This week’s Community Health Round-Up features research on the early impact of the Affordable Care Act on patients and community health centers, and new technology that helps patients and health officials make decisions about health and wellness.

Promising Practices

New resource sharing model changes landscape of rural health care (Niagara Frontier Publications)
“The model has broad potential applications in both public and private health care organizations, however, and suggests a number of methods by which rural health programs in particular can save money and preserve services.”

Research & Policy

Study finds declines in cost-related barriers to care and medical-related financial difficulties (The Commonwealth Fund)
“New results from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2014, indicate that the Affordable Care Act’s subsidized insurance options and consumer protections reduced the number of uninsured working-age adults.”

Early numbers show decrease in uninsured patients at community health centers post-ACA (MPR)
“There was a 40% drop in uninsured visits to community health centers in states where Medicaid was expanded during the first half of 2014, when compared to the prior year, while Medicaid-covered visits to those clinics rose 36%.”

Trends & Tools

Medicare to pay for care coordination for seniors (PBS)
“To earn the new fee, doctors must come up with a care plan for qualified patients, and spend time each month on such activities as coordinating their care with other health providers and monitoring their medications. Also, patients must have a way to reach someone with the care team who can access their health records 24 hours a day.”

Web-based tool assesses usefulness of community health interventions (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
“The team launched an interactive website tool that evaluates how community-level approaches to reduce smoking and increase physical activity are likely to affect health outcomes and costs in each of the nation’s 3,000-plus counties as well as in each state and the nation as a whole.”

Walgreens to offer wearable device to link patients to pharmacists (Chicago Tribune)
“New devices … will directly feed into Walgreens’ Balance Rewards loyalty program, which gives participants who engage in healthy activities points that they can use to make store purchases … Devices that transfer patient information to pharmacists will help monitor patients and reduce health care costs.”

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