5 Ways Amazon Could Disrupt Healthcare

Indian Health Care News

March 30, 2018

Just about everyone paying attention in healthcare is wondering exactly what Amazon has up its sleeve. After inking an alliance with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway in late January, then expanding into the Medicaid market to take on retail rival Walmart, the Seattle giant appears to be amassing a number of puzzle pieces.


Exactly how they will all fit together remains to be seen. Indeed, L.E.K. Consulting asserted that what healthcare has seen thus far from Amazon is just a hint of the lasting disruption thats to come.


Anyone who thinks of Amazon as just a very big digital retailer needs to think again, L.E.K Managing Director Rob Haslehurst wrote in a new report. They have continually expanded their business model and today they are a leader in cloud computing, a provider of in-home services and a bricks-and-mortar food purveyor in addition to their e-commerce offerings. They have repeatedly shown that they have the capabilities, the patience, and the deep pockets to disrupt industry after industry. Healthcare is no exception.


L.E.K. Managing Director and report co-author Joseph Johnson noted that Amazon has a roadmap it can follow to move deeply into the healthcare industry. He suggested that Amazon could drive down prices and margins while transforming customer behavior.


L.E.K. outlined five promising points of entry Amazon could take into the healthcare space:

  1. Durable medical equipment and medical supplies. Johnson pointed out that Amazon already sells a broad array of general medical supplies and durable medical equipment. Building on its logistics and distribution savvy would make it easy to get into the hospital and provider supply chain. Whats more, the company already obtained licenses to distribute medical supplies to providers in 43 states.
  2. Mail order and retail pharmacy. Amazon has secured approval as a wholesale distributor from 12 state pharmaceutical boards, meaning it could also build pharmacies into its recently-acquired Whole Foods stores. The L.E.K. authors suggested that Amazon could also employ its predictive analytics and customer data capabilities to build digital health tools that track and influence patient behavior.
  3. Pharmacy benefit manager. Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, drive prices down by taking advantage of the combined purchasing power of health plan enrollees. Thats something Amazon knows how to do. It could partner with a large PBM such as Express Scripts or buy a smaller player, L.E.K. said.
  4. Telemedicine or in-home healthcare. Amazons Echo and Alexa also give the company an enormous platform for new voice-activated services, and healthcare organizations are already starting to conduct proofs-of-concept with them. L.E.K. said Alexas first step would be to help book physician visits and, using Echo Shows video capabilities, virtual house calls would make for a smart second move.
  5. AI-powered diagnostics and continuous care. This could be fully automated, AI-driven, in-home healthcare and diagnostics, said Johnson, who noted that Amazon has deep AI capabilitiesmachine learning already drives many of its offerings, from its customer recommendation engine to its service centers. It would be logical to harness that capability to diagnostics. Johnson added that the company has already started with Alexa delivering first-aid information and voice driven self-care instructions. Adding tasks such as auto-refill and medication reminders would not be a stretch.


Amazon already has many of the core competencies needed to compete in healthcare, Haslehurst added, including ready access to capital, a massive distribution infrastructure, a strong technology base, a robust data analytics capability, and a deep, talented executive bench.


Moreover, Bezos himself, is relentless, resourceful, fast, inventive and customer-obsessed, L.E.K. said.


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Parking Problem: Volkswagen Storing 300,000 Diesels Across U.S.

Trend Daily Economic News

March 30, 2018

Volkswagen has taken parking lots to a whole new level in the United Statesand will not be emptying them soon, the Guardian reported.


Volkswagen AG has paid more than $7.4 billion to buy back about 350,000 U.S. diesel vehicles, a recent court filing shows. The German automaker has been storing hundreds of thousands of vehicles around the United States for months.


Volkswagen has 37 secure storage facilities around the United States housing nearly 300,000 vehicles, the filing from the programs independent administrator said. The lots include a shuttered suburban Detroit football stadium, a former Minnesota paper mill and a desert site near Victorville, California.


VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said in a statement the storage facility in Victorville, California, is one of many to ensure the responsible storage of vehicles that are bought back under the terms of the Volkswagen diesel settlements.


These vehicles are being stored on an interim basis and routinely maintained in a manner to ensure their long-term operability and quality, so that they may be returned to commerce or exported once US regulators approve appropriate emissions modifications, she said.


In total VW has agreed to spend more than $25 billion in the United States for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting vehicles. The buybacks will continue through the end of 2019.


The court filing said through December 31 Volkswagen bought back 335,000 diesel vehicles, resold 13,000 and destroyed about 28,000. As of the end of last year VW was storing 294,000 vehicles around the country.


VW must buy back or fix 85% of the vehicles involved by June 2019 or face higher payments for emissions.


The company said in February it has repaired or fixed nearly 83% of covered vehicles and expects to soon hit the requirement.


Through mid-February VW has issued 437,273 letters offering nearly $8 billion in compensation and buybacks.


In April 2017 Volkswagen was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to three felony counts and paid $4.3 billion in penalties. In September 2015 it admitted to circumventing the emissions control system in diesel vehicles for vehicles sold since 2009, prompting the resignation of the companys chief executive.


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New Tariffs Prompt Steelmakers to Restart Closed Mills, Build New One

The Breeze: James Madison University

March 29, 2018

Steelmakers are reviving shuttered steel mills and even looking to build a new one as 25% across-the-board tariffs strengthen the domestic steel industry.


Republic Steel and U.S. Steel both announced they would restart mills and bring steelworkers back to work. London-based Liberty House is reviving a steel mill ArcelorMittal closed in South Carolina. And Nucor, the largest steelmaker headquartered in the United States, announced plans to buy a micro mill in Florida.


U.S. Steel will bring back 500 jobs when it restarts one of the two idled blast furnaces at Granite City Works in Illinois, as well as associated steelmaking operations. Republic Steel announced the tariffs would allow it to restart its mill in Lorain, Ohio.


Republic Steel will revive its idled electric arc furnace, casters and rolling millsmore than a million tons of new production capacity in total. Republic expects to bring back 1,000 jobs to make bar, coil and seamless tube products.


Republic is more than prepared to support market demand that has been previously supplied by imports, Republic Steel President and CEO Jaime Vigil said. We maintained our Lorain facility while its been idled, waiting for the opportunity to restart, and it appears that time is finally here.


Liberty House bought the shuttered Georgetown steelworks in South Carolina from ArcelorMittal in December, and expects to have the 600,000-square-foot plant back this spring. The company will bring back as many as 250 steelworkers to operate the 540,000-ton-a-year electric arc furnace and a 680,000-ton-a-year rod mill.


Securing the Georgetown furnace and mill is a major milestone for us, marking our first major step in the USA. The melting and rolling facilities here give us a formidable entry to the American market and provide a strong platform for expansion, GFG Alliance Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta said. We see major prospects for the metals industry here and we want to apply the same GREENSTEEL sustainable strategy to our American plants as we are already delivering in the UK and Australia. Were grateful for the support we have from the council, the state government and the union, and we look forward to rebuilding the business and bringing quality industrial employment back to the site and to the local and regional supply chain. Weve already had customers contacting us about placing orders, so were keen to get back up and running as quickly as possible.


ArcelorMittal shut down the Georgetown mill in 2015, during the height of the import crisis and after it opened AM/NS Calvert as a 50/50 joint venture between ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to serve auto plants across the South and Mexico.


Throughout the process, ArcelorMittal has been steadfast in our goal of maintaining the Georgetown steelmaking operation to preserve jobs and maximize the value of the property for our shareholders, ArcelorMittal President and CEO John Brett said. While bittersweet for ArcelorMittal, we are hopeful that todays announcement is a celebration for Liberty Steel and GFG Alliance, the United Steelworkers and the Georgetown community. We appreciate the patience of all of our stakeholders while we finalized this important transaction.


