EHRs and similar technologies have not made it easier for patients to track their own health and health care utilization, but evolving FHIR standards and user interfaces are starting to improve data exchange, writes Luis Castillo, CEO of Ensocare. A centralized service like cloud-based banking, or even a card on a mobile device, could store each health care transaction that patients can control, though security and HIPAA compliance must be carefully considered, Castillo writes.
Newly published Drug Enforcement Administration data tracks 380 million transactions from 2006 through 2012 and three-quarters of total shipments of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills to US pharmacies, shedding light on the scope and distribution of opioid use amid a rising epidemic of abuse. For example, the data show that six companies accounted for distribution of 75% of the pills, three companies manufactured 88% of them and some counties were more heavily affected than others.
The AHIMA Foundation's Managing the Talent Pipeline in Health Information Apprenticeship Program for health care coding, billing and other areas of information management has improved efficiency and retention of skilled employees and in some cases improved revenue, according to research published in the Journal of AHIMA. The program, funded in part with Department of Labor grants, ensures health care organizations have health information management professionals with the skills to improve patient care quality through access to accurate, reliable health data, AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris said in a statement.
Amgen and Allergan announced that the first anticancer biosimilars will now be available in the US, consisting of Mvasi, or bevacizumab-awwb, a biosimilar to Avastin, or bevacizumab, which is approved by the FDA for five cancer-related indications, and Kanjinti, or trastuzumab-anns, a biosimilar to Herceptin, or trastuzumab, indicated for HER2-overexpressing oncologic diseases such as breast cancer and for metastatic gastroesophageal junction or gastric adenocarcinoma. Both biosimilars will cost 12% to 15% less than their branded counterparts.
Salaries for primary care physicians are increasing faster than compensation for specialists, according to a report from the Medical Group Management Association. Compensation for primary care physicians increased by 10.46% in the last five years with median compensation of $266,500, while specialist salaries grew 7.78% with an average of $443,881.
West Nile virus was confirmed as the cause of loon deaths at lakes in Northeastern Minnesota, and scientists are exploring whether it is contributing to a ruffed grouse population decline. Veterinarian Arno Wuenschmann, a pathology professor at the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine, says people with horses should vaccinate their animals for the virus and should take precautions to prevent exposure to mosquitoes.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency quarantined two sheep flocks in Alberta for classical scrapie, and sheep in the flock are being tested for genetic resistance to the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Sheep producers should work with a veterinarian to prevent scrapie, says Alberta Lamb Producers Chair Darlene Stein.
Primary care physicians should offer education or counseling to prevent smoking among teens and children, because 90% of smokers have their first cigarette before they are 18, according to a draft recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force. Many young people don't see e-cigarettes as harmful, so prevention is especially important when discussing them, said Thomas Houston, M.D., former chair of the AAFP Commission on Health of the Public and Science and the Academy's now-disbanded Smoking Cessation Advisory Committee.
A federal judge upheld a Trump administration rule extending the duration of short-term health plans, which do not comply with the Affordable Care Act's coverage requirements, from three months to one year, noting the rule's potential negative impact is minimal "but its benefits are undeniable." The plaintiffs say they will appeal the ruling.
The CMS said it has updated the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program Scorecard data to reflect information on postpartum care, well-child appointments, adult hospitalizations involving diabetes and more. "More states are voluntarily reporting their health outcomes in the scorecard, and the new data is leading us into an era of increased transparency and accountability," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.
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