Healthcare Roundup—Cedars-Sinai puts Alexa in patient rooms; California lawmakers push surprise bills measure

(Getty/canbedone)

Cedars-Sinai pilots Alexa in patient rooms

Los Angeles-based Cedars Sinai Medical Center is piloting the use of an Alexa-powered platform known as Aiva in 100 patient rooms to enable patients to interact hands-free with nurses and control their entertainment. Aiva is the world's first patient-centered voice assistant platform for hospitals, according to a Cedars-Sinai press release.

In the pilot project, patient rooms are equipped with Amazon Echos and patients can give verbal demands. The patient's request is sent to the mobile phone of the appropriate caregiver, whether a nurse, clinical partner, manager or administrator.

Sumeet Bhatia, founder and CEO of Aiva, said smart patient rooms help improve patient satisfaction by giving patients more entertainment options, more control over their environment and closer communication with their care team. (Release)

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California lawmakers push surprise billing measure

Two lawmakers representing San Francisco announced a bill earlier this week to block a practice called balanced billing in public hospitals, KQED reported.

Specifically, their measure would prevent hospitals from charging emergency room patients if their insurance wouldn't cover their medical bills. The practice of balanced billing has received increasing scrutiny over past few months and years with an uptick in media reports of patients being hit with unexpectedly high medical bills.

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital was the subject of recent criticism when a patient's insurance didn't cover his emergency bill after he was injured by a public bus and slapped with a nearly $28,000 bill. After Vox wrote a story about the surprise bill and aggressive collection tactics that followed, the hospital agreed to consider billing changes. (KQED) (Vox)

LifeBridge Health acquires Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore

LifeBridge Health is acquiring Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun reported. 

The deal comes less than six months after Bon Secours merged with Catholic health system Mercy Health in Ohio. LifeBridge operates Sinai Hospital in North Baltimore. Bon Secours' new parent company sought to divest itself of the hospital, the Baltimore Business Journal reported. (The Baltimore Sun)

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To build scale and drive greater savings, providers in some regions are banding together in statewide Medicare accountable care organizations. 

Regulators warn that suggestions to address surprise bills, such as rate setting and payment caps, come with significant downsides for states.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday called for tighter scrutiny of electronic health records systems.