“How patients with certain conditions get care in the comfort of their home.”
by Ken Terry
“Herbert Prahl, a 73-year-old retired Lutheran pastor, was recently admitted to the Mayo Clinic hospital in Eau Claire, Wisc., for an infection of his vertebral spine. He underwent surgery so his doctors could take bone samples and determine what kind of bacteria were causing the infection. Afterwards, he was placed on powerful IV antibiotics.
“Once Prahl was stabilized, he normally would have been transferred to a rehabilitation facility to continue receiving the antibiotics. But his doctors were making this decision on a Thursday, and there was no possibility of Prahl being placed in one over the weekend. So he was facing four additional nights in the hospital, followed by a transfer to an institution that was 40 miles from his home.
“Then Prahl’s nurses told him about an alternative: The Mayo Clinic was conducting a pilot of a new acute-care model, in which he could receive hospital-level treatment at home. Was he interested in going home to his wife right away? He was.”
“The more scientists learn about how we age, the more likely they are to recalibrate the clock. But that poses another question: Should they?”
Illustration by Liana Farmer
by Liz Stinson
“Humans are born with an expiration date. From the moment of conception, we’re assigned a shared fate — that someday, in some way, we all die. It used to come earlier. In ancient Roman times, people could expect to live 30 to 35 years. By the mid-20th century, life expectancy in the United States had risen to 65 for men and 71 for women. Today, the average American life span hovers around 78 years, though that’s far from the bounds of what is possible.
“Scientists believe that the capacity of the human body currently reaches its limits at around 115 years old. But most people fall short of that due to the ailments and vulnerabilities that accompany old age, a fact that has been tragically underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what if it was possible to reach that outer edge? Just think about that delta for a second: 80 versus 115. “That leaves 35 years to realize,” says Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and author of Age Later (St. Martin’s Press). Barzilai is part of a growing cadre of scientists studying longevity — why we age, how our bodies break down, how it affects our well-being and quality of life, and what we can do to slow the process. These scientists believe in a future where interventions will forestall our physiological wear and tear, effectively making us better resistant to age-related diseases and, yes, maybe even pandemics.
“Extending life span is rooted deep in the human psyche.” Keep reading this article at Allure, click here.
by Robert King
“The first half of this year had 43% of working-age adults without stable insurance, an issue compounded by not just the COVID-19 downturn but by lingering problems with health plan affordability, a new survey finds.
“The survey, published Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund, looks at reasons for instability in health insurance coverage, which has been thrown into disarray due to major job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“’Even before the pandemic, people were struggling with inadequate health coverage and mounting medical debt,’ said David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, in a statement. ‘It has never been more important to ensure that all U.S. residents have affordable, comprehensive coverage to survive this pandemic and beyond.'”
Read this article in its entirety at Fierce Healthcare.
“Your health care costs can still add up even after you enroll in Medicare, but smart strategies can help you minimize these expenses.”
“Becoming a smart health care shopper can help you save on medical expenses.” (GETTY IMAGES)
by Kimberly Langford
“YOU MAY THINK THAT YOU don’t need to worry about health care costs after you turn 65 and are eligible for Medicare. But you still have to pay some premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, and the numbers can add up over time: A recent study by Fidelity found that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2020 will pay an average of $295,000 in health care costs over their lifetime, a 3.5% increase over the 2019 figures. That number includes Medicare premiums, deductibles and copayments, or coverage to fill in the gaps.
“The following steps can help you prepare for these expenses in retirement and minimize your health care costs:
Click here to continue reading this article at US News & World Report.
by Judith Graham
“For months, Patricia Merryweather-Arges, a health care expert, has fielded questions about the coronavirus pandemic from fellow Rotary Club members in the Midwest.
“Recently people have wondered ‘Is it safe for me to go see my doctor? Should I keep that appointment with my dentist? What about that knee replacement I put on hold: Should I go ahead with that?’
“These are pressing concerns as hospitals, outpatient clinics and physicians’ practices have started providing elective medical procedures — services that had been suspended for several months.
“Late last month, KFF reported that 48% of adults had skipped or postponed medical care because of the pandemic. Physicians are deeply concerned about the consequences, especially for people with serious illnesses or chronic medical conditions.”
Patients on board with health trackers but don’t trust consumer wearables, survey finds” – Fierce Healthcare
“Nearly half of patients managing chronic conditions said they would physically visit the doctor less if they could share health data digitally, according to a recent survey. (Sony)”
by Heather Landi
“Patients who manage chronic conditions are eager to use a monitoring device to manage their health. But consumer smartwatches might not be the answer.
“Three in four patients say they would wear a specialized monitoring device only used for their specific condition if prescribed by their doctor, a survey from electronics company Sony found.
“Nearly 90% of those surveyed believe they could better manage chronic conditions with a health monitoring device. More than half of patients said they would potentially switch doctors if another doctor prescribed a specialized device, according to the survey of 2,000 people conducted by Sony.
