, North America is also anticipated to be the largest market for ultrasound systems in the world.

The report also observes impressive growth in the ultrasound systems market across European countries. In 2017, more than 25% of the global ultrasound systems market value is expected to be accounted by sales of ultrasound systems in Europe.

Demand for ultrasound systems in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) region is projected to be lower than above regions, however, manufacturers will be interested in laying down their production units in this region. In such manner, the APEJ ultrasound systems market is likely to account for more than 15% of the global market revenues throughout the forecast period.

Based on the portability of ultrasound systems, the report expects a higher demand for standalone systems. By procuring revenues worth $4.2Bn, standalone ultrasound systems will dominate the global market with more than 70% revenue share towards the end of 2017. On the other hand, portable ultrasound systems will showcase a robust revenue growth at 6.4% CAGR, albeit, reflecting a little over 17% share on the global ultrasound systems market.

Hospitals will remain the largest end-users of ultrasound systems in the global market, and account for half of its value in the years to come. Meanwhile, diagnostic centers will contribute to nearly 20% of the global ultrasound systems market, procuring revenues worth $1.6Bn by end-2022.

The report has profiled leading players in the global ultrasound systems market, which include companies namely, General Electric Company, Koninklijke Philips N.V., Toshiba Corporation, Siemens AG, Hitachi Ltd., Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, Esaote SpA., Shimadzu Corporation, Analogic Corporation, and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

These insights are based on a report on Ultrasound Systems Market by Fact.MR
Original news can be found at: hhmglobal.com

Dubai Health Authority launches new neurology, stroke unit

Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched a new Neurology and Stroke Unit at Rashid Hospital on Monday.

His Excellency Humaid Al Qutami, Director General of the DHA inaugurated ward 25 along with a number of DHA officials.

The new Neurology and Stroke Unit has an 18-bed capacity and focuses on offering specialised neurology services to the average 20,000 annual visitors (both outpatients and inpatient) the neurology department receives.

Commenting on the opening of the centre, Al Qutami said: “The expansions are in line with the authority’s goals of providing specialised medical care to the community. The DHA strives to continuously develop all medical departments across DHA facilities and ensure that they are equipped with the latest state-of-the art technologies and qualified staff.”

Al Qutami commended businessman Mr Yousef Mohammad Hadi Badri for sponsoring the new unit and contributing to the developmental drive of the health sector in Dubai.

Dr. Abu Baker Al Madani, the Head of the Neurology Department in Rashid Hospital said the Neurology department in Rashid hospital is the largest Neurology service centre in UAE, catering to more than 20,000 patients every year (reaching 22,700 in 2018).

“The department’s scope of services include: emergency service (24/7), outpatient clinics (general and specialised), inpatients including critical care patients, inpatient consultations in Dubai hospital and Latifa hospital, electrophysiological studies, specialised procedures including Botox injections, baclofen pump and DBS programming to name a few,” he said.

In addition, Dr Madani added that the department serves as primary training centre for neurology residents and for periodic training for residents from sister specialties.

“We have dedicated Neurology ward for high and low dependency patients including acute stoke patients and specialised epilepsy monitoring unit. Our inpatient unit receives between 600 to 1,000 patients per year and the most common admissions under neurology service includes acute stroke thrombolysis and intervention, neurological emergencies (including status epilepticus, myasthenic crisis, transverse myelitis, auto immune encephalitis, neuroleptic malignant syndrome etc..).”said Dr Madani

Meanwhile, the department’s outpatient clinics, which receive between 15,000 to 20,000 visits every year includes—in addition to general neurology services—specialized clinics for MS, movement disorders, neuromuscular, epilepsy, dystonia clinic and electrophysiology to name a few.

The neurology department also launched peripheral outreach Headache clinics in Nad Al Hamr and Al Barsha PHCs. Other notable clinics include the telemedicine smart clinic, telephonic clinic, infusion clinic and visiting neurologist clinics, where international experts for MS, Epilepsy, movement disorders and neuromuscular disorders assess selected patients in Rashid hospital. Neurology team provides in-hospital consult for patients requiring neurology evaluation within Rashid hospital, Dubai hospital and Latifa hospital. They provide around 600 to 800 consultations per month.

The department also provides a neurology residency programme and teaching programme for undergraduates from Dubai Medical College to name a few of its academic endeavors.

