The Rundown | Week of 1.14.2019

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Deaths from Opioid Overdoses Surpass Car Accidents

A new report from the National Safety Council found that Americans are more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident. Researchers analyzed “preventable injury-related deaths,” which totaled 169,936 in 2017, up 5.3 percent from 2016. The lifetime odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose were 1 in 96, while the risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 103. Preventable injury-related deaths by “poisoning,” which includes deaths from opioids, other “medicines, other solid and liquid substances, and gases and vapors,” increased by 11 percent from 2016 to 2017. The report states, “On a typical day, 118 people die from preventable poisonings due to opioid drugs, accounting for 43,036 deaths in 2017. An additional 4,564 people died in 2017 from intentional opioid overdoses or overdoses where the intent was undetermined.” Overall, preventable injury-related deaths have increased by 96 percent since 1992.
>> Read More: National Safety Council – Injury Facts®: Preventable Deaths by Age, United States, 2017

CDC: 2018 Flu Season Less Severe Than 2017

Early figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest report indicate that this year’s flu season will be less severe than last year’s record-breaking season. Between October 1, 2018, and January 5, 2019, there were approximately 7 million cases of the, 3 million medical visits, and nearly 84,000 hospitalizations. Sadly, 16 children have died from the flu so far. During the 2017–2018 flu season, there were 50 million cases, 960, hospitalizations, and 80,000 deaths. One reason for the drop is a difference in the predominant strains; this year’s H1N1 strain is considered less dangerous than the H3N2 strain that was widespread last year. The report states, “Flu vaccination is the first line of defense to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications.” A recent study in Birth Defects Research stresses the importance of vaccinations for pregnant women; pregnant mothers involved in the study had a 300 percent higher risk of premature birth and are more likely to have low birth weight.
>> Read More: CDC: Flu Season Ongoing with Tens of Thousands Hospitalized So Far

Digital Health Investments Set $8.1 Billion Record in 2018

According to a recent report from Rock Health, investments in digital health hit a record $8.1 billion in 2018, a 42 percent increase from the $5.7 billion invested in 2017. This staggering gain was driven by 368 digital-health deals at an average of $21.9 million per transaction. Researchers determined that, despite the significant investments, digital health is not a bubble. “There is significant value being created by digital health startups, and investors and entrepreneurs are pursuing new and sustainable paths to revenue and scale. On the whole, we see highly-capitalized companies that are consistently meeting validation and reimbursement milestones.” However, data suggest 2019 will be a tighter market, “shaped by how entrepreneurs and investors reset.”
>> Read More: 2018 Year End Funding Report: Is digital health in a bubble?

VBC Increased Four Percent in 2018

According to a recent report from Q-Centrix, an estimated 22 percent of payments occurred in value-based care (VBC) arrangements. This indicates a four percent increase in value-based payments in 2018. “The ongoing transformational shift to value-based payments in healthcare is resulting in increased participation in quality performance programs,” the report read. With these gains come some troubles, however. For instance, researchers noted that providers participating in value-based models are more likely to see quality measurement “requirements [that] are often duplicative and have inefficient reporting processes.” Another qualm was the interoperability of clinical data between information systems, a problem that may be exacerbated by intensifying doctor and nurse shortages. Chief Product Officer Brian Foy noted, “Considering these realities, it is safe to assume health systems with multiple departments and/or facilities reporting to one or more quality programs have the most to gain from streamlining their quality reporting efforts.”
>> Read More: Healthcare Quality Industry: Data and Perspectives Annual Report

Gallup Poll: 70 Percent of Americans Worried About Healthcare System

The latest Gallup Poll shows that 70 percent of Americans describe the nation’s healthcare system as “in a state of crisis” or having “major problems.” Pollsters report these figures are “consistent with the 65 percent to 73 percent range … in all but one poll since Gallup first asked the question in 1994.” Among Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, 84 percent responded there were significant problems while 56 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents agreed. This 28-point spread highlights an increasing polarization in the politics of healthcare as last year, President Trump’s first year in office, the divide was only five points. The study’s authors noted, “Americans rate cost and access as the greatest health problems facing the country.”
>> Read More: Seven in 10 Maintain Negative View of U.S. Healthcare System

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