Health systems, govt responses linked to virus tolls

BERLIN (AP) — Scientists say a comparison of 21 developed countries during the start of the coronavirus pandemic shows that those with early lockdowns and well-prepared national health systems avoided large numbers of additional deaths due to the outbreak.

In a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature Medicine, researchers used the number of weekly deaths in 19 European countries, New Zealand and Australia over the past decade to estimate how many people would have died from mid-February to May 2020 had the pandemic not happened.

The authors, led by Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, then compared the predicted number of deaths to the actual reported figure during that period to determine how many likely occurred due to the pandemic. Such models of ‘excess mortality’ are commonly used by public health officials to better understand disease outbreaks and the effectiveness of counter-measures.

The study found there were about 206,000 excess deaths across the 21 countries during the period, a figure that conforms to independent estimates. In Spain, the number of deaths was 38% higher than would have been expected without the pandemic, while in England and Wales it was 37% higher.

Italy, Scotland and Belgium also had significant excess deaths, while in some countries there was no marked change or even — as in the case of Bulgaria — a decrease.


While the authors note that there are differences in the compositions of populations, such as age and the prevalence of pre-existing conditions that contribute to mortality rates, government efforts to suppress transmission of the virus and the ability of national health systems to cope with the pandemic also played a role.

Amitava Banerjee, a professor of clinical data science at University College London who wasn’t involved in the study, said it was well designed and had used standardized methods.

He noted that the comparison between death rates in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, where the age of the population and the rates of pre-existing conditions such as obesity are similar, supports the argument that other factors contributed to the differing mortality figures.

“Even if vaccines and better treatments for severe (COVID-19) infection are developed, the way to minimise excess deaths is to reduce the infection rate through population level measures,” said Banerjee.

These include lockdowns, protecting high risk groups,and establishing effective “test, trace and isolate” systems, he said.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Vituity and Decoded Health Launch Virtual Front Door for Hospitals and Health Systems

Vituity, a nationwide, physician-owned-and-led multispecialty partnership, and Decoded Health, a startup focused on building the world’s first clinical hyper-automation platform, today announced the launch of the world’s first clinically trained, artificially intelligent virtual front door solution for hospitals and clinics. Serving as the digital entry point to the healthcare system, Vituity’s Intelligent Virtual Front Door Solution will utilize Decoded Health’s Hyperautomation Platform to scale the entire clinical workflow, from inferring patients’ needs to rationalizing a plan of care.

Through a deep learning network, the platform provides providers with the ability to multiply their capacity and focus on what matters most – treating patients – and patients with the right care from anywhere in the world. The platform goes beyond traditional telehealth platforms by utilizing conversational AI to interview the patient, recommend a care plan to the physician, gain physician approval, and provide the patient with the necessary treatment while integrating simultaneously with common electronic health records.

“We recognized that Decoded Health has deep technical expertise and is laser-focused on creating the best solution for patients and clinicians,” says Rick Newell, MD, Chief Transformation Officer at Vituity. “They have leveraged our four decades of industry-leading insights, our experience of providing care to millions of patients each year across the country, and our collaborative relationships with health systems and payers, and turned them into a solution that creates more efficiencies and also drives revenue. We are excited to launch this latest care innovation to hospitals and health systems nationwide.”

“Healthcare technologies frequently die on the vine because it is difficult to understand the problem across a diverse set of stakeholders, navigate the complexity of the healthcare environment, and then deploy through robust national relationships,” said Mark Hanson, CEO of Decoded Health. “An early critical insight for our team was that healthcare startups need a clinical partner to break through customer discovery and validation. This partnership allowed our team to benefit from the expertise of thousands of Vituity providers with experience and relationships across hundreds of healthcare systems to quickly develop a unique offering and accelerate growth.”

About Vituity

For nearly 50 years, Vituity has been a catalyst for positive change in healthcare. As a physician-led and -owned multispecialty partnership with a nationwide footprint, nearly 5,000 Vituity clinicians working across nine acute care specialties care for more than 6.5 million patients each year.

Vituity’s acute focus and compassionate care are the driving forces that place us at the heart of better care. Our clinicians and practice management leaders develop front-line solutions for healthcare challenges that improve quality and have a direct, positive impact on millions of lives nationwide.

Our services span the entire acute care continuum, integrating emergency medicine, hospital medicine, critical care, anesthesiology, acute psychiatry, neurology, acute care surgery, telehealth, post-acute care, and outpatient medicine. Partnering with hospitals, health systems, clinics, payers, employers, and state and local government, our footprint continues to rapidly expand. Learn more at vituity.com.

About Decoded Health

Decoded Health is developing the world’s first Clinical RPA platform that

St. Peter’s, Ellis hospital systems agree to merger proposal

St. Peter’s Health Partners and Ellis Medicine have signed a non-binding letter of intent to merge operations, multiple sources have confirmed.

The two organizations, based in Albany and Schenectady, are among the region’s three largest hospital systems, the other being Albany Medical Center.

Born of mergers themselves, St. Peter’s and Ellis have operated independently of each other for over 100 years. They have, however, collaborated on a number of projects over the years, including joint ventures designed to lower health care costs and reduce avoidable hospital admissions in the region.

On Wednesday, St. Peter’s president and CEO Jim Reed sent a letter to colleagues announcing the intent to “integrate,” saying it signifies the “next logical step” in the organizations’ longstanding collaboration.
 
“Our two organizations share a vision for a more fully integrated, region-wide approach to care that aims to improve the health of our neighbors; embraces new models such as value-based care; and lowers overall health care costs for our community,” he wrote.

With the signing of a letter of intent, St. Peter’s and Ellis will now begin the process of developing an organizational structure, he said. A final agreement will require approval by the boards of both organizations, as well as regulatory agencies such as the state Department of Health.

There is no specific time frame for completion, Reed said, but added that “the rapid nature of change in health care demands expediency.”
 
“I would also like to underscore that, as SPHP and Ellis evaluate a path forward, it is with an eye toward respecting the heritage of all the institutions that make up SPHP and Ellis Medicine, while expanding access to care and improving outcomes for the Capital Region community,” he said.

Both Ellis and St. Peter’s health systems were created from mergers that occurred this century, but their forerunners have roots dating back to the 1800s.


The original Ellis Hospital dates back to 1885, when the Schenectady Free Dispensary opened on lower Union Street with just five beds. It grew and relocated over the years, eventually occupying a plot at the corner of Nott Street and Rosa Road. In 2006, a state commission ordered the restructuring of hospitals statewide, and Ellis Hospital, the old St. Clare’s Hospital on McClellan Street (now an outpatient center) and Bellevue Woman’s Center in Niskayuna consolidated to become Ellis Medicine. A Clifton Park urgent care location was constructed in 2012.

St. Peter’s Health Partners, which is privately owned by national Catholic health system Trinity Health, formed in 2011 from a merger of three local health systems: Northeast Health, St. Peter’s Health Care Services and Seton Health. Four legacy hospitals in Albany and Troy came with the package — St. Mary’s, which opened in 1848; Albany Memorial, which opened in 1868; St. Peter’s, which opened a year later; and Samaritan Hospital, which opened in 1898. Together, they are certified to operate over 850 beds.

At just 438 beds, Ellis remains the smaller of the two and further consolidations have been explored over the