Among the department’s many achievements is receiving a German stroke society accreditation- for the stroke unit, having ongoing registries for Multiple sclerosis, Neuropathy, headache, movement disorders and epilepsy and establishing a centre of excellence for Multiple Sclerosis, to name a few.

“We are also on the path for establishing centres of excellence for neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders, epilepsy and headache,” added Dr Madani.

Dr Al Madani concluded by sharing the departments future plans of establishing a full epilepsy-monitoring unit, provide initial Trans magnetic stimulation for treatment for headache, back and neck pain and depression and provide a fellowship programme for neurophysiology, stroke and multiple sclerosis, to name a few.

This press release was submitted by Dubai Health Authority.
Original news can be found at: arabianbusiness.com

Hill-Rom expands digital health capabilities in new global collaboration with Microsoft

Hill-Rom (NYSE: HRC), a global medical technology company, announced on January 8, a collaboration with Microsoft to bring advanced, actionable point-of-care data and solutions to caregivers and healthcare provider organizations.

Hill-Rom, a global medical technology company, announced on January 8, a collaboration with Microsoft to bring advanced, actionable point-of-care data and solutions to caregivers and healthcare provider organizations.

The combined offerings, using Microsoft Azure®, are intended to dynamically analyze real-time sensing data from medical devices and historical medical record information, and communicate potential patient risk and hospital protocol actions directly to caregivers at the point of care.

The solutions combine Hill-Rom’s deep clinical knowledge and streaming operational data from medical devices, and Microsoft’s cloud, including Azure® IoT and Azure® Machine Learning, to help drive enhanced patient outcomes. The Hill-Rom® digital solution offerings will be available to hospitals beginning later in 2019.

“Information and connectivity are critical to providing quality healthcare, reducing length of stay, driving efficiencies across the healthcare continuum and providing clinical and economic value,” said Hill-Rom President and CEO John Groetelaars. “Our collaboration with Microsoft will help clinicians identify, communicate and mitigate patient risk in real-time, advancing our vision of connected care to address customer challenges and enhance patient outcomes.”

Hill-Rom’s connected solutions will integrate data from the company’s medical devices (including smart hospital bed systems, vital signs monitors and other connected devices) and hospitals’ electronic medical records through a common gateway infrastructure.

The combination of medical device data and Azure Machine Learning will help assess and analyze critical and secure information at the bedside, delivering actionable insights to clinicians that can help reduce costly complications and enhance efficiency and patient outcomes.

In addition to localized and cloud-based patient risk identification and communications, the collaboration with Microsoft offers hospitals simplified installation, integration, information security and support while enabling scalability and flexibility for IT departments across the globe.

“Microsoft’s AI capabilities make Azure an ideal platform for Hill-Rom’s new digital offerings. The powerful combination of Hill-Rom’s proven applications with Azure will help empower organizations across all industries, and especially in the health market,” Chris Sakalosky, Vice President, US Health & Life Sciences, Microsoft Corp.

Original news can be found at: thearabhospital.com

NMC Healthcare reveals plan for new Sharjah hospital

NMC Healthcare has announced plans to expand its network in Sharjah with a multi-specialty hospital in the Al Khan neighborhood of the emirate.

The hospital is expected to start operations by the end of 2019, the London listed company said in a statement.

It added that the 70-bed hospital includes a total of 20 consultation rooms, pre and post-operative rooms, triage centre, emergency room, labour and delivery suites, ICU, MRI, CT scanner, laboratory and pharmacy.

The hospital will also house centres of excellence and clinics such as obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, gastroenterology, urology, endocrinology, ENT, internal medicine, family medicine, dentistry, general surgery.

Prasanth Manghat, CEO and executive director NMC Health, said: “We are having a prominent presence in Sharjah, first with Al Zahra Hospital, the country’s foremost private sector hospital, and then with our network of over 15 medical centres. This new hospital would not only cater to the underserved community of 25,000 families residing nearby but would also serve as a bridge between our medical centres and the tertiary care provider.”

NMC Health has an international network of healthcare facilities in the UAE and GCC, US, Europe and South America consisting of over 200 facilities across 19 countries, catering to about 8.5 million patients per year.

Original news can be found at: arabianbusiness.com

Mohammed-Ali-Al-Shorafa-Al-Hammadi

Abu Dhabi firm acquires Saudi dental group in $136m deal

Abu Dhabi-based United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical) has acquired a controlling stake in Al Muhaideb Dental Clinics Group.

