The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to hospitalizations or even death. The first and most important step to prevent flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications.

Anyone can get the flu, including healthy children and adults. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and diarrhea. Unlike a cold, flu symptoms come on suddenly. For most people, symptoms last a few days to two weeks. However, some people are at greater risk of more serious complications, including those aged 65 and older, those with certain chronic conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years (especially infants). Each year, the flu causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths.
Flu vaccines come in different formulas: injectable vaccines (or shots) and nasal spray. Recommendations for use differ for certain populations or age groups. The nasal spray is approved for non-pregnant individuals ages 2 to 49. The nasal spray is NOT recommended for children younger than 2, people older than 49, those people with a history of severe allergic reactions to eggs or any ingredients in the vaccine, people with weakened immune systems or children with asthma.

People 65 years and older may receive vaccines specifically designed for their age group. The high-dose vaccine or adjuvant flu vaccine both create a stronger immune response to the flu.

Talk with your physician or health care provider about which type of flu vaccine you should receive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, frequent handwashing, and covering coughs and sneezes) to help slow the spread of germs that cause flu and other respiratory illnesses.

Protect yourself and your family from the flu! Contact your physician to schedule a flu shot today.

stacey duncan jackson
Stacey Duncan-Jackson, MPA, RN, BSN, CCP
Together Health Network Director, Population Health

A conversation on healthcare’s market dynamics with Together Health Network’s President and CEO Dr. Scott Eathorne

A slew of corporate actions aimed at reconfiguring healthcare in the U.S. are underway now that Apple, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway are entering the healthcare market to improve patient access and cost. Companies like Google and Uber have professed interest in getting involved as well. What do these companies have in common? All are successful consumer-facing solutions that have disrupted consumer access to services and changed consumer and industry behaviors.

Q: Amazon is now the fourth most valuable corporation in the world. It sees the 18% of U.S. GDP dedicated to healthcare as fertile ground for expansion. Do you think Amazon can be successful at helping to transform health and care?

Scott E: Yes, they have been very successful at transforming the consumer experience for buying a variety of goods and have amassed a wealth of consumer data that can be applied to the selection and purchase of health and care services. It will be interesting to see how quickly they develop these capabilities and which segments they focus on. This is an industry where the relationship between patient and provider hold more weight than in others. So, the competition between those vying for the relationship will be fierce with consumers having to decide who they trust more: their providers (doctors, hospitals), third parties helping to pay for the service (employers/payers) or navigators/brokers of the service (Amazon, others). However this plays out, disruptors like Amazon will influence a transformation of health and care.

Q: Kaiser Family Foundation calculates that employers contributed $12,865 per covered worker for choosing a family health plan in 2016—an expenditure that’s up 58% since 2006. Will these new competitive entries help to impact the spiraling costs in healthcare?

Scott E: The stated goal for many healthcare disruptors is to lower the per capita cost of care, while maintaining or improving quality and creating a better consumer experience, also called access to care. However, if the inefficiencies in the system aren’t addressed and care isn’t coordinated more effectively and consistently, the first component of the triple aim may not be realized.

Q: One thing that Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, Uber and Google all have in common is a history of disrupting existing business models. What are the opportunities for disruption in healthcare?

Scott E: Healthcare is a complex industry with multiple stakeholders, life-and-death consequences for poor service and products, and unsustainable costs. All these entities (Amazon, Apple, Uber, etc.) have experience rethinking how their products or services provide value to the consumer and have been willing to take risks in developing solutions. Opportunities for disruption in healthcare include but are not limited to:

Q: In many ways, these high-profile new tech entries are very similar to Together Health Network’s framework of information-supported care services. What are the advantages that Together Health Network provides for patients and providers versus the influx of non-health service companies trying to break into the healthcare market?

Scott E: As a comprehensive provider network with broad geographic presence and a history of high performance of our members, Together Health Network continues to create value for those we serve. We do it through improvements in coordinating care across the continuum, improving access to care, better integrating information to support decision-making, and using enabling technologies to improve both patient and caregiver experience. Working with health plans and employer groups, we strive to develop relationships that deliver value to patients in a sustainable way and deliver on the triple aim. As trusted care providers in our communities, we have a unique relationship with consumers and their families that allow us to work together to design new models for delivering outstanding care.

Together Health Network Names New Board Members

Michigan’s largest clinically integrated network adds two new members to its Board of Directors.

Southfield, MI –October 8, 2018, Together Health Network Southfield-based Together Health Network today announced that Joseph Cacchione, MD, FACC and Mark LePage, MD, MBA have joined the organization’s Board of Directors. According to Scott Eathorne, MD, President and CEO of Together Health Network, “the two physicians will fill seats for Board member Paul Valenstein, MD and former Board Chair Gwen MacKenzie, whose service on our Board concluded earlier this year. We are grateful to the physician leaders of our local clinically integrated networks and to the executive leaders of our sponsor organizations in furthering our mission.”

