What’s New in Health Care Reform: Oct. 10

What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.

Spurred by Convenience, Millennials Often Spurn the "Family Doctor" Model

Many young adults are turning to a fast-growing constellation of alternatives: retail clinics carved out of drugstores or big-box retail outlets, free-standing urgent care centers that tout evening and weekend hours, and online telemedicine sites that offer virtual visits without having to leave home. Unlike doctors’ offices, where charges are often opaque and disclosed only after services are rendered, many clinics and telemedicine sites post their prices. Via Kaiser Health News.

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Why Are Black Women Less Likely to Stick with Breast Cancer Follow-up Treatment?

Breast cancer is less common in black women, yet they're about 40% more likely to die from it than white women. One reason for this is that black women more often have advanced cancer once they do get in to treatment, partially because they are less likely to have health insurance or to get screening mammograms. Another reason, a new study suggests, may be black women are less consistent with follow-through with the years-long course of daily endocrine therapy prescribed for certain common types of breast cancer. Via NPR.

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The Exciting New Idea Hospitals Have to Bring down Drug Prices

Let’s talk about an unambiguously interesting, promising, and maybe even downright good piece of health care news you might have missed: A group of hospitals is banding together to produce cheap generic drugs to fight off egregious price hikes and drug shortages. The not-for-profit venture is called Civica Rx, and the company announced itself last month. A collection of 22 hospitals in the Salt Lake City area called Intermountain Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, the for-profit health care facilities company HCA Healthcare, and some philanthropic foundations are pulling together to form the firm. Via Vox.

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HPV Vaccine Expanded for People Ages 27 to 45

The HPV vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer and other malignancies, is now approved for men and women from 27 to 45 years old, the Food and Drug Administration said. The vaccine is Gardasil 9, made by Merck, and had been previously approved for minors and people up to age 26. Via NY Times.

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Tech Breakthrough Offers Early Warning System for Heart Attacks

A new method of analyzing images from computed tomography (CT) scans can predict which patients are at risk of a heart attack years before it occurs, researchers say. The technology, developed by teams at Oxford University and institutions in Germany and the United States, uses algorithms to examine the fat surrounding coronary arteries as it shows up on CT heart scans. That fat gets altered when an artery becomes inflamed, serving as an early warning system for what one of the researchers believes could be up 30% of heart attacks. Via Reuters.

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Vitamin D Supplements Don't Improve Bone Health, Major Study Finds

Vitamin D supplements do not improve bone mineral density or prevent fractures or falls in adults, finds a large study that advises health professionals to stop recommending the supplements to most patients. The vitamin has long been associated with a decreased risk of a number of conditions, such as osteoporosis and hypertension, in addition to keeping bones strong by helping the body absorb calciumwhich is why many use it during the dark winter months. But the study's authors say there is "little justification" in doing so when it comes to bone health. "Our meta-analysis finds that vitamin D does not prevent fractures, falls or improve bone mineral density, whether at high or low dose," lead author Dr. Mark J. Bolland, associate professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said in a statement. Via CNN.

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Unusual Number of Minnesota Children Diagnosed with Rare, Paralyzing Disorder

Health investigators are trying to figure out how some Minnesota children contracted a rare illness with polio-like symptoms. At least six children in Minnesota have been diagnosed and hospitalized with acute flaccid myelitis (or AFM) since September 20. On average, the Minnesota Department of Health sees only about one case per year. Health experts say the disease can lead to paralysis and even death. For one Minneapolis boy, he started to have trouble moving as he recovered from a cold. Elaine and Michael Young said that soon after their now-four-year-old son Orville developed a fever in July, he started losing mobility in his right arm. Via CBS News.

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EpiPen Shortage Keeping Some Kids out of School

The U.S. is experiencing a shortage of the lifesaving device and parents are scrambling to find them because some schools won't let kids with allergies in the classroom if they don't have one. This affects as many as two students in every classroom in the U.S. Via CBS News.

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Mayo Complex Is Early Test of Rochester's Big Plans

The ribbon-cutting and official opening is still months away, but a new research building rising here within blocks of the Mayo Clinic has already filled most of its available space. Normally a routine matter for any new commercial development, finding tenants for the building known as One Discovery Square stands as an early test of Mayo’s multibillion-dollar effort to create a new economy in Rochester. It’s here, in a 16-block district dubbed Discovery Square, that Mayo wants to mix cutting-edge research, deep-pocketed investors, and visionary entrepreneurs to help Mayo doctors dream up the next medical miracle. That starts with One Discovery Square and whoever ends up working there. “We’re at a very important point in the evolution of Discovery Square,” said Jim Rogers, Chairman of Mayo’s Department of Business Development. Via Star Tribune.

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Joining the Opioid Battle

Many hospitals, including Stanford Health Care, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins, have launched pain-management boot camps that provide alternatives to painkillers for people suffering from chronic pain. These outpatient programs integrate traditional and complementary medicine techniques. Mayo Clinic's intensive rehabilitation program, for instance, entails daily seven-hour sessions for three weeks. Part of the treatment is the schedule," says Wesley Gilliam, Ph.D., L.P., Clinical Director of Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Center. "Many of our participants have been struggling with their addictions for so long that they've lost track of time, and their whole clock has been thrown off." Sessions include mindfulness meditation, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, and physical and occupational therapy–even breathing exercises to ease the anxiety triggered by chronic pain. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.

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