AngelMD Friday Roundup – June 8, 2018

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Chemo? Try Chem-no

A new study has found that a specific subset of those diagnosed with breast cancer do not need to undergo chemotherapy as they reap the same effect from hormonal treatments. This kind of treatment works for those diagnosed with early-stage, invasive, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer who scored in a specific range of a genetic test.

Prior to this study, doctors lacked the information and data that chemotherapy can be avoided for these types of patients.

Amazon’s Super Secret Health Group Revealed

The so-called “Grand Challenge” group (which, in my opinion, sounds like a really great obstacle course game show) has been working on several health-related projects like EHRs and cancer research.

The team, which is headed by an ex-Googler, has partnered with the Fred Hutchinson Research Center with a goal of utilizing machine learning to prevent and cure cancer. Another project, dubbed Hera, is an internal partnership with the AWS team that helps identify data on EHRs that may have led to an incorrect diagnosis.

WHO Report Shows Trouble with Mental Health Care

WHO recently releases the 2017 Mental Health Atlas Report which provides information about service availability and offerings around the world. Despite some countries making progress, the overall findings show a lack of investment in Mental Health services.

Globally, the median number of mental health care providers is 9 per 100,000 people, though in some countries it is much lower. According to WHO, countries who don’t invest in mental health care will lose money over time – they estimate for every $1 invested in treatment leads to $4 return.

Three Parents are Better than Two?

Fifteen months ago a mother gave birth to a healthy son in Ukraine. That child is one of the few people in the world to have the DNA of three different people. The woman and her husband turned to the Nadiya Clinic when they tried and failed to conceive naturally.

Te procedure was done by taking the mother’s egg fertilizing it with the father’s sperm, then fertilizing another donor egg with the father’s sperm. Scientists then removed most of the donor’s DNA from the fertilized egg and replaced it with the mother and father’s.

Mapping the World’s Smallest Killers

Drug-resistant bacteria are one of the biggest health threats in one of the tiniest packages. Science has taken a step forward in combating bacteria by mapping over 3,000 of them in an effort to better understand diseases and how to fight them.

Most samples came from Britain’s National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC), one of the largest collections of its kind. The timing couldn’t be better: about 70 percent of bacteria are resistant one antibiotic used to treat them.

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AngelMD Friday Roundup – June 1, 2018

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

An Eye for an Eye

Scientists in Newcastle have successfully 3D-printed corneas, a process that could eventually establish an unlimited supply of healthy corneas for transplant purposes. Worldwide, about 15 million people would benefit from cornea availability to either prevent of improve corneal blindness.

To print the cornea, the researchers used a combination of healthy donor stem cells, alginate, and collagen to create a “bio-ink.” The new corneas took only 10 minutes to print.

Cancer Vaccine Extends Lives

Preliminary findings from a worldwide study of a glioblastoma vaccine treatment are extremely promising, with patients surviving 23 months after the surgery on average. Additionally, almost a third of the survivors lived an average of 40.5 months. Researchers do not yet know why some patients survived significantly longer than others.

A very small number of participants (seven out of 331) reported negative side effects to the treatment itself, which is on par for the current standard of care.

The Hidden Concussion Crisis

Concussions have been a hot topic for awhile now particularly because of the injury’s connection to the National Football League, but there is another group that deals with the devastating side effects of traumatic brain injuries: domestic violence survivors.

Affecting 10 million people annually, domestic violence commonly results in injuries to the head at neck. A 2016 study puts the percent of survivors with head injuries at 88. Many domestic violence survivors also have PTSD, a disorder which was recently linked to traumatic brain injuries in service members.

Right to Try Bill Signed

Earlier this week, the president signed a bill allowing terminal patients access to experimental treatments for their conditions. Those against the bill argued it would give patients false hope and that the FDA already had a program to allow patients to get unapproved treatments.

The FDA typically approves “compassionate use” requests from physicians who want to prescribe an unapproved treatment, in fact its data showed it only denies one percent of the requests it receives annually.

Your Gummy Vitamins are Useless

As tasty as they may be, most multivitamins have no demonstrated effect. Essentially, we have access to a lot more food than we used to and so we get the nutrients we need from our food year-round instead of just sometimes.

Now, the same meta-analysis did indicate that some individual supplements might have beneficial effects (like folic acid lowering the risk of heart disease), but there was not enough data to confirm it.

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AngelMD Friday Roundup – May 25, 2018

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

New Theory on Common Childhood Cancer

This week Melvin Greaves, a British cancer researcher, published his new theory that childhood acute leukemia is in part caused by a lack of infection. The incidence of childhood acute leukemia has been rising one percent annually in the U.S. and Europe leading many researchers down a rabbit whole of modern environmental causes like radiation.

