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LabCorp to Let Consumers Order Own Blood Tests: Bloomberg

Posted by on April 21, 2015

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Summary: “Consumers will soon be able to bypass their doctors by going online to order cholesterol readings, thyroid tests and other bloodwork from the biggest diagnostics company in the U.S.,” Bloomberg News reports.

 

 


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The Bot Bubble: Click farms and social media currency

Posted by on April 21, 2015

Summary: The question of clicks and likes as a measure of traffic has pervaded the conversation about a site’s value on the internet. But as we all know, a lot of those clicks and likes are simply fakes. Here’s a quote from a New Republic piece about this problem: “From January 2013 to February 2014, a global team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, Microsoft’s and AT&T’s research labs, as well as Boston and Northeastern Universities, conducted an experiment designed to determine just how often advertising campaigns resulted in likes from fake profiles. The researchers ran ten Facebook advertising campaigns, and when they analyzed the likes resulting from those campaigns, they found that 1,867 of the 2,767 likes—or about 67 percent—appeared to be illegitimate. After being informed of these suspicions, Facebook corroborated much of the team’s work by erasing 1,730 of the likes. Sympathetic researchers from a study run by the online marketing website Search Engine Journal have suggested that targeted Facebook advertisements can yield suspicious likes at a rate above 50 percent. In the fall of 2014, Professor Emiliano De Cristofaro of the University College of London presented research which found that even a page explicitly labeled as fake gained followers—the vast majority presumably bots.” The brilliant piece by Doug Bock Clark can be found here: The Bot Bubble: Click Farms Have Inflated Social Media Currency,” The New Republic.

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Tools help patients find cash prices for medical procedures: L.A. Times

Posted by on April 20, 2015

Summary: It’s great to get such good press. Lisa Zamosky at The Los Angeles Times wrote a piece about shopping tools to help patients find prices. We’re featured! Click through for an excerpt.

 

 


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Quality ratings: The Problem With Satisfied Patients, via The Atlantic

Posted by on April 18, 2015

Summary: Quality measurements for health care providers, hospitals, surgical centers and so on are a hot topic. Everybody’s got a favorite source (Yelp? healthgrades.com? AHRQ? Leapfrog? Consumer Reports? U.S. News and World Report? Your Facebook friends?) but the bottom line seems to be this: There’s a cacophony of competing sources of measurement, none of them particularly strong. So we were interested to see this recent study revealing the outcome of the latest government effort to resolve the problem, as described by Alexandra Robbins in The Atlantic.

 

 


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Blues’ Quality Contract Raising Hackles in Massachusetts: Medpage Today

Posted by on April 11, 2015

Summary: There’s a huge debate in this country about value-based medicine. Instead of paying for any old procedure, the argument goes, we should be paying for performance: for procedures and practices that generate success in health, in preventive medicine and generally better care. But it’s hard to define what “better” means in many cases. The details are confusing, and the workings of such programs seem abstruse to many. So this is a breath of fresh air: Here’s an abstract of a recent piece from our partner MedPage Today explaining the issues clearly, both pro and con.

 

 


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G.O.P. lawmaker asks for criticism of A.C.A., but doesn’t get it

Posted by on April 5, 2015

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Summary:  Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Spokane, Wash., decided to look for negative information about the Affordable Care Act. So she wrote on her Facebook page: “This week marks the 5th anniversary of #Obamacare being signed into law. Whether it’s turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you’re facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it. Please share your story with me so that I can better understand the challenges you’re facing: http://mcmorris.house.gov/your-story/” What resulted was an outpouring of positive commentary on the Affordable Care Act.

 

 


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People are hungry for health cost information, new study finds

Posted by on March 27, 2015

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Summary: Americans are hungry for health cost information, according to a new study by Public Agenda, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. While this was not a total surprise to us, we are interested to see scholarly papers addressing the things people quite often tell us: “No one shops for health care” and “Most people believe that more expensive health care is better health care.” These things are not quite true, which we know (and if you’re reading this, you may know it too). Read on for details.

 

 


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Insurers and providers get angry with each other, argue loudly

Posted by on March 27, 2015

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Summary: Insurance companies argue with health-care providers all the time over reimbursement rates. But it seems that lately the arguments are louder and more bitter, and that patients are taking the hit. Here are three separate instances from the last few days. The theme is generally this: It’s the other guy who’s at fault.

 

 


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Ear wax removal. A patient tries to know and control costs, but the system resists: Guest post

Posted by on March 26, 2015

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Summary: “A personal account of a transaction that went very badly, and rules of Health Reform were not followed,” reposted here with permission from the author, Cyndy Nayer, who blogs over at the Center of Health Engagement, where this first appeared. Cyndy, an online acquaintance of clearhealthcosts.com, tried to find out what stuff costs, in this case the very simple procedure involving removing, yes, ear wax. Straightforward, common, prosaic. Guess what happened next.

 

 


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What if restaurants billed like hospitals? Our partners’ viral hit

Posted by on March 21, 2015

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Summary: Our partners at WHYY public radio in the Delaware Valley (Philadelphia) have been getting some emails from listeners who are interested in our project to bring transparency to health care pricing. One came from Don Greenfield, who had an eye-opening experience looking at his wife’s medical bills about a year ago. Click through for details, or …

 

 


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