Healthcare Roundup—Study: EHR alerts can reduce unnecessary testing; ProMedica eyes another hospital deal

EHR data sharing
A study out of Boston Medical Center shows total lab orders dropped by more than 1,000 per month due to EHR alerts. Researchers say the changes did not impact several quality metrics. (Getty/andrei_r)

Boston Medical Center alerts reduce testing

A new study out of Boston shows how built-in EHR alerts helped one medical center reduce unnecessary testing.

The study, published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety by researchers at Boston Medical Center, showed a 3.1% decline in chest X-rays and a 4% decrease in the proportion of labs ordered at routine times.

Total lab orders dropped by more than 1,000 per month but the changes did not impact several quality metrics, including pain prevention and urinary catheter days. The authors said that while the alerts were clearly helpful, additional education and training is necessary to make a larger impact. (Study)

Ohio's ProMedica eyes another health system merger

Just months after ProMedica's $3.3 billion acquisition of HCR ManorCare, the Toledo, Ohio-based nonprofit health system is considering another hospital deal.

The Toledo Blade reports that ProMedica is eyeing Akron-based Summa Health, a three-hospital system which disclosed last month it hired financial advisors to help find a larger partner. (The Toledo Blade)

Montana health system gets Fitch upgrade despite weakened payor mix 

Pointing to a number of factors including a dominant position in its market, Fitch Ratings upgraded its credit rating of Great Falls, Montana-based Benefis Health System to an A+.

Benefis is an integrated health provider which includes a 295-staffed bed acute care hospital on two campuses, a 25-bed critical access hospital, an employed medical group with nearly 247 providers and a three-campus long-term care facility.

Due to Medicaid expansion, Benefis reported a noticeable increase in its Medicaid payer mix of 21.2% of its gross revenues, up from 12.5% in 2015. Still, Benefis benefits from a number of supplemental funding sources, such as a bed tax to support Medicaid services in the state. Benefis received approximately $13.7 million from the bed tax program in 2017 and 2018, related to Medicaid expansion, and received confirmation of a similar payment in 2019. 

Doctor on Demand partners with Walmart

In a new agreement with Walmart and the consumer health company RB, Doctor on Demand will offer free telehealth visits for anyone who purchases Mucinex, Airborne or several other over-the-counter drugs at Walmart.

The arrangement offers Doctor on Demand—and telehealth more broadly—additional exposure and furthers Walmart’s interest in the healthcare space.

The companies acknowledged that long wait times to see a doctor coupled with a lack of telehealth access for those whose health plans don’t provide coverage creates an opportunity to fill in a gap for people seeking treatment for common medical issues that make up 90% of Doctor on Demand’s business. (Release)