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Healthcare Roundup: Medical Mall Makeovers, CT Mental Health Bill & More

April 29, 2022

Medical Mall Makeovers on Rise

The decline of the American shopping mall over the past decade or so has been a boon for big-city healthcare systems. Healthcare providers now occupy at least some part of 32 enclosed malls across the country, according to a database maintained by Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of urban design at Georgia Tech. Roughly a third of those medical makeovers have come since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

What the complexes like Hickory Hollow Mall, a 1.1 million square foot retail space in Nashville, offer is plenty of space and parking at a lower cost than the expansion of an existing facility would involve.

“The possibilities for service offerings in a facility of this scale are endless,” said Dr. Jeff Balser, CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which plans to move medical clinics into the Hickory Hollow space. (NASHVILLE PUBLIC RADIO)

CT Senate Passes Mental Health Bill

The Connecticut Senate passed the first of three sweeping measures pending in the General Assembly aimed at improving children’s mental health services. Among other things, SB 2 would make mobile crisis centers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week; establish a fund to help address social contributors to mental health issues, such as poverty, racial discrimination, and unemployment; and provide for the creation of a working group to study ways to develop the state’s behavioral health provider workforce. Two other measures state lawmakers are considering are SB 1 and HB 5001, addressing mental health services in schools, health care facilities, and communities. (CONNECTICUT MIRROR [HARTFORD])

Pharma Dives into Digital Health

Big Pharma has been investing big in digital health companies lately. In March AstraZeneca purchased a $33 million stake in Huma Therapeutics. Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer have also made recent investments in the digital health space.

The moves are driven by the belief that digital health companies can help them improve their connection with customers, according to Colin Zick, healthcare co-chair at the legal firm of Foley & Hoag.

“There is a realization in big pharma that they don’t know what they’re doing in digital health,” he said. “They can try to build it, but the culture is different. The people are different. (MODERN HEALTHCARE)

Telehealth May Result in Duplicative Care with Acute but Not Chronic Conditions

A new study assessing care outcomes with telehealth found that whether or not telehealth visits resulted in duplicative care appeared to depend on whether the patients had acute or chronic conditions. The study of nearly 41 million commercially insured adults published in Jama Network Open showed that initial telehealth visits were slightly more likely to lead to follow-up visits to emergency rooms or inpatient facilities than in-person visits with patients who had acute conditions, such as an acute respiratory infection. Telehealth visits, however, were slightly less likely to lead to follow-up care than in-person visits with patients who had chronic conditions. (HEALTHCARE DIVE)

Physician Groups Quash Public Availability of Provider Diversity Data in CO

Under a new Colorado law that takes effect later this year, insurers offering certain health plans will be required to collect demographic information, including race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, from both providers and enrollees.

The aim of the “Colorado Option,” a plan that will be offered on the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace, is to build out cultural diversity in the state’s provider networks to meet the needs of its diverse population. The state had considered including the providers’ demographic data in directories patients could use to find doctors that shared their cultural background. But due to privacy concerns raised by physician groups, it opted instead to make the reporting of that data voluntary and confidential. And it will only be collected and reported to the state in aggregate. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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