Week in Review: July 24

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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New Saliva Test May Catch Alzheimer's Disease Early

A test detecting Alzheimer's disease early may become easily available thanks to one plentiful bodily substance: saliva, a recently released study shows. The saliva test was presented at the 2015 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington this week. Though research is still in its infancy, the saliva test represents the exciting future of diagnostic tools in development for the detection of the neurodegenerative disease. Via CNN.

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IRS: 7.5 Million Americans Paid Penalty For Lack Of Health Coverage

About 7.5 million Americans paid an average penalty of $200 for not having health insurance in 2014 — the first year most Americans were required to have coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Internal Revenue Service said. By contrast, taxpayers filing three-quarters of the 102 million returns received by the IRS so far this year checked a box indicating they had qualifying insurance coverage all year. Via NPR. 

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Health Insurers' Merger Mania On Hold

Just a few weeks ago, it was declared that a great pent-up demand for mergers and acquisitions among health insurers would unleash itself as a result of Obamacare’s confirmation by the Supreme Court. And so it did, for a while at least. Today, the consolidation seems less sure. In 2011, two deals (Cigna CI -1.07%’s acquisition of Health Spring and Aetna AET -0.04%’s purchase of Coventry Health Care ) were worth $9.5 billion. Today’s three pending deals are much larger, amounting to almost one hundred billion dollars. Via Forbes.

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Why Women Get Alzheimer’s More Often Than Men

Women represent nearly two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, and scientists are just beginning to try to figure out why. The conventional wisdom has held that women are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s because they live longer than men, on average, and had fewer educational opportunities — shown to protect against dementia — decades ago. Via Next Avenue.

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Minnesota Tallies $2 Billion in Wasted Hospital Spending

Minnesotans receive as much as $2 billion in hospital care a year that could be avoided, according to a new analysis that also estimates two of every three emergency room visits in the state are potentially preventable. The first-of-its-kind report was an effort by Minnesota health officials to quantify the waste, which amounts to 4.8 percent of state spending on health care per year, and to find the fat in the system that would be easiest to trim. Via Star Tribune.

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Mayo Edge: Take Precautions to Avoid Ticks and Lyme Disease

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: In the summer, my kids play outdoors most of the day, and we've found ticks on their clothing. Is Lyme disease something I should be worried about? What are the early symptoms? Does bug spray keep ticks away? Lyme disease is the most common illness spread by ticks in the United States. So it is worth taking precautions to prevent this disease, especially if your children play in wooded, grassy or bushy areas and you live or vacation in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent. Via Post-Bulletin.

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U.S. News & World Report Ranks Mayo Clinic Best Hospital for Gastroenterology, GI Surgery

Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic received top honors among hospitals for gastroenterology and GI surgery, as announced today in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Hospitals survey. Both hospitals also earned top spots on the U.S. News & World Report’s overall best Hospitals Honor Roll, with Mayo Clinic in the number two spot, followed by Cleveland Clinic at number five. The honor roll recognizes hospitals ranking at or near the top of six or more specialties. Via Healio.

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Mayo Clinic Offers $50,000 and Advice to Entrepreneurs With Innovative Ideas

Mayo Clinic is launching a nation-wide contest called the THINK BIG Challenge. They’re inviting entrepreneurs from all over to submit innovative ideas that will help transform the future of health care. Two winners will be selected, each winning $50,000 for start-up costs. However, arguably more valuable of a prize will be one year of guidance from Mayo Clinic experts. “I think it will be tremendous. I think from our perspective, it’s kind of in our sweet spot where we can really provide what we know, what we understand. We can help translate the issues that we’re seeing and hopefully improve care for patients,” explains James Rogers, Chair of Mayo Clinic Ventures. Via KIMT 3.

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High Soda Intake May Boost Diabetes Risk, Even Without Obesity

Whether you are slim or obese, if you drink lots of sugary soda or other sweetened drinks you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, a new analysis reveals. Another theory holds that high levels of dietary sugar could affect the "healthy" microbial colonies in your gut, altering digestion in some way that increases risk of type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Steven Smith, an endocrinologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Via HealthDay.

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Leading Experts Prescribe How to Make Cancer Drugs More Affordable

A group of 118 of the nation's leading cancer experts have drafted a prescription for reducing the high cost of cancer drugs and voiced support for a patient-based grassroots movement demanding action on the issue. Their recommendations and support are outlined in a commentary, co-authored by the group, in the journal Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVia 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.