Week in Review: Feb. 10

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.


Industry News

UnitedHealth, Aetna, Anthem Near 50% Value-Based-Care Spending

The nation’s largest health insurers say they are paying out almost half of their reimbursements via value-based-care models sweeping the U.S. medical system. UnitedHealth Group UNH +0.69% and Aetna AET +0.06% appear to be the furthest along in moving quickly from the traditional fee-for-service approach that can lead to overtreatment and unnecessary medical tests and procedures. And rival Anthem WLP +%, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, isn’t far behind. Value-based pay is tied to health outcomes, performance, and quality of care of medical-care providers who contract with insurers via alternative payment vehicles like accountable care organizations, a delivery system that rewards doctors and hospitals for working together to improve quality and rein in costs. Via Forbes.

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The Scary Reason Healthy People Die after an ER Visit

About one in every five Americans goes to the emergency room each year. And which one they end up at may have life or death consequences, suggests a new study published in The BMJ. ERs across the country vary on their likelihood to admit patients into the hospital in the first place. “In general, the high-cost, big academic hospitals tend to admit a lot of people,” says Dr. Ziad Obermeyer, assistant professor in the departments of emergency medicine and health care policy at Harvard Medical School, who led the study. “A lot of other hospitals, which are leaner, private, and non-academic, admit fewer patients.” People were most likely to die within a week of being discharged from the ER when they visited the latter. Via TIME.

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What Happens When Doctors Only Take Cash

Sometimes called "direct pay," and closely related to concierge care, this sort of business model was once seen as the perquisite of rich folks and medical tourists from foreign lands. But nowadays, many of the people seeking cash-based care are middle-class Americans with high-deductible insurance plans. For a patient with an $11,000 family deductible, for example, it might make more sense to seek out a cash-based center like the Premier Medical Imaging facility in Minneapolis, which offers a basic MRI for $499, than to cough up the several thousand dollars that the same procedure generally costs at a traditional hospital. Cash payments don't count toward a patient's deductible, but for some, it's worth the gamble. Via TIME.

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More Than 350 Organizations Write Trump to Endorse Current Vaccines’ Safety

More than 350 organizations, including leading U.S. medical, advocacy, and professional organizations, have sent a letter to President Trump expressing their “unequivocal support for the safety of vaccines.” The effort, organized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, reflects the growing alarm among a wide array of groups over Trump’s embrace of discredited claims about vaccine safety. After a meeting in January with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a proponent of the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism, a Trump spokeswoman said he was considering creation of a commission on autism. Via Washington Post.

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Zuckerberg’s Non-Profit Invests $50 Million into Researching Deadly Diseases

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, the non-profit medical research organization launched by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife Priscilla Chan, has selected the first wave of applicants to receive funding for their research into deadly diseases. The organization announced an initial investment of $50 million which will support 47 researchers from Berkley, the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford in their studies into life sciences. The successful applicants, a mix of scientists, technologists, and engineers who were selected from a pool of more than 700, will each receive up to $1.5 million of "unrestricted" funding over the course of five years as part of the Biohub's Investigator Program. Via CNBC.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo's Noseworthy Talks Veterans Issues at White House

Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., visited the nation's capital to meet with White House officials "to share Mayo Clinic's insights and expertise in order to support the best possible care for U.S. veterans," according to a statement released by Mayo spokeswoman Duska Anastasijevic. Leaders from Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Partners HealthCare, and Kaiser Permanente also attended the meeting, though it's unclear if President Donald Trump met with the health care heavyweights. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Mayo Clinic Gives Students a Glimpse of a Career in Science

More than 200 middle and high school students came to Mayo Clinic to learn about careers in science. Mayo Clinic opens its doors every two years to students from eighth grade through 12th grade who are interested in the field, and it hosts demonstrative and hands-on experiments. This year marks the 17th Celebration of Research event. Organizers of the event said they hope to encourage students to continue pursuing science and possibly choose careers in science and engineering. Via KTTC.

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A New Device May Mean Fewer Breast-Cancer Surgeries

Viewing low re-excision rates as a key indicator of quality, other institutions are highlighting their techniques to reduce second surgeries. At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, breast surgeons point to their method of having pathologists nearby in the operating suite to examine frozen tissue samples while the patient is in surgery. Their second-surgery rates are 3.6%, though the technique is a century old, says Judy Boughey, M.D., Mayo’s surgical-research chair. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Doctors Push for Flu Immunizations after Surge of Cases Nationwide

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40 states are reporting widespread flu activity—with more than 30,000 reported cases in the U.S. Interview with Pritish Tosh, M.D., Infectious Diseases, Mayo Clinic. Via NBC News.

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Mayo Clinic Recognizes National Wear Red Day

February 3 is marked as National Wear Red Day, a day when the eye-catching color can be used to increase awareness of heart disease in women. This year’s celebration marks 15 years of the designated day, which signifies the fight against heart disease as the No. 1 killer in women. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.