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Providence bets on machine-learning, consolidating data centers

Providence will lean on technology to help recover from the financial damage the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on the Renton, Wash.-based health system, according to it management team speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

At the end of Providence’s most recent third quarter on Sept. 30, the health system recorded a $214 million operating loss, with a decline in patient admissions and increase in labor costs impacting its 54 hospitals and more than 1,000 medical clinics.

Over the next two years, interim Chief Financial Officer Greg Hoffman said the health system plans to close its six data centers—it closed one in 2020—as well as migrate its entire health system to a single Epic electronic health record and enterprise resource planning back-office tool.

By centralizing this information, Hoffman also aims to automate back-office systems and use machine learning to monitor provider schedules to reduce burnout. Providence has already started using predictive

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How the Biden administration, Congress can heal healthcare

Amid the worst health crisis of our lifetimes, American voters ranked the economy and healthcare as top issues in a pre-election Gallup poll, perhaps not a surprise given that an estimated 14.6 million individuals lost employer-sponsored health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The incoming Biden administration and the 117th Congress can begin to improve the health of our citizens and the American economy with policies that support a sustainable, value-based healthcare system.

The current system of fee-for service medicine aims to drive up the volume of procedures performed, rather than focus on the health and well-being of patients. As evidenced by the pandemic, this costly, fragmented system is causing the loss of life and livelihood in America. Even physicians who historically benefited from the perverse fee-for-service system felt the pain of its illogic during the pandemic pause in services.

Research shows that a system designed to pay for care

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Mass vaccinations start at stadiums and fairgrounds

The U.S. is entering the second month of the biggest vaccination drive in history with a major expansion of the campaign, opening football stadiums, major league ballparks, fairgrounds and convention centers to inoculate a larger and more diverse pool of people.

After a frustratingly slow rollout involving primarily healthcare workers and nursing home residents, states are moving on to the next phase before the first one is complete, making COVID-19 shots available to such groups as senior citizens, teachers, bus drivers, police officers and firefighters.

Emily Alexander, a fourth-grade teacher in hard-hit Arizona, got vaccinated in a round-the-clock, drive-thru operation that opened Monday at the suburban Phoenix stadium where the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals play. She said she hopes it means she can be reunited in person with her students and colleagues before the end of the year.

“I miss the kids so much,” the 37-year-old Alexander said. “I’m really looking

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Vaccine rollout confirms public health officials’ complaints

Public health officials have sounded the alarm for months, complaining that they do not have enough support or money to get COVID-19 vaccines quickly into arms. Now the slower-than-expected start to the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history is proving them right.

As they work to ramp up the shots, state and local public health departments across the U.S. cite a variety of obstacles, most notably a lack of leadership from the federal government. Many officials worry that they are losing precious time at the height of the pandemic, and the delays could cost lives.

States lament a lack of clarity on how many doses they will receive and when. They say more resources should have been devoted to education campaigns to ease concerns among people leery of getting the shots. And although the federal government recently approved $8.7 billion for the vaccine effort, it will take time to reach

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CommonSpirit’s CHI St. Luke’s settles Blue Cross Blue Shield contract dispute

CommonSpirit’s CHI St. Luke’s on Friday reached a new contract agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, ending a dispute that could have prevented 65,000 patients on those plans from accessing its hospitals.

Houston-based CHI St. Luke’s had pushed BCBSTX for a price increase in the middle of its current contract, which expires at the end of 2021. The health system threatened to take its 16 Texas hospitals out-of-network for Blue Cross and Blue Shield by Dec. 16 if the two companies didn’t reach an agreement.

“As this new agreement goes into effect, our focus remains where it has always been—on patients,” St. Luke’s Health President Douglas Lawson said in a statement. “We’re eager to continue working with those BCBSTX customers who have remained under our care, and to working with those who find themselves in need of hospital-based care in the future.”

The new contract went into

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No mobile phone phobia on the rise

We’ve all done it.

Minutes after leaving the house (remember those days?), panic sets in. We pat down our pockets, empty our bags, search every inch of the car.

Nomophobia—fear of being without a mobile phone—is a real problem, and is having serious consequences, at least in Australia.

A new study from Monash University published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that 99% of users have some fear of being without their phone. For 13% of the population, their level of nomophobia is severe and 43% of people in the study spend nearly three hours a day on their phone.

Researchers found that people with nomophobia were 14 more times likely than others to engage in dangerous behavior while on a phone, including driving, cycling or walking.

“If your smartphone use is having a deleterious impact on the physical and/or psychological health of yourself or

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