Welcome to Practice Rounds, our weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.
Female Docs Rule
A new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine from researchers at Harvard Medical School found that elderly hospitalized patients were less likely to die or return to the hospital if they were cared for by a female doctor, rather than a male one. In fact, the researchers say that " approximately 32,000 fewer patients would die if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year," NPR reports. The authors of the study were unable to discern why female physicians had better outcomes. For the research, the authors analyzed more than 1.5 million hospitalizations and used 30-day mortality and readmission rates as a guiding point of examination.
Price Transparency Doesn't Work
More and more states have established websites that require plans, doctors, or provider organizations to reveal the price of the common healthcare services they offer, The Upshot reports. Other employers and organizations have also made healthcare price transparency a goal. Couple these websites with the increasing number of pricing apps that have hit the market and the trend seems to be in vogue. Yet, a study published this year from JAMA reveals that improved price transparency in healthcare isn't really working. The researchers looked at employees who had access to a healthcare pricing website and those who did not. Not only did the website not reduce outpatient spending, but those who had access to it didn't even use it.
Many Face Meaningful Use Penalties
A whopping 171,000 providers face a 3 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement next year for failing to meet Meaningful Use requirements, reveals Healthcare IT News. This number is actually down from the number of eligible professionals who were hit with a penalty this year (209,000) and the year before (257,000). CMS has made efforts in the past year to increase the number of providers who can apply and qualify for a hardship exemption. The adjustments from Meaningful Use will sunset in 2018 with the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) set to take its place.
Regular Aspirin Reduces Risk for Pancreatic Care
The use of regular aspirin reduces the risk for pancreatic cancer by nearly 50 percent, Cancer Network reports. According to a study that was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, as the public's general consumption of regular aspirin has gone up, so too has its effect on decreasing pancreatic cancer risk. For the study, researchers looked at patients in China with and without pancreatic cancer and compared their use of regular aspirin. Those who were ever-regular users of aspirin had "significantly lower risk for pancreatic cancer," Cancer Network says.
Quote of the Week:
"The opioid addiction epidemic will continue to be a major national issue, and both the federal and state governments will continue to find ways to try to limit access to drugs while increasing access to treatment and prevention."
Christianna Finnern, an attorney with Minneapolis-based law firm Winthrop & Weinstine