The Rundown | Week of 7.15.2019

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Study: Physician Burnout Costs $4.6B a Year

Physician burnout costs the nation an estimated $4.6 billion per year, according to researchers from Harvard Business School. The figure accounts for “billings because of reduced hours, physician turnover, and expenses associated with finding and hiring replacements.” However, researchers believe the number is “likely an underestimate” as it “doesn’t include the costs of burnout’s potentially significant downstream effects, such as increased medical errors, patient dissatisfaction, increased malpractice lawsuits, and the impact on other staff.” The report, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that “the annual economic cost associated with burnout related to turnover and reduced clinical hours is approximately $7600 per employed physician each year.”
>> Read More: Estimating the Attributable Cost of Physician Burnout in the United States

Cholesterol, Blood Pressure Early in Life May Show Delayed Effects

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that cholesterol and blood pressure levels before age 40 can heavily affect one’s “later life [cardiovascular disease] risk.” Researchers gathered data from six cohorts comprising 36,030 participants, measured low- and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and analyzed risk factors from ages 18 to 39 as well as after age 40. Higher blood pressure at a young age was associated with a 37 percent increased risk of heart failure. Furthermore, high LDL cholesterol was associated with a 64 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease.
>> Read More: Associations of Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels During Young Adulthood With Later Cardiovascular Events

Telehealth Uptake Remains Slow Despite Growing Industry

A recent study by Doximity revealed that telehealth adoption doubled from 2015 to 2018 and continues to grow by 20 percent annually. The study is the first to “analyze U.S. physician interest in telemedicine jobs, examining interest by age, employment status, gender, geographic location, and specialty.” Researchers found that female physicians are more interested in working with telehealth, interest is consistent for various age groups, and male doctors were overwhelmingly interested in telehealth’s applications for locum tenens work.
>> Read More: First-Ever Analysis of U.S. Physician Interest in Telemedicine

Link Between Cancer Risk and Sugary Beverages

Recent research suggests that even a small intake of sugar-heavy beverages may increase one’s overall risk of cancer by 18 percent. Drinking 3.4 ounces — less than one-third of a can of soda — increased the risk of breast cancer by 22 percent. The findings, which were published in the British Medical Journal, include fruit juices, soda, sports drinks, and other sugary beverages. The observational study analyzed data from more than 100,000 healthy adults, tracking dietary intake with questionnaires. However, researchers did not find a link between artificially sweetened beverages and cancer risk.
>> Read More: Sugary Drink Consumption and Risk of Cancer: Results from NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort

ACOs Self-Reports Don’t Help Complex Patient Outcomes

A recent study suggests “accountable care organization-reported care management and coordination activities were not associated with improved outcomes among patients with complex needs.” Researchers noted that patients “with complex needs account for a disproportionate amount of Medicare spending, partially because of fragmented care delivered across multiple practitioners and settings.” The cross-sectional study examined readmissions, length of inpatient stays, emergency visits, total spending, and other factors for more than 1.4 million Medicare beneficiaries. “Efforts to care for patients with complex needs should assess whether strategies found to be effective in other settings are being used, and if so, why they fail to meet expectations,” researchers concluded.
>> Read More: Association Between Care Management and Outcomes Among Patients With Complex Needs in Medicare Accountable Care Organizations

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