News Blog

Study highlights how EHR data can pinpoint undiagnosed genetic diseases
Friday, March 23, 2018

A new study out of Vanderbilt University Medical Center found genetic data in electronic health records can be used to spot undiagnosed diseases.
The research, which was recently published in Science, was authored by 27 individuals.
They believed people diagnosed with conditions like infertility, kidney failure, stroke and heart failure could actually have a rare genetic disease.
Thus, the researchers assigned scores to 21,701 people depending on how well their symptoms fit with a description of 1,204 genetic diseases. Patients included were taken from BioVU, a collection that links DNA samples to de-identified EHRs. The researchers replicated the results at a Marshfield Clinic biobank.
Overall, the study found 18 associations between genetic variants and high phenotype risk scores.
The researchers also learned that 14 percent of individuals with genetic variants impacting the kidney had kidney transplants. Ten percent with another variant had liver transplants. These transplants could have been avoided had the underlying genetic cause been disclosed. Instead, patients could have undergone another treatment to prevent the symptoms from worsening.

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How the current healthcare mindset is preventing wider digital health adoption
Friday, March 23, 2018

Although digital health and telemedicine are gaining speed, the industry as a whole has been slow to implement technologies.
A survey from Sage Growth Partners found 44 percent of healthcare executives have not yet adopted telemedicine at their organization, and a report sponsored by Avizia said 82 percent of consumers don’t use telehealth.
A March 21 webinar hosted by VSee took a closer look at the barriers to wider adoption.
“In medicine, things go at a very different pace than in technology and science,” Dr. Homero Rivas, an assistant professor of surgery and the director of innovative surgery at Stanford University, said during the webinar. “The business model that we have had [in healthcare] hasn’t really changed. Medicine itself is not scalable.”
Why does healthcare take so long to innovate? Rivas said part of it has to do with the mindset of the industry and of physicians.
Most entrepreneurs are willing to take plenty of risks. Doctors, on the other hand, are risk-averse. They’re taught not to fail, as it may bring harm to a patient.
“If you always follow dogmas saying ‘You have to do it this way,’ then the innovation will go at a very slow pace,” Rivas said.
Medical school curriculum contributes to the lack of fast adoption, too. “Very, very few medical schools or nursing schools will actually include things such as mobile health or digital health or telemedicine,” he noted.



Controversial Duty-Hours Trial (Mostly) Backs Flexible Hours
Friday, March 23, 2018

Educational outcomes in hospitals' intern-residency programs that set no limit on the duration of trainees' work shifts did not differ from those in standard programs limiting shifts to 16-28 hours, the cluster-randomized iCOMPARE trial found.
There was no significant differences between groups in how interns spent their time, nor was there a difference in how interns perceived the balance between their clinical demands and their education, reported Sanjay V. Desai, MD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues.

But a separate survey of trainees in flexible and standard programs showed more dissatisfaction with other aspects of the programs allowing longer hours, including educational quality and overall well-being. At the same time, directors of flexible programs said the educational quality was improved.
The results were presented at Academic Internal Medicine Week in San Antonio, and published online early in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More: Medicine


Ask a Millennial Doc: How Can I Use Social Media Better?
Friday, March 23, 2018

The way information is exchanged among physicians is constantly changing in the social media age. In this exclusiveMedPage Today video, Manasi Agrawal, MD , a gastroenterology fellow at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., breaks down everything the millennial physician should know about using social media to get up-to-date information, share ideas, and network .
Following is a transcript of her remarks:
Being a millennial physician is very different, I think, from the experiences that people may have had 10 or 20 years ago because the resources available to us and the challenges that we experience are very different, specifically living in a world of social media, the way we exchange information, study ideas and research and the way we network is, in big part, through social media, and that has a huge impact on everyone, including physicians.
I use social media to share my research ideas, to share impactful studies, abstracts, and the important work that I come across in researching things, and to network . I follow physicians who are in the same field that I am interested in -- who, themselves, share impactful studies -- and I routinely check my Twitter feed. This is a great source of learning for me on a daily basis because I come across new studies, new work, and impactful ideas, and then that stirs up more conversations as other people read them. It encourages a lot of communication back and forth. In addition to reading textbooks and journals, this is a great source of learning and staying up to date with what's happening around the world.

More: Medicine


How Docs Could Respond to Disasters Remotely
Friday, March 23, 2018

Telemedicine can help, but we need to recognize its limitations

In post-Maria Puerto Rico, the smell of diesel exhaust hung in the air. A short visit taught me more about island life after the storm than I could have learned from endless hours of cable news or social media. Our patients' voices were a combination of anxiety, exhaustion, and hope.

Some disaster responders, though, can now help from a far greater distance. The universe of telemedicine is expanding, thanks to improved networks and better models of care. Leveraging telemedicine's potential during traditional disaster response suddenly seems like a no-brainer. We're poised to move forward boldly but intelligently in creating a tele -response model for both the acute response phase and longer recovery periods.
After a large-scale event, doctors offices close, kids need pediatricians, and downloading a mobile health app may offer nearly immediate care when none exists otherwise. Telemedicine links can be established by local teams to provide real-time care remotely. The model promises a valuable synergy when tele-health providers partner with historically strong organizations like the American Red Cross.

