Here’s some other local, state or national stories we are reading that may impact you, your practice or your patients.

L.A. Care Launches Ambitious Initiative to Address Looming Physician Shortage |  L.A. Care Health Plan announced it has committed up to $31 million to recruit physicians into the safety net of providers – those committed to offering access to care regardless of a patient's ability to pay, which includes the uninsured, Medi-Cal members, and other vulnerable patients. The initiative, called Elevating the Safety Net, seeks to enhance access to care in the midst of a sweeping physician shortage that a University of California San Francisco study projected would leave California with a shortfall of nearly 9,000 primary care physicians in just a little more than a decade. "This is the largest commitment L.A. Care has ever made, and we're eager to see the positive impact on the communities we serve," said John Baackes, CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan. "Our members are going to need care next year, the year after, and 10 years from now, and this investment aligns with our mission of supporting the safety net of providers who serve them." The initiative will initially be comprised of three grant programs – medical school scholarships, medical school loan repayments, and a program to help with physician salary subsidies, sign-on bonuses, and/or relocation costs. It is designed to relieve the financial burdens that often lead physicians away from practices and safety net facilities that treat many L.A. Care members.

Private Investment in Primary Care, Onsite Clinics Surging | A group of investors is putting up $165 million to fuel an expansion of Paladina Health, bringing a recent surge of private funds flowing into companies that run primary-care clinics to more than a half-billion dollars. The venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates is leading the investment after acquiring Paladina for a reported $100 million earlier this year from dialysis provider DaVita Inc. Paladina, which runs medical clinics for employers, plans to use the money to build new clinics and acquire other firms. Operators like Paladina promise companies a way to gain control over their health insurance costs, while providing better, more convenient care for their workers. Employers are increasingly involving themselves more deeply in the healthcare system to rein in spending, after efforts to cut costs through high-deductible plans and other changes fell short.

Patient Portals Showing Mixed Results | Patient portals once were seen as a solution to overworked staff and lack of patient engagement. But even though they’ve been available for decades, portals have yet to meet those lofty expectations, a situation for which both patients and doctors share the blame, experts say. Portals enable patients to view their health records and lab results online, share the information with other providers, and exchange secure messages with their doctor and practice staff. CMS thought portals were sufficiently important to require them for EHRs seeking meaningful use certification, and then include them as part of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

For Healthcare Employees, Workplace Violence Is More Common Than You Might Think | Over the course of three months in 2017, over 2,000 incidents of workplace violence in healthcare were reported in California, which comes out to about an incident happening every other week. Some experts would say that number is probably low, because they suspect the issue is underreported, for a variety of reasons. One of the leading ones is a perception that tolerating violence is just part of the job, but this is a perspective many in California hope to change. One such person is Jennifer Bailey. Six months ago, Bailey worked at an assisted living, memory care facility in Fresno. She says the job was similar to being a certified nursing assistant, and she would help patients with day-to-day things. One evening, she was helping a resident get ready for bed.

Healthcare Providers Mull Clinical mHealth Applications for Alexa | Voice-enabled digital assistants like Alexa are all the rage in the consumer market these days, but connected health experts are expecting providers to be cautious in developing mHealth applications for clinical use. Still, the interest is high – there’s even a “50 States of Alexa” conference scheduled for January 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn. With one of four tracks devoted to healthcare uses. Imagine Alexa in the doctor’s office, helping a physician access a patient’s records or pulling up common diagnoses for a list of symptoms. How about Alexa in the emergency room or the operating room, pulling up X-rays and other patient data for the clinician with his or her hands full? That’s not the same as, say, the living room or kitchen.

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