Health Business Blog

Health care business consultant and policy expert David E. Williams share his views

Free Noom? Yes, health insurance will pay

Weight loss is a top New Year’s resolution. Noom is a great app with human coaching to help people lose weight and keep it off. Noom can be expensive, but can you get Noom for free? Does health insurance pay for Noom? In my case the answer was yes.

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, weight loss reimbursement is offered alongside fitness reimbursement. They’ve made it much easier to understand since I requested reimbursement last year.

Here’s the FAQ for “What qualifies for weight loss reimbursement?”

Participation fees for hospital-based programs and in-person Weight Watchers sessions

Participation fees for Weight Watchers and other non-hospital programs (in-person or online) that combine healthy eating, exercise, and coaching sessions with certified health professionals such as nutritionists, registered dietitians, or exercise physiologists.

Notice, Noom isn’t officially named on the list even though Weight Watchers (not nearly as good as Noom) is. But I called Blue Cross and they told me Noom was reimbursed. When I submitted my request for reimbursement online it was paid right away.

This is the best of all benefits because there’s no co-pay, no co-insurance, no prior authorization and it doesn’t come out of my deductible.

Here’s the simple form I filled out online in 2020:

Screenshot 2020 03 30 23.35.25
Noom reimbursement

Does your plan pay for Noom? I don’t know, but it might. And it should. Losing weight and keeping it off is a win-win. It makes you healthier and saves the health plan money on medical costs.


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

2020 hindsight. How my COVID-19 predictions fared

business 4636683 1280
Goodbye 2020

In this year-end episode of the HealthBiz podcast, I revisit my COVID-19 predictions from April and interim report card from September. Then I take a brief glimpse at what lies ahead in 2021.

As a reminder, here’s what I said:

  1. Treatment, not testing will be key to reopening the economy
  2. Hybridization (virtual/in-person mix) will be the new reality
  3. Public health post-COVID-19 will be like security post-9/11
  4. The federal government will grow even more powerful relative to everything else
  5. Immigration is over

The HealthBiz podcast is available on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts and  many more services. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts. Doing so helps the podcast reach more listeners.

Check out the rough (AI generated) transcript of the episode. Click on a word if you want to start the podcast from a particular spot.

Happy New Year!

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

Delay = Death. We must speed up COVID-19 vaccinations

Israel is proceeding nearly 10x as fast as the US on COVID-19 vaccination. We need to accelerate dramatically right now in order to save tens of thousands of lives over the next several weeks. Use all the supply we have now, don’t hold it back at the federal, state or hospital level! Go 24×7.

I’m quoted in the Boston Globe (Biden, public health critics slam slower-than-promised pace of US COVID-19 vaccination rollout. “This should be D-Day right now,” said one expert. But it’s not.)

“Speed is what matters,” said David Williams, president of Health Business Group, a Boston management consulting firm. “This should be D-Day right now. But what’s happening nationally is it’s just being done in a bureaucratic manner and it’s not being done with the urgency you’d do in a civil defense or war-time exercise.”

Williams cited Oxford University data showing Israel, with a population not much bigger than Massachusetts, already has administered 5.68 doses per 100 people compared to the US total of 0.64 per 100.

Let’s get going!


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

Why is Massachusetts failing at COVID-19 vaccination?

Israel (population 9M) has already vaccinated 200,000 people against COVID-19 with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and expects to be injecting over 100,000 per day shortly.

Massachusetts (population 7M)  has injected only 35,000 so far. Here, as in many other states, half the doses are being saved as boosters and not injected out of fear that a future supply glitch could delay dosing from a supposedly magical 21 or 28 day target time.

In Israel, senior residences had multiple stations manned by the local equivalent of the Red Cross, and military personnel with medical training are being used as well. Israel is prepared to ramp up to a 24/7 vaccination schedule if needed. They are treating it as an emergency, which it clearly is.

In Israel, the teams are equipped with epinephrine to handle the occasional severe reaction, which seems to be an issue with both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Meanwhile, what is the actual logistical plan in Massachusetts? It seems pretty vague. I’ve heard from friends at Boston teaching hospitals (and read in the press) that distribution is a mess. There is general talk of drugstores like CVS and Walgreens providing shots. Are they going to be ready with epi-pens or just call 911?

And what about the idea of giving one shot instead of two if supply is tight? We might get to herd immunity faster if we applied creative approaches such as this one.

—-

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

Medical record indexing in the EHR era: Podcast with EDCO CEO Andrew Fehlman

Fehlman photo
Andrew Fehlman, CEO, Solarity by EDCO

Have you ever heard of medical record indexing? I hadn’t until I met Andrew Fehlman, CEO of Solarity by EDCO. His company works with major US health systems that have implemented top-end electronic medical records like Epic and Cerner. He compares medical record indexing to helping organize a complex inbox full of emails, PDFs, images and other documents. Solarity uses streamlined workflow tools and machine learning to boost accuracy and throughput well beyond what health information management departments can do on their own.

Andrew joined the company straight out of college, working his way up in sales and ultimately to CEO. He’s built up the company, led it through successful growth equity financings, and is positioning Solarity to thrive in the era of interoperability. Solarity has continued growing straight through the pandemic and is looking forward to 2021.

The HealthBiz podcast is available on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts and  many more services. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts. Doing so helps the podcast reach more listeners.

Check out the rough (AI generated) transcript of the episode. Click on a word if you want to start the podcast from a particular spot.


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