More: Medicine


Medicine in the 'Middle of Nowhere'
Friday, March 23, 2018

by Kristy Thomas, MS, PA-C

I've dealt with many frontier emergencies throughout my career -- some of them life-saving, but nothing quite eclipses the experience of being the only medical provider to coordinate care for a man carrying his severed arm. In that moment I was reminded that as a rural health physician assistant (PA), I must be prepared to make quick life-or-death decisions for whomever walks in the door.
Now working as a primary care PA at a remote health clinic in rural New Mexico, I see injuries that can be just as jarring as the man holding his own limb. From hard-working community members with ranching and bull-riding trauma injuries to the elderly battling diabetes and children with infectious diseases, each patient interaction comes with unique and sometimes unexpected challenges.
My clinic -- the most remote within its network of clinics -- is situated in a town of about 1,600 people, predominantly Hispanic, about 3 miles north of the Mexican border (I use Spanish to converse with roughly 90% of my patients). It's an outpatient setting that relies on resources from hospitals to coordinate ambulance services or summon Life Flight helicopters for medical emergencies. This system operates similar to other rural clinics and hospitals -- allowing remote providers to address holistic patient needs and work largely autonomously.

More: Medicine

Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple bet big on health with 300+ patents since 2013
Wednesday, March 21, 2018


1 in 4 patients used virtual health services last year: 6 things to know
Monday, March 12, 2018

Healthcare consumers are increasingly turning to virtual health services, with 25 percent of patients reporting they received virtual care services in the previous year, up from 21 percent one year prior, according to a survey released by Accenture.
As part of its 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health report, Accenture surveyed 2,301 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older to evaluate their attitudes toward healthcare technology, modernization and service innovation.
Here are six things to know about the survey.
1. Of the patients who accessed care virtually, 74 percent said they were satisfied with the experience.
2. Nearly half (47 percent) of all patients surveyed said they would prefer a more immediate, virtual appointment over a delayed, in-person appointment.
3. Almost 75 percent of healthcare consumers said they would use virtual care for an after-hours appointment.
4. Around two-thirds said they would use virtual care for a follow-up appointment after seeing a physician or other healthcare professional in person.
5. Over half (54 percent) of consumers said they believe virtual care reduces patients' medical costs.
6. Forty-three percent said they like the timely care virtual technology provides.
Gohere to download the complete report.

Look how far we've come: 93% of hospitals enable online access to health data in 2017, up from 27% in 2012
Monday, March 12, 2018

More and more patients are going online to access their health data, according to a Trend Watch report by the American Hospital Association.
The health IT issue brief highlights data from a 2016 AHA Annual Survey Information Technology Supplement it administered to community hospitals between November 2016 to April 2017.
Here are five things to know.
1. Almost every hospital and health system (93 percent) enable patients to view their health record online, up from 27 percent in 2012.
2. More organizations are allowing patients to pay their bills online, with 78 percent of hospitals and health systems featuring the service in 2017, compared to 51 percent in 2012. Features like requesting prescription refills online, scheduling appointments online and securely messaging providers have also expanded over the last five years.
3. Larger hospitals with at least 100 beds are more likely to offer comprehensive online access to health data, with 91 percent of hospitals with 300 beds or more enabling patients to download information from their health records, compared to 79 percent of hospitals with fewer than 100 beds.
4. Large hospitals with at least 300 beds are more likely to allow patients to submit their own generated data (53 percent), compared to hospitals with 100-299 beds (43 percent) and hospitals with fewer than 100 beds (30 percent).
5. "More sophisticated systems allow patients to obtain healthcare services through an online patient portal, conduct activities such as requesting prescription refills, schedule appointments, pay bills and securely message their healthcare providers," the report reads. "These activities support a patient-centered healthcare system in which patients are partners with their healthcare providers and share in decision making."

Consumers hungry for more digital healthcare interaction
Monday, March 12, 2018

Rising demand for digital interaction between consumers and doctors is paving the way for nontraditional players to upend the healthcare industry, according to a new survey.

More than half of the nearly 2,500 consumers surveyed are comfortable contacting their physician digitally and already use available technology, according to a new survey from the consultancy Ernst & Young. The main motivators are that virtual data-sharing will reduce wait times and lower costs.

Both consumers and physicians are hungry for more connected experiences that reframe how and where care is delivered, Jacques Mulder, U.S. health leader for Ernst & Young, said in a statement.

"This … is another indicator that health is entering an era of convergence," he said.

Thirty-six percent of consumers are interested in at-home diagnostic testing, 33% are open to using a smartphone to share data and 21% would do video consultations.

There's widespread agreement among physicians that digital technology will improve care. Two-thirds of the about 350 physicians surveyed said that it would reduce the burden on the healthcare system and its associated costs, and 64% think it would help reduce doctor and nurse burnout.

The survey marks gradual improvement in the industry's embrace of digital technology. Notably, only a quarter of consumers are interested in granting physicians access to their lifestyle habits, unless it comes with added incentives.

But despite hesitation in sharing dietary and exercise information, 26% indicated that the ability to receive tailored diet and exercise plans would boost engagement, which is much lower among the 45-and-older demographic.


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