Category Archives: Health News

Remote patient monitoring cuts hospital admissions, ER visits, report finds

Doctor conferring with patient and on-screen specialist for article, Remote patient monitoring cuts hospital admissions, ER visits, report findsDive Brief:

  • One-fourth of healthcare organizations say remote patient monitoring reduces emergency room visits and hospital readmissions, while 38% say the technology results in fewer inpatient admissions, according to a new KLAS Research report.
  • The industry-backed American Telemedicine Association and the research group looked at how RPM is impacting providers and payers, talking with 25 organizations that used RPM products from seven different vendors.
  • The key use cases for remote patient monitoring were heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, though interest in using RPM for other conditions like diabetes and hypertension is starting to pick up. RPM is also seeing some limited use in mental health, surgical recovery, dementia and cancer.

Dive Insight:

Remote patient monitoring is a growing sector in the digital health space, with an aging population and the opportunity to better manage chronic conditions. There is a potential windfall for companies with the right idea and clinical evidence to back it up, and investors are lining up to get a piece of the action. Disease monitoring was among the top-funded value propositions in last quarter, with $781 million across 38 deals, according to Rock Health.

RPM also holds potential to improve health outcomes. In a 2017 study, breast reconstruction patients with access to a mobile app that allowed them to submit photos and report information to their doctors had fewer post-surgery follow-up appointments than patients without the app. Patients using the app also rated their follow-up care higher on convenience.

Payers are recognizing its benefits and incentivizing its use, too. In its physician fee schedule final rule  for 2018, CMS unbundled a code for RPM, allowing physicians to seek reimbursement for collecting and interpreting health data generated remotely by patients, digitally stored and sent to providers, with a minimum of 30 minutes.

The move marked a “huge win” for RPM and a “big step forward for Medicare’s ability to deal with chronic conditions,” Gary Capistrant, the ATA’s chief policy officer, told Healthcare Dive earlier this year. He noted that several years ago when Medicare covered a code for chronic care but didn’t cover remote monitoring, the result was a tepid uptake.

Use of RPM is growing across all use cases, but is particularly robust for hypertension, mental health and cancer, where there is a lot of room for growth, according to KLAS.

According to the report:

  • 13% of organizations report RPM improves medication compliance;
  • 8% say it lowered A1c levels, an indication of how the body is maintaining blood glucose levels;
  • 13% say it improved patient health;
  • 25% report greater patient satisfaction; and
  • 17% cite quantified cost reductions.

    [SEE FULL STORY HERE]

Change your diet to save both water and your health

September 10, 2018
Source: European Commission Joint Research Centre

Summary: Shifting to a healthy diet is not only good for us, but it also saves a lot of fresh water, according to a new study. Compared to existing diets, the water required to produce our food could be reduced by up to 55 percent for healthy pescetarian and vegetarian diets.Shifting to a healthy diet is not only good for us, but it also saves a lot of precious fresh water, according to a new study by the JRC published in Nature Sustainability.

sustainable diet info graphic for article, Change your diet to save both water and your healthCompared to existing diets, the water required to produce our food could be reduced by between 11% and 35% for healthy diets containing meat, 33% and 55% for healthy pescetarian diets and 35% and 55% for healthy vegetarian diets.

Researchers compared these three diet patterns, defined by respective national dietary guidelines, to the current actual food consumption, using available data from more than 43 thousand areas in France, the UK and Germany.

They found that eating more healthily could substantially reduce the water footprint of people’s diets, consistent across all the geographical entities analysed in the study.

The study is the most detailed nationwide food consumption-related water footprint ever made, taking into account socio-economic factors of food consumption, for existing and recommended diets.

Influences on the food we eat

The scientists also show how individual food consumption behaviour — and their related water footprints — depend strongly on the socio-economic factors like age, gender and education level.

They found interesting correlations between such factors and both the water footprint of specific foods and their resulting impact on overall water footprints.

For example, the study shows how in France, the water footprint of milk consumption decreases with age across the municipalities analysed.

Across London, they show a strong correlation between the water footprint of wine consumption and the percentage of the population of each area with a high education level.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

New blood pressure app

September 7, 2018
Source: Michigan State University

Summary: Researchers have invented a proof-of-concept blood pressure app that can give accurate readings using an iPhone — with no special equipment.Michigan State University has invented a proof-of-concept blood pressure app that can give accurate readings using an iPhone — with no special equipment.

smartphone app screen for article, New blood pressure appThe discovery, featured in the current issue of Scientific Reports, was made by a team of scientists led by Ramakrishna Mukkamala, MSU electrical and computer engineering professor.

