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Medicaid prescription claims on the rise

BY Michael Johnsen

HORSHAM, Pa. — Symphony Health Solutions on Wednesday released research on the affects of the Affordable Care Act on Medicaid drug spending.

The research found that prescription claims for Medicaid patients increased in January by 10% and in February by 14% over the same periods last year. The study also uncovered that average out-of-pocket cost for contraceptives has dropped more than 58% since 2012.

“Even with Medicaid expansion less than three months old, we’re starting to see notable increases in Medicaid prescription claims,” stated Don Otterbein, SVP marketing and product management, Symphony Health Solutions. “We expect this trend to continue and — mostly likely — to increase as newly enrolled Medicaid patients seek healthcare services.”

Out-of-pocket costs for contraceptives began to decline for this class of medication immediately after implementation of the ACA birth control mandate in August 2012. These costs went from a high of $17.54 in July of 2012 down to $7.36 in February this year.

“These reductions in patient costs accelerated when plans launched their annual benefit designs in January 2013,” Otterbein said. “This trend is expected to continue this year although it is starting to slow.”

 

 

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CRN: Importance of vitamin D supplementation gaining credence

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Tuesday noted that the importance of vitamin D continues to be recognized by leading researchers. 

“The body of scientific research demonstrating beneficial results for vitamin D has grown in recent years," commented CRN SVP scientific and regulatory affairs Duffy MacKay. "We know that vitamin D is a critical conduit for multiple physiological bodily functions, as well as a tool for helping calcium absorption, which is essential to building strong bones," he said. "Now, a new systematic review and meta-analysis [recently published in the British Medical Journal] finds vitamin D supplementation may also play a significant role in reducing the risk of mortality, particularly in older adults."

Another meta-analysis published in the journal recognized a "suggestive" link between vitamin D supplementation and various conditions and recommended further research be done. "There are very few things that provide clear cut scientific evidence when you’re talking about chronic disease, and if adding a simple vitamin D supplement might provide even probable benefits in this area — as one of a host of healthy habits — we should encourage that step." 

The importance of vitamin D continues to be recognized by the scientific, medical and even regulatory communities, CRN noted. In its latest review of vitamin D, the Institute of Medicine raised the recommended levels for vitamin D. And last month, in a recently released proposed rule from the Food and Drug Administration on nutrition and supplements facts labels, the agency identified vitamin D as a ‘nutrient of public health significance,’ advising that vitamin D content be listed on food labels. 

 

 

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Kroger unveils new enterprise IT architecture called Retail Site Intelligence

BY Michael Johnsen

LAS VEGAS — Kroger on Wednesday partnered with eInfochips and Wincor Nixdorf on a new enterprise IT architecture called Retail Site Intelligence, the companies announced at the International Security Conference and Expo. This architecture for stores of the 21st century uses ZigBee wireless mesh networks to integrate long battery life sensors, hand held devices, point-of-sale devices and video management software into a next generation platform for retail applications such as loss prevention, store automation and analytics. 

"Retail Site Intelligence is, above all, about Customer 1st innovation," stated Chris Hjelm, Kroger SVP and chief information officer. "We are leveraging technology to help customers have the best possible shopping experience in retail stores, whether by more easily finding the products they want or saving time at checkout," he said. "We expect Retail Site Intelligence to be the cornerstone of the technology infrastructure for Kroger stores in the future."

The introduction of the RSI architecture, and the deployment of new retail business solutions by Kroger, culminates two years of global collaboration between Kroger and eInfochips to develop the underlying technology products for Stores of the 21st century. The results of this phase of development are new wireless devices (cameras, scanners and scales) featuring ZigBee wireless technology, and Vigil360, a new video management software kernel designed specifically for RSI.

Commercial versions of the RSI solutions being piloted by Kroger will be available later in 2014 with support and customization services delivered globally.

Representatives from eInfochips, Kroger and Wincor Nixdorf will be demonstrating RSI products and applications including a new handheld bar-code scanner used by shoppers, and a loss prevention application using the world’s first video camera which serves as both a video camera and a ZigBee Access Point. The new camera is easily integrated into a store’s IP network for better camera network scalability and support.

"Most IT products are developed by design teams insulated from the user and application," suggested Frank Berry, founder and senior analyst, IT Brand Pulse. "Kroger’s hands-on involvement in the development process has yielded products that are innovative and tailor made for digitized store environments."

Parag Mehta, the chief marketing officer at eInfochips added, "Our collaboration with Kroger to develop products for their Retail Site Intelligence Initiative embodies the trend of businesses partnering with technology companies to develop intellectual property for a sustainable competitive edge. The results of the Retail Site Intelligence project demonstrate why this trend is gaining momentum."

 

 

 

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