In the News: Sept 13–20

New Apple Watch Is Cleared to Detect Arrhythmias

Apple recently announced their Series 4 Apple Watch, which includes new health features that demonstrate Apple’s ongoing movement into the health care landscape. The new Apple Watch received FDA clearance to detect atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias by generating a single-lead electrocardiogram: the user places a finger on the crown containing built-in electrodes, and if abnormal rhythms are detected, the user receives a notification alert. Data from these readings can also be saved in PDF format, which can then be shared with the user’s physician.

The new Apple Watch can also detect if the user has fallen and if they require medical attention. If the user is immobile for one whole minute, the watch will place an automatic call to emergency services.

Sg2 believes the Apple Watch is among the disrupters that have the potential to change cardiovascular care. For more information on how it and other technologies may impact cardiovascular care, watch the on-demand Sg2 webinar Cardiovascular Landscape 2018.

Children’s Hospitals Design Facilities With Mental Health in Mind

According to a recent Modern Healthcare article, nearly three-quarters of mental illness develops before age 24, and conditions are too often left untreated due to stigma, workforce shortages, a lack of reimbursement, and too few facilities for inpatient and outpatient treatment.

The article also highlights several children’s hospitals that are increasing their physical capacity to treat children and adolescents with behavioral health needs by adding private behavioral health rooms, as well as augmenting their workforce with child life specialists who can work on-one-one with pediatric patients. Some facilities are even being built to accommodate future innovations and new technology.

With the ongoing challenges of pediatric population needs and pediatric behavioral health services access, Sg2 believes that health systems will need innovative care delivery models to address service gaps. For more on pediatric behavioral health, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Pediatrics Update: Deeper Dive Into Pediatric Behavioral Health.

No Relationship Exists Between Health System Size and Profitability

A recent Modern Healthcare article highlights a new report that found no relationship between the size of health systems and profitability. The report looked at 104 US health systems (comprising nearly half of US hospitals) between 2015 and 2017 and found that not-for-profit system margins fell by 34%, while for-profit health system operating margins fell by 39%.

These findings run counter to the common belief that with scale, overhead costs should decrease. The article’s authors assert that while operating margins have waned, “Investment returns have covered up a number of operating losses in 2017.”

Over the past half-decade, health systems have pursued similar mergers and acquisitions strategies. While imitating a competitor’s strategy may have been a viable option in the past, Sg2 believes that a changing health care landscape will require health system leaders to also change their approach to strategic planning. To learn 5 concepts on health system strategic planning, read the August 2018 Sg2 Letter Getting Schooled on Strategy.

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