Brad McCarty • June 22, 2018

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Dr. Atul Gawande Gets the Amazon Healthcare CEO Spot

After months of speculation, the healthcare venture from Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway finally has a CEO. Dr. Atul Gawande is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who is also a prolific author for The New Yorker and his own books.

His position starts July 9th, out of the company’s Boston offices. That said, the company still does not have a name out in the public. The only other information that anyone knows is the direction — The company was formed to find ways to address healthcare for their US employees, with the aim of improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs.

What Happens if the Unthinkable Becomes Reality?

According to former CDC director Tom Frieden, if a worldwide epidemic hits, we are ill-prepared for its impact. The PreventEpidemics.org website highlights gaps in preparedness among all of the countries in the world, using color codes to denote a five-rank level of preparedness.

Gaps that are shown include monitoring systems, epidemic tracking, and insufficient training. To make alarming news even worse, only six percent of the world’s population lives in countries that are considered to be better prepared, at least according to the PreventEpidemics.org scoring system.

CVS Aetna Deal Could Close By End of 2018

In an interview with CNBC, CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo said that the company is pleased with the progress of the merger, even with having to wait for the Department of Justice to approve the deal. An approval for the merger of AT&T with Time Warner has been seen as a positive sign for the CVS deal, but there are still many obstacles ahead.

CVS had announced in December that it planned to buy Aetna. The $69 billion deal is slated to offer more choices for Aetna customers, and a wider market share to CVS.

Opioid Restriction Increased Black Market Sales

An October 2014 reclassification of hydrocodone products has caused black-market sales to spike, according to a recent study cited by Reuters. The Schedule II classification, which affords stricter controls, means that fewer patients were able to get their hands onto the products through legal means, and instead turned them to other methods of acquisition.

The news is especially alarming considering the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States. While the rescheduling was aimed at reducing the nubmer of patients on opioid medications, the unintended side effect of patients pursuing the drugs via the black market also raises questions about the reclassification’s efficacy on more than just paper.

Healthcare Analytics Sees Large Uptake

A new survey from Ernst & Young shows that 91 percent of respondents have already or plan to undertake tech adoption in the next 12 months. Of these adoptions, analytics is the most commonly-planned project, with 50 percent saying that they hope to tap into the services. That said, only 43 percent say that they’ve actually touched an analytics project in the previous 12 months.

Staff satisfaction initiatives, which could have direct impact on physician burnout, are taking a hit according to the survey. While 62 percent say that they had focused on staff satisfaction in the previous year, only 36 percent planned to continue their efforts in the next 12 months.

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