The Week in Disruption goes beyond the headlines to uncover the significance of emerging trends in healthcare and beyond.
Employers turn to handpicked physicians and hospitals
In the last few years, a growing number of employers have started directing their employees and dependents to faraway hospitals and physician practices singled out for clinical excellence or cost-effectiveness. And recent moves by Amazon and Walmart suggest that efforts by employers to carefully select their provider partners are just getting started.
Amazon has begun paying travel costs for employees or dependents with cancer diagnoses to see physicians at the City of Hope cancer institute in Los Angeles. All told, more than 380,000 individuals are eligible for the program.
Walmart, which has long operated a similar Centers of Excellence program with a handful of health systems providing cancer care, surgical care, and other procedures, is also stepping up its efforts to identify and work with specific physicians. The company recently announced it will begin pointing employees in three regions toward “featured providers” identified by the data analytics firm Embold Health for providing “appropriate, effective and cost-efficient care” in exchange for lower out-of-pocket costs.
Genealogy sites embrace health screenings
Genealogy websites have long promoted DNA tests as a way for consumers to learn about where their ancestors may have originated from or flesh out their family tree. And as advancements in genomics allow for increased testing of hereditary conditions, several companies are looking to broaden their expertise beyond genealogy and into the lucrative world of health screenings.
This week, Ancestry launched AncestryHealth, which offers screenings for nine conditions, including heart disease, cancer and blood disorders. The service costs $49 for existing AncestryDNA members and $149 for newcomers. Ancestry also plans to create a service for tracking family histories to make the information more easily shareable with physicians. Next year, the company plans to launch an expanded, subscription-based service for an expanded set of conditions. And while competitor 23andme offers similar direct-to-consumer services approved by the FDA, Ancestry will instead be working with a network of physicians who will order the tests for their patients.
Innovation at a glance
- BlueCross Blue Shield is partnering with Texas-based Sanitas Medical Center on a new full-service primary care clinic
- UnitedHealth is launching a new telemedicine app for the 27 million Americans enrolled in its employee-sponsored health plans
- The state of Georgia is requiring rural hospital executives to take training courses in management and strategic planning, in part to address recent hospital closures
- A growing group of physicians have received medical licenses to practice in all 50 states, in preparation for continued telemedicine growth
- Denver Health has begun offering on-site housing to patients who are homeless, frail or who have unstable housing—to address long hospital stays after medical problems have been resolved