In a deal worth $136 million (AED500m), UEMedical increased its asset to $812m (AED3bn), adding to its portfolio that also includes Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children Hospital, Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi. The firm also owns HealthPlus Network of Specialty Centres.

Established in 2000, Al Muhaideb Dental Clinics Group includes 46 Dental centres – in Riyadh, Jeddah, Abha, Mecca and Al Qassim – providing care for over 500,000 patients annually with 1,417 healthcare professionals employed.

Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa Al Hammadi, CEO and managing director of UEMedical, said the acquisition is line with the company’s strategy and expansion plans regionally.

“This step is part of the group’s strategy to spread its expertise to neighbouring countries and to diversify the range of specialized services the group provides to the community in the UAE and in the GCC,” he said.

“As we further extend our geographic footprint in UAE and the region, our strategic plans include expanding our existing facilities, establishing new facilities; and acquiring facilities that widen our spectrum of services, working with key players in the region,” he added.

Al Shorafa said UEMedical plans to open a HealthPlus fertility centre in Jeddah this June, and another centre in Riyadh.

“We will also acquire more medical centres in Saudi Arabia over the next few months,” he said.

Original news can be found at: arabianbusiness.com

WHO releases 10 recommendations on digital health interventions to improve care

by Heather Landi | Apr 17, 2019 – The World Health Organization developed a digital health guideline with 10 recommendations for how health systems can use digital health technology to improve people’s health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a new list of recommendations Wednesday offering guidance on how the global healthcare industry can use digital health technology accessible via mobile phones, tablets and computers to improve people’s health and essential services around the world.

“Harnessing the power of digital technologies is essential for achieving universal health coverage,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, M.D., said in a press release. “Ultimately, digital technologies are not ends in themselves; they are vital tools to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.”

The list of 10 recommendations is based on a “critical evaluation of the evidence on emerging digital interventions that are contributing to health system improvements” and is the result of a two-year-long research project by WHO on digital technologies, including consulting with global experts, to produce recommendations on how such tools may be used for maximum impact. For example, the WHO guideline points to the potential to improve civil registrations and vital statistics by enabling birth and death notifications via mobile devices as this can help to reach under-registered populations.

The guideline also recommends implementing provider-to-provider and patient-to-provider telemedicine services to address patients’ accessibility to health facilities and providers, particularly in underserved communities. WHO officials point out that telemedicine is a valuable complement to face-to-face-interactions, but should not replace them entirely. It is also important that consultations are conducted by qualified health workers and that the privacy of individuals’ health information is maintained, WHO said.

For each recommendation, WHO provides an overview of the evidence on the digital intervention and implementation considerations.

According to WHO officials, one digital intervention already having positive effects in some areas is sending reminders to pregnant women to attend antenatal care appointments and having children return for vaccinations. Other digital approaches that WHO reviewed include decision support tools to guide health workers as they provide care and enabling individuals and health workers to remotely communicate and consult on health issues.

“Digital health is not a silver bullet,” Bernardo Mariano, WHO’s chief information officer, said in a statement. “WHO is working to make sure it’s used as effectively as possible. This means ensuring that it adds value to the health workers and individuals using these technologies, takes into account the infrastructural limitations and that there is proper coordination.”

The guideline builds on WHO’s ongoing focus on digital health as it released an eHealth strategy toolkit in 2012 and also developed an mHealth assessment and planning for scale (MAPS) toolkit (PDF) focused on scaling up mobile health innovations.

In 2018, a World Health Assembly resolution called on WHO to develop a global strategy on digital health to support national efforts to achieve universal health coverage. That strategy is scheduled to be considered at the World Health Assembly in 2020.

WHO also developed an online global technology registry platform, called a digital health atlas, to better coordinate digital health activities around the world and provide access to current best practices in digital health.

The guidelines stress the importance of providing supportive environments for training, dealing with unstable infrastructure, as well as policies to protect the privacy of individuals, and governance and coordination to ensure these tools are not fragmented across the health system.

Original news can be found at fiercehealthcare.com

Yelzhan-Birtanov

Kazakh health ministry to increase healthcare industry oversight, increase access to healthcare

BY ZHANNA SHAYAKHMETOVA in NATION on 3 APRIL 2019 – The Ministry of Healthcare plans to establish a committee to better ensure the quality and safety of public health and pharmaceutical related products and services, reported Minister Yelzhan Birtanov at an April 2 press conference in the capital.