“However, while consumer-facing companies like Apple and Fitbit offer wearables with health tracking capabilities, only 28% of patients would trust a consumer device to help manage their chronic condition and 45% said they were unsure, according to the survey.”
In a Boston ICU, staff members orchestrate goodbyes over Zoom and comfort patients who would otherwise die alone.
(JIM GOLDBERG / MAGNUM)
by Sarah Zhang
“When the coronavirus came to Boston, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital noticed how silent certain floors became. Any patients who could be discharged were discharged. Anyone who could stay away stayed away. ‘The hospital had this eerie quiet,’ says Jane deLima Thomas, the director of palliative care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. But in the intensive-care units set up for COVID-19, machines beeped and whirred in room after room of the sickest patients. Those patients were sedated, intubated, and isolated. Many of them would die.
“Palliative care is about providing comfort—physical and emotional—to patients who are seriously ill, including those who may be close to death. Before the pandemic, deLima Thomas’s team worked with patients with kidney disease or cancer or heart failure, but this spring, they all switched to COVID-19. They embedded themselves in the ICUs. Palliative care is a field especially invested in the power of a hug, a steadying hand, and a smile. In other words, palliative care is made especially difficult by a virus that spreads through human contact.
“The first day the palliative-care doctors walked into the ICUs, Thomas says, “we felt like tourists.” They were dressed in business casual, while their ICU colleagues raced around in scrubs and masks. But the palliative-care team—which includes physicians, nurses, chaplains, and social workers—found ways to integrate themselves. In the early days of the pandemic, when protective gear was scarce, no visitors were allowed. Palliative caregivers, along with ICU nurses, held iPads cocooned in plastic bags so families could say goodbye on Zoom. They were sometimes the only one in the room when a patient died, otherwise alone. I interviewed several members of the Boston-based palliative-care team, and their stories, which have been condensed and edited for clarity, are below.”
Read this article in its entirety at The Atlantic, click here.
“Nearly 1 in 10 Health Care Workers Lost Their Job Between February and April, But Health Care Employment Rebounded Slightly in May” – Kaiser Family Foundation
“A new chart collection explores the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. health care workforce, and finds that between February and April 2020, nearly 1.5 million health care jobs were lost. While more than 300,000 health services jobs were recovered in May 2020, mainly in dental offices, employment in some health care settings continued to decrease.
“The rise in health care unemployment follows a sharp decline in utilization and revenue for non-emergency services. Many providers delayed or canceled appointments for routine care and elective procedures amid concerns that COVID-19 patients would overwhelm the health system; others closed their facilities entirely. Many patients also chose to forgo non-emergency care, presumably due to stay-at-home orders issued by local governments and fear of contracting the virus in health care settings.
“Workers in ambulatory health care settings, like dental and physician’s offices, have been particularly hard-hit, accounting for more than half of total health care job losses between February and May 2020.
“The chart collection also includes data on gender disparities and geographic variation in health care job loss, as well as a breakdown of job loss by sector.”
“Healthcare groups call racism a ‘public health’ concern in wake of tensions over police brutality” – Fierce Healthcare
“Healthcare groups decried the public health inequality highlighted by the dual crises of police brutality against minorities and the disproportionately negative impact of COVID-19 on nonwhite patients.” (Getty/Worledit)
by Tina Reed
“After days of protests across the world against police brutality toward minorities sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, healthcare groups are speaking out against the impact of ‘systemic racism’ on public health.
“‘These ongoing protests give voice to deep-seated frustration and hurt and the very real need for systemic change. The killings of George Floyd last week, and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor earlier this year, among others, are tragic reminders to all Americans of the inequities in our nation,’ Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA), said in a statement.
“‘As places of healing, hospitals have an important role to play in the wellbeing of their communities. As we’ve seen in the pandemic, communities of color have been disproportionately affected, both in infection rates and economic impact,’ Pollack said. ‘The AHA’s vision is of a society of healthy communities, where all individuals reach their highest potential for health … to achieve that vision, we must address racial, ethnic and cultural inequities, including those in health care, that are everyday realities for far too many individuals. While progress has been made, we have so much more work to do.'”
Read this article in its entirety at FierceHealthcare.com
From STAT: Morning Rounds:
Echoing other reports that have looked at recent trends in telemedicine, a new FAIR Health study finds that insurance claim lines for telehealth increased by more than 4,300% from March 2019 to March this year. Here’s more:
- Overall trends: 0.17% of medical claim lines in March 2019 were related to telehealth, compared to more than 7.5% this March, an increase by more than 4,300%.
- Conditions: Consistent with last year, mental health conditions made up the most telemedicine claim lines, followed by acute respiratory infections and diseases.
- Covid-19’s influence: The influence of the pandemic was most pronounced when looking at geographic trends. Northeastern states in the U.S., which were among the hardest hit, saw a more than 15,500% increase in telehealth use.