Month-end Miscellany

  • The Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey of participants in consumer driven health plans. Consumer driven plans have high deductibles and usually are associated with health savings accounts or health reimbursement arrangements. According to a Washington Post article, the surveyed participants are more health care cost conscious than traditional plan participants. However, many of them wish to switch back to a traditional plan. Definity Health, a unit of United Healthcare, that administers consumer driven plans offered a rebuttal.
  • The New York Times offered its perspective on the first two months of Walmart’s $4 generic drug program. The article notes that

    Wal-Mart, declining to cite overall sales figures for the program, said that in the first seven weeks it had filled 2.1 million more prescriptions of all types — generic and name-brand — compared with prescriptions in the same stores a year ago. Those numbers would indicate that in the early going at least, Wal-Mart’s $4 prescriptions are not having a huge impact on overall sales of generic drugs in this country. Nationwide, many of the most popular generic drugs are each prescribed more than a million times in a single week, according to Wolters Kluwer Health, a drug data company. In the Tampa area, some independent druggists and a big drug wholesaler say that they have not noticed much effect on their businesses since the September rollout.

  • Laura Landro of the Wall Street Journal wrote a fascinating article on steps that the medical profession is taking to prevent the “tragedy of misdiagnosis.”

    With growing concern about costly malpractice claims from missed, delayed or wrong diagnoses, two of nation’s largest health-care providers, the Veterans Administration and managed-care giant Kaiser Permanente, are leading new efforts to improve diagnostic accuracy. They are embarking on system-wide initiatives aimed at the most common lapses in the diagnostic process, including failure to order the right tests, create proper follow-up plans, obtain complete medical histories or perform adequate physical exams. To address such glitches, Kaiser and the VA are turning to a variety of new tools, including Web-based “decision support” programs [such as Isabel] to help doctors by offering an array of possible diagnoses they might not have considered or prompting them to perform appropriate tests on patients with certain symptoms.