The Secretary for the US Department of Veteran Affairs has been fired. Or resigned. That seems to be a point of contention. Aaaaanyway, David Shulkin is best known for taking charge of the department in 2015 after a scandal that exposed false record-keeping and wait times of over 115 days for veterans to get an initial primary care appointment. More recently he’s been pushing for the use of private health care in the VA system for routine things like getting hearing aids. But while he’s a fan of private-sector coordination he’s really against full on privatization, at least according to his NYT editorial published after his elective/non-elective dismissal. President Donald Trump has nominated White House head physician Ronny Jackson to take Shulkin’s place at the head of the VA’s 370,000 employees.
CNBC noticed Amazon quietly launched a partnership in August with OTC manufacturer Perrigo to create their Basic Care line of products. While Amazon may not be the ideal fix for when you need that bottle of cold medicine ASAP, the company could be in a good position to corner the market on products that are bought in bulk like nicotine gum. Apple’s healthcare foray is more tech-focused: they’re developing the next attempt at personal, electronic health records. The idea is to use patients’ smartphones as the unified repository for health records that could otherwise be scattered across healthcare providers. More complete records and data could drive recommendations for care, and could even translate into partnerships with pharma companies to pitch their products directly to consumers fitting a certain profile.
That’s really the name of a 2003 paper that explains health care spending is so high in the US because the prices for health care are so high, stupid. 14 years later the story still rings true—the per unit cost of health services hasn’t shifted much. Vox, in an effort to get a scope of these prices across the nation, is asking readers to send in their emergency facility fee (think: what the hospital charges to keep their lights on waiting for you to break your toe) to crowdsource the cost of that specific unit price. It’s an interesting idea since hospitals don’t advertise their ED admission fees. Telling patients they have to pay at least $500 beforehand typically isn’t the best look after all.
Ok, you get one pick. Which country’s health system do you choose?
Amazon is working tirelessly to find more and more pots to stick its Amazon Prime fingers in. The e-commerce goliath’s newest focus is healthcare, and it has two projects aimed at pushing in that direction. One is a secretive venture with the goal of (tell me if you’ve heard this one before) revolutionizing electronic medical records. The other is an investment that Amazon’s using to position itself as the solution for storing insane amounts of human genetic data. The company invested in Grail, a start-up planning to use its technology to flag the earliest signs of cancer. That requires a ton of data storage and processing, and if Amazon and Grail can pull it off here, you can bet it’ll be a huge market for them.
Britain’s NHS has been struggling to keep up with nurse staffing, just like the US, Japan, and seemingly most of the world. The UK health system is projected to have a shortage of 30,000 nurses in the next year, and Brexit isn’t helping that number any. About 1,300 EU nurses applied to work in the country the month after Brexit. That same figure in April? Just 46. That’s about a 96% drop. This InsightCity writer has seen drag shows with less dramatic drops. To be sure, this is a chronic shortage and the Brexit vote is definitely not the primary cause of it. But it’s something to keep in mind as the UK prepares to begin goodbye negotiations with the EU.
Even with rising healthcare costs and uncertainty surrounding healthcare legislation, one thing never changes: people getting old. That shockingly continues to hold true for the baby boomer generation currently straddling both sides of the senior citizen line. A large aging population—especially one predicted to be sicker in their twilight years than earlier generations—will need more healthcare workers to help manage and treat their health. Per new data from LinkedIn, the 100 largest hospital systems (by revenue) have increased their headcounts by about 6% over the past couple years. Couple that with about 30,000 healthcare jobs created per month in the past year, and it looks like job security won’t be an issue for the foreseeable future.