The Rundown | Week of 1.28.2019

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In-Office Visits Fall by 30 Percent

From 2015 to 2016, the number of visits to physicians’ offices fell 11 percent, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This translates to 278 office-based physician visits per 100 people, down from 313 the year before. The visit rate among women was higher than the visit rate for men with 315 visits per 100 women compared to 239 visits per 100 men. The visit rates for infants and seniors were significantly higher than all other age demographics. Compared to adults, a larger share of visits by children was for preventive care or new health problems whereas adults were more likely to visit for imaging services. The trends highlight the increasing popularity of telehealth and retail clinics as well as the shift to outpatient settings.
>> Read More: Characteristics of Office-based Physician Visits, 2016

Survey: Patients Lack Confidence in Their Medication Management

A survey from DrFirst, an e-prescription service, suggests less than half of patients are confident “in their ability to properly take new medications as directed.” Two-thirds of respondents who lacked confidence in their medication management named “a lack of time with physicians at the point of care” as their primary issue. Analysts also concluded the majority of consumers are interested in reducing out-of-pocket costs for medications. Of the 200 respondents, 83 percent had health insurance. In response to the findings, G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst, said: “It’s critical that we seek alternative methods for educating patients about how to safely take new medications and about each drug’s potential side effects. Rather than rely on written handouts from doctors and pharmacists, we must take advantage of technologies like smartphones and patient portals to deliver impactful, customized details about prescribed medications.”
>> Read More: Survey: More than Half of Consumers Lack Confidence in Their Ability to Properly Take New Medications as Directed

Study: Primary Care Linked to Quality Care and Better Patient Experience

A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that the efficacy of primary care is limited by the slow adoption of value-based investments. Researchers examined the quality and experience of outpatient care using a nationally representative 70,419 adults, 30 percent of whom did not have a primary care provider, and found that individuals who received primary care reported more high-value care as measured by 39 clinical quality and seven patient experience measures. The findings were consistent from 2002 to 2014. The study concluded primary care — defined as “first-contact care that is comprehensive, continuous, and coordinated” — is of the utmost concern to “policymakers and health system leaders seeking to improve value.”
>> Read More: Quality and Experience of Outpatient Care in the United States for Adults With or Without Primary Care

Study: “Early Birds” Have Better Mental Health Than “Night Owls”

A new study in Nature Communications indicates that being a “morning person” or “night owl” is largely governed by an individual’s DNA, and may have strong correlations to mental health. Nearly 700,000 genetic samples from UK Biobank and 23andMe helped to establish the 351 genetic factors associated with one’s “chronotype,” which is closely linked to circadian rhythms and energy levels throughout the day. Employing the genome-wide data and activity-monitoring devices, researchers gathered data from 85,760 participants and found that those who possessed the most “morningness alleles” awoke 25 minutes earlier than those with the fewest. Furthermore, the results found that “being a morning person is causally associated with better mental health but does not affect BMI or risk of Type 2 diabetes.”
>> Read More: Genome-Wide Association Analyses of Chronotype in 697,828 Individuals Provides Insights into Circadian Rhythms

Gender Biases in Assessing Patient Pain Levels

Men’s pain is still considered more seriously than women’s pain, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. The study gathered a diverse group of American adults and showed participants a video of a child getting their finger pricked for a blood test. When told the child’s name was Samuel, participants rated the pain experienced as higher than those who were told the child’s name was Samantha. “Explicit gender stereotypes—for example, that boys are more stoic or girls are more emotive—may bias adult assessment of children’s pain,” researchers concluded. Joshua Monrad, one of the study’s authors, added: “If the phenomena that we observed in our studies generalize to other contexts, it would have important implications for diagnosis and treatment. Any biases in judgments about pain would be hugely important because they can exacerbate inequitable health care provision.”
>> Read More: Gender Bias in Pediatric Pain Assessment

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