Week in Review: Feb. 8

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 Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Industry News

Halting U.S. HIV Epidemic by 2030: Difficult But Doable

Health officials are spelling out their ambitious plan to stop the spread of HIV in the U.S. within the next 10 years. The plan would target 48 counties where the rate of HIV spread is the highest, along with Washington, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Seven states with high rates of HIV in rural areas would also be targeted, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. Via NPR.

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New Voices at Patients’ Bedsides: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple

At first it was a novelty: Hospitals began using voice assistants to allow patients to order lunch, check medication regimens, and get on-demand medical advice at home. But these devices, manufactured by Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others, are now making deeper inroads into patient care. Hospitals are exploring new uses in intensive care units and surgical recovery rooms, and contemplating a future in which Alexa, or another voice avatar, becomes a virtual member of the medical team—monitoring doctor-patient interactions, suggesting treatment approaches, or even alerting caregivers to voice changes that could be an early warning of a health emergency. Via STAT.

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Hospitals Turn to Biometrics to Identify Patients

Biometric technology is coming to the hospital. Biometric systems, which identify people through fingerprints or other physical characteristics, have long been in use in sectors like law enforcement and consumer electronics. Now hospitals are using iris and palm-vein scanning to overcome a growing patient-identification problem. Via Wall Street Journal.

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What Is Rhabdomyolysis? Rhabdomyolysis Symptoms and Treatment

Rhabdomyolysis, also known as rhabdo, is rare, with about 26,000 cases reported each year in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It happens when damaged muscle starts to break down, releasing muscle fiber contents into the blood, which can cause kidney damage. About 15 percent of patients suffer from kidney failure. Athletes who “push their bodies beyond their physical limits” are at particular at risk for developing the condition, wrote Dr. John Graves, an associate professor of nephrology and hypertension at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Via Today.

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Higher Education Won't Prevent Mental Decline, Study Finds

Exercise for the brain also seems to pay off, said Prashanthi Vemuri, an associate professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “There are lots of studies showing that bilingualism really delays dementia,” Vemuri said. And that’s true even if the second language is learned later in life, she added. Wilson's study did show that having a higher level of education seemed to have a small, but significant, effect on the number of mini-strokes a person experienced, Vemuri said. And even though the effect is small, it may be important, since “people who have greater vascular disease are more likely to develop dementia,” she added. Ultimately, Vemuri said, while more education may not slow cognitive decline once it starts, it does appear to delay the start. Via NBC News.

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Mayo Clinic News

What Is Echinacea—and Can It Really Help a Cold?

The few studies that have been done on echinacea suggest that the plant may shorten a common cold at least a little bit. “The best scientific evidence involves the plant’s ability to reduce the length of a cold when started at the onset of symptoms,” says Kristen Kajewski, DO, a family medicine provider at Mayo Clinic Health System in Minnesota. “There have been quite a few studies with positive outcomes in this regard.” The key is “started at the onset of symptoms,” which means you’ll need to start taking echinacea at the first sign of sniffles if you want to see any benefit. Via Health.

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Farrugia: Mayo on $1 Billion Path to DMC

Dr. Gianrico Farrugia said Mayo Clinic is on a path to invest more than $1 billion in Rochester facilities by 2021. “I want to assure you, Mayo Clinic’s commitment to Rochester, the state of Minnesota and the DMC is incredibly strong,” the new Mayo Clinic CEO told the Destination Medical Center Corp. board. He said that future investment includes Destination Medical Center-related projects, new technology and continuing improvements to existing infrastructure. Via Post-Bulletin.

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How 3 Health Care Leaders Would Improve the Revenue Cycle Process

An efficient hospital revenue cycle process relies on all administrative and clinical functions working together, but with so many moving parts, there is always room for improvement. Health care leaders shared with Becker's Hospital Review one thing they would do to improve the revenue cycle process. Mark Norby, chair of revenue cycle at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, said that "creating a data-driven process would help meet the operational challenge of increasing precertification and prior authorization requirements by private or government payers." Via Becker's Hospital Review.

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How One Woman Changed What Doctors Know about Heart Attacks

Katherine Leon was 38 and living in Alexandria, Va., when she gave birth to her second son in 2003. She In 2009, Ms. Leon went to the WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium at the Mayo Clinic, where she met Dr. Sharonne N. Hayes, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Mayo. At that time, the largest study on SCAD included 43 patients. “I walked up to Dr. Hayes and told her we had 70 people, and we wanted research,” Ms. Leon recalled. “She was like, ‘Wow.’” “Everything I learned about SCAD in my medical training was wrong,” Dr. Hayes said. By 2010, with the help of Dr. Hayes and SCAD Research Inc., an organization founded by Bob Alico, who lost his wife to SCAD, Dr. Hayes devised an innovative way to do research, using online networks of far-flung patients and analyzing genetic and clinical data. “We never imagined there would be 1,000 female patients in our virtual registry,” Dr. Hayes said. Via NY Times.

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Vaccine Researcher’s Advice about the Flu

Thinking of skipping a flu shot this year? The researcher who leads the effort to find an effective vaccine for the influenza virus strongly urges you to reconsider. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.