Chicago sees uptick in COVID cases • Advocate Aurora hit with cyber breach • How hospitals are addressing a surge in gun violence

Chicago sees uptick in COVID cases • Advocate Aurora hit with cyber breach • How hospitals are addressing a surge in gun violence

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LIGHTFOOT SOUNDS THE ALARM AS COVID CASES RISE: Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide, the city of Chicago is adding new states to its travel advisory and warning unvaccinated residents about the more contagious delta variant.

The city of Chicago’s average weekly positivity rate is 1.5 percent as of July 15, compared with 1 percent the week prior. 

The average number of new cases per day is 90, up nearly 70 percent from the week prior. Meanwhile, hospitalizations and deaths, which are lagging indicators, are down 11 percent and 13 percent respectively.  

The city estimates that the delta variant accounts for around 44 percent of cases in Chicago and Illinois, and it will soon represent the majority of cases here, just as it does across the country.

“We’re starting to see an uptick, and we want to get ahead of this before we see a second surge,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. READ MORE.

ADVOCATE AURORA IMPACTED BY CYBER BREACH: Advocate Aurora Health and Intermountain Healthcare join a growing list of healthcare organizations hit by large-scale cybersecurity breaches against third-party vendor Elekta.

The two giant health systems announced Friday they had reported data breaches through their business dealings with the Sweden-based cancer care device and clinical management firm to HHS. The attack exposed data at more three dozen health systems.

Elekta notified Advocate that hackers compromised a network server containing personal health information for more than 68,000 patients, Advocate revealed to HHS on Friday. The breach occurred at seven Advocates facilities in Illinois, the hospital company disclosed. Read more in Modern Healthcare

HOW HOSPITALS ARE TACKLING GUN VIOLENCE: As gun violence continues to worsen, President Joe Biden introduced a new strategy encouraging local governments to scale up “wraparound services” for crime victims and calling on Congress to allocate billions of dollars toward community-based violence intervention programs.

Some hospitals have already taken on that mantle, launching programs that link patients with mental health services, community resources and other follow-up care in the aftermath of a firearm injury.

In Chicago, health systems have made inroads through Healing Hurt People-Chicago, a hospital-based violence intervention program and collaboration between John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County Health, University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital and Drexel University in Philadelphia, which developed the first Healing Hurt People program.

HHP-C, which has staffers housed at Stroger and UChicago Medicine’s Level 1 trauma centers, connects program participants with a social worker to coordinate intensive case management and wraparound services, including referrals to community resources and peer support groups. Read more about how hospitals are responding to gun violence in Modern Healthcare. 

VIOLENCE-PREVENTION COLLABORATION AWARDING $150,000 TO YOUTH PROGRAMS: Southland RISE, a collaboration between Advocate Health Care and the University of Chicago Medicine to address violence prevention, has awarded $150,000 to 15 groups providing summer community programs that aim to keep youth safe.

The programs are centered on such activities as reading, education enrichment, training in conflict resolution, digital storytelling, community building, mentoring, music instruction and sports, the statement said.

“Gun violence and the resulting trauma to people and communities is a public health crisis that requires community-based solutions to effectively address,” Brenda Battle, senior vice president for Community Health Transformation and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for UChicago Medicine said in the statement.

UW-MADISON FIRST SCHOOL TO JOIN AMA FOUNDATION’S LGBTQ FELLOWSHIP: The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been selected to be the first institution to join the American Medical Association Foundation’s National LGBTQ+ Fellowship program, which aims to train medical professionals to better treat LGBTQ people.

The fellowship, which launches with a $750,000 grant from the AMA’s philanthropic arm, is part of an effort to address LGBTQ health care disparities. The first one-year fellow at UW Madison will be recruited to begin training next July, and the program will accept one fellow each year thereafter. The goal is to recruit three fellows per year by the fifth year, according to an AMA statement.

