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where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.

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Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• As part of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, the NCI (National Cancer Institute), Amazon Web Services and Microsoft teamed up to create an online repository for genomic data. The hope is to be able to improve the care and understanding of cancer by allowing the cancer medical community to have the best possible resources and tools available. By building a sustainable model to maintain and share cancer genomic data, researchers will be able to easily and securely mine stored data. Read More

• Lunacy and chaos run amuck, come November 14 and December 14. At least that's what some doctors and medical staff across the country are preparing for when the full moon strikes on these nights. Many hospitals actually beef up their staff in anticipation. The theory is that because our bodies are 70 percent water, the moon that moves the oceans may also move the water in our bodies, causing psychotic episodes. Read More

• The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported this Wednesday that people infected with gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are at an all-time high, hitting teenagers and young adults the hardest. Major drivers for these increases are tied to STD care and prevention programs being cut due to state and local budget cuts. Read More

• Rural hospitals outperformed urban hospitals in value-based programs in 2015, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Some areas in which rural hospitals did very well were patient experience metrics and succesful fostering of care coordination. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Image: Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Kratom advocates can breathe a momentary sigh of relief since the Drug Enforcement Administration recently withdrew its notice of intent to classify the kratom plant as a Schedule I substance. Kratom is derived from the leaves of a tree native to Southesast Asia and is most commonly used in the U.S. for coping with chronic pain. The DEA attributed 15 deaths to kratom between 2014 and 2016. The public comment period ends Dec. 1st after which the DEA could still decide to temporarily ban kratom or place the plant in a scheduled category, permanently.  Read More

• As the number of Medicaid enrollees continues to grow, most states will tighten controls on spending in anticipation of next year's reduction in federal aid. Strategies to contain costs include hiring private managed care companies to deliver services to enrollees and restricting use of pricier prescription drugs.  Read More

• CMS will soon release the final rule that will result in major changes in how physicians are paid under Medicare. Physicians and organization leaders are worried that the new rule, which will implement the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA), will hurt small practices and cause rifts between primary care doctors and specialists. MACRA will incentivize top-performing doctors and ding under-performers based on a variety of measures. Read More

• A heater-cooler machine, which is a device used during open-heart surgery, was found to have been tainted after 12 patients at a Pennsylvania hospital were infected last year. The device originated from a plant in Germany. It uses water to regulate the patient's temperature during surgery. While the water does not come into contact with the patient, bacteria can be transmitted through the air from the machine's exhaust vent. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Image: FierceHealthcare

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Both commercial ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) and non-commercial ACOs are lagging in critical IT infrastructure that will help improve the cost and quality of care. Commercial ACOs still outperform their non-commercial counterparts in both cost and quality of care but significant technological improvements need to be considered, more specifically in interoperable capabilities. Read More

• Donor organs from drug overdoses are considered high-risk but due to the recent surge in deaths from drug overdoses, these organs have become a life line for transplant patients. The risk of transplanting an infected organ is small and diseases like hepatitis C can be treated or cured, and in severe cases such as HIV, can be managed. The chance at prolonging life with an infected organ in the face of death is a silver lining to those waiting for a transplant. Read More

• Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that there is a wide variation of medicare costs associated with post-op complications. They also found that the costs can vary from hospital to hospital. Previous research suggested that high-volume, lower cost facilities tend to have lower associated post-op costs and better outcomes than more expensive hospitals. Read More

• Congress directed $394 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund Zika response efforts. Funding for efforts to improve diagnostic tests and expand lab capacity play a big role in being able to provide a quick turnaround for women getting tested for the disease. Currently, test results can take more than 4 weeks. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Image: FierceHealthcare


Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• A new report from the ECRI institute found that patient-identification mix-ups in health care organizations is a much larger issue than previously thought and can lead to deadly consequences. Cases of patient identification errors included administering incorrect medications, not resuscitating a patient who did not have a DNR order on file, and an infant given breast milk from the wrong mother. The report urged all health care facilities to adopt a standardized protocol to verify patient identities. Read More

