Physician Practice Roundup—AMITA Health will cut outpatient locations in half; HHS awards $293M toward primary care workforce

AMITA Health will cut outpatient, medical office locations in half

Catholic health system AMITA Health plans to cut its ambulatory care locations in half—from 250 to 125—over the next two years, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

AMITA, the joint operating company formed by Ascension and Adventist Health, acquired the Presence Health hospital systems in March. Now, it plans to consolidate services and cut the number of outpatient facilities and medical offices. Mark Frey, CEO of AMITA, said the plan is to bring groups of six to nine physicians together with specialists and ancillary services, such as imaging capabilities. (Crain’s Chicago Business article)

HHS offers $293M boost to primary care workforce

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $293 million to support primary care workforce needs, according to an announcement Thursday. 

Administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the funding will support primary healthcare clinicians and students through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Nurse Corps programs.

“These programs connect primary care providers with the rural, urban, and tribal communities across the country that need them most,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas in a statement. “In addition to providing essential medical and dental care, these clinicians are on the front lines helping to fight pressing public health issues, like the growing opioid epidemic.” (Release)

Study: Virtual physical therapy could significantly reduce postsurgical costs 

Physical therapy is a crucial part of recovery after orthopedic surgery, and a new study suggests patients may do just as well meeting with a virtual therapist. 

Researchers at the Duke Clinical Research Institute piloted a digital physical therapist tool with 143 patients who underwent total knee replacement at four different providers. A control group of 144 patients were prescribed traditional physical therapy. 

The virtual therapist, named VERA (or Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation Assistant) and developed by Reflexion Health, guides patients through exercises prescribed by a physical therapist. (Fierce Healthcare)  

While 'very rare,' U.S. confirms rise in AFM cases

A "very rare" condition causing polio-like symptoms such as weakness in the arms or legs and sometimes paralysis has been confirmed in 62 children in 22 states so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC provided an update on acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in a teleconference Tuesday.

“I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts we haven’t been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness," said Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. "We continue to investigate to better understand the clinical picture of AFM cases, risk factors and possible causes of the increase in cases.”

The agency has developed a toolkit for healthcare professionals that contains information about AFM and instructions for reporting patients suspected of having the illness. (CDC transcript)