Week in Review: Sept. 28

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

Shingles Vaccine Shortages Result from High Demand

Shingrix, the vaccine approved last year to prevent shingles, has proved so popular that its maker, GlaxoSmithKline, has not been able to produce it quickly enough to keep up with the demand. The vaccine is recommended for most people older than 50. But many are having trouble getting it. The company says there are no manufacturing problems—it just didn’t expect so many consumers to want the vaccine. Via NY Times.

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Newborn Syphilis Cases in U.S. Reach 20-Year High

The number of newborn babies born with syphilis has increased dramatically over the past few years. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that reported cases of congenital syphilis, in which the disease is passed from mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery, have more than doubled since 2013. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to serious complications if not treated. It can be cured with the right round of antibiotics. An untreated infection passed from mother to baby can cause devastating health effects for the newborn. According to the CDC, up to 40% of babies born to women with untreated syphilis may be stillborn or die from the infection as a newborn. Via CBS News.

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Gene Editing Could Eliminate Mosquitoes, but Is It a Good Idea?

Researchers have rendered a population of mosquitoes in a lab sterile using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 by homing in on a specific target in insect DNA—the doublesex gene—raising the possibility of eradicating disease-carrying species of the insect entirely, according to a new study published in Nature Biotechnology. In the study, scientists at Imperial College London used the technology to wipe out a population of caged mosquitoes that are able to transmit malaria, targeting a genetic sequence that leads to male and female traits. After a number of generations, they found that 100% of these mosquitoes were affected. Via CNN.

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Anxiety Is Expensive: Employee Mental Health Costs Rise Twice as Fast as All Other Medical Expenses

Anxiety is expensive for U.S. employers. The amount of money companies spend on the mental health of their employees has been rising rapidly—with annual costs increasing twice as fast as all other medical expenses in recent years, according to data from Aetna Behavioral Health. And people with mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder or substance abuse cost employers more money. They make six times as many emergency room visits as the overall population, according to benefits consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. They submit two to four times as many medical claims. People suffering from depression submit an average of $14,967 per year in claims, compared with $5,929 a year for the total population, Willis Towers Watson said. Some employers are giving top priority to improving the costs and treatment of mental illness—on par with combating cancer, diabetes and other chronic ailments, according to a new survey of 687 companies conducted by Willis Towers Watson. Of employers surveyed, 57% said they plan to focus on mental and behavioral health to a great or "very great extent" over the next three years. Via CNBC.

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Epic Commits to Discovery Square

We learned today that Epic, a leading producer of medical records software, has signed on to be a tenant of One Discovery Square. The Madison-based company will take up space alongside researchers from Mayo Clinic and students from the University of Minnesota Rochester. The 90,000 square-foot building—a collaboration between Mayo and the developer Mortenson—is expected to open mid-next year. Speaking Tuesday to the Destination Medical Center Corporation Board, Jeremy Jacobs, director of real estate development for Mortenson, said he expects additional tenants to be announced in the coming months. Via Med City Beat.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Stars in New Ken Burns Documentary

It became known as “the miracle in the cornfield.” In 1883, after a tornado tore through the town of Rochester, Minnesota, country doctor William Worrall Mayo and his two sons enlisted the help of a local convent to care for the injured. Mother Alfred Moes, who led the Sisters of Saint Francis, said that she had a vision from God instructing her to build a hospital with Dr. Mayo as its director. Together, they laid the foundation for the Mayo Clinic, a medical institution which today employs 64,000 people and treats over one million patients each year. "The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science," a new documentary executive produced by Ken Burns ("The Civil War," "Baseball," "Jazz"), premieres on PBS TV stations on Tuesday, September 25. The film chronicles the Mayo Clinic’s history as well as contemporary stories of its doctors and patients. Everyday Health recently spoke with the film’s co-directors Erik Ewers and Chris Ewers, and with Mayo’s Medical Director for Public Affairs John Wald, M.D. Via Everyday Health.

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Antidepressants, Psychotherapy May Help Ease Irritable Bowel Syndrome

“One component of IBS is increased sensitivity to the functions of the bowels; simply summarized, this means either the nerves taking messages from the bowel to the brain are more sensitive or that the brain is more attentive or reacts in a more emotional manner to the normal messages arising in the bowel, or both,” said Michael Camilleri, M.D., a researcher at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota, who wasn’t involved in the current study. “Since there are really no medications to reduce the nerve sensitivity, some doctors give medications that modulate the function of the brain in the hope that this approach will reduce the ability to sense or emotionally react to the signals or messages arriving from the bowels,” Dr. Camilleri said by email. Via Reuters.

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Some Physician Specialties More Burnout-Prone Than Others

Resident physicians concentrating on certain specialties are particularly prone to burnout, a Mayo Clinic-led study shows. The longitudinal study, which appeared this month in JAMA, found that 45% of second-year resident physicians reported experiencing at least one symptom of burnout, which can include exhaustion and depersonalization of patients. "That is a great question for a separate research study," says Liselotte Dyrbye, M.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher and first author of the article. "We know that at the beginning of medical school, there isn't much burnout. But even in medical school we start to see burnout develop after a couple of years. It starts early and continues from training into practice," she said. Via HealthLeaders.

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Mayo Clinic Announces Nearly $1 Billion in Expansion Projects

Mayo Clinic announced they are dedicating nearly $1 billion for expansion projects to their destination medical centers in Rochester, Jacksonville, and Phoenix, in an effort to meet growing patient demand. In a press release, Mayo Clinic states the expansion is to help "more patients with serious, complex and rare conditions" in addition to "accommodate the research, education and technologies that improve and save lives. "The release outlines the recent announcement of the 11-floor expansion at the Gonda Building in downtown Rochester. That project is slated to begin by the end of 2019 or early 2020 and a completion date by the end of 2022. In Jacksonville, Florida, Mayo Clinic is planning a five-floor 120,000-square-foot addition that will include eight operating rooms and space for cardiovascular medicine, gastroenterology, and hepatology. That project is slated for completion in 2021. And, in Phoenix, an additional 1.4-million-square-feet of building space will include new patient rooms, an outpatient surgical center, clinic and rehab space and an expanded emergency department. That project is slated to begin in June 2020. Via KAAL.

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More Than $1M Donation to Mayo Clinic for Childhood Cancer Research

Richard Vile, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic doctor whose research team works to develop new treatments for aggressive pediatric brain tumors, received a $1,100,000 Hyundai Quantum Grant. The grant is given to help support childhood cancers with low survival rates. Mayo was one of four hospitals and research centers to receive this year's grant. Only 4% of federal cancer research funding goes to pediatric cancer research, according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Dr. Vile tells KIMT that government funding for his research is often hard to come by, so donations like this one will greatly aid his research. "A gift like this allows us to move our treatments on to patients much more quickly than would otherwise be possible. It also allows us to do the research that will set the foundation for the treatments of tomorrow and the next few years," he explains. After the check was presented to Dr. Vile, pediatric cancer patients painted their hands and pressed them onto the Hyundai Hope on Wheels vehicle. The handprints will be made into permanent decals for the car. Via KIMT.

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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.