About the public’s health
The Lancet has published a special issue entitled: Advancing Women in Science, Medicine, And Public Health.
Americans have healthier hearts. We have a healthier budget, too: Policy makers often err when they say the aging population is a major source for increased healthcare expenses. That assumption is only partially true. Per capita healthcare costs for the elderly have been moderating for quite a while the numbers of those aging have increased. This article reports on research published in Health Affairs (Subscription required) that explains the cost moderation is due to more spending on “heart health.”
About health insurance
HSAs still being used primarily for spending, not saving: How should you use your HSA? Save for a major, unexpected event or “pay as you go” for routine expenses"? This study shows 93% of funds are used for the latter. Is this use “correct?” It will depend on your individual circumstances. If you do not need the money, it grows tax free. On the other hand if you are in a high tax bracket, using pre-tax money whenever you can may make sense.
PCPs, Psychiatrists Much Less Likely to Accept Medicaid:Access to care isn’t only about proximity and availability of resources, the resources must be affordable. One major problem with Medicaid is rates are so low that physicians may not accept patients who are beneficiaries. A study by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) found that “across all types of providers, just 70.8 percent will see Medicaid patients, while 90 percent will accept privately insured individuals.” However, in a system that needs more primary care physicians to manages services, “only 68 percent of general practice or family physicians accepted new patients with Medicaid.”
Unnecessary ED visits from chronically ill patients cost $8.3 billion: Even privately insured patients have continuity of care issues. This study from the Premier system explains the extent of these unnecessary visits and the medical conditions these patients are likely to have.
FDA clears AI-based wearable device to monitor hospital patients: “Wearables” are one of the newer technologies that can help healthcare professionals monitor patients. One such previously reported device is the Apple watch that can report heart beat irregularities. This newly-approved device, which will be used in-hospital, goes one step further. “According to the vendor, the device monitors patients’ vital signs using proprietary algorithms that continuously analyze the data to help better predict their health trajectory and to enable clinicians to intervene earlier and improve outcomes.”
New voices at patients’ bedsides: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple: Another emerging technology that is being applied to healthcare is “Voice User Interface” (VUI). This article is a nice summary of what the “big players” are doing in this space as applied to healthcare.
Cleveland Clinic Innovations Top 10 Innovations for 2019: While not all devices, this annual top 10 list always contains thoughtful choices.
This Jagged Little Pill Could make Diabetes Easier to Treat: As gauged by media mentions, this one is the pharma story of the day. Proteins, like insulin, cannot be ingested because the acid and enzymes in the stomach break them down before they can be absorbed. Novo Nordisk partnered with MIT scientists to create a capsule with a small needle inside that will inject insulin after ingestion. It’s ground-breaking technology if it can be widely commercialized. Other uses could be for such items as immunizations.
Dems unveil bill for Medicare to negotiate drug prices: Both major parties have been talking about ways to lower pharmaceutical costs. One method that has been discussed is direct contracting with manufacturers instead of going through PBMs (a tactic already underway by state governments in California and Massachusetts). The House Democrats have now unveiled their version of such action.
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J&J becomes first drugmaker to add prices to television ads: As previously reported, pharma companies are heeding the call to advertise prices in their media ads. Because of the complexity of pricing for different payers, firms decided to display website links in their TV advertising. J&J , however announced that it “will include both the list price of a product - the price before any rebates or discounts to insurers or pharmacy benefit managers - as well as potential out-of-pocket costs that patients will pay.”
Trump Administration Salutes Parade Of Generic Drug Approvals, But Hundreds Aren’t For Sale: In the past couple years, the FDA has done a great job approving generics. However, of the 1600 approvals since January of 2017, 700 were still not on the market as of last month. This article explains the reasons for this delay, including branded manufacturers’ tactics to keep the competition off the market.
About information systems
HHS' Office for Civil Rights reports $28.7M in payments for record HIPAA enforcement year: The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing HIPAA regulations. Last year, the OCR settled 10 cases totaling a record $28.7 million in fines. This amount was largely due to the single largest settlement- a $16 million fine paid by Anthem for a 2015 data breach that involved nearly 79 million members.