Merger to Establish Big Hospital Chain

Two large hospital systems in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic said they plan to merge, in another example of hospitals bulking up as the battle for patients becomes fierce.
 A combination of Bon Secours Health System Inc., a nonprofit based in Marriott sville, Md., and Mercy Health, a nonprofit in Cincinnati, would rank as one of the largest chains nationwide, with 43 hospitals and operations in seven states.
 The combination would add to a string of health-care deals that aim to create behemoths with more sway.

Profits Are Hidden in the Prescription Drug Supply Chain

Depending on how you look at them, pharmacy-benefit managers are either low margin middlemen that fight to reduce drug costs or highly profitable intermediaries that earn more when drug prices rise.
 Pharmacy-benefit managers are hired by businesses such as insurers that pay for drugs to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies. When Express Scripts Holding reports fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday, analysts expect a margin of just 4.7%, according to FactSet. Rival companies owned by CVS Health and UnitedHealth Group report similarly low margins.

The Future of Hospitals

 In a shift away from their traditional inpatient facilities, health-care providers are investing in outpatient clinics, same-day surgery centers, free-standing emergency rooms and microhospitals, which offer as few as eight beds for overnight stays. They are setting up programs that monitor people 24/7 in their own homes. And they are turning to digital technology to treat and keep tabs on patients remotely from a hightech hub.

Doctors Use Poetry to Recharge

WHAT IS A good gift for a freshly minted physician? In Scotland, it is a book of poetry. Each year, the 900 or so graduating medical students in Scotland receive a free copy of a poetry book titled “Tools of the Trade: Poems for New Doctors.” It's a pocket-size book with fewer than 100 pages, so doctors can easily carry it while on duty. The poems are grouped into five themes designed to help young physicians: looking after yourself, looking after others, beginnings, being with illness, and endings.

Digital Pill Wins FDA's Approval

U.S. authorities approved the world's first digital drug, an antipsychotic pill that signals smartphones once it reaches the gut so doctors can track whether patients are taking their medication.
 Tuesday's greenlight from the Food and Drug Administration means Japan's Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. can implant a chip containing minerals like silicon, magnesium and copper inside tablets of Abilify, which is widely used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.

Biotech's Breakthrough Year

Pay attention only to politics and you might think 2017 was a parade of horribles, yet most Americans saw their living standards rise and business innovations are happening apace. Consider the lifesaving medical breakthroughs greenlighted this year by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Cost Of Using Robots In Surgery

ROBOT-ASSISTED SURGERIES—a technology oft-touted by hospitals—are longer and more expensive than other types of minimally invasive surgeries, according to a growing body of studies. And in some types of surgery, they have a lower success rate. Two studies published online last week in JAMA compared robotic-assisted surgeries to laparoscopic surgeries. Both are minimally invasive procedures done ...

CVS Sets Next-Day Delivery Of Drugs

CVS Health Corp. is launching next-day delivery of prescription medication, a move that comes as the drugstore giant faces declining retail sales and potential competition from Inc.
 CVS on Monday said it would offer the service nationwide starting early next year, and same-day delivery in some urban areas. In Manhattan, the company will offer free same day delivery service starting Dec. 4.

Cardinal Health CEO to Step Down

Cardinal Health Inc. said Monday that Chief Executive George Barrett will step down in January after more than eight years in the post, as pricing pressure for generic drugs has weighed on the company in recent months.
 Mr. Barrett, 62 years old, will remain in his role as executive chairman until the company's shareholder meeting in November 2018.