September 5, 2019 | Maine goes its own way

September 5, 2019


Community health workers can cut CV risk

A community-based intervention using non-physician health workers cut the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with hypertension, according to research presented Monday at the 2019 European Society of Cardiology Congress. “A comprehensive model of care led by non-physician heath workers, involving primary care physicians and family, along with the provision of free antihypertensive medications and a statin, resulted in a greater than 40% reduction in cardiovascular risk and a doubling in the change in blood pressure control,” said Jon-David Schwalm, MD, MSc, who presented the findings. (MedPage Today)

Access vs data safety: Impact of apps

Proposed regulations would allow patients to access their medical records through smartphone apps—something that appears to be a major step forward in patient rights. But as the New York Timesreported Monday, several medical organizations, including the AMA, warn that these apps could lead to data abuses and compromise patient privacy. However, Dr. Don Rucker, the national coordinator for health IT, calls the position self-serving. “All we’re saying is that patients have a right to choose as opposed to the right being denied them by the forces of paternalism.” (The New York Times)


New team-based models required

Old primary care team models are “underpowered,” say researchers writing in the Annals of Family Medicine. They call for a new model: “advanced team care with in-room support.” Where deployed, they report, this approach has led to improved productivity and growth, as well as enhanced patient and staff satisfaction. It would “allow clinicians to shed that portion of clinical and administrative work that a well-trained, well-staffed team could easily perform.” (AAFP News;Annals of Family Medicine)

Public/private effort leads to TB breakthrough

Last week, the FDA approved pretomanid, for treating patients with highly drug-resistant tuberculosis. It was the first time a nonprofit research organization, TB Alliance, had developed a new treatment, sponsoring clinical trials all the way through FDA approval. This success points to the potential for future public-private partnerships to meet the urgent need for new therapies for infectious disease. (Wall Street Journal)


For patients, drug costs shrouded in mystery

Up to 30% of prescriptions don’t get filled because patients don’t know if they’ll be able to afford the drug. Put another way, price is the number one reason people don’t fill prescriptions. And most Americans don’t know what they’ll owe for a prescription medication until they get it. The obvious solution, the Associated Press points out, would be to “give doctors information on patients’ costs before they write prescriptions.” But given all the variables, such as insurance, no one has designed a system that can quickly assess what a patient would owe. Some innovators are trying to change that. (AP)

Rural docs may have less burnout

Family practitioners who practice in rural areas have significantly lower burnout rates than those who practice in medium-sized or larger metropolitan areas, according to a small pilot study published in South Dakota Medicine. This could indicate that some aspects of rural practice may confer a protective effect against burnout. And in an interview with AAFP News, one of the authors suggests rural physicians may have more autonomy and respect from their communities. (AAFP News; abstract)


Good data drives out bad? Pinterest, which has already blocked vaccination-related search terms, is now displaying information from public health organizations for keywords like “measles” or “vaccine safety.” (TechCrunch)

Not eliminated: The United States could lose its measles elimination status in October because of ongoing measles outbreaks in New York, according to the CDC. Public health officials acknowledge they failed to fight back forcefully enough when anti-vaxers circulated false claims about vaccines. (CNN)

Maine goes its own way: Maine is moving toward its own insurance marketplace. Maine Gov. Janet Mills notified the CMS that the state wants to take over the marketplace’s outreach, marketing and consumer assistance functions starting in 2021. It will, at least for the short term, use the federal government’s ACA enrollment platform. (Modern Healthcare)


Digital outreach, behavioral health

In this video from the 2019 Connected Health conference, Dr. John Herman, associate chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital discusses how Digital tools can help those in underserved areas get needed psychiatric help. (MobiHealth News)


“We’re embarrassed. We’re chagrined.” —Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the CDC on vaccine issues, on the possibility of the U.S. losing its “measles elimination status.”

Jorden Gunessever