“By leveraging optical and force sensors already in smartphones for taking ‘selfies’ and employing ‘peek and pop,’ we’ve invented a practical tool to keep tabs on blood pressure,” he said. “Such ubiquitous blood pressure monitoring may improve hypertension awareness and control rates, and thereby help reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

In a publication in Science Translational Medicine earlier this year, Mukkamala’s team had proposed the concept with the invention of a blood pressure app and hardware. With the combination of a smartphone and add-on optical and force sensors, the team produced a device that rivaled arm-cuff readings, the standard in most medical settings.

With advances in smartphones, the add-on optical and force sensors may no longer be needed. Peek and pop, available to users looking to open functions and apps with a simple push of their finger, is now standard on many iPhones and included in some Android models.

If things keep moving along at the current pace, an app could be available in late 2019, Mukkamala added.

“Like our original device, the application still needs to be validated in a standard regulatory test,” he said. “But because no additional hardware is needed, we believe that the app could reach society faster.”

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

90% of Americans use digital health tools, survey shows

Author:  Aug. 29, 2018

Dive Brief:
Consumers continue to embrace digital health tools, with 90% of respondents in a new Rock Health survey using at least one last year, up from 80% in 2016.
photo of person with a smart watch, smart phone and health apps for article, 90% of Americans use digital health tools, survey showsThe greatest adoption is occurring around online health information (79% vs. 72%) and online provider reviews (58% vs. 51%). A slower uptick was seen in mobile tracking (24% vs. 22%), while wearables held steady at 24% and live video televisits slipped three percentage points to 19%.
But while 77% of people prefer in-person doctor visits to telehealth, most who used video visits were satisfied with the experience. Among those who paid for their virtual encounter, 91% said they were satisfied. That number dropped to 62% when someone else paid.

Dive Insight:
Likewise, while not everyone is jumping at the idea of wearables, those who use them report progress meeting personal health goals. The chief reasons people use wearables are to track physical activity, lose weight, improve sleep and manage stress.

The tools for doing so are proliferating, with mobile operating systems and various apps offering to track the information. Fitibit has been upping the ante, and recently launched a product line update that includes detection of blood oxygen levels, goal-based exercise modes and a sleep tracking beta.

[SEE REST OF THE STORY HERE]

8 ways hospitals are cutting readmissions

Written by Megan Knowles | August 15, 2018 | Print  | Email

As hospitals work to reduce readmissions, healthcare experts are looking at why patients return to the hospital and strategizing ways to keep discharged patients from becoming inpatients again, according to U.S. News & World Report.

1. Rapid follow-up. Congestive heart failure patients are some of the patients who have the highest risk of early hospital readmission, and patients who see a physician soon after their hospital stay or receive a follow up from a nurse or pharmacist are less likely to be readmitted, a study published in Medical Care found.

graph of top causes for hospital readmissionAfter researchers looked at about 11,000 heart failure patients discharged over a 10-year period, they found the timing of follow-up is closely tied to readmission rates, said study co-author Keane Lee, MD. “Specifically, it should be done within seven days of hospital discharge to be effective at reducing readmissions within 30 days,” Dr. Lee said.

2. Empathy training. When clinicians are trained in empathy skills, they may better communicate with patients preparing for discharge, and encouraging two-way conversations may help patients reveal their care expectations and concerns. Providers at Cleveland Clinic, for example, receive empathy training to better engage with patients and their families.

3. Treating the whole patient. When a patient suffers from multiple medical conditions, catching and treating symptoms of either condition early may prevent an emergency room visit. Integrated care models make it easier to give patients all-encompassing, continuous care, said Alan Go, MD, director of comprehensive clinical research at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

4. Navigator teams. A patient navigator team of a nurse and pharmacist can help cut heart failure patient readmissions. Patients who are discharged may be overwhelmed by long medication lists and multiple outpatient appointments. A patient navigator team of a nurse and pharmacist can help cut heart failure patient readmissions.

One study examined results of these teams at New York City-based Montefiore Medical Center. The navigator team helped reduce 30-day readmission rates by providing patient education, scheduling follow-up appointments and emphasizing patient frailty or struggle to comprehend discharge instructions.

5. Diabetes home monitoring. For high-risk patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease, home monitoring can help avoid readmissions. In a study examining a Medicare Advantage program of telephonic diabetes disease management, nurses conducted regular phone assessments of patients’ diabetes symptoms, medication-taking and self-monitoring of glucose levels. The study found hospital admissions for any cause were reduced for the program’s patients.

6. Empowered patients. It is critical for patients to understand their care plan at discharge, including medications, physical therapy and follow-up appointments, said Andrew Ryan, PhD, professor of healthcare management at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor. “Patients don’t want to be readmitted, either,” Dr. Ryan said. “They can take an active role in coordinating their care. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be the only ones to do that.”

[SEE REST OF STORY HERE]

How Facebook — yes, Facebook — might make MRIs faster

Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab is working with New York University’s medical school to make MRI exams 10 times faster, which, if successful, would allow radiologists to complete a test in minutes.

