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Nomination of Azar to run HHS is generally lauded


Despite his close past ties with the pharmaceutical industry, a  wide range of hospital executives and healthcare trade groups have come out in support of Alex Azar to be the next secretary of health and human services.

Mr. Azar, who ran Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations for five years until he stepped down from the position last January, was deputy secretary of HHS in  the George W. Bush administration.  Healthcare-sector officials generally lauded his mix of work experience in  the public and private sectors, and his understanding of the sprawling inner workings of HHS.

But some in Congress weren’t happy. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said:

“We need an HHS secretary who is willing to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices not one who has financially benefited from this greed. I will vigorously oppose this nomination.”

Susan DeVore, CEO of Premier, an alliance of some 3,900 U.S. hospitals and health systems and about 150,000 other providers and organizations, told FierceHealthcare: “We know from that work he understands the need to move away from the perverse incentives in the Medicare fee-for-service payment system and to do so in a fashion that incents high-quality care. He also appreciates the need to have access to healthcare data and interoperability of health information systems.”

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The rise of self-care


As  a way of cutting costs and improving outcomes,  some American healthcare institutions and individual clinicians are educating  more patients to perform self-care functions, such as dialysis. This movement has been underway for some time in Europe.

Of course, self-care challenges healthcare leaders to reconsider the balance of responsibility between clinicians and patients.

As an article in Hospitals & Health Networks notes: ”{W}hile self-care initiatives are taking off in Europe, the concept of patient-administered care is still somewhat radical in the United States, where patients and providers are accustomed to a specific power dynamic.”

“Beyond that, the fee-for-service payment system punishes providers who shift billable tasks to patients.”

Still,  “evidence is mounting that self-care initiatives support the Triple Aim — improved patient experience, improved health and reduced per capita cost of health care.”

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