NEWS

Category: Industry News and Insights

Between cooking the turkey, decorating the house and buying gifts for loved ones, the holiday season can be a stressful time that leads to poor health choices, whether it’s neglecting exercise or missing out on health care savings. Don’t let holiday stress negatively affect your health and your wallet. Here are five of the best health decisions you can make this December. 1. Contribute to a health savings account 2. Pick a health insurance plan for 2015 3. Spend remaining flexible spending account (FSA) money 4. Reduce stress and exercise regularly 5. Wash your hands often While the holiday season is a time to relax and spend with family, it can also lead to bad habits that can damage your health and your wallet. But by making these five smart health moves, you can finish off the year strong and be in great shape for 2015.

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A pre-Thanksgiving clash emerged between healthcare experts who believe wellness programs sponsored by employers offer long-term savings and create a healthier workforce, and those who think such programs provide no value whatsoever. Three healthcare consultants wrote on the Health Affairs website Tuesday that wellness programs are money losers, costing employers more than they produce in healthcare savings. More companies are turning to wellness programs, which screen and monitor employees' health, and in some cases, tie health insurance premiums to their behaviors. Employers view them as a way to reduce healthcare expenses and improve workers' health and productivity. But some observers, including the Health Affairs authors, argue that wellness programs aren't achieving their desired results because they are built on a lack of clinical and financial evidence.

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While many people see the issues surrounding net neutrality as strictly consumer facing, there is a growing concern among those within the healthcare industry should new regulations pass or fail. Many of these concerns are centered around the data most medical providers are now using to store and transmit patient information and records. Should new regulations be put into place, healthcare providers can potentially see an increase to their operating costs given the need to spend more to assure fast data speeds. The water is still very muddled as to what new limits and exceptions may be placed on high priority data, such as the information being passed and used by healthcare providers, but the debate continues to intensify.

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The Open Enrollment Period for 2015 health insurance opened on Saturday, November 15th, allowing millions of Americans the opportunity to sign up for healthcare coverage. Government officials, and industry experts, are hoping for a smooth open enrollment, as the Affordable Care Act becomes more entrenched in the U.S. landscape. Early reports are positive and lack many of the troubles that plagued enrollment efforts in the past, but some providers are still experiencing some issues and delays based on the volume of newly signed up healthcare recipients. Open enrollment runs through February 15, 2015.

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The IRS recently released the new contribution limits for individuals who use Health Saving Accounts (HSAs), putting the maximum contribution for individuals at $3,350/year and at $6,650/year for families. HSAs are a tax-advantaged saving account to be used for paying medical expenses, and are beginning to become more frequently used as people look to maximize their taxable income.

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Health spending in the U.S. rose 3.5% during the third quarter, failing to meet the expectations of many industry analysts. This comes as a surprise considering the greater number of Americans who are now have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which was expected to propel the industry out of the recession period. While this does have some negative implications, there are other spending indicators that factor into overall healthcare spending, including pharmaceuticals, which are not included in the total.

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In a recent study by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), results are showing that U.S. physicians are spending an average of 16.6% of their time, or 8.7 hours per week, working on non-patient related paperwork. Many of the tasks associated with this time drain placed on the physicians comes in the forms of patient billing, and filing insurance forms and paperwork. With the expansion of outsourcing services being marketed to the healthcare market, such as billing and insurance processing, the industry may soon begin to see a massive shift in it's operations. Relying heavily on outsource providers to handle the busy work will alleviate the pressure facing healthcare providers, allowing them to bring their focus back onto their patients.

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In an effort to increase early detection of cancer and heart attacks, Google is currently developing technologies to help patients identify changes in their biochemistry that are closely associated in early diagnosis of these health issues. The project is lead by Google X, the company's research unit, with the hopes that utilizing namoparticles and wrist-based monitoring units to give scientists and doctors the advantage of identifying issues early and providing treatment. While this project is still in the early stages, medical professionals are ready to begin using new technology to help them in identifying, diagnosing, and eventually treating these diseases. For more on this development, please click here to read the full article from the BBC.com.

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When it comes making sure that new employees are successful, factors outside of hiring the right person for the job come into play, specifically in the new-hire onboarding process. In fact, recent studies are showing the increasing importance of making sure that company new-hires are properly oriented and understand their role within the organization. Particularly within the contact center space, where agent turnover can often exceed 100% on a monthly basis, assuring that your newest agents are onboarded correctly can help turn the tide and create a different culture of success. Using a multi-channel approach to the new-hire process can be a way to not only successful integrate a new agent within your organization in a manner that is consistent and meaningful to the employee, but can also be done without the risk of losing valuable production time.

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RECENT NEWS

The 5 Best Health Moves for Decemeber

Between cooking the turkey, decorating the house and buying gifts for loved ones, the holiday season can be a stressful time that leads to poor health choices, whether it’s neglecting exercise or missing out on health care savings. Don’t let holiday stress negatively affect your health and your wallet. Here are five of the best health decisions you can make this December. 1. Contribute to a health savings account 2. Pick a health insurance plan for 2015 3. Spend remaining flexible spending account (FSA) money 4. Reduce stress and exercise regularly 5. Wash your hands often While the holiday season is a time to relax and spend with family, it can also lead to bad habits that can damage your health and your wallet. But by making these five smart health moves, you can finish off the year strong and be in great shape for 2015.More...

 

Do Employee Wellness Programs Work? Studies Say No…and Yes

A pre-Thanksgiving clash emerged between healthcare experts who believe wellness programs sponsored by employers offer long-term savings and create a healthier workforce, and those who think such programs provide no value whatsoever. Three healthcare consultants wrote on the Health Affairs website Tuesday that wellness programs are money losers, costing employers more than they produce in healthcare savings. More companies are turning to wellness programs, which screen and monitor employees' health, and in some cases, tie health insurance premiums to their behaviors. Employers view them as a way to reduce healthcare expenses and improve workers' health and productivity. But some observers, including the Health Affairs authors, argue that wellness programs aren't achieving their desired results because they are built on a lack of clinical and financial evidence.More...

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