Most diagnostic laboratories are not patient-facing, but the consumerism push in health care is making its way to the industry, and labs can improve patient engagement and cost transparency by combining innovative technology and information-sharing strategies, write XIFIN CEO Lale White and Clinical Laboratory Management Association past president Jane Hermansen. Labs can use patient portals, text and email to communicate, use automated eligibility tools, offer payment options, and work with physicians to translate data into meaningful information for patients, White and Hermansen write.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said he expects Congress to pass legislation addressing unexpected out-of-network medical bills by the end of this year. Lawmakers are debating how to settle out-of-network payment disagreements between health insurers and providers, and two ideas under consideration include reimbursing providers through arbitration and using benchmark rates to determine payment.
The percentage of US adults ages 18 to 24 who used e-cigarettes increased from 5.2% in 2017 to 7.6% in 2018, while e-cigarette use was not significantly different among middle-aged and older adults, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers also found rising e-cigarette use among men, former cigarette users, non-Hispanic Asians and those whose family incomes were four or more times above the poverty level.
A number of tech startup companies are using technology to foster face-to-face connections and combat loneliness and social isolation among seniors, including Papa, a Miami-based health care firm that connects aging seniors with college students through a mobile app and other digital tools. Papa has partnered with health insurers such as Aetna, Alignment Healthcare and Priority Health to offer its "grandkids on demand" service to some Medicare Advantage members.
Drugmakers raised wholesale acquisition prices by a median of 25.8% from 2017 through March 2019, according to California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Wholesale prices on generic drugs increased by a median of 37.6%, led by generics for depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Janssen Pharmaceutical, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, announced it had received FDA approval for its direct oral anticoagulant Xarelto, or rivaroxaban, as a preventive treatment for venous thromboembolism in acutely sick hospitalized patients at risk for developing blood clots but at low risk for bleeding. The approval is the eighth indication for Xarelto.
MRI scans showed evidence of microbleeds in the brains of patients who suffered traumatic head injuries, which were tied to worse clinical outcomes, according to a study published in the journal Brain. Researchers used a cohort of 439 adults who underwent MRI scans inside 48 hours of sustaining a head injury, and they found that performing a postmortem MRI scan and histological analysis of one of the participant's brains "allowed us to get a much more detailed look at microbleed structure and get a better sense of just how extensive they are," said first author Allison Griffin.
A study in Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 67.7% of fetal abnormalities were diagnosed among women who underwent ultrasound scans during the first or second trimester of pregnancy, and 24.8% were diagnosed for the first time between 35 and 37 weeks. Researchers analyzed data from 52,400 singleton pregnancies and noted the importance of having late third-trimester ultrasound scan to detect fetal abnormalities that could have been missed during previous scans or arisen during the final trimester.
A small study in Germany that used functional MRI found that playing video games on work breaks was associated with reduced supplementary motor area activation in the brain, and participants fared worse on short-term memory tests after returning to their tasks. The findings "may indicate that video gaming during a break may affect working memory performance by interfering with arousal state and frontal cognitive control functions," researchers wrote in PLOS ONE.
A study in The Lancet Oncology found that children, teens and young adults with refractory or relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia who took the chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel had improved quality-of-life test scores after 28 days, with smaller gains among those with severe cytokine release syndrome or neurotoxicity. However, researchers found that all groups had similar QOL score improvements after three months and six months, which remained after 12 months of treatment.