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Company makes robe-like new hospital gown

New York, NY — Medical company Care+Wear is testing a prototype new hospital gown that provides the personal privacy and decency absent from the common “johnny” gown.


Unlike the industry-standard johnny, Care+Wear’s new gown ties at the front like a robe.  It even comes with a pocket for a cellphone.


The gown was created for Care+Wear by fashion students at New York City’s elite Parsons School of Design.  It is currently being tested at MedStar Montgomery in Olney, Maryland.


Standard hospital gowns are designed primarily to be convenient to doctors and nurses, not patients.  Parsons students worked with caregivers and patients to create a new gown that works for both.


Today’s student docs befuddled by hospital fax machines

Englewood Cliffs, NJ — According to an amusing recent report by business news outlet CNBC, “Thousands of medical students across the country have never seen a fax machine, until the day they enter a hospital for the first time.”


The report explains that while fax machines and pagers have virtually disappeared everywhere else, hospitals are slower to digitize than most other industries. 


As a result, today’s crop of student doctors learn to use outdated technologies like pagers and fax machines for the first time while in medical training.  About a dozen medical students told CNBC that they had never seen a fax machine before, let alone operated one.


Part of the reason fax machines continue to thrive in healthcare is tradition, as many older doctors simply feel comfortable with the technology and refuse to let it go, CNBC reported. The devices are also considered safe and secure under today’s HIPAA privacy laws—which specifically state that fax machines are acceptable methods for transmitting medical records.


More hospitals hiring chief wellness officers (CWOs)

Cleveland, OH — A decade ago, The Cleveland Clinic was very progressive in hiring a new full-time “C-suite” employee: a chief wellness officer (CWO).


As the title implies, the CWO is to overall employee health what the CEO is to overall employee performance.  But in recent months and years, a growing numbers of hospitals have been taking them on.


Hospitals with high-paid executives overseeing worker wellness can expect not only happier employees but also improved patient experience and outcomes.


The CWOs are being brought in at a time when physician burnout is at an all-time high.  A recent Medscape survey reported nearly two-thirds of doctors burned out, depressed or both—with, 33 percent of respondents saying those feelings impacted their patient interactions.


Drivers of that burnout include long hours, increasing regulatory and recordkeeping requirements and administrative and computer tasks.  A Sept. 2017 Annals of Family Medicine report found that primary care physicians spend over half their workday on electronic health records (EHRs).


Chief wellness officers at a number of hospitals have arranged for on-site employee gyms, healthy food and snacks (and elimination of unhealthy items), stress management programs, and otherwise changing their hospital’s workplace culture and environment by rewarding employees for getting and staying well.


Besides staving off doctor burnout, CWO-driven programs also save hospitals considerable costs—and provide patients with healthier caregivers.


Congressional panelists: patients not helped by hospital megamergers

Washington, D.C. — According to industry experts testifying mid-February before a House panel, healthcare consolidation does not necessarily improve patient care or lower costs.


Several economic and health policy experts testified Feb. 14 at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.  They said that most research suggests that healthcare mergers have limited benefits for patients.


In 2017, hospital mergers increased by 13 percent over 2016. 


The value of healthcare deals announced in 2017 also skyrocketed, increasing by 145.8 percent compared to 2016.  Much of that was bolstered by the mega-merger between CVS and Aetna.