Week in Review: August 7

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.


Bigger May Be Better for Health Insurers, but Doubts Remain for Consumers

Deals among the nation’s largest health insurers in recent weeks have been almost head-spinning. But whatever the details, if the combinations are finalized, the result will be an industry dominated by three colossal insurers. Consumer advocates, policy experts, and former regulators say that what may be good for the insurers may not be good for consumers, especially in the wake of a similar frenzy of deal-making among hospitals and doctors’ groups. Via NY Times.

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FDA Clears First 3-D Printed Prescription Drug to Treat Seizures

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first prescription drug made through 3-D printing: a dissolvable tablet that treats seizures. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals said that the FDA approved its drug Spritam for adults and children who suffer from certain types of seizures caused by epilepsy. The tablet is manufactured through a layered process via 3-D printing and dissolves when taken with liquid. Via LA Times. 

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Hospitals Must Work Together to Prevent Superbug Spread

Superbugs -- germs that have evolved to become resistant to antibiotics and other medical treatments -- are on the loose, infecting more than 2 million people in the U.S. every year and killing at least 23,000.  But a new analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that coordinated efforts to combat antibiotic-resistant infections could reduce the number of infections in health care facilities by more than half a million over the course of five years.Via LA Times.

CVS, IBM Partner for Technology-Based Health Care

CVS Health and IBM announced they will join forces to improve health care management services to patients with chronic diseases with the help of advanced technology. The partnership between the health care company and software company will provide the technology behind IBM’s Watson computing systems to CVS Health practitioners and pharmacists. The technology can analyze large amounts of data, interpret and evaluate information and build knowledge over time. The Watson computing system can access health records, pharmacy information and other resources to help CVS Health employees provide guidance to patients and work with primary care doctors. Via USA Today.

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New York Legionnaires' Deaths Rise to Eight, Nearly 100 Sickened

The number of deaths from an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in New York has risen to eight and 97 people were reported sick with it, according to statistics released by Mayor Bill de Blasio's office. More than half of the 92 people hospitalized were treated and released, the mayor's office said on Wednesday. De Blasio said earlier this week the outbreak triggered an effort to mandate city-wide inspections and cleanings of air conditioning cooling towers. Via Reuters.

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Mayo Clinic to Offer More Procedures Through Centers-of-Excellence Program

Patients nationwide will be encouraged to seek treatment at “centers of excellence.” UnitedHealth Group is expanding a program with Mayo Clinic that encourages patients across the country to travel to the Rochester-based health system for certain specialized procedures. “Our feeling is that the major cost savings, and the major benefit to the patient, is having an experienced team that arrives at the right diagnosis,” said Dr. Charles Rosen, the medical director for contracting and payer relations at Mayo Clinic.Via Star Tribune.

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Protect Your Heart in the Summer Heat 

Whatever brings you outside this summer — a bike ride with friends, a jog in the park or just a stroll around the block — it’s important to stay safe when the temperature rises. And if you’re a heart patient, older than 50 or overweight, you might need to take special precautions in the heat, according to Gerald Fletcher, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville, Florida. Via Times Herald-Record.

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CV Risk in RA: Is a New Measurement Tool the Answer?

A new expanded cardiovascular (CV) risk calculator for use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been developed to take into account disease-specific factors that can worsen risk, researchers reported. "This is an important contribution to the assessment of cardiovascular disease in these patients," said Eric Matteson, M.D., chair of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who was not involved in the project. Via MedPage Today.

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In Rare Cases, Infection May Be at Root of Back Pain

People with back pain that doesn't improve with treatment could have a rare type of spine infection, new guidelines suggest. The infection -- called vertebral osteomyelitis -- could lead to paralysis or death if it's not diagnosed and treated correctly. The condition is often overlooked because it causes back pain, a common problem typically caused by a pulled muscle or back injury, according to the guidelines published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. "Back pain is so common -- and usually not caused by infection -- that diagnosis often is missed or delayed," guidelines lead author Dr. Elie Berbari, associate chair of education, division of infectious disease, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., said in a news release from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Via HealthDay.

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Greater Risk for Kidney Stones in Summer

Kidney stones affect approximately 3.8 million people in the U.S. each year and they are especially more common in the summer. The stones are described as small, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts that form when urine becomes concentrated. According to Mayo Clinic nephrologist William Haley, M.D., heat, humidity and lack of proper hydration all lead to a higher prevalence of kidney stones in the summer. “The main reason is due to the amount of water we take in and use. Our bodies are made up of mostly water and we use it regularly. But in the heat, we may not be drinking as much as we should, or taking in the right types of fluids, so we become dehydrated, which can lead to more stones.” 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.