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.
Growing Number of U.S. Children Not Vaccinated against Any Disease
A small but growing proportion of the youngest children in the U.S. have not been vaccinated against any disease, worrying health officials. An estimated 100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. "This is pretty concerning. It's something we need to understand better—and reduce," said the CDC's Dr. Amanda Cohn. Most young children—70%—have had all their shots. The new estimate is based on finding that, in 2017, 1.3% of the children born in 2015 were completely unvaccinated. That's up from the 0.9% seen in an earlier similar assessment of the kids born in 2011. A 2001 survey with a different methodology suggested the proportion was in the neighborhood of 0.3%. Via CBS News.
How Climate Change Will Affect Your Health
A new report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of dire consequences if governments don't make "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to stem global warming. But the planet isn't the only thing at risk as temperatures rise; your health might be in danger, too. Here are six ways that climate change might affect you, whether it's insect-borne disease or Type 2 diabetes. Via CNN.
Google AI Can Spot Advanced Breast Cancer More Effectively Than Humans
Google has delivered further evidence that AI could become a valuable ally in detecting cancer. The company's researchers have developed a deep learning tool that can spot metastatic (advanced) breast cancer with a greater accuracy than pathologists when looking at slides. The team trained its algorithm (Lymph Node Assistant, a.k.a. LYNA) to recognize the characteristics of tumors using two sets of pathological slides, giving it the ability to spot metastasis in a wide variety of conditions. The result was an AI system that could tell the difference between cancer and non-cancer slides 99 percent of the time, even when looking for extremely small metastases that humans might miss. LYNA was even more effective when serving as a companion—pathologists performing simulated diagnoses found that the deep learning tech made their work easier. It not only reduced the rate of missed micro-metastases by a "factor of two," it cut the inspection time in half to a single minute. Via Engadget.
Hospital-Acquired Conditions Dropped 21% from 2010–15
Hospitals and health systems have significantly reduced hospital-acquired conditions, unplanned readmissions, and health care-associated infections over the last 10 years, according to a report from the American Hospital Association. The report, called "Aligning Efforts to Improve Quality," shows progress hospitals and health systems have made in improving care quality over the last decade. It also looks at what conditions inhibit further care improvements and gives recommendations to policymakers and other stakeholders on ways to reduce these barriers. Via Becker's Hospital Review.
Influential Leapfrog Group Jumps in to Rate 5,600 Surgery Centers
The influential Leapfrog Group, which grades nearly 2,000 U.S. hospitals, is launching a national survey to evaluate the safety and quality of up to 5,600 surgery centers that perform millions of outpatient procedures every year. The group now issues hospitals an overall letter grade and evaluates how hospitals handle myriad problems, from infections to collapsed lungs to dangerous blood clots—helping patients decide where to seek care. Via Kaiser Health News.
Rate of C-Sections Is Rising at "Alarming" Rate, Report Says
The rate of cesarean sections around the world is increasing at an "alarming" rate, reported an international team of doctors and scientists. Since 1990, C-sections have more than tripled from about 6% of all births to 21%, three studies report in The Lancet. And there are no "signs of slowing down," the researchers write in a commentary about the studies. Via NPR.
Diabetes: Surprising New Role of Fat Revealed
A new study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, challenges the current understanding of what causes diabetes. The findings may lead to new therapies. More than two decades ago, researchers suggested that the action of an enzyme called protein kinase C epsilon (PKCɛ) in the liver may cause diabetes. This enzyme, the researchers posited, inhibits the activity of insulin by acting on insulin receptors. Since then, other studies have shown that knocking out the PKCɛ gene in mice protected the rodents from glucose intolerance and insulin resistance when they ate a high-fat diet. Via Medical News Today.
U.S. Wants Drug Makers to Disclose Medicine Prices in TV Ads
The federal government wants to force drug makers to disclose prices for prescription medicines in their TV commercials. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar unveiled a proposal to require drug companies to list prices in TV ads. The law would apply to brand-name drugs that are covered by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, if a typical course of treatment costs more than $35 a month. "Right now, drug companies are required to disclose the major side effects a drug can have—but not the effect that buying the drug could have on your wallet. Patients deserve more transparency," HHS said in a statement. Hours before his speech, the drug industry's main trade group, PhRMA, said it was willing to reveal drug price on websites, but not in commercials. The drugmakers said they would provide a website in the ads that would include the list price and likely out-of-pocket costs. Listing prices in commercials, it said, "could discourage patients from seeking needed medical care." Via CBS News.
Breastfeeding Moms Who Pump at Work Fear Long-Term Career Consequences, New Survey Says
Moms who return to work after maternity leave may have the flexibility to pump breast milk at their place of business. But, as a new survey reveals, women are still concerned that pumping at work could impact their career growth. The survey, which was shared exclusively with Bloomberg from Aeroflow, a breast pump provider, found that half of the 774 women surveyed felt that pumping at work could affect their job. Via ABC News.
CDC Confirms 62 Cases of Polio-Like Illness, Mostly Affecting Kids
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 62 cases of the rare polio-like neurological condition acute flaccid myelitis, also known as "AFM," so far this year in the U.S. More than 90% of the cases involved children 18 or younger, with an average age of just 4 years old. Cases have been confirmed in 22 states. Officials said they are looking at an additional 65 possible cases of AFM. AFM is an illness that affects the nervous system, specifically the area of spinal cord called gray matter. It causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak or even paralyzed. Cases of AFM are characterized by a sudden onset of arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Its symptoms are likened to those caused by polio, which was eradicated in the U.S. thanks to the polio vaccine. The CDC stressed that none of the children who developed these symptoms had the polio virus. Additional symptoms can include facial drooping or weakness, difficulty swallowing, and slurred speech. Via CBS News.