Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase announce health care company

The New York Times reports that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase just announced they would form an independent health care company to serve their employees.

The three companies noted the new entity would initially focus on technology to provide simplified, high-quality health care for their employees and their families, and at a reasonable cost. 

The partnership brings together three of the country’s most influential companies to try to improve a system that other companies have tried and failed to change: Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world; Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company led by the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett; and JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States by assets.

Read More

Consumer Reports poll measures public experience with healthcare infections, medical errors

A new poll by Consumer Reports finds that 18% of Americans say they or an immediate family member have acquired an infection following a medical procedure or an overnight stay at a hospital, with 61% of the infections perceived as severe and 35% perceived as life threatening.
Read More

Study of Boston hospitals shows quality ratings vary by web site

A study in the November/ December Health Affairsshows that although many quality reporting services, often in the form of Web sites, have been established to help consumers choose a hospital based on quality measures, they all use different metrics and rankings to determine quality, reports American Medical News. The study compared the quality rankings of nine Boston-area hospitals from five different quality ranking Web sites: HealthGrades, Medicare's Hospital Compare, the Leapfrog Group, U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Hospitals," and Massachusetts Healthcare Quality and Cost.

Read More

HHS releases EHR-ready family health history tool

The Department of Health and Human Services today updated its Family Health Portrait tool so the information it generates is ready for use in electronic and personal health records. Consumers can use the online tool to create an electronic record of family health information to share with relatives and health care providers. For more information, see the news release.


(SOURCES: AHA News Now,, January 13, 2009)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield partnership with Zagat extends to North Carolina

Blue Cross and Blue Shield is teaming up with Zagat dining guide to provide doctor rankings for its members.


The state's largest health insurer, which covers more than 3.7 million people, will announce the online rating service today. Zagat will collect and compile survey information on physicians from Blue Cross members using a 30-point scale on four criteria: trust, communication, availability and office environment. There also will be a comments section.

Read More

A New Health Care Quality Improvement Resource:

The Commonwealth Fund has launched a new Web site,, that allows health care providers, researchers, and professionals to easily conduct side-by-side comparisons of 4,500 hospitals nationwide, track performance over time against numerous benchmarks, and download tools to improve health care quality.

Read More

Healthcare data website launched; Compares cost, quality among Mass. hospitals

Massachusetts residents can now search a new website to compare the cost and quality of care at different hospitals, part of an ambitious state plan to help control healthcare costs by giving consumers more information.


The site,, gives consumers access to previously confidential information about how much insurers pay individual hospitals for surgical procedures such as knee and hip replacements and for treating illnesses such as pneumonia. It also allows comparisons of patient satisfaction ratings and patient safety measures at different hospitals.

Read More

Most Americans still shop by doctor by referral and word-of-mouth recommendations

Despite growing incentives for at least some consumers to shop and numerous public and private initiatives aimed at providing price and quality information, most consumers still rely on physician referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends when choosing health providers, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) nationally representative 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey (see Data Source). Few consumers used price and quality information or online information sources to choose providers.

Read More

Poll on patient use of quality data suggests slow adoption, poor ease of use

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, most consumers did not see or use comparative health care quality information last year and believe it is difficult to get cost information about health care services. An updated examination of consumers' views on health care quality information reveals major challenges remain in providing the public with comparative quality information and encouraging its use.

Read More

Companies using hospital ratings to steer employees to better, cheaper care

Companies are trying to lower health care costs by seeking out top rated hospitals and encouraging employees to use them. A recent article in highlighted the experience of companies attempting to improve the care and hence lower the cost of health care by using currently available information on various aspects of care.

Read More

CMS updates physician payment data

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday updated its Health Care Consumer Initiatives web site to include calendar year 2007 data on average Medicare payments made for common and elective procedures and services provided by physicians. Ambulatory surgical center payment information was updated on Aug. 22, and CMS expects to update the hospital outpatient department payment information later this fall.

Read More

Hospital patient satisfaction leaps after launch of public reporting

Press Ganey recently reported data showing a strong improvement in hospital patient satisfaction since March, when hospitals began publicly reporting data on patients’ experience of care. The company analyzed its proprietary patient satisfaction data for hospitals that in March began reporting data from the HCAHPS patient experience of care survey, and found a dramatic upturn in patient satisfaction.

Read More

HSC Studies Range from Hospitalists and Care Transitions to Hospital-Physician Relations to the Transition from Managed Care to Consumerism at the Community Level

Sept. 10, 2008, WASHINGTON, DC—Studies from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) in the September/October edition of Health Affairs explore the impact of hospitalists on care coordination, the current state of hospital-physician relations and the transition from managed care to consumerism at the community level.

Read More