The Rundown | Week of 12.4.2017

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U.S. Healthcare Spending Growth Slows

According to a new Reuters report, growth in healthcare spending slowed in 2016 due to a slower health insurance enrollment growth. Healthcare spending grew 4.3% in 2016, to a total of $3.3 trillion dollars, compared to 5.8% growth in 2015. Out-of-pocket consumer spending rose 3.9%, due to more enrollment in high-deductible health plans and spending on retail drug prescriptions rose 1.3%

>>Read more: “U.S. healthcare spending growth slowed in 2016

CVS Hopes to Expand Their Footprint with Aetna Deal

CVS has announced their purchase of $69 billion and according to a new NPR report, CVS is looking to expand their locations into more primary care facilities. While the line between providers and payers have blurred, this deal is unique in that care delivery would not happen in a hospital or doctor’s office.

While it looks like CVS is looking to be a hub for their patients, some critics doubt the potential for that kind of growth and believe this deal will allow Aetna and CVS to save money on prescription drugs.

>>Read more: “With Aetna Deal, CVS Looks To Turn Stores Into Health Care Hubs

Virtual Reality and Healthcare

Despite its reputation as the forte of gamers and other purveyors of entertainment, virtual reality, or VR, is increasingly being used to augment how patients experience healthcare, reports Venture Beat. “In fact, VR has quietly been making significant improvements to the lives of people with issues such as chronic pain, lazy eye, and autism. In this piece, [Venture Beat] has interviewed three VR entrepreneurs who are pioneering virtual solutions to improve healthcare.”

>>Read more: 3 practical ways that VR is improving health care”

Congress to Tackle Healthcare Before End of Year

As the year rapidly draws to a close, Congress has to reckon with at least 5 big healthcare issues before 2018. The Hill outlines them as follows: 1) Will Republicans Repeal the Individual Mandate? 2) Will Congress reauthorize critical health programs it let lapse? 3) Will Congress fund the opioid response? 4) What does Congress do on ObamaCare taxes? 5) Will Congress help Puerto Rico Fund its Medicaid program?

>>Read more: “Five health-care fights facing Congress in December”

Study: Female Physicians Face Greater Hardships

A recently issued JAMA study finds that women experience a greater increase in depressive symptoms as compared with men during their internship year; however, when work-family conflict is accounted for, the sex disparity in depressive symptoms is reduced by 36 percent. The greater depressive symptoms in women were attributed to increased domestic labor as compared to men. The study concludes that “systemic modifications to alleviate conflict between work and family life may improve physician mental health and, in turn, improve patient care and reduce physician career attrition.”

>>Read more: Work-Family Conflict and the Sex Difference in Depression Among Training Physicians”

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