9 Riveting Facts About the Growing Robotics Industry

The robotics industry is experiencing a growth period that’s not likely to slow down anytime in the near future. The demand for industrial robots has steadily increased since 2010 due to innovation and ongoing automation trends. Here are 9 fascinating facts about the global advancement of robots.

  1. Robot sales are expected to exceed $83 billion by the year 2020. By comparison, the sales volume of robotics was $11.1 billion in 2015. Note: this does not include software, peripherals and systems engineering.
  1. Robots are more flexible, powerful and can perform more complicated tasks than ever. This is due to advancements in sensors, microchips and data analytics.
  1. The cost of robots is decreasing, making them more affordable than ever. This is due to decreasing costs of manufacturing. A robot similar in ability is about half the cost of one built 10 years ago.

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Does Music in the Workplace Affect Employee Performance?

Employees are arguably the most valuable asset of any business, regardless of the industry. Employers are always looking for ways to create a desirable work environment that will ease the stress of their employees and increase their productivity.

Business organizations aim to achieve their goals and objectives by determining the best practices for long-term on-the-job performance. Many employers want to know if playing music in the background while employees work is a best practice or if it is a productivity impediment.

There is research that suggests that music helps make repetitive tasks easier. One element to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of music in the workplace is the degree of task intensity and the level of creativity required. If a task is repetitive and structured, research suggests that music is helpful. Routine manufacturing job workers show signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music. What is interesting is that music in major keys has been shown to increase output while music with a dissonant tone has been found to have no impact on productivity.

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New Health Care Coalition aims to Streamline Prior Authorization Process

Several groups are banding together to improve the prior authorization (PA) process for providers. The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and 14 other healthcare organizations have built a coalition that will lobby health plans to streamline PAs for medications, as well as medical devices and tests. The groups have already established a list of recommendations, named the “21 Prior Authorization and Utilization Management Reform Principles” for health plans that will improve the PA process and reduce the burden on prescribers. It remains to be seen if health plans will follow these guidelines.

Read more:

AMA, AHA form coalition to reform prior authorization requirements

AMA-led coalition calls for reforming management tools

Manufacturer Hikes Price on Newly Approved Drug 6,000% – then hits Pause

The launch of a new medication for Duchenne muscular disorder (DMD) has been halted following an outcry over the price. Emflaza (generic name is deflazacort) is a corticosteroid treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), developed by Illinois-based Marathon Pharmaceuticals. Marathon announced Thursday, February 9, that it had received FDA approval as an orphan drug.

The compound has been available outside the U.S. for decades, and the generic version was being imported for about $1,000 per year. Emflaza is the first FDA-approved medication for treating all DMD patients 5 years and older, which means patients can no longer access the imported version. Marathon priced the drug at $89,000 per year (list price) – a 6,000% increase over the price of the imported version.

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The Pharmacy Ecosystem: An Introduction to Key Pharmacy Players

The term “ecosystem” is defined as a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction within their environment. This intermingling of elements within the pharmacy industry can be very complex with many moving parts, constantly evolving and interacting with the others.

In this newsletter, we are highlighting the key pharmacy players and their function within the system.

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MMA Rx Solutions Contract Negotiations Protect Against Pitfalls

A recent article from Bloomberg entitled “You’re Overpaying for Drugs and Your Pharmacist Can’t Tell You” claims consumers may fare better at the pharmacy by not using their insurance card at all. Bloomberg reports consumers may receive a lower price if they just paid the pharmacy cash price, also known as usual and customary (U&C), without filing under insurance.

Bloomberg is not wrong. Some pharmacy arrangements have language, which says the member pays the copay amount even if the drug is available at the pharmacy cash price (U & C) for less. This is actually not a new practice. It is one we find at play in many employers’ pharmacy claims sent to us for analysis. It is definitely not language that you will find in an MMA Rx Solutions’ contract. Our contracts are designed and written to ensure full visibility into a client’s pharmacy, and ensure hidden “optics” are removed. With an MMA Rx Solutions contract, your clients will always pay the lowest of three possible outcomes (lowest price of the U&C, co‐pay, or drug cost) at checkout.

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Cyber Extortion On The Rise – An Evolving Risk For Businesses

In 2016, the cyber extortion of a large Los Angeles hospital made the news. Originally, the cyber attackers demanded $3 million. Eventually, 40 bitcoins were paid (about $17,000) to make it one of the most noteworthy cybercrimes at the time. Since this type of cybercrime is on the rise, it is important that businesses proactively manage the harm that could result from a cyber extortion attack.

What is cyber extortion?

Cyber extortion happens when a cyber perpetrator threatens to hack into, damage or release electronic data that is owned by the victim. Here are two examples of cyber extortion:

  • Your website is hit by a denial-of-service attack where the hackers are sending an enormous amount of traffic to your site at once, shutting it down. The hackers then demand a payoff to stop the attack.
  • You retain very sensitive information on clients. A cyber hacker attacks your firm’s servers and steals the client data and then threatens to release the data online unless you remit a large payment.

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House Committees Release Proposed Legislation to Repeal and Replace the ACA

On Monday, March 6, the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees released the American
Health Care Act (AHCA), their proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the budget reconciliation
process, which requires a simple majority vote of Congress. Key provisions of the bill, if enacted, would:

  • retroactively repeal the individual and employer mandate penalties to months after December 31, 2015;
  • delay the 40% “Cadillac Tax” on employer-sponsored health plans until 2025 (but would not include a cap on the employer-provided
    health care tax exclusion, which had been proposed in an earlier leaked draft of the AHCA and which some had expected would
    replace the Cadillac tax and fund the replacement provisions);
  • make significant changes to the ACA insurance coverage and marketplace stabilization provisions;
  • enhance health savings accounts (HSAs) and provide a monthly tax credit;
  • provide relief from many of the ACA’s taxes and fees; and
  • curtail Medicaid reforms.

Read the full compliance update…

New MMA Whiteboard Video Released: Why MMA?

Check out our new “Why MMA” Whiteboard Video! This short and entertaining whiteboard video reviews how MMA helps organizations manage risk, provide comprehensive insurance and guide them through heavily regulated issues with industry specific expertise. With more than 70 local offices in nine regions, MMA is a world class leader with a local touch guiding clients on all of their risk management, employee benefits, surety bonding, and private client insurance needs. It’s only two minutes long – click on the video tile to view.

To learn more how MMA Mid-Atlantic can help you and your business please click here.

Attract and Retain Outstanding Employees with these Top 9 Benefits

Your company has worked hard to recruit and hire the best talent. Now you need to retain them. There are many nuances when it comes to employee retention, but one of the most import retention opportunities is a comprehensive benefits package.

Some businesses try to minimize their employee benefits investment, cutting costs but adversely impacting important retention related benefits. For example, no law requires employers to offer voluntary benefits but there are many reasons businesses should. While limiting benefits spending may seem like an attractive way boost the bottom line, it often results in recruiting and retention related issues, making a big difference in long term growth for companies large and small.

Small companies that are growing quickly need to carefully plan their benefits package so they can continue to attract and retain the talent they need, while optimizing benefits expenditures. There are many different potential employee benefits that employers can include in their benefits package. Here are 9 top benefits for employee recruitment and retention.

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