  @mattmcfarlandAugust 20, 2018: 11:14 AM ET

Doctors use MRI — shorthand for magnetic resonance imaging — to get a closer look at organs, tissues and bones without exposing patients to harmful radiation. The image quality makes them especially helpful in spotting soft tissue damage, too. The problem is, tests can take as long as an hour. Anyone with even a hint of claustrophobia can struggle to remain perfectly still in the tube-like machine that long. Tying up a machine for that long also drives up costs by limiting the number of exams a hospital can perform each day.

photo of high speed MRI machine for article, How Facebook -- yes, Facebook -- might make MRIs fasterComputer scientists at Facebook (FB) think they can use machine learning to make things a lot faster. To that end, NYU is providing an anonymous dataset of 10,000 MRI exams, a trove that will include as many as three million images of knees, brains and livers.

Researchers will use the data to train an algorithm, using a method called deep learning, to recognize the arrangement of bones, muscles, ligaments, and other things that make up the human body. Building this knowledge into the software that powers an MRI machine will allow the AI to create a portion of the image, saving time.

“You could be in and out in five minutes. It would be a real game-changer.” Daniel Sodickson, vice chair for research in radiology at NYU School of Medicine, told CNNMoney.

{SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE}

To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit

My back hurts when I sit down.

It’s been going on for 10 years. It really doesn’t matter where I am — at work, at a restaurant, even on our couch at home. My lower back screams, “Stop sitting!”

To try to reduce the pain, I bought a kneeling chair at work. Then I got a standing desk. Then I went back to a regular chair because standing became painful.

spinal gif animation for article, To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You SitI’ve seen physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and pain specialists. I’ve mastered Pilates, increased flexibility and strengthened muscles. At one point, my abs were so strong my husband nicknamed them “the plate.”

All these treatments helped a bit, at first. But the pain never really went away. So a few years ago, I decided to accept reality: Sitting down is — and will always be — painful for me.

Then back in November, I walked into the studio of Jenn Sherer in Palo Alto, Calif. She is part of a growing movement on the West Coast to teach people to move and sit and stand as they did in the past — and as they still do in other parts of the world. For the past 8 years, Sherer has been helping people reduce their back pain.

I was interviewing Sherer for a story about bending. But she could tell I was in pain. So I told her my story.

Her response left me speechless: “Sitting is a place where you can find heaven in your joints and in your back,” she says. “It’s not sitting that’s causing the pain, it’s how you’re sitting.

“Do you want me to show you how?”

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

How wildfires can threaten your health

By the time Thomas Dailey woke up on Tuesday, smoke from the Mendocino Complex Fire had drifted 150 miles south to his pulmonary practice in Santa Clara, staining the sunrise blood red.

For many Californians, the crimson sky was another reminder of the 19 wildfires burning across the state, a larger and more destructive threat than in recent years. It could become the worst fire season in state history.

info graphic for article, How wildfires can threaten your healthFor Dailey, a pulmonologist who has treated asthma patients for 29 years, it also signaled a growing health risk for his patients and the public. As wildfires burn through forests, vegetation and homes, they expel smoke and toxic pollutants, sending fine particulate matter into the air.

“It’s pretty sobering as soon as you see that,” said Dailey, whose asthma patients at his Santa Clara office recently began complaining about tightness of breath when they go outside. “You know there’s a lot of particulates in the air.”

[SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE]

Diet soda and colon cancer: What you need to know

Michael Joyce is a writer-producer with HealthNewsReview.org and tweets as @mlmjoyce

It doesn’t help matters when a news release opens with a quote like this from one of the study’s lead authors:

Artificially sweetened drinks have a checkered reputation in the public because of the purported

info graphic for article; Diet soda and colon cancer: What you need to know

health risks that have never really been documented. Our stu

dy clearly shows they help avoid cancer recurrence and death in patients who have been treated for advanced colon cancer, and that is an exciting finding.

Actually, it’s not that clear at all.

Mainly because this is an observational study suggesting that colon cancer patients who regularly drink diet soda have a lower risk of their tumors coming back, or of dying from their cancer. With this type of study it’s inaccurate and misleading to imply this is a cause-and-effect relationship.

Two other reasons make it not so clear:

First, the data on diet soda consumption are drawn from participants trying to accurately fill out food and drink questionnaires mont

hs after the fact. This sort of self-reporting has been shown to be highly unreliable.

Second, the study could not determine if other risk factors — such as diet, activity level, smoking, and other lifestyle choices — might contribute to lower cancer recurrence and mortality.

We were glad to see these limitations included in a HealthDay news story, but it’s not good journalistic practice to reprint quotes regarding the touted benefits directly from the Yale news release, which the story did.

It’s noteworthy that the quote featured above, from Charles Fuchs MD, MPH (Director, Yale Cancer Center) is at odds with more cautious language he used in the video embedded in the news release. He says:

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]