Today's News and Commentary

Last Thursday and Friday the site had some technical problems which are now corrected. The news stories for those dates are below today’s news.

About healthcare technology

FDA To End Program That Hid Millions Of Reports On Faulty Medical Devices: As reported last month, the FDA had an alternative reporting system that allowed device manufacturers to avoid revealing problems to the public. Now the agency announced it will discontinue that option and publicly disclose the past information.

Read the article

Biomarker for chronic fatigue syndrome identified:Chronic fatigue syndrome is an ill-defined condition characterized by such features as exhaustion, sensitivity to light, and unexplained aches and pains. It is estimated that at least 2 million people are affected in the US. Diagnosis has been based on the cluster of symptoms and negative results of tests used to detect other diseases. Now Stanford University scientists have found a way to make the diagnosis with 100% accuracy. The technique measures the ability of a patient’s plasma and immune cells to withstand stress in the form of an electric current. This diagnostic test is also being used to assess treatments.

Read the announcement

About the public’s health

San Francisco sues Trump administration over new 'conscience' rule: San Francisco has initiated a lawsuit in response to the federal rule issued last week allowing professionals to refuse care as a matter of conscience. This action will probably not be the last one challenging the rule.

Read the story

Healthcare leaders look at the past, present and future of consolidation: This article is a nice summary of the current status of physician practice-healthcare system consolidation.

Read the story

Employed physicians now outnumber independent doctors: The title explains it all.

Read the article

About pharma

GoodRx Quarterly Report: Q1 2019: Among the findings in this study:

  1. During the first quarter of 2019, the average list price, the price set by the manufacturer, for all brand and generic drugs increased by 2.9%.

  2. Over 500 brand name medications saw a list price increase in January, 2019.

  3. The 20 most expensive medications in the US all cost more than $25,000 for a monthly


  4. Prices for drugs in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco were as much as 17%

    higher than the national average during Q1.

Read the study and further details

About health insurance

Lower Health Care Spending and Use for People with Chronic Conditions in Consumer-Directed Health Plans [CDHPs]: This research found that :
”Across all four service categories, spending per person was lower for CDHP enrollees than non-CDHP enrollees in all years studied. In 2016:

 Inpatient: 13% lower spending ($110 per person).
 Outpatient: 7% lower ($99 per person).
 Professional services: 8% lower spending ($139 per person).
 Prescription drugs: 26% lower gross spending ($306 per person).”

The reductions in service costs were due to utilization.

‘Prescription drugs had the largest difference in gross spending and use between CDHP enrollees and non-CDHP enrollees – across all chronic condition sub-populations.
Prescription drugs was also the only category of services for which CDHP enrollees and non-CDHP enrollees had a bigger difference in their gross spending than in their service use.'‘

Unlike other similar studies, this one did not look at the health outcomes for the reduced utilization. Out of pocket costs can go up to exorbitant levels and lower costs. But if the result is poor health, someone will need to pay in the long run.

Read the research

About healthcare quality

Assessing the Quality of Public Reporting of US Physician Performance: CMS’s Physician Compare website is supposed to furnish clinical data so patients and their families can make more informed choices about from whom to seek care. However:

“In this study, 76.7% of clinicians had no performance data on Physician Compare, 99.7% had no clinician-level performance data, and among clinicians with data, performance reflected only a few measures and the quality performance was generally high. As currently configured, Physician Compare fell short of its goal of providing information that is widely useful to patients and their caregivers for choosing clinicians.”

Read the research