“We will collaborate with the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs… First of all, we plan to revise all national standards for the provision of services. The standards for the provision of services, technical regulations to the standards of goods not only for food, but also for household, perfumery, toys and other things should comply with international standards,” he said.

All related laboratories will the required to receive international certification.

The effort also seeks to provide more information to the public about goods and services.

“We want to switch to a digital notification system so that the market can decide who meets the standards and who does not. Due to lack of transparency, people do not know what violations exist in a particular enterprise or product. We are working in this direction in recent years. Our regional committees publish information in case of detection of violations. Transparency is essential,” he said.

The ministry also recently approved a primary health care action plan for 2019-2020.

Last year, 1,315 primary care physicians and 79 paediatric offices were opened. Part of the goal is to provide sufficient access to doctors in the Aktobe, Zhambyl and West Kazakhstan regions.

This year, more than 5,000 doctors, including 1,515 primary care physicians will graduate from medical institutions. This will cover the shortage of primary healthcare personnel.

According to the ministry, 214 facilities were commissioned and 31 percent of these by means of private investment over the past two years. It is planned to open 595 primary healthcare facilities worth more than 120 billion tenge (US$315 million) in the next three years. More than half of the facilities will be launched as part of a public-private partnership. Some 228 facilities will be reconstructed and more than 11,000 units of medical equipment will be provided.

The management programme of major chronic diseases has also been expanded.

A staged salary increase by 20 percent for 36,000 medical workers is expected and 5.3 billion tenge (US$13.9 million) will be provided.

Birtanov spoke about the launch of primary healthcare digitisation.

“All the health organisations in cities and regional centres were provided with access to the internet and medical information systems. Paperless medical records have been introduced in 99 percent of organisations. More than two million people use mobile apps for patients. As a result, visits to hospitals were reduced two-fold and queues decreased by 60 percent,” he said.

The ministry set task to reduce meningitis and measles. The trainings were held in the medical institutions. The committee for the protection of public health organises the campaign on prevention and vaccination among the population.

The level of health shows that people do not pay much attention to this issue and expect more from medical workers. Due to this “incentives are aimed at prevention, vaccination.”

“We made a decision to expand measles vaccination. In addition to vaccinating children twice, we moved the terms by nine months. We started to get vaccinated earlier as the children are born from unvaccinated mothers without immunity and to reduce the risk. We also started vaccinating young mothers and purchased additional vaccines,” the minister noted.

Original news can be found at astanatimes.com

Stem cell storage firm CryoSave opens Dubai facility

arabianbusiness.com – Dubai Healthcare City has announced an increase in stem cell banking services with the opening of CryoSave Arabia’s laboratory that can store a million samples.

Stem cell storage enables the safe-keeping of master cells – cells that can self-renew and help treat dozens of conditions including blood disorders, cancer, and cerebral palsy.

CryoSave Arabia in DHCC is the only private facility in the region licenced to collect, process, test and cryogenically store stem cells from different sources, a statement said.

CryoSave Arabia has launched a Cost-Free Stem Cell Programme, enabling access to stem cell banking for families in need. The facility plans to enrol nearly 200 children in its first year.

Expectant families may be eligible if a family member has been diagnosed with certain cancers, such as leukaemia, or blood, immune, and metabolic disorders, such as sickle cell anaemia, which may require a stem cell transplant.

Families may also qualify if their newborn is at risk for a medical condition, such as cerebral palsy and autism, for which stem cells are currently investigated as a potential treatment option.

Omar Oumeish, executive director of Dubai Healthcare City Authority, the governing body of the free zone, said: “With CryoSave Arabia’s new technologically-advanced lab, more families and medical providers will have access to advanced stem cells banking not only in the UAE but also in the region.

“We believe that stem cells will play a very important role in future medicine and will benefit so many children in our community at risk for certain diseases. Our vision is that this program will inspire other medical institutions to follow and make preserving stem cells the standard of care for all newborns.”

A growing body of published data suggests that a child’s stem cells from the umbilical cord may play an essential role in helping the body repair damage to nerve and brain tissue.

Mai Ibrahim, chief operating officer and lab director, CryoSave Arabia said: “Opening our new laboratory was an important step for stem cell storage in the Middle East. Due to unprecedented demand, we needed to vastly increase our storage facilities as more and more families become aware of the importance of stem cells in the fight against a whole range of diseases.”

Original news can be found at arabianbusiness.com