The Rundown | Week of 8.20.2018

Est. Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Hospital CEO Salary Increases Far Outpace Physicians’

A new study in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research revealed an extreme upward trend in hospital CEO salaries over the past decade. Researchers analyzed compensation trends between administrators and clinical workers from 2005 to 2015 in 22 major nonprofit healthcare systems. CEO compensation increased by 93 percent from 2005 to 2015, while compensation for orthopedic surgeons increased by only 26 percent. Comparatively, compensation for registered nurses increased by only 3 percent. These extreme gaps reflect the burden of non-clinical wages on hospital settings. The researchers analyzed trends in costs of management and found the cost burden spiked at $865 billion in 2015. Physicians accounted for only 18 percent of this growth, while non-clinical workers accounted for 27 percent. Over the last 25 years, 6.8 million healthcare jobs were added, with non-executive roles accounting for nearly all positions — a possible contributing factor to the slow wage growth. While the authors of this study declined to comment on the value of executive roles, the findings suggest that growth costs may outpace value.
>>Read More: Wage gap between hospital executives and doctors is widening, study shows

FDA Approves New Drug Targeting Peripheral Nerve Disease

Last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Alnylam’s RNA interface drug after spending investing $2.3 billion and 16 years into Nobel Prize-winning research. The drug, Onpattro, stops the progression of peripheral nerve disease caused by hereditary ATTR amyloidosis by “silencing” genes. Whereas many drugs counteract dangerous proteins’ effects, Onpattro disrupts messenger RNA cells and thereby avoids toxic protein buildups that are often fatal. Although the estimated price is $450,000 per year, some providers are exploring outcome-based pricing that would affix costs to measurable patient benefits. For now, this is the only drug for progressive neuropathy from ATTR amyloidosis, though competitors Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer are rumored to have developed treatments as well.
>>Read More: In first, FDA approves RNA interference drug from Alnylam

NYU Becomes First Major Medical School to Offer Full-Tuition Scholarships

As tuition and student-loan interest rates continue to burden healthcare professionals, New York University’s (NYU) School of Medicine has announced a plan to cover the full cost of tuition for all current and future students. Although schools like Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles have taken steps to reduce financial burden, NYU is the first major U.S medical school to offer its students full-tuition scholarships. NYU will offer scholarships to 350 returning students and 93 first-year students who will only be responsible for paying around $29,000 after tuition, compared to nearly $184,000 in overall loan debt students have had to pay to date. These efforts are in line with the school’s goals to ease financial barriers that deter students from pursuing high-paying specialties and high school graduates from pursuing careers in medicine. School administrators also hope these efforts will attract a more diversified student body. Robert Grossman, the dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health, said, “This gives our students choice in two ways: First, it will enable students who couldn’t afford medical school to afford it, and the second thing it does is enable students enrolled in medical school to think with a clear eye (about their future specialty).”
>>Read More: NYU School of Medicine will provide free tuition to students

Renowned Cardiologist Joins Amazon Following Primary Care Announcement

This week Amazon added to speculation surrounding their healthcare partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase by hiring esteemed Massachusetts General Hospital cardiologist Maulik Majmudar, MD. Majmudar expressed his feeling on the move in a tweet on Monday, “Very emotional day … I have decided to leave academia to take on an exciting [and] challenging role [at] Amazon.” Amazon’s latest hire is a known proponent of bringing technology into the clinic. Though his role at the tech giant has not been made public, the hiring of cardiologists in this field is not unusual. Amazon has also recently acquired primary care expert, Martin Levine, MD, and former FDA chief health information officer, Taha Kass-Hout, MD. “The one and only reason I am taking on this opportunity, is the possibility of making a truly meaningful impact on the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of individuals throughout the world,” Majmudar continued. As Amazon’s healthcare interests span several areas, they may have rivals in companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet — Google’s parent company — which are also working to make their first steps in the healthcare industry through developments like health information tracking chips.
>>Read More: Amazon hires renowned Massachusetts General cardiologist Maulik Majmudar, MD

Public Service Announcement: Let Your Sneezes Out!

A recent case report in BMJ Case Reports detailed an incident in which a 34-year-old man ruptured his pharynx after attempting to hold in a sneeze. When the unnamed man experienced pain and swelling around his neck and difficulty speaking, he decided to seek medical attention. Doctors determined his symptoms were caused by a small hole in his throat that allowed tiny air bubbles to seep into his neck muscle and tissue. Although it is a rare injury and he has fully recovered after spending a week on feeding tubes and antibiotics, experts warn that other sneeze stiflers may not end up so lucky. Holding in a sneeze — which can clock in at 100 miles per hour — can rupture eardrums, crack ribs, and cause infection. Researchers’ advice is simple: let your sneezes out, but cover your mouth to prevent spreading germs.
>>Read More: Why you shouldn’t hold in your sneeze: A cautionary tale

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