COVID-19 vaccines are "a freaking miracle." At least 55% of the world is vaccinated against COVID-19, with the US hovering around 65%. A new CDC report claims vaccines can help protect babies from hospitalization for six months. A JAMA Network study shows that remote COVID-19 trials have increased racial and ethnic diversity among their clinical trials for the COVID-19 pandemic. A BMJ study found that patients who experienced COVID-19 have increased mental health risks up to a year after infection. Even with rising vaccination rates, HHS secretary, Xavier Becerra, told lawmakers that it would need $30 billion to fight COVID-19. A piece of this funding is expected to help rebuild the US healthcare delivery system. As patient safety declines amid the pandemic, security needs to be embedded in every step of the process, with clear aggregated, assessed, and acted on metrics.
STAT News provides four potential scenarios regarding the future of COVID-19.
i. A slide toward endemicity: being infected during childhood and not worrying about it after.
ii. Altered disease and symptoms: Evolving to infect new cell types, from affecting the respiratory system to other organ systems.
iii. The emergence of a new recombinant coronavirus: Swapping genetic material between strains.
iv. Exploitation of antibodies: Evolving to evade and exploit its human host's immune response.
2. IT Updates
Bakul Patel, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health's chief digital health officer, will help the center meet its 2022-2025 strategic priorities and set regulatory policies for new technology. Meanwhile, President Biden awarded $55 million in virtual care grants to community health centers last week.
AI is the new and emerging trend. The belief is that AI can provide the support patients need to focus on getting better. Through new and automated patient tracking systems, patient wait times were reduced, and loyalty was built. The automated solution provided real-time status alerts, coordinated patient tracking across departments, and integrated with waiting room monitors and seamless coordination and communication between each patient contact. With a more automated healthcare delivery system, the industry has also discovered the benefits of telehealth. It is worth noting that telehealth is undeniably practical. However, ensuring its long-term survival will require ongoing work and revision, including broadband improvements, permanent Medicare reforms, Interstate Medical Licensure Compact participation, and payment parity assurance. A new report from Kaspersky shows that the massive increase in telehealth has placed healthcare data at risk. Vulnerabilities have been found in the technologies that support telemedicine, many of which have not yet been addressed.
Andrew Bott, Medidata talent acquisition director, highlights AI job growth and how to best prepare for the future. Most of the health roles in demand include sales professionals, data analysts, and R&D specialists. An IQVIA report shows that drug R&D has reached new highs. IQVIA counted over 2,000 deals worth over $45 billion in 2021, indicating the need for R&D specialists. Bott shared his thoughts on how companies can set strategies to attract the best-qualified candidates. Candidates aren't looking for a job; they're looking for a company that aligns with their core values. At Medidata, they built an in-house global talent sourcing function. They also enhanced the employee referral scheme to drive their networks and incentivize employees to put candidates forward. Bott ended the interview with some emerging trends he had noticed. The AI and data science space will shift to a more patient-centered clinical trial data approach as well as transition to the patient cloud business.
3. Practice Management
Accountable care organizations (ACOs) promote higher quality care at lower costs while shifting risk to providers, making the model a staple of value-based care. Meanwhile, healthcare executives report that they do not feel they can produce an accurate 360-degree view of their patients. This comes when digital transformation and EHRs are widely implemented to manage population health. Last week, ViVE released their 2022 event agenda covering interoperability, cybersecurity, AI/ML, virtual care, and health equity.
iHire's healthcare hiring pulse report showed 9.7 million job postings across the healthcare community in 2021. Healthcare and social assistance industries reported the second largest number of "quits" in November, with over 52,000 resignations. Nursing saw the most job postings in 2021, with over 5 million on iHire. Registered Nurse (RN) and Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA) account for the top two healthcare career titles. Houston, New York, and Chicago are the top three hiring cities.
4. Staffing Shortages and the Effect on Nurses
Big Cities Health Coalition found that US major cities need two-fold the number of epidemiologists to combat various health challenges including COVID-19. A Californian hospital noticed a 20% increase in retirements over normal levels. This, along with sick staff from COVID-19 and turnover rate, has forced them to spend 32% more on traveling staff in 2020 than in 2019. Due to increased pay rates, many nurses leave their permanent roles for traveling jobs. Older nurses are retiring and leaving the profession rather than joining leadership at their company. MedCity News created a few tactics to ensure we retain more nurses in health leadership roles-
i. Address bullying and incivility- 66% of nurses don't want to get into nursing leadership because of nursing politics/culture.
ii. Reinvent nursing career paths- 21% of nurses are not interested in being associated with a single health system.
iii. Rethink staffing and scheduling- Staffing and scheduling are deterrents to becoming a leader.
5. Policy Updates
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a national coverage determination that expands coverage for lung cancer screening with low dose computed tomography (LDCT) to improve health outcomes for lung cancer patients. The CMS also emphasized its commitment to working with West Virginia and Virginia after governors called for a limited waiver on the agency's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers at rural or state-run healthcare facilities.
Eric Lander Resignation
Eric Lander, former Director of the Office of Science and Technology to the White House, resigned last week being described as "hostile," "siloed," and "aggressive." He will be replaced by two scientists, Alondra Nelson and Francis Collins, who will split his duties. Last week, Robert Califf was reassigned the reins of the FDA.