However, Greaves speculates that the combination of a common genetic mutation and the lack of an infection that “primes” the immune system. One study Greaves cited found that the incidence of leukemia was higher in children who did not attend day care compared to those that did.

Harmful Pregnancy Drug Still Affecting Generations

Diethylstilbestrol (DES ) is a drug that mimics natural hormones like estrogen and was widely prescribed in the 40s to prevent miscarriage in pregnant women. By the 50s, research showed DES wasn’t an effective means of preventing miscarriage and daughters of those who took the drug (DES daughters) actually had a higher rate of miscarriage. By the 70s, researchers had found a link between DES and rare genital cancers.

Now, researchers found children born to DES daughters are 36 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Unfortunately the drug has been linked to infertility and cancer in the third generation.

Cancer Patients Need More

Earlier this month, the Trump administration released its drug pricing plan with a concrete goal of lowering treatment costs for American patients. However, some oncologists have criticized the plan for not doing enough for cancer patients.

Cancer treatment has developed rapidly in recent years, but unfortunately so has its price. In an opinion article in STAT, physicians propose value-based drug purchasing as a solution, meaning drug price would vary according to its effectiveness, and advocating for the 340B drug discount program which allows the price to be lowered for low-income patients.

Do We Like Robots More Than People?

One of the great potentials of AI is accessibility. A computer scientist at Northeastern hoped to accomplish just that with his virtual nurse AI. The system walked patients through their discharge process by going over prescribed medications and their follow up process.

The virtual nurse was a hit: many patients like that they could take their time going through the material, instead of feeling rushed by doctors. In the end, 74 percent of patients preferred the virtual nurse to a human counterpart.

Fix Your Broken Back Without Breaking the Bank

A new study on treatment of back pain found that starting physical therapy before a surgical solution has financial benefits. After analyzing 150,000 insurance claims, researchers found that patients who sought out physical therapy first “had an 89 percent lower probability of eventually needing an opioid prescription and a 28 percent lower probability of having any advanced imaging.”

However, the study also found a 19 percent high eventual hospitalization among those who completed physical therapy, but the cause of hospitalization was not a datapoint recorded so they do not have a theory on why that is.

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AngelMD Friday Roundup – May 18, 2018

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

The Downfall of “Provider Entitlement”

During a session at HLTH 2018, two Walmart VPs argued that the way to re-engage doctors in their work (63% are disengaged) and end physician burnout is not to increase their tools or resources, but implement a system that weeds out bad doctors.

They compared recommendations and diagnoses from local providers to those in the Center of Excellence and found stark contrast. For example, 50 percent of those told they need surgery by a local provider, were determined not to need it by a Center of Excellence doctor. Using this data as justification, Walmart is focused on shifting local providers to a “serve the customer” mindset.

Chronic Pain Feels Untreatable

Chronic pain is not uncommon, about 100 million Americans experience it. For many, the cause can be undiagnosed – nothing is physically wrong, but the pain is intensely real. This typically leads to the prescription of drugs, most likely opioids, leaving the psychological aspect of the pain ignored.

Now, those suffering from chronic pain and pain doctors alike are arguing for more awareness and accessibility to psychological treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which can be hard and expensive to find.

First Non-Opioid Treatment for Withdrawal Approved

Lofexidine hydrochloride, or Lucemyra, was approved by the FDA to help treat symptoms of withdrawal. However, the drug does not completely prevent symptoms, and has only been approved for 14-day treatments.

Withdrawal can cause a number of symptoms, including anxiety, nausea, and trouble sleeping, and is a huge hurdle for those with opioid use disorder (OUD) to overcome. Treatment typically includes substitution and weaning of another opioid drug in a controlled, medical environment. The approval of Lucemyra now offers a new alternative for long-term OUD treatment plans.

Diabetes Care Needs Mental Health Support

In 2016, the American Diabetes Association put out a recommendation that psychosocial care be integrated into other diabetes care. However, a recent survey of 37 top diabetes care institutions found that not even 4 in 10 had integrated mental health care into their system.

Experts cite that the low reimbursement rates for mental health may be a factor in the lack of institutions investing in this treatment option.

Ebola Outbreak Reaches “New Phase” in the Congo

A new case of Ebola in Mbandaka, a city of about 1.2 million, has been confirmed by health officials.The first cases were about 100 miles away in rural Bikoro. So far the outbreak has 44 confirmed cases, 23 of which have been fatal.

To combat the outbreak, the WHO is sending about 30 experts and over 5,000 doses of an experimental vaccine which had success in 2015.

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