The Rundown | Week of 9.2.2019

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Optimism Tied to Longer Life Expectancy

New research suggests that a positive attitude can actually increase one’s life expectancy. The study, which was published in PNAS, defined “optimism” as “a psychological attribute characterized as the general expectation that good things will happen, or the belief that the future will be favorable because one can control important outcomes.” This outlook was related to an 11–15 percent longer life span and a greater likelihood of “exceptional longevity,” defined as living to age 85 or older. “These relations were independent of socioeconomic status, health conditions, depression, social integration, and health behaviors (e.g., smoking, diet, and alcohol use).” Furthermore, researchers found “optimism is modifiable,” and people can cultivate a positive mindset — and potentially lengthen their lives!
>> Read More: Optimism Is Associated with Exceptional Longevity in 2 Epidemiologic Cohorts of Men and Women

Most Employers Plan to Expand Health Benefits

Over the past 10 years, the number of employers planning to expand health and wellness budgets has grown from 34 percent to 81 percent, according to research from Optum. This willingness to expand is especially focused on behavioral health and chronic care management, with nearly 87 percent of employers “concerned with the level of access their employees have to behavioral health services” and “complex conditions.” Researchers noted the top reasons for employers’ planned expansion were “outcomes like increased recruitment, retention, morale, and productivity.”
>> Read More: Annual Health and Well-being at Work Study

Physician Pay and Productivity Increased in 2018

New data suggests physician salaries and productivity increased in 2018. Analysts from AMGA Consulting found productivity in terms of work relative value units (wRVUs) increased by 0.29 percent, compared to a 1.63 percent decline in 2017. Physician compensation increased by a median of 2.92 percent. “Data from this year’s survey shows compensation is increasing without an equivalent increase in wRVU production for many specialties. This trend is causing organizations to absorb additional compensation expenses without balancing revenue from production increases,” said Fred Horton, president of AMGA Consulting.
>> Read More: Physician Pay Increased, Productivity Remained Stagnant in 2018, AMGA Survey Finds

Report: Medicare Paying Hospices Twice

A new report indicates Medicare Part D spent $160.8 million on “drugs that hospice organizations should have paid for under the Medicare Part A hospice benefit.” The report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also noted that the audit of the $422.7 million in Part D total costs shows “hospice organizations or hospice beneficiaries likely should have paid for” drugs worth $261.9 million. The OIG stated that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) “must do more to avoid paying twice for the same drugs.” Furthermore, CMS should “develop and execute a strategy to ensure that Part D does not pay for drugs that should be covered by the Part A hospice benefit. … This should include working with Part D sponsors and seeking whatever authorities are necessary to develop proper controls.”
>> Read More: Medicare Part D Is Still Paying Millions for Drugs Already Paid for Under the Part A Hospice Benefit

New Fitbit Service Involves Providers in Personalizing Care

Fitbit has unveiled a new subscription service, Fitbit Premium, that allows device wearers to share health information with providers to create personalized wellness goals. The service is built around “nine guided health and fitness programs,” including: “actionable coaching, daily tips and tricks, structured workout plans, relaxation tools, recipe suggestions, and educational content.” Providers could access metrics such as activity level, heart rate, sleep schedules, and more health indicators. Fitbit Premium is available to customers of Fitbit Care, a care platform for employers, health plans, and health systems.
>> Read More: Fitbit Launches Fitbit Premium, New Health and Fitness Subscription Service

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