UW-Madison was chosen for its “extensive multidisciplinary network of institutional and community leaders with expertise in LGBTQ+ health,” according to the release.

“This program is the AMA Foundation’s response to the urgent need to address the systemic health inequities and lack of quality medical care for LGBTQ+ patients,” John D. Evans, chair of the AMA Foundation Fellowship Commission on LGBTQ+ Health said in the statement. 

EVEN IN THE SAME HOSPITAL, BLACK PATIENTS SEE WORSE OUTCOMES:  A new study finds that Black patients face more safety risks than White patients even when treated at the same hospital. 

The Urban Institute study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that Black adult patients experience higher rates of adverse patient safety events compared to White adult patients who receive care in the same hospital.

For 6 out of 11 patient safety indicators, Black adult patients experienced significantly worse patient safety relative to white patients treated in the same hospital. Disparities persisted even when patients had similar types of insurance coverage. 

Relative to White patients, Black adults experienced higher rates of press ulcers, catheter-related infections, perioperative hemorrhage or hematoma, postoperative respiratory failure, perioperative pulmonary embolism and postoperative sepsis, the study found.

“This study’s findings show that achieving racial equity in patient safety requires transforming the way care is delivered within hospitals,” Anuj Gangopadhyaya, senior research associate at the Urban Institute said in a statement.

CMS WILL CRACK DOWN ON HOSPITAL PRICE TRANSPARENCY VIOLATIONS: The Biden administration wants to increase fines for hospitals that are not making clear, accessible pricing information available online.

CMS has proposed increasing the minimum fine for violations of the hospital price transparency rule to $300 per day for hospitals with 30 or fewer beds. Hospitals with more than 30 beds would have to pay $10 per day for each bed up to $5,500 daily. Hospitals could face annual fines of $110,000 to more than $2 million, depending on their size.

As Crain’s has previously reported, hospitals have long sought to keep the prices they negotiate with insurers private, arguing that disclosing such rates could harm competition and prevent more innovative payment models. Less than 6% of hospitals are fully compliant with the federal requirement that health systems publicly disclose the prices they charge for medical care, according to a newly published report. 

Read more about the new proposal in Modern Healthcare.

INVESTORS’ SPENDING ON DOCTORS’ PRACTICES JUMPS TENFOLD: Investors spent almost 10 times more buying physician practices in the second quarter of 2021 compared with the prior-year period.

That’s according to a new report from Solic Capital Management, which has offices in Evanston, Atlanta, and Winter Park, Fla. Solic tallied total transaction value of $126.1 billion in the three months ended June 30, which the firm characterized as a “staggering” increase over the $12.9 billion announced during the same period in 2020.

Huge deals in the long-term care, hospital and e-health sectors drove up spending in the recently ended quarter. Modern Healthcare has the story.

STUDY PREDICTS TELEHEALTH USE WILL CONTINUE TO RISE: While telehealth is becoming more popular, people still trust in-person providers more, according to a new study fromThe Intent Lab, a research partnership between Performics and Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

“According to the research, people still do not trust telehealth as much as they do an in-person visit. They have issues with the credibility of the information, the accuracy of diagnosis and the doctor’s ability to analyze a condition or injury through telehealth,” Ashlee Humphreys, associate professor at Medill, said in a statement.

Around 54 percent of respondents said they have used telehealth, with 68 percent of those continuing to use it after COVID started. Humphreys said that despite some concerns, consumers find telehealth convenient and plan to use it “for certain conditions or routine tasks, like refilling a prescription.”

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE:

• Dr. Daniel Bohl has joined the foot and ankle section at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Dr. Bohl will join the faculty at Rush University Medical Center and serve as a team surgeon for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox.

• Heidi Miller has joined the board of Waystar, the revenue cycle tech provider based in Chicago and Louisville. Miller is the former president of JP Morgan International.

• Paula Brown Stafford has joined the advisory board of Pritzker Private Capital. Stafford is currently chairman and CEO of biotechnology company Novan.

 

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