Dr. Cacchione is Senior Vice President, Ascension Healthcare; Michigan Market Executive; and President of Ascension Medical Group, a high performing clinical network of Ascension providers. Dr. Cacchione is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology. He received his medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine and his undergraduate degree from Gannon University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Cacchione is also a member of the Board of Trustees at the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. LePage is Chief Executive Officer for IHA, one of Michigan’s largest multi-specialty medical groups. A Marquette, Michigan native, Dr. LePage is a board-certified vascular and interventional radiologist. He attended medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dr. LePage served in the United States Air Force as a Staff Interventional Radiologist at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center at Lackland AFB, Texas. Dr. LePage obtained his MBA and his MS in Finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

“Both of these talented individuals are physician-executives with a wide range of experience in provider and payer matters and also bring a unique skill set encompassing clinical experience, financial acumen and strategic planning to our Board“ Eathorne said.

About Together Health Network
Together Health Network’s objective is to improve both health and care for Michigan residents by facilitating relationships within its network of physician organizations, health systems, insurers, patients, and health providers. At the core of Together Health Network’s culture are clinicians connected by a common purpose and meaning; they lead with a team-based care approach, which is based on a shared commitment and vision of positive outcomes. An estimated 75% of Michigan residents are within 20 minutes of one of the network’s 40 hospitals and thousands of ambulatory centers and physician offices. For more information, visit http://www.togetherhealthnetwork.org/.

Help Your Child Have A Healthy Freshman Year At College

Leaving home for the first time, learning to live with roommates and embracing self-discipline while surrounded by new distractions may be the easy challenges for college freshmen. For many, this is the first time they will schedule medical appointments, fill prescriptions and make decisions about their own health care. But, with a little planning and parental guidance, college can be an opportunity for young adults to learn how to stay healthy and get care when they are ill.

Understand the on-campus options
Make sure your student knows ahead of time what their on-campus health resources are as college health services can vary from school to school. Larger schools may have a full-service clinic on campus, while smaller colleges may have close relationships with community providers. In addition, your student needs to understand when and where to seek routine medical care and what constitutes a health-related emergency. That includes when to get a walk-in appointment, when to visit the emergency department and when to call 911. Students should also know if they’re covered under their parents’ health plan.

Check with your health insurance plan for additional ID cards for your student to have while away at college.

Prep your student with his or her own medical history
Parents can help prepare students by going over the care they’ve been receiving at home, including how to get medication refills, seek specialty care for chronic illness or schedule ongoing therapy. And, for students on long-term medications, knowing how and where to fill prescriptions is as important as knowing what medications they are taking and why.

For young adults with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or asthma, more deliberate planning is necessary. Check with your student’s school to see if you should send your child’s records to the campus health center and the best way to do that if needed for your student’s continued treatment. Your primary care physician can make sure immunizations are current. Also, ask your physician if your child’s meningococcal vaccine is up-to-date to lower risks of getting a serious meningitis infection (inflammation of the brain tissue). The vaccine will help to protect against this serious disease.

Leverage health service technology: virtually enabled care
The most common reasons college students seek medical care include upper respiratory infection, pneumonia, strep throat and urinary tract infections. These are all conditions your freshman can have treated virtually via their smartphone, computer or tablet within minutes rather than traveling to an urgent care facility or retail clinic. Virtually enabled care is a direct, convenient way to empower and equip first-year college students to take control of their health needs. Go to our online service provider’s,MDLIVE, website at https://www.togetherhealthnetwork.org/virtualcaremi/ and download the virtual care app. That’s all it takes to set your child on a healthy first year college pathway.

Begin at home
Laying the groundwork for your child’s health away from home is important for their independence. Students need a basic understanding of how to get care when they need it. So, don’t ignore packing those plans for their health as they ease into that first college year away from home.

For consumers, virtual care means CONVENIENCE.

The benefits of virtually enabled health care are numerous and tangible but for most consumers, it’s all about the convenience. Technology has enabled us to have fast, easy and improved access to a wider range of goods and services. We shop online, stay in touch via social media, participate in online communities, and consume news, entertainment and other information online. It stands to reason that we’d move from online self-diagnostic tools and services to talking online with physicians and receiving health services.

Digital technology now provides a new way for the health care industry to deliver primary care to consumers. Virtual care makes coordinated, trustworthy health services available 24/7, eclipsing geographic and physical barriers.

According to a recent study from National Research Corporation, consumers who now shoulder more out-of-pocket costs for their health are ushering in a new focus on patient-centric consumerism. They are more active participants in their own care. As a result, they are seeking the most cost-effective, simplistic and convenient suppliers of care services. According to the NRC study, they’re asking, “If I can go online to find health information, why can’t I take the next step and talk to someone about my health issue?”

Virtually enabled care is transforming care delivery by meeting patients where they are through multiple channels (smartphone, pad or computer). And for industry professionals, it holds the promise of helping health providers achieve the “triple aim” by improving access to care, saving payers and patients money for care and removing barriers of time, distance and travel.

To find out how you can get virtually enabled care from an Ascension or Trinity Health caregiver, click here.