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Daily Briefing Blog

The power of a superstar co-worker

March 30, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

You've probably heard the maxim: A good team is greater than the sum of its parts.

But what if a good team only becomes great because of its best part?

That's the finding of a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, where University of Iowa researchers tracked about 600 workers at a Chinese petrochemical company, split into nearly 90 different teams.

The best-performing teams had strong common processes in place. They knew where to pitch in, when to share work, and how each of them needed to achieve at least a minimum level of quality.

But what the Iowa researchers found was something that project managers have intuitively understood for centuries: a single superstar coworker can exert outsized influence.

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The states where the Alzheimer's population is surging

March 25, 2015

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

Currently, about 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. But the latest data from the Alzheimer's Association finds that, every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops the condition.

By 2025, experts predict that more than seven million Americans will have Alzheimer's. And by 2050, that number is expected to reach 13.8 million—barring medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease.

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Tenet CEO: Here's why we 'got serious' about ambulatory care

March 23, 2015

One of Moday's top stories details a deal that is expected to turn Tenet Healthcare into the largest provider of ambulatory care in the United States.

Recently, the Daily Briefing sat down with Tenet CEO and President Trevor Fetter to discuss his transition from the movie business to hospitals, his strategy on population health, and his thoughts on industry consolidation. The full interview will run later this week, but here's a sneak peek at his comments on the for-profit giant's strategy for ambulatory care:

Question: Tell me a little about your strategy over time and how you got Tenet to where it is now.  

Trevor Fetter: From about 2006 until 2012, our strategy was strictly one of organic growth. In the core business of hospitals, we made one acquisition of a small hospital in South Carolina. We also built five hospitals during that time, but those were in existing markets, adjacent to operations we already had.

So it was an organic strategy—and one that had never been seen in the business other than at HCA post-1997. The traditional models among the investor-owned companies were a variation on the consolidation or “roll-up” theme. We generated eight-consecutive years of strong earnings growth and improved margins.

In 2008, we got serious about creating a much more active outpatient facility strategy, and in 2013, we had the opportunity to acquire Vanguard. That was a real departure from our strategy, and I was anxious that our investors would be concerned. But, as we examined the markets and the similarities between the two companies, it became very compelling.

I'd characterize our strategy now as developing our ambulatory and services business, and further developing our core acute care business, but not through acquisitions alone. That's a tool that's available to us, but we're much more interested in expanding and solidifying our geographic footprint through innovative partnerships with well-respected not-for-profit organizations.

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How one doctor died

March 13, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

I can't forget Paul Kalanithi's chilling, honest question.

"How long have I got left?"

Turned out the answer was 13 months.

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What Apple's surprise announcement means for hospitals

March 10, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

Apple announced its new Apple Watch device at a major media event on Monday—but for the health care industry, the surprise headline was Apple's new ResearchKit, a platform designed to upend how medical research gets done.

Apple thinks ResearchKit will transform the process of finding trial participants, by allowing Apple users to simply opt into clinical trials via their iPhones.

(The key data point here: 700 million, as in the number of iPhone users around the world.)

And that argument seems more plausible, after Monday: Apple announced five clinical trials, and those studies already are seeing record patient demand.

"After six hours, we have 7,406 people enrolled in our Parkinson's study," John Wilbanks, an executive with Sage Bionetworks, tweeted on Monday night. "Largest one ever before was 1,700 people."

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How the new Supreme Court case could affect hospitals

March 5, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

The King v. Burwell case—and yesterday's oral arguments—has been scrutinized from so many directions. What it means for patients, for insurance exchanges, even for the future of the overall Affordable Care Act.

But there's been one relatively overlooked aspect of the Supreme Court decision: The impact on the health care industry, and hospitals particularly.

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Live reports from the Supreme Court: The case over Obamacare

March 4, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

This story is in progress. Last updated at 4:30 p.m ET.

This is a "straightforward case," lawyer Michael Carvin began on Wednesday morning, arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wouldn't let Carvin finish a single sentence.

"Please back up," Ginsburg told Carvin, and explain whether the plaintiffs even had standing to make their case.

It was that kind of morning at the Supreme Court: Contentious arguments, high-stakes consequences … and definitely not straightforward.

And after 75 minutes of oft-thrilling debate—which frequently descended into discussions over very technical statutory language, too—it was unclear whether the justices believed that the insurance exchange subsidies are legal, or if a key part of the Affordable Care Act is doomed.

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Is your hospital a 'top hospital'? Probably.

March 3, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

When every hospital is special … none of them are.

That's the takeaway from a new Health Affairs study on hospital rankings that found, once again, wildly divergent scores between each ratings system.

For the study, a team of patient safety researchers looked at hospitals ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, HealthGrades’ America’s 100 Best Hospitals, Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score, and Consumer Reports’ Health Safety Score between July 2012 and July 2013.

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