As Anthem and Cigna aim to merge, reports say the two companies have been sniping at each other. Also, are fitness trackers effective in weight loss?
Welcome to Practice Rounds, our new weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.
Anthem, Cigna Turn on Each Other
The proposed merger between mega insurance companies, Anthem and Cigna, hit a snag this week when the two companies accused each other of violating the terms of their merger agreement, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which reports this tenuous relationship was outlined in a legal filing from the Justice Department. The Justice Department is attempting to block the merger between the two companies. The two companies have sniped at each other for months as they try to pull together the $48 billion merger, while dealing with roadblocks from the Justice Department, WSJ reports. The Justice Department is arguing that if the two companies can't get along, their claims of increased efficiencies won't come to fruition.
Study Outlines Limits in Fitness Trackers
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), fitness trackers are not as effective in promoting weight loss among obese adults as self-reporting diet and exercise habits. NPR reports that researchers put 470 people on a low-calorie diet, with all of them losing weight. Six months later, half of them self-reported their diet and exercise habits, the other half relied on a fitness tracker. Those who self-reported lost more weight than those who used the fitness trackers. It's worth noting that the devices in the study were not popular fitness trackers used today, such as the Fitbit or Nike bands, but something worn on a person's upper arm. Researchers say despite this, the results can help generate more discussions on the effectiveness of wearable devices.
No Fetal Risk for MRI in Early Pregnancy
Diagnostic Imaging reports that exposure to MRI in early pregnancy is not likely to lead to an increased risk of harm to fetuses, according to a new study in JAMA. For the study, researchers from Canada evaluated the long-term safety of fetuses after women underwent MRI within the first trimester of their pregnancy. Using a universal database in Ontario, researchers reviewed 1,424,105 deliveries - the overall rate of MRI was 3.97 per 1,000 pregnancies. Comparing first-trimester MRI to no MRI, there were 19 stillbirths vs. 9,844 in the unexposed group. The study authors concluded "having an MRI at the earliest stages of pregnancy does not seem to alter the development of the fetus."
AAFP Picks New Leadership
At its conference this week, the American Association of Family Physicians' (AAFP) Congress of Delegates elected Michael Munger, family medicine physician out of Overland Park, Kan., to be the Academy's president-elect. They also picked new leadership in other areas including, but not limited to:
• Speaker of the Congress - Javette Orgain, family medicine physician of Chicago
• Vice Speaker - Alan Schwartzstein, family medicine physician of Oregon, Wis.
• Directors - Robert Raspa, family medicine physician of Orange Park, Fla.; Leonard Reeves, family physician of Rome, Ga.; and Ada Stewart, family medicine physician of Columbia, S.C.
Quote of the Week:
"Every time [patients] come in, they want to come in less [after the visit] and do less because they can't afford the deductible, the medicine, any of it. It's horrible. I've practiced 15 years, I did not have this relationship with my patients five years ago."
Stacey Blyth, family physician based in Greensboro, N.C.