Category: Blogs

Outcomes Rocket: I’m featured

March 20th, 2018 by

Saul Marqeuz’s weekly Outcomes Rocket podcast features interviews with healthcare leaders sharing lessons on best practices to improve outcomes and business success. I’m featured in the latest edition, discussing hot topics, how to tackle costs, value based care, and suggested areas of focus for 2018.

Health Wonk Review: Ideas of March Edition

March 15th, 2018 by

Beware the Ides of March” –Soothsayer to Julius Caesar
Fear not the Ideas of March” –Health Business Blog to the wonkosphere

If you see something say something

Your friendly neighborhood drug dealer

Count on Drug Channels to make sense of even the most convoluted pharmacy business models –and convoluted they are. This time the topic is the emerging trend of point-of-sale (POS) rebates. Did you know that many pharmacy benefit plans act like reverse insurance, with the sickest members subsidizing the healthiest? POS rebates start to right this wrong and bring forth uncomfortable questions such as: Where have the rebates been going until now?

Crocodile tears

Managed Care Matters shares its perspective that the Administration’s efforts to undermine the ACA have yielded bitter fruit on the marketplaces. Some premiums are up by 30% and meanwhile Congress is doing little or nothing.

Two years ago you couldn’t read the news without hearing about the disastrous premium increases due to “Obamacare,” but the media is silent now.

So what’s going on? Our blogger has a theory: The media is being manipulated and chasing bright, shiny objects.

Skimpy is as skimpy does

InsureBlog likes CMS’s proposal to restore the maximum policy length of short-term medical plans to 12 months from three. That’s even though some news outlets call the plans “skimpy” and some healthcare policy analysts consider such plans to be leeches on Obamacare, because they may siphon the healthiest people out of the marketplace risk pool and drive up premiums.

Location location location

When my son was a toddler, we trained him to say “location location location” when asked, ‘what are the three most important things about real estate?’ I still remember him driving a realtor crazy when one tried to pitch us on a house we didn’t like.

Now, Workers Comp Insider has decided that location is destiny in healthcare, too, declaring ‘It’s the Zip Code Stupid.’ Insider cites a recent JAMA Internal Medicine study that shows geography is “the biggest X-Factor in today’s American Hellzapoppin version of healthcare.”

Location: Wonk zone

The Hospital Leader (not to be confused with the Dear Leader) helpfully explains that “We need creative solutions” really means “the problem we are trying to solve has no answer.” Case study: Hospitals, hospice and SNFs – The big deceit.

A pending bill seeks to establish a state-based individual mandate in New Jersey. But a provision targeting employees of small businesses could inhibit Association Health Plans from selling insurance that does not comply with small group rules. Xpostfactoid explains.

Who knew? Health Care Renewal informs us that the ostensibly libertarian Washington Legal Foundation has become a front for healthcare corporate leaders –and leaders from other fields— to operate with impunity. The foundation’s campaign to abolish the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine failed, but the damage was done. (Hat tip to Health Care Renewal for anticipating today’s theme by including “methinks” in its cover note.)

Local talent

The Health Business Blog is now a teenager. I ran the annual round-up of favorite posts by month.

CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll and I rant and rave about Amazon and innovation in the latest monthly episode of #CareTalk.

Singing from the himmnal

Health System Ed shares results from the 2018 US HIMSS Leadership and Workforce Survey, a survey of providers and vendors.

Top themes: privacy and security, process improvement and workflow, data analytics, business intelligence to inform clinical decision-making remain top of mind. 

Well that’s it for the Ideas of March edition. Watch your back today!

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Happy 13th birthday to the Health Business Blog

March 1st, 2018 by
Teen time

My main job is president of Health Business Group, a boutique healthcare strategy consulting firm I founded in 2003. As a sideline, I write the Health Business Blog, where I provide a behind the scenes look at the business of healthcare, featuring my spin on healthcare topics in the news, interviews with entrepreneurs and policy prescriptions.

The blog is turning 13 years old today! Continuing a tradition I established with birthdays onetwo,   three,  four,  fivesixseven,  eight,  nine,  ten,  eleven and twelve, I have picked out a favorite post from each month. Thanks for continuing to read the blog!

March 2017: eCOA in action. Podcast interview with iCardiac CEO, Alex Zapesochny

I spoke with iCardiac’s CEO about electronic clinical outcome assessment (eCOA) platforms that collect data from patients, clinicians and caregivers to make clinical trials more efficient and accurate.

