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Former Senators form Alliance to raise awareness of advances in telehealth

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — Led by former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., and former Senator John Breaux, D-La., the Alliance for Connected Care has been launched to promote policy reform around telehealth and remote patient monitoring.

Board members of the Alliance include CVS Caremark, Walgreens, Teladoc, HealthSpot, Doctor on Demand, Welch Allyn, MDLIVE, Care Innovations, Cardinal Health, Verizon and WellPoint.

Long thought of as an issue affecting only rural areas, advances in technology and broadband deployment have fostered new models of delivery in health care settings across the country. From management of chronic disease, improved access to specialty and convenient primary care and mental health services, telehealth is fast becoming an integral component in the delivery of American health care.

The three former senators are leading a diverse coalition working to raise awareness among policymakers about the advancements in telehealth, and to establish a regulatory environment in which patients have more access to connected care and medical providers are empowered to deliver safe, high-quality care using advanced delivery methods.

 “Increased adoption and use of new and innovative technologies is at the core of many of the payment and delivery reforms being tested across the nation and is also central to increasing patient engagement. We must ensure that our regulatory environment appropriately balances the exciting advances in technology for patients, while still maintaining safeguards that allow innovation,” Daschle said. “To put it in perspective, the legal structure around telehealth was established in 2000 when cell phones were still just phones.”

“It is time to make connected care a bipartisan priority in Washington,” Lott said. “Imagine an elderly woman with diabetes who can consult a doctor about managing her disease without having to leave her home; or a working parent who can video chat with his child’s pediatrician; or a patient in need of mental health services, but too afraid to go to an office, now able to access care through a laptop; or a doctor who can monitor a patient already discharged from the hospital. We must improve access to the kinds of innovation that can improve patients’ lives.”

“Despite this rapidly developing technology, and increasing interest among patients and physicians in using connected care tools, legal and regulatory barriers continue to limit mainstream acceptance of the technology,” Breax said. “Fully realizing the promise of connected care demands urgency among policymakers to foster a regulatory structure that enables safe use of remote patient care technology.”

Alliance leaders noted that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been a pioneer in connected care, with nearly half a million veterans receiving more than 1.4 million remote care contacts during fiscal year 2012. Commercial insurers, large employers and Medicaid are also much further ahead in covering telehealth services than Medicare. In fact, 20 states and the District of Columbia require coverage of telehealth by commercial carrier and 45 states allow reimbursement of telehealth services in Medicaid, the Alliance stated.

Alliance representatives noted that, to date, policies and regulations have emphasized keeping people out of the hospital with prevention, chronic disease management, care coordination and readmission penalties. However, government healthcare programs generally do not reimburse home health agencies for remote patient monitoring or pay for patients to check in with care providers from their homes via real-time video. 

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W.SAWYER says:
Feb-14-2014 09:29 am

And it would be GREAT if commercial insurers paid for the service as well! Since it is an effective method to extend the reach of the clinician. Dr.Will Sawyer solo Family Medicine physician

R.HAMMERLE says:
Feb-14-2014 09:21 am

A wonderful example of bi-partisan leadership on a real issue of healthcare reform. Wouldn't it be great if such agreements could be reached by sitting senators. Ron Hammerle, Chairman Health Resources, Ltd. Tampa, Florida

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Whole Foods sees slip in shares

BY Vivian Gomez

AUSTIN, TX — Whole Foods Market said total sales for the first quarter ended Jan. 19 climbed 10% to a record $4.2 billion. But those results reportedly missed analysts’ expectations, and the company has lowered its earnings outlook for 2014 as a result.

Momentum at Whole Foods — as well as shares — slipped. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 5.4%, compared to a 7.2% increase in the prior year.

The company has revised its outlook for the year, and now expects sales growth of 11% to 12%, comparable store sales growth of 5.5% to 6.2% and diluted earnings per share of $1.58 to $1.65. The company’s prior outlook anticipated sales growth of 11% to 13%, comparable store sales growth of 5.5% to 7% and diluted earnings per share of $1.65 to $1.69.

The company also expects Easter to negatively impact comparable store sales growth in the second quarter and positively impact them in the third by an estimated 50-60 basis points, because the holiday will fall in the third quarter this year versus the second quarter last year.  

Sales growth slowdown notwithstanding, the company’s growth initiative remains aggressive. CEO Walter Robb remained positive and reiterated that he sees demand for 1,200 Whole Foods stores in the United States alone.

"With unparalleled quality standards, we are the leading retailer of fresh, healthy, natural and organic foods. We are very confident in our future growth potential and are moving aggressively to take advantage of that opportunity," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "With a base of 373 stores today and a record 107 stores in our development pipeline, we expect to cross the 500-store mark in 2017."

The company opened 10 stores in the first quarter and has opened two stores so far in the second quarter, expanding into five new markets. It plans to open an additional store in the second quarter and expects to open another 20 to 25 in the second half of the year. The company currently has 373 stores totaling approximately 14.2 million sq. ft.

The company recently signed 21 new leases totaling approximately 920,000 sq. ft., increasing its development pipeline to a record 107 stores. These leases are for new stores in Huntsville, Ala.; Vancouver, Canada; Brea, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Winter Park, Fla.; Kennesaw, Ga.; Schererville, Ind.; Lexington, Ky.; Charlotte, N.C.; Wall, N.J.; New York City, N.Y. (Bryant Park); Frisco, Texas; Tacoma, Wash.; and Wauwatosa, Wis. They also include leases acquired for seven Chicago-area locations formerly operated as Dominick’s stores in Edgewater; Elmhurst; Evanston; Lincoln Park; Streeterville; West Loop; and Willowbrook.

Whole Foods’ expansion plans don’t seem limited to more stores in new markets. The company is adding non-organic, conventional produce into its stores to attract a broader range of consumers, according to reports — which should put the company in a position to compete more effectively.

 

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Acosta to buy sales and marketing agency for Costco

BY Antoinette Alexander

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Acosta Sales & Marketing, a sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods industry, has signed an agreement to acquire Anderson Daymon Worldwide, the sales and marketing agency that exclusively serves Costco Wholesale.

“Anderson Daymon’s extensive experience serving Costco for more than three decades will not only broaden our platform and enable us to better serve a very important growth customer, but also increases the breadth and depth of our capabilities at Costco for our clients,” stated Robert Hill, president and CEO of Acosta. “Anderson Daymon’s history of leadership and solid growth, unique capabilities of their associates and commitment to understanding every facet of Costco will be of particular importance as we look to help our clients prosper at this important customer.”

The transaction is expected to close in February.

Acosta’s current Costco team will merge with Anderson Daymon and become ADW, an Acosta Company, a new division focused solely on Costco Wholesale. Moe Krabbe, CEO of Anderson Daymon Worldwide, will serve as president of the new group reporting to Darian Pickett, Acosta’s president, strategic channels. Spike Anderson, chairman and founder of Anderson Daymon Worldwide, has agreed to remain with the company for at least one year following the closing to provide transition assistance. ADW will remain headquartered in Issaquah, Wash., with all 11 regional offices remaining in full operation. As part of this transaction, Daymon Worldwide will no longer hold an interest in this business and will not be affiliated with the new Acosta division.

Anderson Daymon represents food and nonfood products exclusively to Costco. The company has more than 200 employees and a network of 11 regional offices in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“By joining forces with an industry leader like Acosta, we will provide enhanced services for our clients, including access to full-service and experiential marketing solutions, shopper analytics and best-in-class training,” added Krabbe. “We are very excited about the potential of this partnership and the new, diversified offerings we will deliver together to Costco and its members.”

 

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