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After Building Apps For Harvey Victims, Houston's Techies Set Their Sights On Irma

Alex Konrad | Forbes | September 6, 2017

After more than two days on a boat rescuing upwards of 50 victims of Hurricane Harvey from flooded houses, Matthew Hager decided to try to help his hometown of Houston the best way he knew how: with tech. Though Hager and his friends looked like a ragtag volunteer rescue squad, he’s a web designer by trade. With other volunteers from his design shop Poetic Systems, he built what has become one of the central hubs for information on Harvey recovery, HarveyNeeds.org. Hager and his crew are hardly alone. As Harvey hit, Houston’s startup community went into overdrive, connecting over a volunteer Slack channel and gathering around impromptu hackathons to build at least 20 new apps and sites designed to provide support to residents, first responders and the city...

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AHIP Speakers: Soaring Drug Prices Reach Crisis Stage

Ryan Basen | MedPage Today | March 9, 2017

On the same day that President Trump met with Democratic leaders to discuss controlling prescription drug costs, physician advocates and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) debated and vented about drug costs at the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) National Health Policy Conference. "The system is broken right now," Marilyn Tavenner, AHIP's CEO and former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said Wednesday...

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California Could Be Hit by an 8.2 Mega-Earthquake, and It Would Be Catastrophic

Rong-Gong Lin II | Los Angeles Times | September 19, 2017

The magnitude 8.2 earthquake that ravaged southern Mexico on Sept. 7 was the largest to shake the country in nearly a century. Like California, Mexico is a seismically active region that has seen smaller quakes that have caused death and destruction. But the Sept. 7 temblor is a reminder that even larger quakes — while rare — do occur. Scientists say it’s possible for Southern California to be hit by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake. Such a quake would be far more destructive to the Los Angeles area because the San Andreas fault runs very close to and underneath densely populated areas...

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Can a Hollywood Techie Grow Government's Innovation Shop?

Adam Mazmanian | FCW | December 2, 2016

By his own admission, Rob Cook was "failing at semi-retirement" when he was offered the top job at the Technology Transformation Service, the government innovation shop based at the General Services Administration that includes 18F. Cook, 63, left his California home behind – as well as the Oscar statuette he keeps dressed in GI Joe clothes – and moved to a rented apartment in Washington, D.C., for a three-year term appointment in the Senior Executive Service as TTS commissioner...

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Could There Be a Blockchain Solution to High Prescription Drug Prices?

Michael Scott | Bitcoin Magazine | March 28, 2017

Prescription drugs are one of the biggest contributors to soaring healthcare costs in the U.S.  And for both individuals and families, particularly where multiple prescriptions are needed, drug expenses can quickly escalate to thousands of dollars. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8 in 10 Americans would like the government to negotiate prices for those on Medicare. Additionally, Americans want limits set on the amount drug companies can charge for high-cost drugs, such as those to treat cancer...

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Cyber-Attacks on Healthcare Institutions on the Rise: Public Health Watch Report

Brian P. Dunleavy | Contagion Live | August 2, 2017

With news this week that White House officials were fooled by a self-proclaimed “email prankster”—who posed as Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, and recently ousted Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, during correspondences with various cabinet members—it’s worth remembering that there are cybersecurity implications for healthcare institutions as well...

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Ebola Is Scary, But Antibiotic Resistance Should Scare Us More

David Robert Grimes | The Guardian | November 24, 2014

Ebola is the stuff of nightmares...But while the grim spectacle of dying patients in treatment centres in the affected African countries has stoked fears, cases in the west have been extremely rare in spite of a spate of false alarms across Europe and the US...

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FEMA Chief Brock Long Calls Harvey a "Wake-up Call" for State, Local Officials

Emily Tillett | CBS News | September 3, 2017

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long called Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey a "wake-up call" for state and local officials when it comes to budgets. "It is a wake-up call for this country for local and state elected officials to give their governors and their emergency management directors, you know, the full budgets that they need to be fully staffed, to design rainy day funds, to have your own standalone individual assistance and public assistance programs," Long said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday...

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Halamka's Health IT Forecast in a "Time of Uncertainty"

The upcoming presidential election has everyone spooked - what if Donald Trump is actually elected? What will the transition of administrations, regardless of who is elected mean to healthcare and existing healthcare IT regulations? Will our strategic plans and priorities need to change? I’ve spoken to many people in government, industry and academia over the past month about the rapid pace of change stakeholders are feeling right now. Here are a few of their observations:

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HHS announces the availability of $195 million to expand substance abuse and mental health services at health centers nationwide

Press Release | HHS | June 26, 2017

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of $195 million in a new funding opportunity for community health centers to expand access to mental health and substance abuse services focusing on the treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse in all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. The awards are expected to be made in September of this year. Health centers that receive an award will use the funds to increase the number of personnel dedicated to mental health and substance abuse services and to leverage health information technology and training to support the expansion of mental health and substance abuse services and their integration into primary care.

How Secure Is Our Smart Grid?

Dan Lohrmann | Government Teachnology | February 26, 2017

Over the past several months, alarm bells have been going off regarding potential attacks against the U.S. electrical grid...In the [Department of Energy’s] landmark Quadrennial Energy Review, it warned that a widespread power outage caused by a cyberattack could undermine 'critical defense infrastructure' as well as much of the economy and place at risk the health and safety of millions of citizens. The report comes amid increased concern over cybersecurity risks as U.S. intelligence agencies say Russian hacking was aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election”...

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How the Trump Budget Undercuts Security Risks Posed by Pandemics

President Trump proposed a US$54 billion military budget increase to solidify the security of our nation. However, the government also recognizes pandemic threats as an issue of national security – one that knows no borders. In the last four years, we have faced the Ebola epidemic – contained after significant loss of life – and Zika, which is still not contained. Collectively, we will feel these effects for a generation, while children born with Zika-related defects and their families will feel the effects every day of their lives...

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Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Draw the Line - Time for the US to Embrace Open Source Emergency and Disaster Response

For nearly 20 years now the global open source community and applications have been a keystone to disaster relief efforts around the world. The enormous number of disaster relief applications and knowledge that has been developed through all these years, should, and needs to be leveraged in the current crisis. For that reason Open Health News is starting a series of articles to highlight some of the most important solutions. A substantial portion the open source applications for emergency and disaster response that exist are actually already in the news website in the form of articles and resource pages.

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Obama and Biden Blast EHR Vendors for Data Blocking

As they are winding their terms in office, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden dropped a stink bomb on the health IT industry. Speaking at different events on Friday, January 9th, the President and Vice President both criticized proprietary electronic health record (EHR) vendors as the primary obstacle to the success of their administration’s health care strategy. This is the highest level acknowledgement so far of the serious impact that “lock-in” EHR software vendors are having on America’s medical infrastructure and the ability of physicians to provide medical care.

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Opinion: The US Needs to Invest Foreign Aid Dollars in Smaller NGOs

John Lyon | Devex | August 29, 2017

Last month, U.S. Republican congressional House members released a budget that proposes a gradual reduction in spending on domestic programs and foreign aid from $511 billion to $424 billion through 2027. This is marginally better for global health programs that aid poor countries compared to President Donald Trump’s 2018 proposed budget, which calls for cutting about 32 percent from foreign aid budgets, or nearly $19 billion in total...

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