Week in Review: June 12

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.

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More Preventive Health Services Approved For No-Cost Coverage

The Affordable Care Act says that preventive health tests or services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have to be available to most insured consumers without any out-of-pocket cost. Since the law was enacted, the list of services that people are entitled to has grown. In 2014, the task force recommended two new services and tweaked a handful of others that had previously been recommended. Via NPR.

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FDA Panel Backs Cholesterol Drug, but Raises Concerns

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended that the agency approve the cholesterol-lowering drug Praluent, the first of a wave of such cardiovascular drugs expected to raise billions of dollars in revenue and perhaps alter the treatment of cardiovascular disease. But many panelists said the use of the drug should be limited to certain high-risk groups, such as people with very high cholesterol for genetic reasons because of a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. Via Wall Street Journal. 

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Organ Donation: State Efforts Have Done Little To Close The Supply Gap

In the U.S., an average of 21 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant, and the wait times can range from four months for a heart to five years for a kidney, dependent on the how sick the patient is, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the Gift of Life Donor Program. But public policies have done little to close this gap between supply and demand, according to a study published earlier this month in JAMA Internal MedicineVia KHN.

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Walgreens, Insurers Push Expansion of Virtual Doctor Visits

Millions of people will be able to see a doctor on their smartphones or laptops for everyday ailments once the nation's largest drugstore chain and two major insurers expand a budding push into virtual health care. Walgreens said that it will offer a smartphone application that links doctor and patients virtually in 25 states by the end of the year. Via Pioneer Press.

E-Cig Juice Sends Child Nicotine Poisonings Soaring in Minnesota 

Young children in Minnesota are getting their hands on flavored juice used in e-cigarettes and poisoning themselves with nicotine at a troubling pace, state health officials said. The Minnesota Poison Control System reported 62 cases of e-cigarette and e-juice poisonings among children from birth to 5 years old last year — a 35 percent increase from 2013 — according to data released by the state Health Department. Via Star Tribune.

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Death Investigations Shift From County Coroners To Regional Medical Examiners

County coroners, the origins of which date back to medieval England, are slowly disappearing in Minnesota. Counties are eliminating the post in favor of highly trained forensic pathologists at regional medical examiner offices, like the one at Mayo, to determine how someone died. Over the past seven years, the number of counties using a regional hub instead of a county coroner has nearly doubled. Via Star Tribune.

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New Ways Doctors Reach Agreement on Patient Diagnoses 

Pathology labs do conduct internal reviews when cases “fall into the gray zone and are not clearly benign or malignant,” and pathologists often call on colleagues who may have more expertise in a certain type of cancer, says Raouf Nakhleh, a pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and co-author of the guidelines. They suggest doctors hold conferences in labs and standardize criteria for cases where pathologists often have differing interpretations such as some lesions detected in the thyroid and esophagus. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Mayo Clinic Joins Move to Get New Drugs to Market Faster

The Mayo Clinic has jumped into an interesting little experiment in drug development that might best be called micro pharma. Mayo is one of the partners in a new company called Vitesse Biologics, which is more or less just a virtual umbrella company that will itself give birth to at least five new companies. Each one of these micro pharma companies will consist mostly of a single drug development research project. Via Star Tribune.

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Mental and Social Activity Delays the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s 

There’s evidence that mental and social activities do little to change the underlying drivers of Alzheimer’s, but doctors say they delay symptoms. So while the results don’t show that mental activity can affect the biology of Alzheimer’s in any way, it can have a meaningful impact on symptoms. And that is “huge,” says Dr. David Knopman, professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, who reviewed the paper and recommended it for publication. “If that resulted in a year or two delay in symptoms across the population, that would be a huge effect.” Via TIME.

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Mayo Clinic Named One of the Best Children’s Hospitals

Mayo Clinic Children’s Center has again been ranked as the top performing children’s hospital in the Minnesota, Dakotas and Iowa region on U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-2016 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings. 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.