MRCS Weekly Recap 13 (4.24.2022 - 4.30.2022)

1. COVID

The US is looking to recommend annual covid-19 vaccine boosters, similar to the flu shot, despite no evidence proving this is needed. Many vaccine experts are concerned that the US is "sleepwalking into a policy" without hard, concrete evidence. As COVID hospitalization rates are up in 38 states, Moderna seeks an FDA clearance for their covid vaccine for young children. This would give Moderna the first vaccine for the most youthful (under 6 years of age) Americans. Moderna's research shows the vaccine is safe and needed for younger kids. Meanwhile, Moderna is currently assessing the efficacy of a booster among all children.

A new research study found that vaccinated people receiving a heart transplant fared much better against covid than those unvaccinated. This is significant because individuals receiving transplants are on heavy antibiotics and medications to keep their immune system from rejecting the new organs, which means their vaccine response has dwindled. Even still, the vaccines were tied to protection against covid-19. Researchers have also looked at long-term answers to covid and how symptoms may affect patients. The work from the NIH and the $25 million of funding has traced a clearer picture of long Covid but still does not provide all of the answers.

2. IT Updates

Technology can help overcome healthcare burnout and staffing shortages in the health sector. In particular, new tech can help offload additional work to digital assistants, improve the alignment between clinical work and clinical training, and improve your ability to improve your patients' health. Researchers analyzed telehealth data from over 41 million insured adults. They found that patients who had an initial telehealth visit with acute conditions were more likely to have a follow-up in person. This begs the question- does telehealth lead to duplicative care costing insurers more for the same health outcomes? The study found that patients with chronic conditions who had an initial telehealth visit were as or less likely to receive follow-up care.

Enterprise performance management systems have benefited health systems. Better data leads to more informed decisions. As AI and machine learning algorithms make their way into healthcare, so are voice-enabled language processing solutions. Suki assistant was created to help document information and respond to physician commands. This will allow for better document tracking of patient outcomes so physicians can worry about patient care rather than administrative duties.

It is estimated that at least one patient does not show up for every five appointments at Boston Children's Hospital. This is a problem with health care systems across the country. In a study to discover which patients were more likely to miss an appointment, researchers found that those who had a history of no-shows, patients with language barriers, and days with poor weather were contributing factors to patients missing appointments. This health system, and others, are looking to AI to predict which patients are most likely to miss their appointment, so physicians can use their time to provide better care for their patients.

3. Practice Management Updates

To maximize productivity, hospitals will need to connect with local providers to transmit electronic orders and test results. The global clinical lab market is projected to grow 74% by 2027. There is a demand for testing services as over 70% of medical decisions are dependent on testing results. Additionally, self-service lab forms and electronic results are becoming the new preferred method for patients.

The AHA is worried about rising hospital expenses, saying they are unsustainable. One of the most significant increases in costs was labor costs. The AHA believes that hospital labor expenses per patient increased by almost 20% from 2019 to 2021. Traveling nurses played a significant role in this. Before the pandemic, hospitals spent just shy of 5% of labor expenses on travel contract nurses. In comparison, the figure remains around 39% today.

4. Policy Updates

Despite many Republicans claiming that President Biden does not have a plan to address the pandemic, the White House Press Secretary waved around a nearly 400-page document explaining where all of the funding was going. She offered to make copies for the press or any Republicans who wanted a better look. She then let Rachel Cohrs of Stat News look through it for an hour, and this article helps explains what she found. The Biden administration has announced a new initiative to increase the use of Pfizer's Paxlovid to treat covid-19. The drug has been found to reduce deaths and hospitalizations by 85%.

The FDA released important news about the potential to ban menthol in cigarettes and cigars. This is a long-standing fight that tobacco companies will try to push out.

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