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People weakest link for apps tracking coronavirus exposure

The app builders had planned for pranksters, ensuring that only people with verified COVID-19 cases could trigger an alert. They’d planned for heavy criticism about privacy, in many cases making the features as bare-bones as possible. But, as more states roll out smartphone contact-tracing technology, other challenges are emerging. Namely, human nature.

The problem starts with downloads. Stefano Tessaro calls it the “chicken-and-egg” issue: The system works only if a lot of people buy into it, but people will buy into it only if they know it works.

“Accuracy of the system ends up increasing trust, but it is trust that increases adoptions, which in turn increases accuracy,” Tessaro, a computer scientist at the University of Washington who was involved in creating that state’s forthcoming contact-tracing app, said in a lecture last month.

In other parts of the world, people are taking that necessary leap of faith. Ireland and Switzerland,

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Little change in regional Medicare spending differences, despite attention

Just over a decade ago, celebrated surgeon and writer Dr. Atul Gawande penned a New Yorker article that called out certain areas of the country for their high Medicare spending. 

But despite the public lashing some regions endured, the most recent data from the Dartmouth Atlas show little has changed since then with respect to the communities atop the Medicare spending tower and those at the bottom. Miami was highest among hospital referral regions in the latest price-adjusted data, from 2017, followed by two smaller cities that were also near the top in 2010: Munster, Ind., and Monroe, La. Grand Junction, Colo., Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu had among the lowest spending in both years. 

“It’s not like someone wakes up one day and says, ‘I’m upset that somebody said I’m a high-spending provider or hospital. I’m going to turn that around,’ ” said Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department

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UK asks regulator to assess AZ-Oxford vaccine amid questions

The British government said Friday it has formally asked the country’s medicines regulator to assess whether a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University should be authorized for use.

The step comes amid questions about preliminary results from trials of the jab, after the company and the university acknowledged that the most encouraging part of their findings stemmed from a dosing error.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had asked the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to determine whether the vaccine “meets rigorous safety standards.”

It’s the second vaccine candidate to reach the formal assessment stage in Britain, following a shot developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. A third vaccine from U.S. firm Moderna is not far behind.

The British government has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and plans to start distributing it in December if it gains approval.

The regulator said

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CommonSpirit’s CHI St. Luke’s ends relationship with Molina

CHI St. Luke’s Health will officially be out of network for Molina Healthcare members beginning on Thanksgiving Day, the health system announced Wednesday.

The Houston-based CommonSpirit Health subsidiary had threatened to end its relationship with both Molina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas in October if the insurers didn’t agree to pay more for services.

CHI St. Luke’s and Molina did not reach an agreement, so they have mutually agreed to end their relationship on Nov. 25 with an effective date of Nov. 26, Vanessa Astros, a spokeswoman for the health system, wrote in an email. Patients with certain medical situations, under the Continuity of Care provision in their insurance coverage, will be allowed to continue with St. Luke’s Health, she said.

Molina and the Texas Blues did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Negotiations are ongoing between CHI St. Luke’s and BCBCTX, Astros said. CHI St.

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Sanford Health CEO stepping down after saying he won’t wear a mask

Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, who late last week said he didn’t need to wear a mask because he is immune from contracting or transmitting COVID-19 since he tested positive, is retiring.

“We decided that today was a good time to retire,” Krabbenhoft said in an emailed statement. “Sanford is in a good place, strongest ever. It is Thanksgiving week and almost exactly 25 years since my family came here. It is a good time to say ‘goodbye.'”

Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford’s board of trustees on Tuesday described the decision as mutual, and appointed Bill Gassen as Krabbenhoft’s replacement, effectively immediately. Gassen most recently served as Sanford’s chief administrative officer and has been with the health system since 2012.

Board chair Brent Teiken said in a news release that Gassen’s substantial experience with the organization makes him the right person to lead Sanford through these unprecedented times.

“We’re extremely optimistic

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