I served on the board of iCardiac for several years. Later in 2017 I helped arrange the company’s sale to ERT.

April 2017: USPSTF adopts my reasoning on PSA screening for prostate cancer

Which way on PSA?

One of the advantages of having such an old blog is that it gives me the chance to go back to posts from years earlier when an old topic is revived. In this case, the USPSTF did what I suggested on PSA screening –of course I probably wasn’t the one who made it happen!

May 2017: Steward buys IASIS. I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

As a scrappy, lower cost –and private equity owned– community based system, Steward isn’t popular with the big, academic health systems in Massachusetts. Those systems may actually breathe a sigh of relief to see Steward turn its sights out of state.

June 2017: Could Medicaid for all be the answer?

I have been predicting for a while that if Republicans actually manage to poison Obamacare they will come to regret it, since it may hasten the rise of a single payer –truly socialist– system. It won’t happen right away but we’re moving in that direction.

July 2017: What free market healthcare really looks like

Get while the gettin’ is good!

As an economics graduate, MBA, and entrepreneur I’m a fan of the free market system. The invisible hand is a beautiful thing, and it’s certainly been good for me.  A healthcare management consultant and board member, I make my living from the business of health.

But look closely at some free-market elements of US healthcare –like the cost containment industry for out-of-network payments– and you’ll be hard pressed to defend them.

August 2017: How to cure patient cancellations. Podcast with QueueDr CEO Patrick Randolph

This company has a pretty cool way for physician offices to fill cancellations and for patients to get in to see the doctor sooner.

September 2017: Clinical registry solution market heads toward $2 billion

Q-Centrix commissioned my consulting firm, Health Business Group, to conduct a market sizing and growth study of the clinical registry market. The report is available for complimentary download.

October 2017: How formidable would Amazon be in pharmacy?


October was a bad month for me, since I got hit by a car while crossing the street as a pedestrian. I won’t call it a silver lining, but my injuries did bring me into direct contact with various elements of the healthcare system. Amazon let me down on delivery of an OTC painkiller. I wouldn’t trust them (yet) with a prescription.

November 2017: Blockchain for healthcare. Interview with Fluree co-CEO Brian Platz

SilkRoad Technology co-founder Brian Platz has turned his attention to blockchain, with Fluree, a new Public Benefit Corporation that has introduced a scalable blockchain database for decentralized applications. Fluree is not healthcare specific, but there is a lot of potential for blockchain.

December 2017: CVS + Aetna. Are we sure this adds up?

CVS and Aetna. Love at second sight?

Many of the stories about CVS’s proposed acquisition of Aetna suggest that the deal is a bold move to expand CVS’s retail clinic business. This seems like silly reasoning. I explore a more plausible and cynical rationale.

January 2018: Getting a handle on health insurance data. Podcast interview with Vericred CEO Mike Levin

Vericred is a utility for the online health insurance market, supplying accurate, accessible and detailed data on health plan design, rates, provider network participation and drug formularies.

I recently joined the company’s board.

February 2018: #CareTalk – Riding Amazon’s coattails

Amazon is teaming up with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to create a new healthcare business to serve the companies’ employees. But all we hear about is Amazon’s role, while the other two are barely mentioned. Are they just along for the ride?

In this episode of #CareTalk, my monthly videocast with CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll, we tackle this question along with other meaty topics including big data, the CDC, Apple and Medicaid.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

#CareTalk – Riding Amazons coattails

February 28th, 2018 by

Amazon is teaming up with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to create a new healthcare business to serve the companies’ employees. But all we hear about is Amazon’s role, while the other two are barely mentioned. Are they just along for the ride?

In this episode of #CareTalk, CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll and I tackle this question along with other meaty topics including big data, the CDC, Apple and Medicaid.

Enjoy the show -and don’t miss the lightning round!


(0:20) How will the partnership between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway impact healthcare?

(3:45) Are JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway just “along for the ride” with Amazon?

(5:06) Who is looking out for the Medicare beneficiaries?

(8:01) The Economist published a statement that data will drive a revolution healthcare. Is The Economist right?

(10:42) Can we take any solace in the innovations happening on the state level?

(13:06) Was it the right move to force out CDC Director, Brenda Fitzgerald?

(14:20) What should be made of Trump’s description of the opioid crisis as an “emergency”?

(14:51) Will we be downloading Apple’s new Health app?

(15:37) Our thoughts on Indiana’s Medicaid program.

Listen to #CareTalk on iTunes:

Listen to #CareTalk on Google Play:


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.