Week In Review — Sept. 12

The Week In Review provides an overview of the past week's top healthcare content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news and upcoming events.


Reports of Respiratory Virus Hit Several States

Officials in several states, including Missouri, are reporting cases of respiratory illness, some severe enough to send kids to hospitals. In Kansas City, Mo., more than 300 cases of respiratory illnesses were reported last month, according to the state Department of Health & Senior Services. About 15% of the illnesses resulted in children being placed in an intensive care unit, according to a health alert issued Aug. 29. Via USA Today.

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As Apple Moves into Health Apps, What Happens to Privacy?  

With its foray into health, Apple is entering a fraught legal and privacy terrain. Apple’s Tuesday event included three health-data plays: It introduced a smartwatch with sensors to double as a fitness device that can track steps, calories and heart rate, among other things. Its new mobile operating system, iOS 8, will include an app, Health, that is a dashboard for health and fitness information such as heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar and cholesterol, plus lab results and medications. And HealthKit, its recently announced repository for health and fitness data, can connect with doctors and other health-care providers. Via Wall Street Journal.

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F.D.A. Allows First Use of a Novel Cancer Drug 

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first of an eagerly awaited new class of cancer drugs that unleashes the body’s immune system to fight tumors. The drug, which Merck will sell under the name Keytruda, was approved for patients with advanced melanoma who have exhausted other therapies. Via NY Times.

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Health Chief Seeks to Focus on Insurance Site

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said Monday in her first major speech that she wanted to move beyond the politics of health care and work with members of both parties to improve the management and operation of HealthCare.gov, the website used by millions of people to sign up for insurance coverage. Via NY Times.

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Early Treatment May Decrease Autism Signs 

Early can autism be detected in babies, and how soon can they be treated? A baby’s first birthday visit to the pediatrician usually includes a screening for the social deficits common with autism spectrum disorder. But doctors and scientists tend to agree that they can’t make a very reliable diagnosis until the toddler is 2 years old. The bulk of treatment programs begin then.. The study, published online Tuesday in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders, suggests a qualified yes on all counts. The data from the pilot program jibe with a growing body of research that shows that guided social interaction between a mother and her baby can decrease autism symptoms by age 3. Via LA Times.

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A Fast-Growing Medical Lab Tests Anti-Kickback Law

A fast-growing Virginia laboratory has collected hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare while using a strategy that is now under regulatory scrutiny: It paid doctors who sent it patients' blood for testing. Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. transformed itself from a startup incorporated in late 2008 into a major lab with $383 million in 2013 revenues, 41% of that from Medicare. … Prescribing the Plavix test routinely to patients "is not something we would endorse," says Allan Jaffe, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. It is appropriate only for patients with blood-clot risk whom doctors want to treat with the drug, he says. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Mayo Eyes Apple Collaboration to Expand Consumer Outreach

The Mayo Clinic has decided to be involved with Apple as it rolls out its new iWatch Tuesday because it hopes the iWatch, along with Apple's HealthKit app, will allow it to better reach patients remotely. Another major provider, Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, also reportedly an Apple partner, did not respond to requests for comment on its plans.Via Modern Healthcare.

Mayo Clinic Partners With IBM's Watson

For someone who has been a winner on Jeopardy and is featured at conferences nationwide, their resume must be pretty impressive. But in this case, it's not a someone at all, but rather a something. Watson is IBM's super-computer, and now, it got a new job at Mayo Clinic…"The clinical trials matching solution, that we're working with IBM on, based on the Watson technology, does would be to accelerate and streamline that, so that it will automatically show up on my computer, when I see a patient, which trials this patient might be eligible for," said Dr. Nick LaRusso, the Mayo physician who is the lead on the Watson collaboration. Via KAAL.

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Mayo Clinic, Delos to Establish New Research and Design Lab

Mayo Clinic and Delos have announced plans to establish the WELL Living Lab Rochester — a design and testing facility for the development of home and work environments focused on health and well-being. "An open-innovation ecosystem for healthy living, the WELL Living Lab will simulate realistic living and working environments, including homes, offices, schools, communities and hotels in order to test, monitor and identify the efficacy of wellness-based interventions," says an announcement from Mayo. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Medica Joins UnitedHealth/Mayo Big-Data Venture

Health insurer Medica's research arm will join Optum Labs, the big-data venture launched by Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth Group Inc. Medica Research Institute, based in Minnetonka, was one of four new partners Optum Labs announced Tuesday. The others are Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy, pharma giant Merck and University of Maryland-Baltimore. Via Mpls./St. Paul Business Journal.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.