Category: Patients

Some 2nd shots are canceled. I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

published date
March 3rd, 2021 by

Some urgent care clinics have run out of vaccines and cancelled follow-up shots for certain patients. It’s maddening for affected patients, but not a public health problem assuming those shots are given to someone else instead.

I was quoted in the Boston Globe (CareWell clinics telling patients their second COVID-19 shots are canceled, triggering wider vaccination anxieties)

“It’s not surprising,” said David Williams, president of Health Business Group, a Boston management consulting firm. “When you’ve got millions and millions of doses being administered every week, you’d expect to have some sampling of this. You can’t expect everything to go smoothly.”

Delayed appointments are “certainly an inconvenience for the person who was planning to get a second shot, but it’s not a public health problem,” Williams said.

It seems like this glitch has already been addressed. It’s all part of the bumpiness we can expect to continue for a while.


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

Free Noom? Yes, health insurance will pay

published date
January 3rd, 2021 by

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.

Real-time patient feedback. Podcast interview with Feedtrail CEO Paul Jaglowski

published date
December 10th, 2020 by

Paul Jaglowski FeedTrail
FeedTrail CEO, Paul Jaglowski

Paul Jaglowski, CEO of Feedtrail has taken patient experience surveying to the next level, collecting real-time information from patients during their encounters. Big guys like Press Ganey, Qualtrics and NRC are looking over their shoulders at the new kid on the block.

Paul has gone from baseball player to management consultant to startup executive in a few short years. Along the way he’s collected a 30 under 30 award and contracted COVID-19. Thankfully he’s recovered in time to be in the running for 40 under 40.

For reading, he recommends The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (which was also recommended by previous guest Alex Zapesochny) and The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, by Paul Collier.

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

Amazon Halo or Apple Watch? Why not both?

published date
November 25th, 2020 by

I share my impressions of the Amazon Halo and Apple Watch in the latest edition of the HealthBiz podcast. Usually, I interview a guest but in this episode it’s just me.

I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the Watch over the past couple years and I’m not giving it up any time soon. But the Band adds some useful –and novel— features, making it more of a complement than a substitute. I’m planning to keep wearing both.

(January 3, 2021 Update: I have been asked about whether I’ve found a way to import Amazon Halo data into the Apple Health app. The answer is no. When I follow instructions from Apple to import data from other apps, Halo doesn’t show up, which means it’s unlikely to be compatible. I followed Amazon’s instructions to download my Halo data. Theoretically I could enter it into Apple Health manually but that would be cumbersome and not likely to yield much. I am going to explore this topic further to see what I find and possibly write a new post or record a supplemental podcast.)

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.

0E1EE795 194B 4DA8 922B 5C3677C39F6E 1 105 c
Watch me!
7C0E76EA ADAD 4CF9 8119 425E0355E1B3 1 105 c
Halo band matches my socks (also from Amazon)
DB8F1DFC 4D94 424D 9319 7906F385DC5F
Halo app home screen
E79F4C81 C2F4 4332 AC20 0ABEB07B3B5E
This is a pointless reminder



 


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

How to get Noom for free

published date
March 31st, 2020 by

Noom combines an app with human coaching to help people lose weight and keep it off. The company’s typical user loses 7.5% of body weight over the course of a four month program.  Customers are joining like crazy, and revenue quadrupled last year.

After hearing about Noom on NPR late last year I signed up, paying $44.99 per month. To put it in perspective, that’s almost twice what I pay for my gym. Plus, my health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts actually reimburses me for three months of gym membership.

And that got me thinking, if Blue Cross pays for me to stay fit at the gym, maybe they would pay for my weight loss program as well. After all, trimmer people cost insurers less money. So I called Blue Cross and they told me they actually do cover weight loss plans, the same way they cover gym memberships.

Once I found out about the benefit, it was incredibly simple to get reimbursed. I typed in some basic information online, uploaded my Noom receipt –and today I received a check for the full amount of my Noom membership. No co-pays, no deductibles, no negotiated discount!

Screenshot 2020 03 30 23.35.25
Online form

It wasn’t easy to find, though, so I’m writing this post to give others a heads up. Here’s where I had to go on the Blue Cross site to find the benefit:

  • Login> My plans> Plan Details> Plan Benefits> Benefit Details> Routine Adult Physical Exams Covered By Your Plan
Screenshot 2020 03 30 23.45.06
Where’s Weight Loss?

Buried at the bottom of a run-on paragraph with no line breaks, I found the following run-on section with weird punctuation and a typo:

Weight Loss Benefit – you and your covered family members can be reimbursed for up to 3 months of participation fees paid to a weight loss program that is hospital-based; or one that is non-hospital-based program focused on eating and physical activity habits, and behavioral/lifestyle counseling with certified health professionals (in-person, by phone, or online). You can request this reimbursement once each calendar year; requests must be submitted by March 31 of the following year.

Bingo! (Although can someone explain why on earth this would be in the physical exams benefit?)

Noom isn’t specifically mentioned, but when I called Blue Cross they assured me the company was on the list. They also told me my call was being recorded in case I was denied and wanted to complain later! That was comforting.

Anyway, the moral of this story is to check with your health plan to see if they’ll pay for Noom. You might be pleasantly surprised. And who couldn’t use a little break during these tough financial times?