The Rundown | Week of 2.4.2019

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Majority of Health Systems to Expand Telehealth in 2019

A survey from software company Zipnosis projected telehealth will increase dramatically over the next year. According to the study, 96.4 percent of health systems will expand their telehealth offerings within the next 12 months. One challenge identified was the lack of integration with electronic health records (EHRs), while celebrating the reduced wait-times, which averaged less than five minutes virtually compared to in-person appointment average 16 minutes, according to data from the National Institute of Health. Behavioral health and chronic care management were the two areas that respondents believed telehealth could best address.
>> Read More: Over 96 Percent of Health Systems Plan to Expand Virtual Care, New Survey Shows

Healthcare and Trump’s State of the Union

In his second State of the Union address, President Trump mentioned several topics within healthcare, such as the cost of prescription drugs, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, funding for pediatric cancer, the removal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty, and the Right to Try Act of 2017, which gives “critically ill patients access to life-saving cures.” Trump claimed his “administration’s efforts” led to the “single largest decline in 46 years” of prescription drugs. Research from SSR Health and the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms the “net prices of brand-name drugs fell a little more than five percent in the third quarter of 2018.” President Trump set a goal to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent over the next five years and by 90 percent over the next decade. Finally, President Trump announced a budgetary request to earmark $500 million “to fund this critical life-saving research to help support working parents.”
>> Read More: Transcript of 2019 State of the Union Address

Study: Scribes Save Money, Enhance Physician Productivity

Medical scribes may save hospital emergency departments more than $30 per hour without risking patient safety, according to a new study in BMJ. The study paired 88 physicians with 12 scribes who rotated between sites. Between November 2015 and January 2018, “each site required a minimum of 100 scribed and non-scribed shifts” to gather sufficient data. Outcomes measured included physician productivity based on total and primary patients; patient throughput based on “door-to-doctor time” and duration of stay; self-reported harms of scribes; and cost-benefit analysis. The data suggests scribes increased physician productivity by 15.9 percent and reduced the median length of stay by 19 minutes.
>> Read More: Impact of Scribes on Emergency Medicine Doctors’ Productivity and Patient Throughput: Multicentre Randomised Trial

Gut Bacteria & Mental Health

The first population-level study to link specific gut bacteria to mental illness was recently published in Nature Microbiology. Researchers noted the “bidirectional microbiota-gut-brain communication has mostly been explored in animal models, with human research lagging behind,” especially on a large scale. The study’s authors also published a catalog on “neuroactive potential of sequenced gut prokaryotes,” or, single-celled organisms, three of which were linked to either positive mental health or depression, regardless of whether or not the participant followed an antidepressant regimen.
>> Read More: The Neuroactive Potential of the Human Gut Microbiota in Quality of Life and Depression

Higher Rates of Obesity-Related Cancers in Millennials

A recent report in The Lancet Public Health discovered millennials face an increased risk of obesity-related cancers. Researchers examined age-specific incidence trends among Americans for 30 common cancers, 12 of which are linked to obesity. Using age-period-cohort modelling and incidence rate ratios by birth cohort, researchers identified a significant increase for six obesity-related cancers (multiple myeloma, colorectal, uterine corpus, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic) in young adults between the ages of 25 and 49. Cancers associated with smoking and HIV infection decreased among the same age group. “Further studies are needed to elucidate exposures responsible for these emerging trends, including excess bodyweight and other risk factors,” researchers concluded.
>> Read More: Emerging Cancer Trends Among Young Adults in the USA: Analysis of a Population-Based Cancer Registry

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