Week in review: 10 biggest healthcare stories this week

Stay in the know with Becker's Hospital Review's weekly roundup of the nation's biggest healthcare news. Here's what you need to know this week.

1. Pioneer Program approved for expansion
CMS' Office of the Actuary certified the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model as the first of its ACO pilot programs to meet the necessary criteria for expansion. HHS now plans to find ways to implement the model in other Medicare programs. More than 600,000 beneficiaries currently receive care in Pioneer ACOs, and the model has generated more than $384 million in the first two years, according to an independent evaluation from HHS.

2. Ebola found in eye of American after he was declared Ebola-free
Ebola was discovered lingering in the eye of an American who survived the virus after he was declared Ebola-free, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Ian Crozier, MD, contracted Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone and was flown to the U.S. for treatment at Atlanta-based Emory University Hospital. After successful treatment, Dr. Crozier's blood tested negative for Ebola and he was released. However, after he was discharged, Dr. Crozier had muscle and joint pain and hearing loss associated with Ebola. Additionally, he developed eye troubles, including a foreign-body sensation and bilateral ocular burning, blurred vision and pain. His eye color also changed from blue to green, according to the Washington Post. He was diagnosed with uveitis, which can lead to blindness. The fluid in his eye tested positive for Ebola, and his physicians were able to successfully treat the eye infection with steroids and an antiviral medication. His eye returned to its normal color and he regained vision.

3. Criminal attacks No. 1 cause of healthcare data breaches: 5 things to know
Criminal attacks have become the main cause of healthcare data breaches for the first time, according to a new report from the Ponemon Institute. Over the past five years, the incidence of criminal attacks on healthcare organizations has increased 125 percent. Of the 178 healthcare organizations and business associates surveyed by Ponemon Institute, 45 percent of healthcare organizations and 39 percent of business associates reported a data breach whose root cause was a criminal attack. Additionally, 12 percent of healthcare organizations and 10 percent of business associates reported a data breach whose root cause was a malicious insider. In the past year, 78 percent of healthcare organization breaches and 82 percent of business associate breaches were due to web-borne malware attacks.

4. Up to 17M women could lose mammogram coverage
HHS is considering adopting guidance from an independent panel of medical experts that recommends against regular mammograms for women under 50 unless they are at acute risk for breast cancer, according to The Hill. If HHS accepts the panel's recommendation, insurance companies will no longer be required to cover biennial mammograms for women under 50. At least 17 million women between the ages of 40 and 49 would be affected.

5. Nearly 600k Americans have more than $50k in medication costs
In 2014, there were approximately 576,000 Americans who had more than $50,000 in medication costs during the year-long period, up 63 percent from the number of Americans with medication costs greater than $50,000 in 2013, according to Express Scripts' "Super Spending: U.S. Trends in High-Cost Medication Use" report. The number of patients who have more than $100,000 in annual medical costs rose from 47,000 in 2013 to 139,000 in 2014. Of the people with more than $50,000 in annual costs, more than one-third were being treated for 10 or more different medical conditions.

6. Tufts, Boston Medical Center call off merger talks
Boston Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center in Boston called off their plans to merge May 14, according to the Boston Globe. Specific details as to why the deal was scrapped have not been disclosed, though the hospitals apparently clashed over culture, mission and strategies for the future. Michael Wagner, MD, CEO of Tufts, and Kate Walsh, CEO of BMC, released a joint statement saying it is "best for our medical centers to remain separate," according to the Boston Globe.

7. Virginia Mason sues scope manufacturer with widow of infection victim
Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle is joining the widow of an infection victim in a lawsuit against medical scope manufacturer Olympus America, according to The Seattle Times. Scopes from the manufacturer were linked to infections in nearly 40 people around Seattle, as well as numerous others across the country. Theresa Bigler of Woodway, Wash., whose husband died in August 2013 after contracting an infection at the hospital, originally filed a wrongful death suit in March against both Olympus and Virginia Mason. After meeting with the hospital, she agreed to work with Virginia Mason to hold Olympus accountable for Mr. Bigler's death and to make sure the scopes hospital officials call "badly designed and poorly regulated" are corrected.

8. Cerner's Q1 2015 revenue falls short of expectations
Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner released its financial results for the first quarter 2015 that ended April 4, indicating a growth in revenue and an all-time high in bookings. Cerner's reported total revenue for the first quarter was $996.1 million, a 27 percent increase from $784.8 million in revenues reported during the same time period last year. Despite the overall increase, total revenues were lower than expected following the company's acquisition of Siemens and lower revenue in existing business. Cerner's net income for first quarter 2015 fell by 7 percent to $110.9 million, down from $119.5 million the same time period the previous year. While the company's basic earnings per share dipped from 34 cents in Q1 2014 to 32 cents in Q1 2015, its bookings for the first quarter reached an all-time high of $1.2 billion, 32 percent higher than the $910.2 million from the same time last year.

9. FDA recommends lifting lifetime ban on gay men donating blood
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance recommending an end to the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood. Current policy defers men who have had sex with another man at any time since 1977 from donating blood. The move to end this lifetime ban follows scientific evidence showing a shorter blood donation ban would be effective. If the FDA's draft guidance is enacted, men who fall in this category will no longer be banned for life from giving blood. However, the FDA would still block gay men from donating blood if they had sex with another man in the last 12 months.

10. US patient satisfaction plummets, index says: 4 things to know
University of Michigan's The American Customer Satisfaction Index shows patient satisfaction for healthcare services dropped to its lowest point in nine years, according to JournalNow.com. The annual index measures patient satisfaction on a zero to 100 scale using data from interviews with nearly 70,000 customers. The overall healthcare score was 75.1 for 2015. The overall score in 2014 was 77.6 and 80 in 2013. ASCs scored 76 for 2015, down from 79 in 2014.

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