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Health Biz (443)

Snyder unveils wellness plan

Written by | Sunday, 01 July 2012 14:22 |

WEST MICHIGAN — A state initiative to improve nutrition for young children and their physical fitness launches a broader effort by Gov. Rick Snyder to reduce Michigan's burgeoning obesity rate that costs billions annually in medical claims and drives up health premiums.

Introduced this month, the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 by 4 Plan relies largely on education and public awareness to further the governor's message of health and wellness, which comes at a time when nearly one-third of the state's residents are obese.

KALAMAZOO — What started as a simple inquiry to clients on how they communicate their workplace wellness program to employees turned into a larger project for Shawn Connors over the last year. 

The result is an eBook from Connors, president of the Kalamazoo health care communications company Hope Health. The eBook offers five "concrete" steps for employers on how to get their work force involved in living healthier.

Area hospitals plagued by rising costs

Written by | Saturday, 09 June 2012 00:00 |

WEST MICHIGAN — Bad debt and uncompensated care at hospitals across Michigan moved higher during the recession, a cost that eventually creeps into the premiums employers pay for health coverage.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association's annual community benefits report shows bad debt across the state totaled $609.7 million for the 2010 fiscal year, the most recent year for which data were analyzed. The total represents an increase of $54 million from the prior year.

MFB grows state network

Written by | Friday, 08 June 2012 23:17 |

WEST MICHIGAN — The latest addition to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital's statewide care network may very well transition into an acquisition and potentially lead to further expansion in the region.

Under a letter of intent between the two, Mary Free Bed can acquire a controlling stake in the Southwest Regional Rehabilitation Center in Battle Creek at any time. At this point, Mary Free Bed is proceeding with the notion that an acquisition will eventually occur, CEO Kent Riddle said.

WEST MICHIGAN — Rarely does a hospital CEO welcome the opportunity to have fewer beds filled with patients and perform fewer diagnostic tests.

It seems counter to one's business interests. Yet Roger Spoelman is outright excited about that prospect occurring under a new deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan that bases payments to hospitals and doctors on how well they do their jobs — including keeping people out of the hospital.

Trinity Health executive Roger Spoelman's excitement over empty hospital beds might seem odd. After a recent agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Trinity will be paid based on performance, not on a fee-for-service model. The move has the potential to curb rising health care costs by better managing care, especially for high-cost conditions.

Cardiac patients are nearly three times more likely to undergo heart angioplasty if they live in St. Joseph than if they were in Grand Rapids and more than twice as likely than if they were in Muskegon.

Researchers behind that finding say it illustrates the difference in how health care varies across Michigan based on local practices. They also say it illustrates the need for a greater focus on when and why specific medical procedures are performed.

WEST MICHIGAN — Just like other health care providers, Holland Hospital always pursued a goal of continuous improvement in the quality of the care it provides.

After finally securing insurance coverage to treat children with autism, advocates and care providers now need to work to develop a much broader care network to ensure the promise of their legislative victory comes true in the years ahead.

State to encourage companies to act on obesity

Written by | Wednesday, 18 April 2012 09:53 |

WEST MICHIGAN — A plan coming soon from Lansing will seek to marshal forces and encourage more employers to jump into the wellness movement to counter Michigan’s burgeoning obesity rate that’s costing businesses heavy dollars.

The life cycle of a life sciences company

Written by | Monday, 16 April 2012 10:21 |

Seated at his desk at Borgess Heart Institute last month, Dr. Tim Fischell remembers the “a-ha moment” that launched what would become Ostial Solutions LLC.

Employers have many questions they need to answer as health care reform brings massive changes to how employers buy their employee health coverage.

Priority, Blue Cross profitable in 2011

Written by | Thursday, 12 April 2012 11:01 |

Priority Health reversed its financial performance in 2011 and returned to the black, while Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan recorded a small profit.

The sweeping federal health care reform law and the formation of health exchanges could significantly change how individuals and small businesses will buy health coverage.

Two of Michigan’s largest health insurers are busy preparing for the onslaught of changes to the nation’s health care system as the start date fast approaches for many provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Companies in West Michigan know how to bend metal and to do plastic injection molding, but the region’s manufacturers are no one-trick ponies: They’re increasingly trying to diversify into a range of industries, including medical devices.

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