This week in healthcare – News from around the web

Cancer studies often downplay chemo side effects – In two-thirds of the 164 studies Tannock and his colleagues scrutinized, that meant not listing toxicities – in other words, serious side effects whether of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery – in the paper’s abstract.

U.S. could save $2 trillion on health costs – Compiled by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, the study recommends holding the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system to an annual spending target by having Medicare, Medicaid, other government programs and private insurers encourage providers to accelerate adoption of more cost-effective care.

Pre-surgery MRI may harm breast cancer patients – Routinely using the technology once any woman is diagnosed with a tumor may lead to more radical surgery without any benefits, says a team of Australian and U.S. researchers.

This week in healthcare – News from around the web

Dramatically influence drug prices by positive action – Drug maker admitted their price point was too high. But rather than lower the price they chose to share the profits with the provider in return for market share. This means that patients still have to cover their $2200 a month copay and that Medicare still pays the full amount.

Out-of-Network Bills for In-Network Health Care – The robo-call from the physicians’ billing service had the intended effect: I panicked. It sounded like a collection agency. I almost paid what it asked. When there’s a difference between the charge and the insurance reimbursement, and a health care provider tries to collect the difference from the patient — that is balance billing. Critics call it a huge problem.

Asymptomatic Carotid Ultrasonography Jumps, and With it, More Endarterectomies and Stenting - Physician self-interest may be a factor in the shift toward use of carotid artery ultrasonography to identify patients for vascular interventions. Diagnostic radiologists and self-referring cardiologists, vascular surgeons, and interventional radiologists may have benefitted financially from the procedures.

Curbing hospital readmission rates
New Efforts to Close Hospitals’ Revolving Doors – Hospitals are dispatching nurses, transportation, culturally specific diet tips, free medications and even bathroom scales to patients deemed at risk of relapsing. Readmission rates have decreased, in some months by as much as half.

Hospitals Face Pressure to Avert Readmissions – With nearly one in five Medicare patients returning to the hospital within a month — about two million people a year — readmissions cost the government more than $17 billion annually.

This week in healthcare – News from around the web

Study finds “dramatic” rise in kids’ CT scans – Emergency rooms across the U.S. have seen a steep increase in CT scans of kids presenting with belly ache, while the appendicitis rate hasn’t budged.

Why hospital pricing practices concern me – It behooves us all to comparison shop whenever possible before undergoing any kind of non-urgent hospital procedure.

Hospitals face fines over too many readmitted Medicare patients – It adds up to a new way of doing business for hospitals, and they have scrambled to prepare for well over a year. They are working on ways to improve communication with rehabilitation centers and doctors who follow patients after they’re released, as well as connecting individually with patients.

Hospitals of the future in the making – In the hospital of the future, data centers will also be supported and managed virtually. The cloud will move beyond a private model to support public and private capabilities. Healthcare IT will not need to be housed in the hospital of the future. Rather, it may be provisioned from multiple locations in a community or around the globe.

This week in healthcare – News from around the web

Self-Referrals for Imaging Costly, GAO Says – Providers that began self-referring in 2009 increased MRI and CT referrals on average by 67% in 2010 as compared to 2008

Employees to face healthcare sticker shock – Over the next 18 months, between one quarter and one half of Americans who get insurance coverage through their employers will pay more of their doctor bills themselves as companies roll out healthcare plans with higher deductibles, benefits consultants say. The result: sticker shock.

Companies should not scare us to sell unnecessary screening exams – You may have seen the advertisements in your local paper, or even on your local hospital’s website. Ads that boast “Important screening tests that COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE. All for $129! NO DOCTOR’S ORDER NECESSARY!”

Study finds “dramatic” rise in kids’ CT scans – Emergency rooms across the U.S. have seen a steep increase in CT scans of kids presenting with belly ache, while the appendicitis rate hasn’t budged.

Hospitals face fines over too many readmitted Medicare patients – It adds up to a new way of doing business for hospitals, and they have scrambled to prepare for well over a year. They are working on ways to improve communication with rehabilitation centers and doctors who follow patients after they’re released, as well as connecting individually with patients.

This week in healthcare – News from around the web

Feds charge 91 people in $429M Medicare fraud – A federal strike force has charged 91 people, including a hospital president, doctors and nurses, with Medicare fraud schemes in seven cities involving $429 million in false billings.

Study: Docs don’t monitor painkiller use properly – The researchers found that nearly one in 12 injured workers who started narcotics were still using them three to six months later, potentially leading to addiction or increased disability.

Nurses Seek Expanded Role – The CMS rule, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2013, would reimburse nurse anesthetists on a par with doctors, signaling to private insurers and states that they are qualified to treat pain and may assume a more active role with such patients.

Cloud Computing Saves Health Care Industry Time And Money – The cloud’s vast computing power is making it easier and less expensive for companies and clinicians to discover new drugs and medical treatments. Analyzing data that used to take years and tens of millions of dollars can now be done for a fraction of that amount.

This week in healthcare – News from around the web

 

Common cancer treatments may create dangerous cancer stem cells – The finding might help explain why late-stage cancers are often resistant to both radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and it could point to new strategies to fight tumors.

Report: About 30 cents of every health care dollar wasted – The U.S. health care system squanders $750 billion a year through unneeded care, byzantine paperwork, fraud and other waste. How much is $750 billion? It’s more than the Pentagon budget. The numbers broken down.

Medication Overuse in Chronic Headache Sufferers – This common problem, known as medication overuse headache, can occur with overuse of any headache medication, but caffeine-containing drugs (see Table) are most often to blame.

CT scans to rule out heart attacks don’t help, study says – More than 90 percent of the 6 million people who go to hospitals each year in the U.S. with chest pain have indigestion, stress, muscle strain or some other problem — not heart disease. Doctors are afraid of missing the ones who do have it, and increasingly are using CT scans.

 

Is Proton Beam Therapy worth all the hype?

Is Proton Beam Therapy worth all the hype?

Proton Therapy @ PSI - Gantry 1
Proton Therapy @ PSI – Gantry 1 (Photo credit: habi)

There is a National Association for Proton Therapy that “promotes education and public awareness of the clinical benefits of proton beam radiation therapy.”  News articles within the past few years have shown patients lining up for treatment using the new technology and hospitals dealing with financial issues because of the cost of building a proton beam therapy center.  The science behind the technology seems to be sound and the small amount of clinical research that has been conducted has yielded seemingly positive results.  A US News Health section article from 2008 said, “Even with eight more of the expensive facilities planned, there will be nowhere near the number of centers needed to treat every patient who might benefit, proponents of the technology say.”  An April 2012 article from Medical News Today described “Proton accelerators” used “ to treat cancer” “as the ’most costly medical devices” in the world.” The article went on to state that the United States and the UK are making significant investments to construct a number of these proton beam accelerator facilities.

There’s a fair amount of hype surrounding proton beam therapy…

But does it bring better outcomes?

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