What We're Reading: Hospitals Get Creative to Combat Drug Price Increases

What we're reading, March 14, 2016: hospitals implement new ways to combat skyrocketing drug prices; some Affordable Care Act's health insurance co-ops could see profits in 2016; and patient anxiety decreases when hospitalists show more empathy.

Hospitals are beginning to implement new ways to combat rising drug prices and the burden these costs place on patients and the healthcare system. According to The Washington Post, hospitals are pulling drugs off “crash carts” after prices skyrocket or affixing a Zagat-like $ rating in the online system. The issue of increasing drug prices goes well beyond the incident with Turing Pharmaceuticals: some companies raised prices modestly but repeatedly for old and new medications, which has added up over time.

Although the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance co-ops lost millions in 2015, things might be able to change for the better for some in 2016. As they begin their third year of operation, the co-ops are adding customers, with enrollment growing better than expected, and their patient populations are getting younger, reported The New York Times. Some co-ops are expecting to see profits in 2016, but after this year a government program to help insurers pay big medical bills will come to an end.

There is a correlation between the empathy hospitalists show patients and the amount of anxiety those patients experience. Physicians responded with empathy just one third of the time, without empath one-fourth of the time and were neutral the rest of the time, according to Healio. Increased empathic responses were associated with better hospital and encounter ratings from the patient. However, emphatic responses were not associated with the length of patient encounter.