Week in Review: Feb. 20

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


The Health Law, in the Real World

As Elisabeth Rosenthal eloquently documents in “Insured, but Not Covered” our health insurance system is little better than the nonsystem we had before the Affordable Care Act. President Obama’s reform was doomed by the failure to exclude the major profit-driven industries (health insurance, drug manufacturers and for-profit, hospital-based medical-industrial corporations) from taking it over and milking it for profits. Via NY Times.

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In Hospitals, Board Rooms Are as Important as Operating Room

If you or a loved one is having a heart attack, your most pressing concerns probably include how quickly you can get to the hospital and the quality of care you’ll receive. You’re probably not thinking about the hospital’s board room, even though quality of care for heart attacks and many other conditions may be determined in large part by decisions made there. Several studies show that hospital boards can improve quality and can make decisions associated with reduced mortality rates. But not all boards do so. ”Most board members are community leaders, serving on the board to support fund-raising goals,” said Ashish Jha, a Harvard physician. Via NY Times. 

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Cancer Documentary Project Draws Widespread Support

The oncology "community" is apparently jumping at the chance to show support for documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' latest PBS project -- a 6-hour film examining the history of cancer. Genentech, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Siemens, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the American Association for Cancer Research -- have either helped bankroll or support the production and/or the publicity effort around the film, titled "Cancer: the Emperor of All Maladies." Via MedPage Today.

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Kids With Type 1 Diabetes at Risk for Mental Health Problems

In a new Swedish study, kids diagnosed with type 1 diabetes were more likely than their healthy siblings to develop a psychiatric disorder or to attempt suicide. “We suspected that we would find higher risk of common psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety, as observed among adults with diabetes,” said lead author Agnieszka Butwicka of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Via ABC News.

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Long-Term Multivitamin-Mineral Use Tied to Women’s Heart Health 

Despite research suggesting that multivitamins do little for reasonably well-fed Americans, the question is not settled say researchers from the National Institutes of Health. A new analysis of deaths from heart disease over more than 20 years finds that women who took multivitamin-mineral supplements for three years or more were significantly less likely to die. Via Reuters.

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Mayo Clinic Biobank Nears Goal, Expansion Possibilities Considered

Increasing attention to individualized medicine after President Obama's State of the Union address has shined a spotlight upon the Mayo Clinic Biobank. Mayo has asked for blood samples from thousands of volunteers. "We expect to achieve our goal of 50,000 by the end of the year," said Stephen Thibodeau, program director of the Mayo Clinic Biorepositories Program in the Center for Individualized Medicine. "This will be great for us." Via Post-Bulletin.

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Pills Found to Help Chances of Quitting Smoking in the Future

Doctors typically wait until smokers are ready to quit before prescribing pills to help them do it. But a new study has found that even for those who are not ready to stop smoking immediately, medicine taken over time can substantially improve their chances of eventually quitting….“It’s a paradigm shift because instead of only giving the medication to patients who have set a quit date, you are potentially giving it to every smoker,” said Dr. Jon O. Ebbert, one of the authors, who is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Minnesota. “It opens the door to a much larger population of smokers that we can treat.” Via NY Times.

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Model Improves Prediction of Breast Cancer Risk After Benign Biopsy

A model that consisted of demographic and histologic features more accurately reflected a woman’s risk for breast cancer after receipt of a benign biopsy than the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, according to study results. “Physicians routinely perform biopsies to evaluate concerning findings in the breast, either felt on exam or seen on mammogram, for the presence of a breast cancer,” researcher Amy Degnim, MD, a surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said in a press release. “However, about three-quarters of these biopsies prove to be benign and are referred to as benign breast disease.” Via Healio.

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'Jolie Effect' on Awareness of Breast Cancer Genes

In a study released Feb. 11, 2015, the AARP Public Policy Institute reported that BRCA genetic testing among women without breast cancer increased dramatically in the days after Angelina Jolie’s announcement that she carried the BRCA1 mutation and had an elective double mastectomy. Optum Labs was established through a partnership between Optum, a leading information and technology-enabled health services business, and Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research, and education, as an open center for research and innovation. Via WJAX.

Medication Therapy Can Increase Long-Term Success For Smokers Who Cut Back First

A study of more than 1,500 cigarette smokers who were not ready to quit smoking but were willing to cut back on cigarette consumption and combine their approach with varenicline (Chantix) increased their long-term success of quitting smoking. The multinational study is published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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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.