Nucor plans to invest $240 million to build a 350,000-ton-a-year rebar micro mill in Frostproof, Florida. It will employ 250 people at an average of $66,000 a year when construction is completed in two years.


Nucor has always focused on growing our business to better serve our customers, President and CEO John Ferriola said. We are building this rebar micro mill in a great and growing market where demand is strong and there is currently an abundant supply of scrap, a good portion of which is handled by our scrap business, the David J. Joseph Company. Consistent with our planned strategy of being a low-cost producer, this micro mill will give us a cost advantage over our competitors who are shipping rebar into the region from long distances.


Original headline: Steelmakers Restarting Closed Mills, Building New One


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Survey: Poor Supply Chain Management Caused 40% of Healthcare Providers to Cancel Surgical Cases Due to Lack of Supplies

Contify Life Science News

March 29, 2018

The operating room (OR) needs better supply chain management systems and analytics to help reduce costs and support patient safety, according to a new Cardinal Health survey of surgical staff and hospital supply chain decision-makers.


Nearly half (40%) of respondents revealed theyve actually canceled a case, and more than two-thirds (69%) have delayed a case because of missing supplies. Furthermore, 27% have seen or heard of an expired product being used on a patient, and 23% have seen or heard of a patient harmed due to a lack of supplies.


Financial challenges persist across healthcare systems, and the operating room is one of the most costly areas to run, said John Roy, vice president and general manager at Cardinal Health Inventory Management Solutions. Fortunately, there is a clear solution to support patient safety and reduce surgical case cancellations: better supply chain management.


In addition, more than half of frontline clinicians say inventory management is complicated or a necessary evil. In fact, 64% of respondents admitted to hoarding supplies and cited wasting or overuse of supplies as significant problems within their organization.


Current inventory management systems arent current


The survey found that OR surgeons and nurses are frustrated with their hospitals current manual inventory process. The majority (83%) of respondents organizations are manually counting in some part of their supply chain, while only 15% have automated RFID systems. However, respondents see the benefits of automation. One in four say automated systems free up time to focus on patients and support better outcomes, and 39% agree automation reduces costs.


Fixing these challenges requires thinking beyond the shelf, said Roy. We believe streamlining processes and gathering real-time data through automated inventory systems can transform inventory management from a necessary evil to a powerful tool that supports better quality of care.


OR clinicians are ready to support positive change


Nearly all (92%) frontline providers surveyed see the need for an inventory management system designed for the specific volume and nature of supplies in the OR. Although supply chain decision makers are most responsible for cutting costs, surgeons and OR nurses recognize the importance and are up for the challenge. The majority (77%) would like to be more involved in supply chain decision-making, nearly half say saving money helps us all, and three in four contend that quality patient care can be maintained while reducing costs.


OR surgeons and nurses work under intense pressure and depend on a large volume of varied supplies, said Roy. While different OR stakeholders all face their own distinct challenges, together they can form a partnership to make important changes that move their organizations forward.


The third annual Cardinal Health Hospital Supply Chain Survey, fielded by SERMO, provides a comprehensive look at operating room supply chain perceptions from supply chain administrators, service line leaders, physicians and nurses. Additional survey results are highlighted within these multimedia assets.


About Cardinal Health Hospital Supply Chain Survey


This study was fielded Nov. 2Nov. 15, 2017, using an online survey method. The samples were drawn from SERMOs Online Respondent Panel of Healthcare Providers, which includes over 600,000 medical professionals in the United States. The study included 305 respondents total from healthcare organizations varying in size, specialty and practice area. Respondents included frontline clinicians (n=128), operating room supply chain decision-makers (n=100), and hospital/supply chain administrators (n=77).


Original headline: Survey Finds 40% of Healthcare Providers Have Canceled Surgical Cases Due to Lack of Supplies


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