BCBSA unveils five-point plan for expanded coverage
WASHINGTON The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has unveiled a new five-point plan for building on the employer-based system to improve quality, rein in cots and expand coverage to all Americans entitled, “The Pathway to Covering America.”
The plan lays out detailed recommendations to change the incentives in today’s delivery system to help assure high quality, affordable care and offers solutions to expand access to coverage.
Specifically, BCBSA’s five-point plan for comprehensive reform includes the following, as posted on its website:
Encourage Research on What Works. Today, an estimated 30 percent of healthcare spending goes toward care that is ineffective, redundant or inappropriate. America needs an independent institute to support research comparing the relative effectiveness of new and existing medical procedures, drugs, devices, and biologics.
Change Incentives to Promote Better Care. The incentives in our system must be changed to advance the best possible care instead of encouraging more services. Providers should be rewarded for delivering high-quality, coordinated care, especially for the increasing number of Americans with chronic illnesses.
Empower Consumers and Providers. Consumers and providers must have access to the information and tools they need to make informed decisions. This starts with information systems to manage personal health records. In addition, consumers need to know how much they are paying for their healthcare and what they are getting in return.
Promote Health & Wellness. The costs of treating chronic conditions are estimated to account for 75 percent of healthcare spending. As a nation, we must promote healthy lifestyles to help prevent chronic illness and work aggressively to help patients with chronic illnesses manage their own health.
Foster Public-Private Coverage Solutions. Coverage plans need to be tailored to capture the diversity of the uninsured population so that no one gets “squeezed out” by cost, “misses out” on available government assistance or “opts out” because they do not think they need health coverage.
According to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Dakota president and chief executive officer Michael Unhjem, “To help advance this proposal, in 2008 BCBSA and its Member Plans will engage in a multi-pronged campaign—both nationally and in all 50 states—to inform consumers, small businesses, large employers, policymakers, presidential campaigns and others about the value of the employer-based system and our vision for improving healthcare.”
FDA halts clinical trial of ALS drug
LOS ANGELES The Food and Drug Administration has told CytRx to stop its clinical trial of the drug arimoclomol, which is being developed to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, because of the need for additional analysis of previous animal studies involving the drug, according to published reports.
CytRx said in a release that it has asked for further clarification from the FDA, and said that “arimoclomol has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated after being administered to about 185 study volunteers.”
ALS is a progressive condition that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Study indicates that drive-through can distract pharmacists
COLUMBUS, Ohio A new study in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care has indicated that pharmacists who work at stores with drive through windows are more likely to be distracted and those distractions can lead to processing delays, reduced efficiency and even dispensing errors.
The pharmacists who were surveyed reported that the design and layout of their workplaces has an impact on dispensing accuracy, especially the presence of drive-through window pick-up services. Results also indicate that automated dispensing systems in pharmacies are likely to reduce the potential for errors and enhance efficiency.
Even with stringent internal quality controls, pharmacists nationally make an estimated 5.7 errors per 10,000 prescriptions processed, according to the study, which translates to more than 2.2 million dispensing errors each year.
According to the survey, pharmacists perceive that the drive-through window has the biggest impact on causing pharmacists and their staff to take extra steps (average agreement response of 3.7 on a 5-point scale); reducing efficiency (average response of 3.8); and causing delays in prescription processing (average response of 3.7). The respondents also attributed dispensing errors (average response of 3.2) and communication errors (average response of 3.3) to the presence of a drive-through window.
“A pharmacist or staff member could be responsible for four or five tasks, and serving people at the drive-through window is just one of them,” said Sheryl Szeinbach, the study’s lead author. “Some people seeking the convenience of the drive-through window don’t care about getting information. They just want the medication, and they want it as fast as possible. They should probably think about that and at least look at the medication and make sure it’s OK. And if they have questions, it may behoove them to come into the pharmacy.”