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.
Big Data Coming in Faster Than Biomedical Researchers Can Process It
Biomedical research is going big-time: Megaprojects that collect vast stores of data are proliferating rapidly. But scientists' ability to make sense of all that information isn't keeping up. This conundrum took center stage at a meeting of patient advocates, called Partnering For Cures, in New York City on Nov. 15. On the one hand, there's an embarrassment of riches, as billions of dollars are spent on these megaprojects. There's the White House's Cancer Moonshot (which seeks to make 10 years of progress in cancer research over the next five years), the Precision Medicine Initiative (which is trying to recruit a million Americans to glean hints about health and disease from their data), The BRAIN Initiative (to map the neural circuits and understand the mechanics of thought and memory) and the International Human Cell Atlas Initiative (to identify and describe all human cell types). Via NPR.
Rule Change Could Push Hospitals to Tell Patients about Nursing Home Quality
Hospitals have long been reluctant to share with patients their assessments of which nursing homes are best because of a Medicare requirement that patients' choices can't be restricted. For years, many hospitals simply have given patients a list of all the skilled nursing facilities near where they live and told them which ones have room for a new patient. Patients have rarely been told which homes have poor quality ratings from Medicare or a history of public health violations, according to researchers and patient advocates. But hospitals' tight-lipped approach to sharing quality information may soon be changed. The Obama administration is rewriting those rules, not just for patients going to nursing homes but also those headed home or to another type of health facility. Via NPR.
How Cubans Live as Long as Americans at a Tenth of the Cost
Cuba has long had a nearly identical life expectancy to the United States, despite widespread poverty. The humanitarian-physician Paul Farmer notes in his book Pathologies of Power that there’s a saying in Cuba: “We live like poor people, but we die like rich people.” Farmer also notes that the rate of infant mortality in Cuba has been lower than in the Boston neighborhood of his own prestigious hospital, Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s. All of this despite Cuba spending just $813 per person annually on health care compared with America’s $9,403. In Cuba, health care is protected under the constitution as a fundamental human right. As a poor country, Cuba can’t afford to equivocate and waste money on health care. Much advanced technology is unavailable. So the system is forced instead to keep people healthy. This pressure seems to have created efficiency. Via The Atlantic.
After Lilly Bombs, Could Alzheimer's become Health Care's Trumpshot
The lack of progress in developing an Alzheimer’s therapeutic might be President-elect Trump’s first opportunity to demonstrate a new and practical approach to treating the devastating disease that afflicted his father, Fred Trump, who passed away in 1999 after a six-year battle. Just as President Obama and Vice President Biden established a moonshot for cancer after the Vice President’s son’s death from brain cancer, President-elect Trump may decide to have his own moonshot (or Trumpshot, as we call it), directing resources and initiatives to central nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, which are predicted to increase the health care burden exponentially over the next several decades. Via Forbes.
U.S. Imposes Nationwide Ban On Smoking In All Public Housing
The Obama administration has issued a sweeping final rule banning smoking in all public housing units nationwide, extending a smoke-free environment to nearly a million units. Via NPR.
Mayo Clinic News
Mayo Clinic Discovers Potential Cause and Treatment for Tumors Affecting Children and Young Adults
A team of researchers at Mayo Clinic have identified a possible cause and treatment for inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors, a rare form of sarcoma. The 12 investigators from Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine, who published their study in Annals of Oncology, have shown that their new treatment may address soft cancer tissue that was previously unresponsive to traditional radiation or chemotherapy. Via Life Science Daily.
Your Brain on Texting
When neurologist William Tatum, D.O., and his team stuck scalp electrodes on people undergoing video EEG monitoring for epilepsy, they stumbled upon what might be the first biological evidence that texting physically messes with the brain. Dr. Tatum’s chief technician at Mayo Clinic in Florida noticed odd brain waveforms when some people texted. The brain patterns caught her attention because they were weirdly similar to what she was looking for: potential seizure activity. The findings, reproduced in a recently published study involving 129 people, monitored 24 hours a day over 16 months, add tantalizing new insights into smartphone-brain “interfaces,” Dr. Tatum says. Via National Post.
Study: 1 in 6 Breast Cancer Patients Have Symptoms Other Than Lumps
A new study of more than 2,300 women in England showed 1 in 6 patients have symptoms other than lumps—some symptoms far more subtle than others. Interview with Deborah Rhodes, M.D. Via NBC News.
Mayo Clinic Uses Emergency Telemedicine for Newborn Resuscitations
The Mayo Clinic is using emergency video telemedicine to effectively assist community hospitals less familiar with advanced newborn resuscitation interventions during high-risk, complex deliveries. Mayo’s Division of Neonatal Medicine initially offered newborn telemedicine consultations to six of its health system sites, where local care teams used wireless tablets running HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software from Vidyo to communicate with neonatologists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Video consults are now conducted at all 10 of Mayo’s health system sites that deliver babies in the Rochester region. Via Health Data Management.
Mayo Clinic Finds Myocarditis Caused by Infection on Rise Globally
Myocarditis, an assortment of heart disorders often caused by infection and inflammation, is known to be difficult to diagnose and treat. But the picture of who is affected is becoming a little clearer. Men may be as much as twice as likely as women to develop severe and possibly fatal reactions. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.