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Venezuela detains pharmacy executives for hoarding products

BY Michael Johnsen

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela has detained executives of one of the country's largest pharmacy chains for allegedly manufacturing shortages of basic necessities, Bloomberg Business reported Monday.  

Farmatodo CEO Pedro Luis Angarita and two other top managers are in custody, Bloomberg Business noted. 
 
According to the report, collapsing oil revenue has sharpened shortages of basic products. Farmatodo executives stand accused of hoarding and speculating in light of the product shortages. Venezuela has promised to increase state control of the distribution business.

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Kroger racks up more EPA accolades

BY Gina Acosta

CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co. is getting more accolades from the Environmental Protection Agency, this time for its efforts to reduce food waste.  
 
Kroger participated in the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge. The company was named a winner in three categories: Leadership, Innovation, and Education and Outreach. "Kroger is proud to be part of the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, and honored by this recognition," said Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, Kroger's director of sustainability. "While all of our associates play an essential role in our food recovery operation, our retail operations team in particular deserves credit for bringing that program to life in all of our stores. We remain committed to finding solutions to reduce food waste –- because it is good for business, our communities and the environment."
 
As part of the company's food recovery strategy in grocery stores, Kroger's Perishable Donations Partnership is responsible for the equivalent of 38 million meals of healthy, perishable food donated to local Feeding America food banks to help feed hungry families last year. Kroger's retail operations team has implemented an organic recycling program in 1,000 stores across the country. This program utilizes composting and animal feed to limit the amount of food going into landfills.
 
Kroger was the first major retailer in the United States to develop a clean energy production system that converts food that cannot be sold or donated into clean energy. The facility provides a quarter of the power needed to run the company's Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center in Compton, Calif.
 
Read Kroger's annual sustainability report here
 
Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs more than 375,000 associates who serve customers in 2,631 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 783 convenience stores, 325 fine jewelry stores, 1,293 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S.

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HHS issues three-year plan to reach electronic health interoperability

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Friday released a draft roadmap toward the safe and secure exchange and use of electronic health information. 
 
“HHS is working to achieve a better health care system with healthier patients, but to do that, we need to ensure that information is available both to consumers and their doctors,” stated HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “Great progress has been made to digitize the care experience, and now it’s time to free up this data so patients and providers can securely access their health information when and where they need it," she said. "A successful learning system relies on an interoperable health IT system where information can be collected, shared and used to improve health, facilitate research and inform clinical outcomes. This Roadmap explains what we can do over the next three years to get there.”
 
“The benefits to patients and to the future of American health care in achieving full interoperability are enormous," noted Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council. "A system built on accessible information and secure, meaningful data sharing will elevate health care delivery, advance quality and cost-efficiency and enable new strides in medical research.  We applaud HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for making interoperability a national priority and we believe that, by bringing together the ideas and technological expertise from both the public and private sectors, it is a foreseeable and achievable goal.” 
 
The draft roadmap builds on the vision paper, Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A 10-Year Vision to Achieve an Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure, issued in June 2014. Months of comment and feedback from hundreds of health and health IT experts from across the nation through ONC advisory group feedback, listening sessions and an online forum aided in the development of the roadmap.
 
“To realize better care and the vision of a learning health system, we will work together across the public and private sectors to clearly define standards, motivate their use through clear incentives and establish trust in the health IT ecosystem through defining the rules of engagement," commented Karen DeSalvo, nationial coordinator for health IT. "We look forward to working collaboratively and systematically with federal, state and private sector partners to see that electronic health information is available when and where it matters.” 
 
Today’s announcement is linked with the administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative to improve care and speed the development of new treatments, as well as the department-wide effort to achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier people through improvements to the healthcare delivery system. As part of this work, HHS is focused on three key areas:
  • first, improving the way providers are paid;
  • second, improving and innovating in-care delivery;
  • and, third, sharing information more broadly to providers, consumers and others to support better decisions while maintaining privacy.
The draft roadmap identifies critical actions to achieve success in sharing information and interoperability and outlines a timeframe for implementation.
 
The draft roadmap is available for viewing at www.healthit.gov/interoperability. The public comment period for the draft roadmap closes April 3, 2015. 
 

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