VA to use telehealth for disaster relief efforts; Pharmaceutical companies using social media to advertise drugs directly to consumers;

News From Around the Web

> The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has committed to the use of telehealth for disaster relief efforts. The VA's Office of Emergency Management awarded a contract to Bay City, Mich.-based vendor Troop Health Initiatives to use its JEMS Technology Disaster Relief Telehealth System to connect medical professionals and first responders to doctors at VA hospitals, Healthcare IT News reports. Article

> International pharmaceutical companies are skirting the law by using social media websites to advertise their products directly to consumers in Canada, according to iHealthBeat. The British Columbia Medical Association and others want the Canadian government to take action, as Canadian law prohibits such DTC drug marketing. Article

Health Insurance News

> Employer-based health insurance has been declining, with fewer members in these types of commercial plans last year than in 2008. Instead, more people are either uninsured or receive health insurance through a government-based program, according to a new Gallup poll. Although the economy has helped companies add almost 2 million jobs in 2012, only 44.5 percent of Americans had employer-based coverage that year, compared to 49 percent in 2008. Article

> Health insurers have been asking for and implementing lower premium increases since the reform law's governmental rate review provision took effect, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In 2009, for example, 74 percent of insurers' requests were for double-digit rate hikes. But just three years later, only 35 percent of rate hikes were higher than 10 percent. Article

Provider News

> Price transparency can educate emergency department providers about the cost to patients when they undergo procedures--and, as a result, help hospitals address inefficiencies that drive up costs, conclude researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. Reporting online in the journal PLOS ONE, the UC San Francisco researchers found the most expensive of the 10 most common conditions treated in EDs was kidney stones, with a median cost of $3,437. The least expensive common complaint to treat was an upper respiratory infection, at $740. Article

And Finally... Couldn't he have just stolen another crowbar? Article

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