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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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Image: Luciano Lozano/Ikon Images/Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  Doctors are reimbursed for everything ranging from office visits to lab work to medical procedures. But what about the tasks that pull allocated time away from actual face-to-face visits? Data suggests that doctors are spending a significant amount of time on desktop medicine tasks. The data also highlights a reduction in time spent with patients and yet, physicians are not reimbursed for their EHR time.  Read More

•  Do you find yourself zoning out in the middle of one-on-one conversations? Do you procrastinate more often than not? There are, according to the World Health Organization, six simple questions that can reliably identify whether you have adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It's important to note that the questions should be looked at in their totality, not individually. No single question stands out as an indicator of ADHD.  Read More

•  The federal government settled on an average rate increase of 0.45% for its finalized 2018 payment rates for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. The rate announcement gives MA organizations the incentive to develop innovative provider network arrangements, encouraging enrollees to access high-quality healthcare services.  Read More

•  A report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 10 pregnant women in the continental U.S. with a confirmed Zika infection had a baby with serious birth defects or brain damage. There is also more evidence that birth defects were a bigger risk in women who were infected in the first trimester of pregnancy.  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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Mike Albans for Kaiser Health News

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  For many home health aides, health insurance coverage was hard to come by, mainly due to employers not offering such coverage or the inability to clock enough hours to be eligible. Cue the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which offered the state-federal low-income health insurance program. With the Trump administration's attempt at repealing the ACA and proposal for budget cuts, this lack of clarity is concerning to home-based care-givers whose paychecks rely heavily on Medicaid and Medicare and whose future health care coverage remains unclear.  Read More

•  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating an increased rate of adverse cardiac events in patients with the dissolvable heart stent. The stent, called Absorb, is manufactured by Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories. The FDA and Abbott are working together to understand the cause of the adverse events and encourage physicians to follow the device's label instructions when selecting a target heart vessel.  Read More

•  Under President Trump's proposed budget cuts, funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) may be eliminated. AHRQ is the lead federal agency involved with the improvement of safety and quality of the U.S. health care system. It also develops the resources and data for providers and consumers to help them make informed health decisions. Supporters of AHRQ believe the agency's role is misunderstood and that merging it with the National Institute of Health, as proposed by Trump's administration, would threaten its future.  Read More

•  On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat a severe form of multiple sclerosis. This disease leads to paralysis and cognitive decline. The drug will be sold under the brand name Ocrevus by Genentech.  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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) initiative to control how farmers can give antibiotics to livestock falls short in many areas.  According to the Government Accountability Office, the FDA initiative has not been collecting usage data that allows the program to know if efforts to curb the use of routine micro-doses of antibiotics, known as growth promoters, in livestock have been successful.  Read More

•  Thursday marked another blow to the GOP's efforts to pass the American Health Care Act. House Speaker Paul Ryan did not hold a floor vote as planned after President Donald Trump held meetings with conservative and moderate Republican caucuses, hoping to come to a deal. The House can lose no more than 21 votes for the bill to pass, however there's a likelihood of more than 25 members of the Freedom Caucus who plan to vote "no."  Read More

•  On Monday, an interim rule was released, delaying the expansion and implementation of major bundled payment initiatives. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services say the additional three-month delay will allow the agency more time to review and modify the policy, if necessary. The delay also calls into question whether the new White House Administration is committed to the programs.  Read More

•  Oral health has never been a priority with the aging population. One reason? Medicare does not provide dental care, except for certain medical conditions, and California's Medicaid only covers some services. However, the effort to bring more dental care to older adults is advancing across the nation. New clinics and technologies are popping up to help improve oral health for the aging, such as an app that tracks dentures, which frequently disappear in nursing homes.  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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Fierce Healthcare

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  A new study released this week by HealthlinkNY found that New York hospitals that accessed outside patient records reduced patients' average length of stay by over 7 percent and by 4.5 percent for 30-day admissions. The report clearly shows that the benefits of using HIEs are greater when they contain robust patient data and when physicians have experience using them.  Read More

•  Prestigious hospitals across the U.S. are offering more and more alternative medicine therapies. Despite very little evidence that methods such as Chinese herbal therapies and acupuncture actually work, alternative medicine is on the rise. Opposers to alternative medicine are quick to point out that physicians who promote these therapies forfeit claims they belong to a science-based profession. Advocates say these unconventional treatments offer alternatives that have helped patients who could not be cured by modern medicine.  Read More

•  Hospital and Medical groups are among the opposers to the Republicans' Health Care Plan, citing expected declines in health insurance coverage and causing potential harm to vulnerable patient populations as well as threatening health care affordability, access and delivery.  Read More

•  A newly released study found that there are two effective tests in determining the cause of a stillbirth, a death of a fetus at or after 20 weeks of gestation. Both an examination of the placenta and a fetal autopsy helped in approximately 40 percent of cases, and with genetic testing being the third most useful test.  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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.


Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  Will Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) survive a repeal and replacement of the current Affordable Care Act? One leading health policy expert seems to think so. Paul Keckley, Ph.D., managing editor of The Keckley Report predicts that ACOs will evolve with the ever-changing health care regulations. Studies have shown evidence that ACOs do lead to quality improvement benefits, which will only continue to grow over time.  Read More

•  A recent study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared birth outcomes of several hundred pregnant women entered into the CDC's Zika Pregnancy Registry and who were likely to have the virus. It found that women who were infected with Zika were 20 times as likely to give birth to babies with birth defects as mothers who were not infected with the virus.  Read More

•  Health care sites took a hit this Tuesday when Amazon's S3 cloud-based hosting service experienced outages. AWS partners with many health care technology vendors, such as Synapse, PracticeFusion, Philipps and Cognizant, to name a few.  Read More

•  According to a recent article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, we're seeing an upward trend in colon cancer among younger Americans. While overall cases of colon cancer have been decreasing dramatically since the 1980's, cases in people younger than 50 years of age have slowly been on the rise.  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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Robert Hanson/Ikon Images/Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  Republicans' newly unveiled health care plan is not exactly drawing confidence from health insurance leaders. Just some of the many concerns with the new ACA replacement proposal range from no mention of temporary funding for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions to not having a replacement in place for ACA's individual mandate, giving healthy individuals less incentive to enroll in insurance plans. Read More

•  Can design flaws really kill us? According to a recent article in the New York Times, hospitals are among the most expensive facilities to build but we may have been building them all wrong. From housing patients too closely together for too long to poorly lit areas and poorly designed bathrooms causing many falls to too much exposure to noise, patients are surrounded by many factors that could potentially be life-threatening in a place that is meant to save lives. One idea to improve hospital design? More exposure to nature! Read More

•  The age of nursing homes may be transitioning to home health care with the slew of new technology available to aging patients. The existence of a "community of care" is in the near future as more of patients' data are shared with their family, health care team and even their neighbors. While all these data points raise the question of liability and privacy, some companies are more aimed towards creating new systems to help providers navigate the plethora of incoming data. Read More

•  While a handful of non-profit organizations are popping up to promote low-cost to free heart screenings for teens, disadvantages surrounding electrocardiograms (EKGs) for adolescents could far outweigh the benefits.  For one, there is no evidence that EKGs for young adults can prevent deaths, especially since sudden cardiac death is rare in young people. False positives can lead to follow-up tests and risky, unnecessary interventions. 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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.


Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  The unintended consequences of a gluten-free diet? Increased blood levels of arsenic and mercury, apparently. While everyone has some trace amount of arsenic and mercury in their blood, those on a gluten-free diet tend to have higher than average levels due to eating many rice-based products. Rice, it turns out, absorbs metals from water and soil.  While the health impacts at these levels are still unknown, it's good to keep in mind how much more rice gluten-free eaters are potentially consuming.  Read More

•  In an age where technology is ever prevalent in the health care setting, clinicians are often bombarded with daily alerts and alarms, causing alert fatigue and proving ineffective from its intended use. Dr. Vitaly Herasevich of the Mayo Clinic proposes a smart system to be put in place in order to curb this phenomenon. The idea is to issue alerts only in a situation when clinical providers fail to do the intended action as opposed to a reminder-like alert. This approach decreases unnecessary alerts while easing cognitive overload.  Read More

•  Trump's nomination for head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) faced ethics questions this Thursday after nearly 3 hours of questioning during her confirmation hearings. Democrats raised ethics questions about Seema Verma's consulting firm and whether the work she did there conflicted with her public duties in Indiana.  Read More

•  New studies have found that vitamin D helps reduce the risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, especially in those who are vitamin D deficient. However, not everyone is convinced that we should all be heading to the supplement aisle. If you're already getting the recommended daily dose of vitamin D from your diet, a supplement may not lead to any further benefit.  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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Jean-Louis Wertz/University of Liege

