Week in Review: Nov. 16

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Industry News

CDC Investigating Burst of Possible New Cases of Polio-Like Paralysis, as Mystery Persists

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating roughly 160 additional reports of children with illnesses similar to the polio-like paralysis that is puzzling health officials, officials said Tuesday. So far this year, officials have confirmed 90 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a condition in which the gray matter of the spinal cord becomes damaged, leading to muscle weakness and paralysis in one or multiple limbs. It is called AFM for short. Still, the CDC does not yet know what is causing the spike in cases. Scientists are exploring a range of possible explanations, including whether the condition may be caused by an aberrant immune response to an infection, not the infection itself, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters. Via STAT.

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A Giant Insurer Is Offering Free Apple Watches to Customers Who Meet Walking Goals

Employers can opt in by turning on the Motion program. Their workers can request an Apple Watch (up to a Series 3), if they don't have one already, and they pay taxes and shipping for a device. Once they receive their smartwatch, they get up to $4 per day toward the price of the watch by achieving certain activity milestones. Those who already have an Apple Watch, including the newer Series 4, can integrate it with the program to earn cash rewards for activity. Within six months, members can essentially earn the device for free and get extra rewards on top of via their health savings account. The Apple Watch Series 3 retails for less than $300, and the maximum amount offered through the program is $540 within a six-month time frame. Via CNBC.

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Climate Contrarian Uncovers Scientific Error, Upends Major Ocean Warming Study

Researchers with UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Princeton University have walked back scientific findings published last month that showed oceans have been heating up dramatically faster than previously thought as a result of climate change. In a paper published October 31 in the journal Nature, researchers found that ocean temperatures had warmed 60% more than outlined by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, the conclusion came under scrutiny after mathematician Nic Lewis, a critic of the scientific consensus around human-induced warming, posted a critique of the paper on the blog of Judith Curry, another well-known critic. “The findings of the paper were peer-reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote. “Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.” Via LA Times.

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Twenty Million More Americans Have Health Insurance Versus 2010

Fewer Americans lack health insurance. In the first six months of 2018, 28.5 million Americans were uninsured—20.1 million fewer than 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Via Bloomberg.

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At 24, Two Entrepreneurs Took on Cancer. At 32, They’re Worth Hundreds of Millions

In 2008, when he was 23, Nat Turner was on a hike in North Carolina with his 6-year-old cousin, Brennan Simkins. Brennan’s legs got weak, and the weakness kept getting worse. He turned out to have a rare and deadly pediatric leukemia that kept coming back after treatment. When Brennan needed a second bone marrow transplant, several hospitals refused to do it and his family was losing hope—until they found a specialist who would help. Exasperated, Brennan’s father asked Tur­ner: Why doesn’t one hospital know what others will do? Is there anyone collecting statistics? “All right,” Turner remembers thinking, “there’s a ton of value for patients locked in the clinical data. We should be the ones who unlock it.” For another recent college graduate, that might have been merely a fleeting “deep thought.” But Turner, along with his college friend and business partner, Zach Weinberg, was looking to start a third company. His first, an online food delivery business he and Weinberg started their freshman year at Wharton, had failed, but a second one, an online advertising business called Invite Media, sold to Google for $81 million in 2010, when they were 24. Via Forbes.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Gets Its Largest Gift Ever: $200 Million to Train Doctors of the Future

The founder of a corporate turnaround firm is donating $200 million to Mayo Clinic to help future doctors afford medical school and train them in areas such as genetics and artificial intelligence that are becoming central to modern medicine. The endowment gift by Jay Alix, announced Tuesday morning, is the largest in Mayo’s history. The Rochester-based health care provider is renaming its medical school as the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in recognition. “This gift will have a long-lasting impact as we boldly transform medical education and research training so the next generation of care providers can improve patient care, accelerate discovery and advance the practice of medicine,” said Dr. John Noseworthy, Mayo’s president and chief executive, in a written statement. Alix of Birmingham, Mich., said he has long admired and studied Mayo’s “one-stop shop” approach to treating patients with complex illnesses, and wanted to preserve that legacy for the next generation of doctors. Via Star Tribune.

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Mayo Clinic Names New Leader for its Growing Jacksonville Medical Center

The Mayo Clinic has named the new leader for its rapidly growing Jacksonville medical center and its 6,400 employees. Kent Thielen, a radiologist whose career has been spent at the Mayo Clinic’s headquarters in his home state of Minnesota, will become a Mayo vice president and CEO of the Florida campus on Jan. 1. He takes over for Gianrico Farrugia, who will move up to become president and CEO of the entire Mayo Clinic organization, including its three main centers in Minnesota, Arizona, and Jacksonville and a system of clinics and hospitals in several states. Farrugia, a native of Malta, led the Jacksonville center through a dramatic expansion during the last four years, with about $500 million invested in new, renovated or under construction buildings and plans for more projects to come. Thielen expects that boom to carry on. “As you drive by you can see the multiple cranes there, and there are additional buildings planned in the future,” he said. “We have a beautiful campus there . . . . We also have the luxury of continued space.” Via Florida Times-Union.

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Turning to Social Media before a Doctor? Doctors Suggest You Use Caution

Happening in Jacksonville—a medical conference focusing on social media put on by Mayo Clinic. So we took our questions to the top of Mayo’s social media chain, including an actual medical doctor. Is there a danger with going to social media with your medical questions? “I think there’s risk with any tool available to us. Patients should be aware that not everyone online has their best interests at heart,” Farris Timimi, M.D., Medical Director of Social Media for Mayo Clinic said. But, Dr. Timimi adds the encounter could mean better-informed patients when they do meet with a doctor. Lee Aase created all of Mayo’s social media platforms over a decade ago. He said that there is no stopping the spread of advice, but he’s hoping those using it, verify it. “They’re looking for people like them who have shared some of the same experiences and looking for that advice,” Aase said. Via First Coast News.

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Migraine and Heart Problems: When One Illness Leads to Another

Migraines are recurring headaches that can cause throbbing and sometimes debil­it­at­ing pain on one or both sides of the head. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to several illnesses related to the heart and blood vessels, often caused by a buildup of plaque on artery walls. Observational studies over the years have linked migraines with heart disease, says Amy Pollak, M.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. And last January, a study published in BMJ that followed half a million Danish adults for 19 years found higher rates of heart attack, atrial fibrillation, or stroke in people with migraines than in the general public. Via Consumer Reports.

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Mayo Clinic Receives National Cancer Institute Grant to Help Cancer Patients Quit Tobacco

The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has received a supplemental grant from the National Cancer Institute to ensure that all cancer patients who use tobacco have access to treatment for their tobacco use. The two-year, $500,000 grant, part of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Moonshot initiative, will fund programs at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center that will expand tobacco cessation treatment services for cancer patients. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.