News & Commentary

Briefly Noted January 2017

As providers assume more risk under value-based health care, the use of telehealth increases, according Bernard Tyson, the CEO of Kaiser Permanente. Tyson, as reported by mHealth Intelligence, said that his company conducted 52% of patient transactions using telehealth apps, virtual visits, or online portals. Tyson says that “we are reversing the theory where people have to come to us for everything, so we’ve invested billions in our technology platform”.

Admitting patients to an ICU staffed by nurse practitioners made no difference in mortality rates when compared to ICUs staffed by residents, according to a study in Critical Care Medicine. Length of stay, however, was longer for patients under nurse practitioner care, but researchers said those patients were more likely to be discharged to somewhere other than their homes.

Newly opened court testimony reveals that the differences between Anthem and Cigna might make for an unhappy coupling, should their merger be approved. The testimony is part of the Justice Department’s lawsuit challenging the merger on antitrust grounds. Maybe they should stop the merger on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Medical schools are now teaching just how much of a financial burden health care can place on patients, according to Georgia Health News. A survey by the Association of Medical Colleges conducted last year showed that 144 of 145 medical schools now require students to study health care financing.

One of the hopes about retail clinics is that they would help reduce the number of emergency department visits for minor health problems at hospitals in the vicinity. That is not the case, according to a Rand study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Relax, says Marc. E. Agronin, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist and the vice president for behavior health and clinical research at Miami Jewish Health. In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Agronin says that he’s seeing more people ages 50 to 65 come into his office in a panic that they might have Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Usually, other factors cause the senior moments.

The VA plans to debut online scheduling of medical appointments nationwide in January in the hopes of responding to patients in a more timely fashion, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Initially, the online scheduling will be made for primary care appointments, but the VA hopes to add mental health, audiology, and optometry in the future.

A shot of Vivitrol given once a month goes a long way toward helping opioid addicted prison inmates stay substance free once they’re released, but at $1,000 a pop the drug is expensive. In addition, some experts question the drug’s effectiveness and wonder if prison officials have fallen prey to the aggressive marketing by the drug’s manufacturer, Alkermes, according to U.S. News and World Report.


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