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Wearable technology and data analytics are changing the face of employee health plans. As employee wellness becomes more and more a part of corporate culture, health insurers must now compete with wellness programs and more tech-heavy newcomers that offer the appeal of health gadgets and mobile apps. Looks like these established players need to "get with the program". Pun intended. Read More

• We all associate fevers with wasting away in our beds with aches, pains, and the yearning for chicken noodle soup. And yet, while fevers conjure negative sentiments, they're actually an ancient survival method in fighting infection. Studies involving sick carp recently brought to light a phenomenon called "behavioral fever", in which infected carp consciously move towards warmer water to fight infection, similar to how a fever fights infection in the human body. Read More

• On Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office released a report citing that doctors and hospitals failed to tell the Food and Drug Administration about cases in which a surgical tool, used to operate on the uterus, spread cancer around inside women's bodies. For 20 years, the power morcellator was used on patients to remove benign uterine tumors called fibroid. This tool can spray malignant cells around inside the abdomen and pelvis like seeds, worsening the disease. Read More

• Despite promises of replacing the Affordable Care Act within the first 100 days of his administration, Trump has yet to have an ACA replacement plan in place for this year. According to a Congressional Budget Office report released in January, repealing the ACA without a replacement could leave more than 30 million people uninsured by 2026. 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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Courtesy of Karen Kasmauski/USAID's flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Scandal rocks the pharmaceutical industry once more as insulin drug-makers steal the spotlight from last year's Mylan's EpiPen fiasco. This time, three manufacturers are being named in a lawsuit accusing the three makers of insulin of conspiring to drive up the prices of their drugs, benefiting themselves and pharmacy benefit managers, and consequently resulting in dangerous situations for patients who are unable to afford the lifesaving drug. Read More

• Think you've got office drama? Well, this week, in the nation's office, Democrats decided to boycott Tuesday's Senate Finance Committee meeting to vote on the controversial nomination for head of the Department of Health and Human Services. When Democrats didn’t show up again on Wednesday, Republicans changed the rules so the committee could allow a vote to go ahead without them. That must have been one awkward Thursday morning in the office. Read More

• 'Stumped' takes on a new meaning with business students participating in Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management competition. The challenge is to figure out the best way to convince health workers and new parents in Nigeria to apply a potentially life-saving antiseptic to the baby's umbilical cord stump.  Proper treatment and education on applying the antiseptic can reduce neonatal deaths by nearly 40 percent. Read More

• Imagine being completely aware of your surroundings but unable to interact or communicate with any of it. This is the sad reality for many patients with advanced forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in which the brain loses the ability to control muscles, essentially becoming "locked-in". Scientists recently created a brain-computer interface used to read the thoughts of patients to basic yes-or-no questions by detecting the change in blood color due to changes in oxygen levels in response to certain questions being asked of the patient. 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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Cell

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


• Recently published in JAMA, new research finds that sepsis accounts for more 30-day readmissions and associated costs than any other commonly tracked medical condition such as heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and obstructive pulmonary disease. Sepsis contributes to as many as 50% of all U.S. hospital deaths, according to previous research. To help providers improve patient care and outcome for sepsis patients, JAMA also published updated sepsis treatment guidelines. Read More

• A Reagan-era policy, known as the Mexico City policy, has been revived by President Trump. The rule requires not only hospitals or clinics to refrain from providing education on the benefits and availability of abortion but also includes any international organizations supporting those clinics to stop promoting abortion or advocating abortion rights anywhere in the world — regardless of whether or not they use non-American money to do so. The policy spells out a few exceptions, including cases of rape and treating women who have had botched abortions. Read More

• Controversial scientific experiments have successfully resulted in part human, part pig embryos. Scientists grew embryos inside a sow, containing a 'low' amount of human tissue. The hope is to one day utilize this technique to allow for whole organs in the pig to be grown of human cells, tackling the increasing problem of organ transplant shortage. However, ethical concerns focused on the possibility that the human cells could create animals that had human brain cells or tissues, blurring the line between the species. Read More

• Finding creative and holistic ways to assess and treat a patient often times may prove to be challenging from a revenue standpoint when there is no code to reflect that treatment. It’s essential for codes to be correct, both for reimbursement and for population health. In turn, accurate population health data is essential for ensuring that the patient's home and clinical needs are being met. 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. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.