Healthcare Roundup—HHS Secretary Azar back in hospital; The high cost of patient-matching errors

HHS spox: Azar back in hospital with infection 

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has been readmitted to the hospital as he continues to battle a diverticulitis infection, a spokesperson for the agency said in an email to FierceHealthcare. Azar's physician recommended he return to the hospital for additional treatment. He was previously admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis and was discharged Monday, HHS announced

The high cost of patient-matching errors 

Hospitals could save a lot of money through improved patient record matching technology, according to a new report. Black Book Research found that 33% of denied medical claims are related to inaccurate patient identification, costing hospitals $1.5 million each year and the healthcare system as a whole $6 billion annually. Inaccurate patient identification increases inpatient costs by $2,000 per patient and emergency department costs by $800 per patient. (FierceHealthcare

Americans hoarding tax refunds to pay for healthcare, study finds 

A new report from JPMorgan Chase Institute found that out-of-pocket healthcare spending jumps by 60% in the first week after tax refunds are issued. The researchers found that people, especially younger people, women and people with low incomes, are commonly waiting to receive their tax refunds before seeking care. (FierceHealthcare

Readmission to a different hospital after surgery linked to higher mortality risk 

Researchers compared mortality rates for patients readmitted to the same hospital after cancer surgery to those readmitted to a different hospital, and found that patients readmitted to a different facility faced a 31.2% higher risk of mortality and a 27.3% risk of having major complications. The study highlights improved care coordination, increased use of telemedicine and better interoperability as possible solutions to the problem. (JAMA Surgery)  

'Healthwear' company launches hoodie for cancer patients 

Care+Wear, a New York-based "healthwear" company, has launched a new hoodie in collaboration with Oscar De La Renta that is designed for cancer patients with a chest port. The shirt is designed to allow physicians easy access to the port without requiring patients to fully undress. Care+Wear applied a similar philosophy to redesigned hospital gowns that are currently being tested at MedStar Health facilities. (Announcement

Safety issues at compounding pharmacy worsen painkiller shortages 

Safety violations led to the shutdown of a Texas factory belonging to PharMEDium, and the closure has exacerbated shortages of crucial painkillers, including lidocaine and other local anesthetics, particularly at hospitals in California. PharMEDium is one of the largest compounding pharmacies in the company, and the AmerisourceBergen subsidiary supplies products to about 77% of U.S. hospitals. (California Healthline

Humana expands bundled payments to 7 more states 

Humana announced that it will now offer its bundled payment model for hip and knee replacements to Medicare Advantage members in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The expansion will allow bundled payment programs to reach a quarter of the country. (FierceHealthcare

Louisiana considers policy change to protect doctors accused of misconduct 

Bills introduced in the Louisiana state legislature would create new protections for physicians who are accused of bad behavior and facing punishment from the state's licensing board. One bill would give physicians more "due process" when under board investigation, while another would prevent the board from using anonymous sources during its investigations. (FierceHealthcare

How to recruit and retain millennial docs 

Providers looking to draw in millennial physicians need to understand the perspective of these potential employees, experts say. Younger doctors expect adequate compensation and a fair work-life balance. Plus, their managers will be expected to have open lines of communication, as 45% of young doctors said they have left jobs over what they view as poor management. (FierceHealthcare

HHS Deputy Secretary Hargan meets with patient advocacy groups 

HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan met with several patient advocacy groups Tuesday to discuss the direction of the agency's priorities, such as combatting the opioid epidemic and transitioning to value-based care. Hargan said President Donald Trump is personally committed to lower drug prices and making health insurance easier to afford. (Announcement