Monday, February 13, 2017

On Call by Casey Ross & Max Blau
Good morning! We're here to catch you up the latest news affecting hospitals and health care. For more coverage, follow us at @statnews@bycaseyross, and @maxblau on Twitter; or like us on Facebook.

Today in STAT: A millionaire’s mission to stop preventable hospital deaths

Joe Kiani wants to stop medical practitioners from pressing the mute button on hospital monitoring devices. To do that, the founder and CEO of Masimo is trying to convince device manufacturers to open their platforms so individual systems can be linked. He hopes to bring order to the cacophony of noises that often stress out doctors and nurses to the point where they mute beeping monitors, which can lead to missed emergencies.

STAT's Usha Lee McFarling writes about Kiani's ambitious plan to bring together medical companies — even corporate rivals — to save lives.

Read more.

Is value-based care fair to providers who treat disadvantaged patients?

Clinicians who treat large numbers of higher-risk patients have found themselves in a bind. Their patients are more likely to have risk factors that lead to poorer health outcomes, such as living in a low-income area, living in a rural area, or being of a particular race. As value-based payment models become the norm, individual providers and safety-net hospitals who treat patients are worried they’ll be financially penalized by Medicare because of health disparities that exist in their communities.

The authors of a recent New England Journal of Medicine paper say that “fair, balanced programs that promote quality and value” are needed to improve outcomes for all patients. They believe additional data would provide a better sense of how social risk factors impact patient quality of care, and they call for addressing the sources of health disparities. They also suggest giving incentives to providers who care for higher-risk patients.

New poll: Hospital boards should be more active in their communities

Traditionally, hospital boards have kept watch over administrative and governance issues, leaving clinicians to interact with patients. But lately, some board members have started to play a more active role with the people they serve. Our partner, Figure 1, asked caregivers: Should board members work within the community on behalf of the hospital, or should they remain behind the scenes?

In short, we found that active boards are appreciated. The vast majority of respondents said board members who play a more visible role showing up at events or talking to individual patients  help bolster community ties. Here’s how some viewed the efforts of board members:

Emergency medicine physician: “It’s to show the community that not only ‘middle and lower’ management care about community work and hospital outreach. Top management doing community relations work surely brings differences on that community work itself.”

Registered nurse: “Reaching out into the community shows them that the organization cares and seeing board members participate shows it’s not only about money!"

If you haven't already, be sure to follow STAT on Figure 1.

Do you know who this boy is? Tufts Medical Center wants to know

There’s an 103-year-old black-and-white photograph hanging in Tufts Medical Center of a boy holding onto a Boston Floating Hospital life preserver. No one there, not even the hospital historian, knows who he is. The hospital is asking for your help. Think you know? Email TMC spokesperson Jeremy Lechan at

How California's health providers are trying to solve language barriers

In California, Spanish-speaking parents are more likely to feel like doctors don’t listen to their concerns about their children’s health compared to English-speaking parents, according to a Drexel University study. Language issues also affect medication adherence: a UCSF study found English speakers take newly prescribed medication properly more often than Spanish speakers.

How have California providers responded? The state offers free translation services and medical schools and hospitals statewide have also dialed up efforts to recruit med students who speak Spanish. In a state where 40 percent of residents identify as Latino, and where only six percent of doctors do, there’s plenty of work left to be done.


  • Why Idaho Republicans failed at building a better plan than Obamacare (Washington Post)
  • Patients frustrated dozens of new cancer drugs with little impact on survival (Kaiser Health News)
  • Finland-inspired safe-sleep baby boxes come to New Jersey (New York Times
  • A hospital system's push for profit raises concerns over patient care (Seattle Times)

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