Week in Review: July 31

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.


FDA Okays Obesity Balloon Device

The FDA has approved a gastric balloon to treat obesity, adding to a fat-busting device arsenal that includes gastric banding and a vagal nerve stimulator. The ReShape dual balloon system is indicated for obese adults who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 40, and at least one other obesity-related comorbidity such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Via MedPage Today.

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$1 of Every $5 Spent in U.S. Will Be On Health Care

Nearly $1 in every $5 spent in the United States by 2024 will be on health care, according to a government projection, forecasting a quickening of the health inflation rate. Nonetheless, that rate still falls well short of the sharply upward trend seen prior to the Great Recession. Annual health spending is expected to grow an average of 5.8 percent during the period of 2014 through 2024, mainly because of the expansion in the number of people with health insurance due to Obamacare, stronger economic growth and an older population transitioning into the Medicare system. Via CNBC. 

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Star Tribune Offers New Round of Buyouts for Newsroom Employees

For the moment, at least, no alarms are ringing at the Star Tribune over a new round of newsroom buy­outs. “Nothing seismic,” is the description editor Rene Sanchez gives the current “offer,” which seeks six employees willing to accept 26 weeks of pay to leave the paper. The Newspaper Guild — the union representing newsroom employees — seems willing to take Sanchez at his word, even if they remain wary of the offer’s portent given the paper’s (and the industry’s) trimming over the past decade. Via MinnPost.

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As Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50, Use Of Private Health Plans Surges

As Medicare and Medicaid reach their 50th anniversary on Thursday, the two vast government programs that insure more than one-third of Americans are undergoing a transformation that none of their original architects foresaw: Private health insurance companies are playing a rapidly growing role in both. More than 30 percent of the 55 million Medicare beneficiaries and well over half of the 66 million Medicaid beneficiaries are now in private health plans run by insurance companies like the UnitedHealth Group, Humana, Anthem, and Centene. Via NY Times.

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Will Massive Mergers Make Health Insurance As Bad As Cable

The health insurance industry is consolidating — and fast. Anthem struck a deal to acquire Cigna, creating the country's largest health insurance plan. And less than a month ago Aetna announced plans to acquire Humana. If the Department of Justice approves the mergers, the big five health insurers in the United States would shrink to just three. Taken together, these three companies will cover around 132 million Americans — about half the population under 65. Via Vox.

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Diadexus and Mayo Clinic Join Forces on PLAC Activity Test to Improve Patient Care for Cardiovascular Diseases

Diadexus, Inc. (OTCQB: DDXS), a diagnostics company developing and commercializing products that aid in the prediction of cardiac disease risk, and Mayo Clinic recently signed an agreement to collaborate in the areas of education, research, and innovation on the PLAC® Test for Lp-PLA2 Activity. The test, which has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is used to help identify risk for coronary heart disease in patients with no history of cardiovascular events. Via CNNMoney.

Group of 118 Concerned Cancer Doctors Voice Their Concerns on Expensiveness of Cancer Drugs 

A group of 118 concerned cancer doctors have voiced their concerns over the pricey exorbitance of cancer drugs, and offered recommendations to the federal government on how pharmaceutical companies could reduce the cost of cancer drugs so that patients will be able to afford them. “A lot of my patients cry, they’re frustrated,” said Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic. “Many of them spend their life savings on cancer drugs and end up being bankrupt.” Via The Standard Daily.

What Can Periscope Do for Hospital Marketers?

Periscope is a video app that lets users broadcast glimpses of their lives. It's similar to Snapchat's stories feature, except it's live, more interactive, and has no time limits. Twitter bought the platform for $100M back in January to compete with Meerkat, its live-broadcasting predecessor. Periscope, is beginning to show its potential as a way for hospitals to engage with patients and amplify a health system's brand, says Mayo Clinic's social media director. Via HealthLeaders Media.

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Cost-Effective Addition to Mammography in Detecting Cancer in Dense Breast Tissue

For women with dense breast tissue, supplementing standard mammography with a new imaging technique called molecular breast imaging (MBI) can lower the cost of diagnosis of breast cancers, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR). Researchers at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine found that adding MBI to mammography of women with dense breast tissue increased the costs of diagnosis 3.2 times, compared to costs of mammography alone, and nearly quadrupled the rate of cancer detection. Because the supplemental test found more cancer, screening with a combination of mammography and MBI saved $8,254 per cancer detected. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Washing Hands Does Save Lives 

What most people fail to realize is that something as simple as washing their hands is the first line of defense against germs. It's something so routine, but it can save your life and others. According to the Centers for Disease Control, increasing hand washing in school is a win for everyone. Students and teachers are healthier and then kids take their hygiene knowledge home to parents and other siblings. Via WJXT.

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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.