Healthcare News January 17, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: South Carolina edition

    The Republican presidential candidates debate (again!) Monday night in South Carolina, where front-runner Mitt Romney is hoping to sew up the nomination. Healthcare has consistently been a staple of his more conservative challengers’ attacks, and now is the time for them to ramp up those attacks if there’s any chance of slowing Romney’s march toward the nomination.
    His leading challenger, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, has said healthcare is the No. 1 argument against a President Romney. And Texas Gov. Rick Perry also seized on healthcare in an earlier attempt to revive his floundering campaign.
    The issue of abortion rights could also provide an opening for Santorum, a hard-line social conservative. The issue helped him lock down a virtual tie with Romney in Iowa. Although abortion-rights advocates say all of the GOP candidates are equally conservative on the issue, social issues are Santorum’s bread and butter.
    Tonight’s debate airs at 9 p.m. on Fox News.

  • Medicare panel’s payment recommendations pit hospitals against doctors

    Hospitals and other healthcare providers are worried that a Medicare panel has painted a target on their backs just as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill to prevent a payment cut to physicians.

    The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), which advises Congress on Medicare payments, voted last week to recommend cuts to hospital outpatient departments that could save the government between $1 billion and $5 billion over the next five years. The recommendations come as lawmakers seek to stave off a nearly 30 percent cut to physician payments scheduled to kick in March 1; postponing the cuts costs about $30 billion per year, and lawmakers say they’re hoping for a two-year “doc fix” at least.

    MedPAC voted 15-2 last week to recommend that Medicare reimburse doctors’ visits at the same rate, whether they take place in a hospital or a physician’s office. The panel says Medicare currently pays 80 percent for the same routine visit if it takes place in a hospital setting.

  • Huntsman was harsh critic of Romney’s health record

    Jon Huntsman, who is expected to drop his bid for the presidency and endorse Mitt Romney Monday, has been one of the harshest critics of the Republican front-runner’s record on healthcare.

    Huntsman during the campaign repeatedly skewered Romney for signing a healthcare reform law requiring people to have health insurance when he was governor of Massachusetts in 2006. Huntsman has also lambasted Romney’s shifting stance on abortion rights, which he publicly supported before a change of heart around 2004.

    “I’m pro-life, always have been, unlike Gov. Romney. Pro-Second Amendment, always have been, unlike Gov. Romney. Pro-growth, largest tax cut in the history of my state, healthcare reform without a mandate, unlike Gov. Romney,” Huntsman told Fox News after being endorsed by the Boston Globe earlier this month.

  • Continua Health Alliance Releases Free Design Guidelines; Gains Android Support

    Continua Health Alliance announced today that it will make its Design Guidelines publicly available for download free of charge after an eight month pilot phase. Public access to the Guidelines will help technology companies streamline and simplify the development of personal connected health products and services. Continua will make the 2011 Guidelines available as a free download in April of this year.

    In addition to this announcement, the Alliance wrapped up 2011 with a significant increase in Continua Certified products and a number of exciting new announcements including the release of Android 4.0 with the Bluetooth Health Device Profile which supports Continua Certified devices such as heart-rate monitors, glucose meters, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and scales.

    Android 4.0 includes the Bluetooth Health Device Profile supporting Continua Certified devices as the Alliance continues to gain momentum

    Beaverton, Ore. – January 11, 2012 Continua Health Alliance, an international not-for-profit organization of healthcare and technology companies dedicated to creating an eco-system of interoperable personal connected health products and services, today announced it will make its Design Guidelines publicly available for download free of charge. (This public availability will follow an internal 8 month interoperability/pilot phase that will collect and issue errata prior to the public availability).

    Public access to the Continua Design Guidelines will help a larger number of developers build end-to-end systems that provide seamless connectivity between personal connected health products and services, facilitating critical interoperability among devices and applications to drive down data collection and management costs to significantly streamline and simplify the development process for technology companies.

    “Allowing a large audience to access Continua Guidelines will be healthy for the industry” said Clint McClellan, Continua Board President and Sr. Dir. of Strategic Marketing, Qualcomm Life, Inc. “This is a vital step in enabling a collaborative system of interoperable plug-and-play healthcare technologies, that will ultimately decrease time-to-market and drive down deployment and maintenance costs – core components of Continua’s mission.”

    The Alliance recently made its 2011 Design Guidelines available to university students as part of its commitment to support the 2011-2012 GSMA Mobile Health University Challenge. Having access to Continua’s Guidelines has allowed University Challenge participants the opportunity to accelerate their application development by rapidly integrating a wide variety of Continua compliant health and medical devices.

    Continua will make the 2011 Guidelines available as a free download in April of this year.

    Continua Momentum 

    Continua wrapped up 2011 with a significant increase in Continua Certified™ products and a number of exciting new announcements:

    • Android 4.0 was released with the Bluetooth Health Device Profile which supports Continua Certified devices such as heart-rate monitors, glucose meters, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, and scales. This is the first time that applications can be loaded into an unmodified Mobile OS with the levels of security needed for healthcare data transactions.
    • Demand for Continua Certified products increased with the Japanese Tsunami disaster relief efforts and the recent launch of Continua-compliant personal connected healthcare technologies and regional partnership solutions in Japan. There were commercial releases of Continua-based consumer solutions and government-backed use of the Continua technology in two programs in 2011.
    • Continua began collaborating with NFC Forum to expand connectivity, simplify data exchange in healthcare IT. Continua is working to include NFC as a new transport in an upcoming release of the Guidelines.
    • The Alliance launched the Continua-India work group at International Telemedicine Congress 2011. This new regional working group is focused on adoption and promotion of Continua within India.  This new working group now joins formal regional working groups in –  China, Europe, Japan, South Korea, United States and our Emerging Markets working group.

    “We are extremely happy that the Bluetooth Health Device Profile is included in Android 4.0,” said McClellan, “this will make it much easier for third parties to develop health applications that can use a wide variety of Continua certified devices. We are also seeing increasing international adoption of Continua as the Japanese government has mandated that relief efforts should use Continua-based systems to ensure rapid and effective clinic deployments. And, because of increasing interest in India, we have formed a dedicated India work group to facilitate adoption of Continua based systems. ”

    Consumer Electronics Show

    Continua  and member companies AnyDATA, Bluegiga, Freescale, Nonin, Qualcomm Life, Renesas, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments (TI) and Wind River are demonstrating personal connected health solutions this week, Jan. 10-13 at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Visit us in the North Hall Digital Health Summit (Booth #3027), to see consumer digital health solutions in action.

    About Continua: Continua Health Alliance is an international not-for-profit industry organization dedicated to establishing guidelines for combining and applying existing standards to personal connected health products and services. Continua makes a transition from the personal connected health marketplace to a marketplace of interoperable devices that facilitate better care, possible, empowering consumers, improving outcomes and lowering overall healthcare costs. With nearly 250 member companies around the world, Continua is comprised of technology, medical device and healthcare industry leaders as well as service providers dedicated to making personal connected health a reality. For more information visit:

    Related posts:

    1. Continua Health Alliance Releases 2011 Design Guidelines
    2. Continua Health Alliance Releases Updated Design Guidelines for Public Purchase
    3. Wi-Fi Alliance and Continua Health Alliance collaborate on Personal connected health

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