N.Y. Tries To Get More Patients In Clinical Drug Trials; Atlanta Hospitals Create Partnerships

The Wall Street Journal: In New York, state medical centers and drug makers have begun an effort to address a problem associated with clinical drug trials: "getting patients to sign up. More than 3,000 clinical trials are actively recruiting in New York state, and an additional 8,000 trials involving New York are already running or were recently completed, according to the government clinical trials registry. Patient recruitment is one of the top reasons that clinical trials are delayed or fail, according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. The new collaboration, known as the Partnership to Advance Clinical electronic Research, or Pacer, aims to create a more systematic way of identifying patients for trials by utilizing the electronic patient medical records that many medical centers already use, according to David Krusch, chairman of the Pacer leadership group and chief medical information officer at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester" (Wang, 6/17).

The Boston Herald: "A former state public health official has denounced a recent report by Attorney General Martha Coakley that said some Massachusetts hospitals charge much more than their competitors for health care, even though the quality of the care isn't any better. Paul Dreyer, a consultant who was hired by Partners HealthCare System to review the AG's report, called the approach to the data 'conceptually flawed' and said the findings are wrong. Coakley's springtime report -- which focused on Partners, the state's largest hospital group -- asserted that health-care executives had used their market power to leverage higher fees for surgeries and services." The report also "charged" that treatment was not necessarily better at the state's larger, more known and higher priced medical facilities (McConville, 6/18).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Spurred by a tough economy, metro Atlanta hospitals are increasingly creating partnerships with one another, aiming to save money, expand territory and in some cases pump new blood into struggling institutions. These joint ventures can be good for the hospitals and the surrounding communities. ... Smaller suburban hospitals benefit from the technology of a larger facility. And both medical centers save money by buying supplies in larger bulk and negotiating on behalf of more patients with insurers, said Michael Rovinsky, a longtime health consultant in metro Atlanta. But such partnerships can also stifle competition and run the risk of spreading a hospital's services -- and good name -- a bit thin, experts say" (Schneider, 6/17).

The Associated Press/Salt Lake Tribune: Idaho, one of the states that is suing the federal government to overturn the new health law, is still moving forward with requirements to "set up the new insurance markets, called exchanges, which let consumers and small businesses choose health insurance. Department director Bill Deal said his staff is working to get the health care exchanges in place two years ahead of the deadline" (6/17).

The Sacramento Bee: "The state Department of Public Health is doing a poor job of collecting fines from nursing homes that violate regulations, according to a report issued Thursday by the California State Auditor. Between 2003 and 2010, the audit found, the department 'inappropriately' reduced financial penalties to some facilities cited for wrongdoing, failed to adjust fines to the rate of inflation and did not always conduct surveys in a timely manner as required by law. As a result, the audit said, the regulatory agency lost out on millions of dollars that could have been used to protect nursing home patients from abuse and neglect" (Hubert, 6/18).

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