What We're Reading: Tom Price's Health Stock Trading Scrutinized

What we’re reading, December 23, 2016: HHS secretary nominee Rep. Tom Price traded $300,000 in healthcare stocks while sponsoring health-related legislature; an economist and a physician suggest creation of digital health biographies; CMS hopes to incentivize cardiac rehabilitation program participation.

After The Wall Street Journal reported details of healthcare stock trades by President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary, some worry the potential conflicts of interest, though not illegal, could become a roadblock during Senate confirmation hearings for the position. Representative Tom Price, R-Georgia, bought and sold over $300,000 in healthcare stocks since 2012; at the same time, he was sponsoring or co-sponsoring 44 health-related bills in the House, according to the Journal.

An economist and an obstetrician-gynecologist have joined forces to promote a new health information technology idea: digital health biographies (DHBs). Fierce Healthcare reports that these biographies would integrate all of a patient’s medical history from several providers, as well as data from mobile health apps or wearable devices. The proponents of the idea say DHBs would be easier for physicians and patients to use than the current electronic medical records.

Less than half of patients who have had a heart attack or heart surgery go into cardiac rehabilitation afterwards, but CMS hopes to change that by offering incentives to hospitals that boost participation in these rehab programs, according to Modern Healthcare. CMS would pay participating hospitals $25 for each of the first 11 sessions of cardiac rehabilitation and $175 per session thereafter for each eligible Medicare beneficiary. Cardiologists caution that patients may still refuse the programs due to barriers like out-of-pocket costs and lack of transportation.