• An agency within the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday issued a rule that prevents any nursing home that receives federal funding from requiring that its residents resolve any disputes in arbitration, instead of court. Millions of elderly Americans across the country will be afforded new protections and be able to take disputes to court more easily. It is the most significant overhaul of the agency’s rules governing federal funding of long-term care facilities in more than two decades. Read More

• The Food and Drug Administration approved the first artificial pancreas on Wednesday, allowing patients with type-1 diabetes to hook up the device and skip the routine finger pricks to check their blood sugar. Many groups are working on similar systems aimed at alleviating diabetes patients of constantly having to check their blood sugar and delivering insulin. Read More

• Six health systems will test new federally-approved and winning designs for an easy-to-understand medical bill aimed to improve the patient billing experience. The Department of Health and Human Services challenged the health care and tech industry to develop a medical bill that’s easier for patients to understand. Complex medical bills are a major obstacle to both patient satisfaction and the collections process, as they tend to contain insider jargon that leaves patients confused as to the amount they owe and why. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Source: www.fiercehealthcare.com

 

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Patients are sometimes burdened with the task of gathering their medical records, often finding that their health information is scattered across different states, different electronic systems or different doctors' offices. Between medical records still being in paper form, siloed EHRs and HIPAA compliancy, it can be near impossible for patients to get a full medical history in one fell swoop. Read More

• Leaders in health care met this week in Chicago to discuss the next steps in population health management. Positive patient experience, data collection, telehealth tools and care coordination were just a handful of the topics discussed at this year's Pop Health Forum 2016. Read More

• Cat-scratch disease, which is spread by cats, may have more serious and fatal complications than previously believed. Kissing kittens can increase the risk of being infected. Symptoms typically involve fatigue, fever and swollen lymph nodes but in a few cases, the disease can cause the brain to swell or infect the heart and can prove to be fatal if not treated properly. Read More

• The Census Bureau released some promising economic statistics on Tuesday, one being that only 9.1 percent of Americans do not have health care coverage, the lowest level ever recorded by the agency. About 18 million more people have coverage now than they did in 2013. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Source: Susan Biddle/Washington Post/Getty Images

 

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• A hepatitis A outbreak has been linked to strawberries at a smoothie chain across seven states and has sickened 89 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infected, frozen strawberries were imported from Egypt. Tropical Smoothie Cafe has since switched to another supplier and apologized, in a statement, to the infected persons. Read More

• According to experts, preventing medical errors begins with a shift from a production-based model to an integrated model, focusing on ways to treat the whole patient and promote shared decision-making. In the current industry model, providers are incentivized to churn through patients to make money but are now encouraged to do more and understand that a change  to patient-centered, whole-person care is necessary. Read More

•With the Quality Payment Program under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act set to start on January 1, 2017, CMS chief, Andy Slavitt, outlines four options for clinicians to comply and avoid a negative payment adjustment in 2019. The four options will also be described in detail in the final rule slated for release this November. Read More

• This year, pediatricians recommend giving the flu vaccination in the form of a shot rather than via nasal spray. That's because the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices found that the nasal spray vaccination, FluMist, was only 3 percent effective in children aged 2 through 17 during last year's flu season, while injected flu vaccinations protected about two-thirds of children in the same age group. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Source: Ted Horowitz/Getty Images


 

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Single-payer insurance may be more feasible than previously believed. In 2016, 71 percent of California's health care expenditures were covered by public funds. Will this publicly-funded, single streamlined, nonprofit system show promise over today's inefficient, profit-oriented, multiple insurance payers? Read More

• The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to pay $20 million over the next 18 months to Japanese-headquartered company, Takeda Vaccines, to accelerate the development of a Zika vaccine for the U.S. If approved with the FDA, the first clinical trials of the vaccine on humans could begin next year.  Read More

• Low value services, or services that provide little value to patients, given all the costs and alternatives, account for about 0.5% of total medical services spending. While this may not seem significant, this adds up to approximately $32.8 million of spending in 2013 and equates to just under 8 percent of 1.5 million adults with commercial insurance. Read More

• Carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer, is causing a record spike in drug overdoses in the Midwest. The synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than the prescription painkiller, fentanyl. Officials in Ohio have declared a public health emergency. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• The FDA is recommending that all blood donations in the U.S. be screened for the Zika Virus as additional precautionary measures against the spread of the virus. Not all states are required to test blood donations at once. Testing will begin within the next four weeks for 11 states that are within proximity to areas where Zika is actively spreading via mosquitoes. The expansion of blood testing to all states will occur within a 12-week time frame.  Read More

• Physicians are concerned that the new MACRA payment system, which rewards quality over quantity of care based on quality benchmarks, will put small practice or solo practice doctors at high risk of incurring payment penalties or even push thousands of these physicians into larger practices.  With the way this payment model is structured now, larger practices will do well and smaller practices are likely to do worse. Read More

• Less than one-third of ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) qualified for bonuses from Medicare in 2015, according to CMS. However, ACOs participating in the past two years have improved on 84 percent of the quality performance measures used and have grown 13 percent in savings since 2014.  Read More

• A new ultrasound-enabled genetic therapy called sonoporation may one day be the new cancer and heart disease fighting tool. This strategy involves the use of "microbubbles" and ultrasound energy to poke holes in cells, administering genes on a molecular level. This approach allows researchers to deliver therapeutic agents to the precise location of the disease while sparing its healthy surroundings. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Dr. Karen DeSalvo officially stepped down as National Coordinator of the ONC (The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) as of last Friday. Her predecessor, Dr. Vindell Washington, has been with the ONC since January 2016 and is a longtime proponent of health IT and information exchange. Read More

• The U.N. admits to playing a role in the Haiti cholera outbreak that began in the fall of 2010, just months after the devasting earthquake had struck Haiti. The strain found in Haiti was a perfect match for a strain found in Nepal. The source was believed to have come from Nepalese peacekeepers who were staying at the U.N. camp in Haiti. Coupled with poor sanitation, the infectious disease spread into local waterways from the camp's sewage. Cholera is spread through contaminated water and causes dehydration and can lead to death if left untreated. Read More

• Aetna is pulling back its Affordable Care Act exchange presence in 11 states, which leaves some counties with zero insurers offering plans in the 2017 open enrollment period starting November. This exit, combined with that of United and Humana's, will impact approximately 1 million to 1.5 million of the 13 million people who signed up during the 2016 open enrollment period. Read More

• Within the past three weeks, the number of confirmed Zika infections have increased to 35 in the greater Miami area. While public health officials do not expect the virus to spread as rapidly as it has in other countries, pregnant women are still worried. Expectant mothers are taking precautions by confining themselves indoors, spraying exposed limbs with insect repellent, wearing long clothing in 90-degree weather and even going so far as to stay with family and friends far outside of the Zika zone until they've given birth. Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Some hospitals have established a separate medical unit for the treatment of elderly patients. Hospitalization can be very taxing on the elderly, especially when faced with drug side-effects, interrupted sleep, unappetizing food and long days in bed. San Francisco General opened the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) ward in 2007 and focuses on how to get patients back home and living as independently as possible. With only about 200 of these units around the country, they are rare yet promising. ACE units have been shown to reduce hospital-inflicted disabilities in older patients and decrease the length of stay. Source

• The greatest impact on reducing costs to health care organizations and maximizing ROI comes from remote patient monitoring. Coming in second and third are patient engagement platforms and EHRs (electronic health records systems). In order to help strengthen the quality of technology implementation in health care organizations, there should be priority in designing workflows that improve efficiency and technology adoption. Source

• A new, alternative approach to treating psychosis allows the voices in the patients' heads to be directly addressed by support group members. In this holistic, nonmedical approach, members help one another understand each voice, as a metaphor, rather than try to extinguish it. The Open Dialogue treatment approach begins with a team of mental health specialists who visit homes and discuss the crisis with the affected person rather than resorting to medication. The culture aims to provide a nonpsychiatric label, avoiding the words "patient" or "treatment". Source

• Studies have found that 20 percent of hospital patients are sent home before their vital signs are stable, increasing their likelihood of readmission or even death. Researchers suggest hospitals take further action to prevent such mishaps by closely monitoring patients' vital signs and conducting thorough outpatient follow-up education. Source

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news.