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Consumers may get more say in their healthcare decisions

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Patient-centric healthcare solutions offer a glimpse of what health reform eventually could look like by the time it is fully implemented. It’ll be a system where consumers are more in control of managing the levers that determine cost.

(THE NEWS: PricewaterhouseCoopers: Government, health leaders seek customer-centric healthcare solutions. For the full story, click here)

“Pilot programs for the creation of accountable care organizations and collaborative care networks, new reimbursement models and increased funding for community and primary care services are keys to improving outcomes and reducing health costs,” PricewaterhouseCooper stated in its release. “These seeds, planted in the new law, mark a turning point for healthcare delivery in the U.S. and support the conclusions … that over the next five years, [this] trend will lead to significant health industry business model changes, more regulatory reforms focused on efficiency and effectiveness, greater investments in prevention and a growing role for information technology to enable information-sharing and provide interactive, customized care in a virtual world.”

So what does that mean?

It means this trend will lead to increased and reimbursed participation of pharmacies and retail clinics because these are the healthcare professionals who are most convenient and accessible who already are filling the role as “health coach” for many of their patients. And why build “collaborative care networks” from the ground up when one already exists?

This trend will lead to more regulatory reforms focused on funneling (Medicare/Medicaid) patients to those front-line healthcare providers (pharmacists/clinicians) who are most efficient and most effective.

This trend will lead to greater investments in prevention, such as incentivizing the use of over-the-counter medicines when appropriate by making those purchases altogether tax deductible, or maybe folding dietary supplements bearing qualified health claims into the slew of OTCs that already can be purchased through flexible spending accounts to encourage healthier diets.

This trend will lead to the growing role information technology will play, such as utilizing diagnostic devices that automatically upload health data to a secure server to be accessed by the patient and his or her personal healthcare team, such as general practitioners or caregivers.

And this trend well lead to establishing information technology such as a secure electronic medical record that can capture a person’s complete health history no matter which provider he or she patronizes.

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Fresh & Easy opens 150th store

BY Allison Cerra

BURBANK, Calif. A regional supermarket chain announced the opening of its 150th store, including 10 additional new store openings this month.

Fresh & Easy said its 150th store, which opened in Burbank, Calif., is one of four stores that opened this week in California.

“We started just over two years ago with a simple idea –– every neighborhood deserves access to fresh, wholesome food at affordable prices. We’re happy to have become a part of 150 neighborhoods so far and to have created so many good, local jobs,” said Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason. “Celebrating our 150th store is a wonderful milestone and we’re excited to continue opening even more stores in all types of neighborhoods.”

In the next two weeks, Fresh & Easy plans seven more store openings in California and Arizona. The chain also operates stores in Nevada.

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Scrabble gets super-sized, personal

BY Allison Cerra

DANVERS, Mass. Winning Moves Games is set to delight board game fans with its two newest versions of the Scrabble game.

Scrabble Me and Super Scrabble combine the traditional game play of one of the top-selling board games of all-time with enhanced game boards and scoring experiences, the company said.

In Scrabble Me, players build words on their own individual boards (up to four) simultaneously. The “prize tile podium” makes play more dynamic and gives players a chance to choose some face-up tiles in addition to the traditional blind draw from the letter bag.  Original rules of scoring, letter placement and legal word play are followed.

In Super Scrabble, however, players use 200 letters (100 more than the original Scrabble game) and a larger game board featuring quadruple letter and word scoring opportunities. This Scrabble game is super-sized, with three extra rows for a larger playing space.  Super Scrabble also comes in a “Deluxe” edition, equipped with a rotating game board and raised grid spaces for simple piece-placing.  Both games also come with a guide book detailing the history of Scrabble and the official rules.

“Scrabble has been popular for more than 70 years, and Scrabble fans are passionate about the way the game is played,” said Phil Orbanes, founder of Winning Moves Games. “Scrabble Me and Super Scrabble are great examples of how games can change subtly while maintaining the core principles that have made Scrabble one of the best games for decades.”

Scrabble Me and Super Scrabble are available at toy stores and retailers nationwide and at www.winning-moves.com.

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