Today's News and Commentary

Wellcome Photography Prize 2019: Take a look at these photos. Each “tells a story” or provokes you to come up with your own. In any case, the images are beautiful.

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Dr. Patrice Harris becomes first black female president of American Medical Association

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About the public’s health

2019 Scorecard on State Health System Performance: This Commonwealth Fund provides a “state-by-state report measuring access to care, quality of care, health outcomes, and health disparities across the United States.” While the study reports overall average trends, the great variability by state requires a closer look.

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Three Public Health Interventions Could Save 94 Million Lives in 25 Years Global Impact Assessment Analysis: The three interventions are: “scaling up treatment of high blood pressure to 70%, reducing sodium intake by 30%, and eliminating the intake of artificial trans fatty acids.” As previously reported, Singapore will ban trans fatty acid in the next couple years. How can we accomplish these straightforward goals in this country?

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What and How You Eat Affects Your Odds for Type 2 Diabetes: And speaking about eating the right foods…here are recommendations being presented to the American Society for Nutrition:

  • Switching to a mostly plant-based diet (but one that could still include meat and dairy) could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 60%.

  • Eating greater amounts of vitamins B2 and B6 was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, while getting more B12 in the diet seemed to be associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. 

  • The order that you eat your foods appears to matter. People who ate vegetables before having meat or rice had lower blood sugar levels, along with positive changes in their hunger hormones.

The third recommendation was one I had not previously heard. Interesting that Americans eat salad before the main course while Europeans eat it afterwards.

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About healthcare IT

Harvard Pilgrim researchers develop model to reduce errors from sound-alike, look-alike medications: "“Researchers at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute developed and validated a data-driven prediction model to accurately predict sound-alike/look-alike (SALA) medication pairs to proactively identify and prevent potential errors.”

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Comparison of the accuracy of human readers versus machine-learning algorithms for pigmented skin lesion classification: an open, web-based, international, diagnostic study: The “bottom line” is that machines do better. For example, in one subset of the study: “27 human experts with more than 10 years of experience achieved a mean of 18·78 (SD 3·15) correct answers, compared with 25·43 (1·95) correct answers for the top three machine algorithms…” Perhaps there really is a role for cellphone-based systems in skin cancer detection.

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Agencies Need to Develop Modernization Plans for Critical Legacy Systems:The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its evaluation of the IT status of different federal departments. HHS’s system is 50 years old (only Treasury’s is older-51 years) and the system “criticality” and “security risk” are both self-rated as “high.” The problem is that there is no plan to fix it.

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Mount Sinai to create AI center to improve patient outcomes: Mount Sinai medical center in NY City announced that in 2021 it will open an “interdisciplinary center that integrates artificial intelligence, data science and genomic screening…”

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Humana and Epic to Enhance Patient, Provider and Payer Collaboration: Yesterday, Humana announced an interoperability plan with Epic “to promote open communication and information transparency that will give patients and their practitioners integrated and real-time access to the patients’ medical history, health insights and treatment options, which, in turn, enables cost reduction, improves quality and increases patient satisfaction.”

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Walgreens' CMO on the retailer's expanding healthcare role, Microsoft partnership: This article is an interview with Walgreen’s Chief Medical Officer that provides an update on the company’s partnership with Microsoft.

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About health insurance

MPs slam National Health Service on waiting times: Be careful what you wish… Britain’s NHS is a single payer system that also employs healthcare providers. (There is a private sector that is allowed- unlike some Medicare-for-All proposals here.) However, the downside is that public systems often lead to increased waits. “The public accounts committee said that only 38 per cent of NHS trusts were meeting the 62-day waiting time limit for cancer patients to begin treatment after an urgent referral. Meanwhile, the waiting list for elective, or non-urgent, care had increased by 1.5m since March 2013 to 4.2m in November 2018.”

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Caravan Health, Texas Hospital Association launch Medicare ACO: Recall that the origin of Blue Cross was a prepaid hospital plan at Baylor Hospital in 1929. Eventually, such plans coalesced around state hospital associations and then evolved into separate (originally nonprofit) insurance companies. Now, in Texas, the cycle may be restarting. This time, the Texas Hospital Association is launching its own ACO.

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