MRCS Weekly Recap 19 (6.5.2022 - 6.11.2022)

1. COVID

Hold on to your seatbelts, and grab your life jacket, because another wave of covid is coming our way. This summer covid wave will be the sixth wave of covid cases this country has endured. While we could have been living in a continuous wave this entire time, experts believe cases are higher now than before because of underreported at-home tests. NBC News found that from December 2020 to Mid-May 2022, over 82 million covid vaccine doses were discarded. This represents over 11% of the federal government's total doses. The millions of doses discarded did include some that expired on the pharmacy shelves before they could be used. Still, thousands were spoiled with power outages, broken freezers, or the leftovers from an opened vial at the end of a shift. This data proves that the vaccines are not in a supply problem as we can spare so many doses; however, it represents a demand problem among the US public.

There are remarkable findings regarding the cumulative covid-19 death tracker based on counties and their partisanship divide. Before the vaccine became available, all counties, regardless of their partisan association, were of equivalent measures for deaths per one hundred thousand people. Today, in counties that voted 70-100% Republican in the 2020 presidential election, there are 300 covid related deaths per 100,000 people. This is compared to 200 deaths per 100,000 people among the counties that voted just 0-30% Republican. These findings correlate to more Republican-voting individuals being more likely not to be fully vaccinated, thus resulting in more deaths per 100,000 people. The JAMA Network journal reported that babies from mothers who had covid-19 during pregnancy have double the risk of being diagnosed with delayed speech or motor skills by their first birthday. The risk of developmental delays is low but rose to around 6% among babies exposed to covid while in the womb.

The Omicron variant hit the US and other countries across the globe hard. The CDC is now saying that two subvariants (otherwise known as "sisters") of the Omicron variant now represent at least 7% of new cases in the New England area. We should expect the prevalence of these subvariants to travel across the US. The NBA required players to receive the booster shot for a good reason. It was found that the booster vaccination was tied to a 57% reduction in covid (Omicron) cases among the 2,600 staff and players who were regularly screened and assessed for infection. Due to studies like this one, more vaccines are being approved by the FDA. Specifically, the FDA approved Novavax's more traditional vaccine with a 21-0 vote. The FDA has approved the use of Novavax in more than 4-0 countries but has yet to vote on whether they will recommend the use of the vaccine. The vaccine is expected to become available in the US in the next few weeks.

Similarly, Moderna recently released a statement saying that its Omicron-based booster outperforms the original booster. This latest version has led to a more effective response against the variant than its current shot. The booster is a bivalent vaccine that contains both the original strain and the newest Omicron strain. While Novavax's vaccine is in line to become the fourth vaccination authorized by the FDA, there are some unexpected delays in the manufacturing process. The GFDA needs to review the changes that Novavax has undertaken to its manufacturing process before the FDA allows the vaccine to be distributed.

2. Staffing Shortages

American jobs have changed dramatically since the onset of the [pandemic. A trend we continue to write about and see is one of the staffing shortages across the country. When looking at the change of jobs from February 2020 to May 2022, we can see that there have been around 340,000 people who left health services to look for another job. Staff is leaving the healthcare workforce searching for better opportunities, higher-paying jobs, and leadership supporting them. Here are five actions that Edward Abraham from MedCity News believes could alleviate the burnout- 1) get feedback on what employees want and act on it, 2) help employees work at the top of their skillset, 3) invite a more diverse and equitable workplace, 4) invest in total reward innovation, 5) lean into empathetic automation to create a more satisfying work environment.

3. IT Updates

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is emerging as the primary healthcare sector's cloud service provider. According to a new KLAS report, healthcare organizations choose AWS over their competitors because they believe it is the most mature and health-focused cloud platform. Other respondents in the study say that they selected AWS because it was the fastest platform, had strong security, or simply from name recognition.

4. Practice Management

According to federal law, the Hospital Price Transparency Law, hospitals must post the price of their most common procedures online. This is to uncover the hidden costs of X-rays, medical tests, or colonoscopies for patients before they enter the hospital. A study analyzed 5,000 hospitals nationwide and found that just 300 (under 6%) fully comply with the rule. Many hospitals had established publicly published machine-readable files or shoppable items online. However, over 50% had neither of the two required components.

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