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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Squeezing health care costs
When Dr. Tom Evans began promoting “lean” techniques to Iowa hospitals in 2006, some administrators might have thought he was talking about a new weight-loss plan. Since then, hospitals’ use of lean techniques has advanced from a handful of early adopters to a mainstream quality improvement tool. According to a statewide survey conducted in 2011, more than 70 percent of Iowa’s 118 hospitals said they were using lean techniques, up from 50 percent in 2008. And if they’re anything like Greater Des Moines’ two major hospital systems, Iowa hospitals are likely saving millions of dollars a year by employing lean practices. (Des Moines Business Record)

UI to recognize Spencer nurse anesthetist
Eric Anderson, of Spencer, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), will be honored on Saturday, Feb. 25, during graduation ceremonies for the University of Iowa Anesthesia Nursing Class of 2012 as the CRNA Teacher of the Year. Each year the university honors one certified registered nurse anesthetist and one physician for providing an outstanding training experience for students. (Spencer Daily Reporter)

Study underway to shed light on common childhood conditions
Researchers are looking into how what’s around us affects our health, from before we’re born to the time we’re adults. And, people in Polk County will play an important role. The main part of an historic national children’s health study gets underway later this year. Doctors say the results could shed light on what causes conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and even autism. Iowa Health-Des Moines physician Dr. Rizwan Shah says researchers are now looking into how the environment and genes both play a role in a child’s health and development. She says, “This is the largest long term study.” (WHO-TV)

National News

Maryland advances ‘enterprising’ plan to eliminate health disparities
In many ways, Maryland is a high-performing state in terms of health care and well-being. It claims within its borders a number of world-class hospitals and medical schools. Still, Maryland continues to struggle with health disparities among its racial and ethnic minority communities. In January, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown announced a series of steps designed to begin to address these differences in care, quality and outcomes — especially within the state’s hardest hit areas. The plan is anchored by an economic development concept — the creation of geographically based health enterprise zones. (Kaiser Health News)

A shift from nursing homes to managed care at home
The rapid expansion of this new type of care comes at a time when health care experts argue that for many aged patients, the nursing home model is no longer financially viable or medically justified. In the newer model, a team of doctors, social workers, physical and occupational therapists and other specialists provides managed care for individual patients at home, at adult day-care centers and in visits to specialists. Studies suggest that it can be less expensive than traditional nursing homes while providing better medical outcomes. (New York Times)

Feds give Minnesota $26M to develop insurance exchange
The federal government has awarded Minnesota a $26 million grant to help fund the creation of the state insurance exchange — a key part of the federal health care law. An estimated one million Minnesota consumers and small businesses are expected to use the online marketplace to evaluate and purchase health plans within a couple of years. Minnesota is one of 10 states to receive federal money in this latest round of grant, It’s a substantial award — until now, the federal government has awarded Minnesota two grants totaling a little more than $5 million. (Minnesota Public Radio)

Per person cost of federal high-risk medical plan doubles
Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law’s high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a report on the new program. The health-care law set aside $5 billion for a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, meant to provide health insurance to those who had been declined coverage by private carriers. Since its launch last summer, nearly 50,000 Americans have enrolled in the program. (Washington Post)

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