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In the News: Jan 17–24

Amazon Announces New Machine Learning Service

According to a recent Healthcare IT News article, Amazon Web Services announced a new machine learning service called Amazon Comprehend Medical. Rather than hiring additional staff or asking physicians to document their notes or voice recordings from patient interactions, Amazon Comprehend Medical promises to extract relevant information from these sources, including patient diagnosis, treatments and medication doses from unstructured data sources generated across health care settings and providers.

The promise of emerging innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, is to complement the human interface—allowing doctors to be healers, not data entry clerks—and enable providers to identify and address previously undiscernible gaps to improve quality of care. To learn more about which AI applications are right for your organization, read Sg2’s recent Expert Insight RSNA 2018: The AI Will Read Your Images Now.


Walgreens and Microsoft Partner for Health Care Delivery Models

A Becker’s Health IT & CIO article discusses the recently announced partnership between Walgreens and Microsoft to create new health care delivery models, technology and retail innovations, with the primary goal of lowering health care costs and improving access to care.

In select stores, Walgreens will be piloting “digital health corners,” which aim to provide select “health care–related hardware and devices.” Walgreens and Microsoft will also team up on software research and development to improve patient engagement and chronic disease. The companies hope to use their combined assets to further open communication between providers, consumers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and payers. This new partnership comes shortly after Walgreens’s partnership with Verily, Alphabet’s life science unit, to improve outcomes for people with chronic conditions.

Although Walgreens has made significant moves to be the “modern neighborhood health destination,” it is not the only organization trying to disrupt the health care industry. To learn about key disrupters that should be on your radar in 2019, register for our upcoming webinar Disrupters to Watch in 2019.


Medicare Advantage Enrollment Grows to 22.4 Million

According to a recent Modern Healthcare article, Medicare Advantage (MA) has added 1.4 million members for 2019, reaching 22.4 million enrollees and representing a 6.8% increase from January 2018. While it was slower than in previous years (enrollment grew by more than 1.5 million in 2016 and 2017), MA insurers still experienced significant growth.

Approximately half of all MA enrollees are covered by 3 companies, each showing significant growth in enrollees from January 2018: UnitedHealth Group (9.5%), Humana (10.3%) and CVS-Aetna (26.7%). CVS-Aetna’s large growth was due to its expansion into about 360 new counties.

As the population continues to age, enrollment in MA is expected grow given that more seniors are choosing Medicare plans resembling their previous employer-sponsored managed care plans. With MA penetration currently varying widely across counties, and MA poised to grow over the next decade, providers should consider their options for MA success. For more on the key drivers of MA growth and strategic options for providers, read the Sg2 Expert Insight Is Medicare Advantage a Sleeping Giant in Your Market?

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