Health Policy Happenings, 3.20.19

I loved sending a weekly roundup of health policy and public health news to one of my student interest groups in graduate school, so I thought it would be a great way to share the interesting articles, research papers, podcasts, and more that I come across each week with all of you! I hope you find something interesting and engaging!

Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong

“The U.S. government claimed that turning American medical charts into electronic records would make health care better, safer, and cheaper. Ten years and $36 billion later, the system is an unholy mess. Inside a digital revolution that took a bad turn.”

Older Americans Are Awash in Antibiotics

“Antibiotic overuse contributes to a serious public health threat by creating drug resistance, as infectious bacteria adapt to the medications. Drugs then lose their effectiveness, forcing doctors to resort to more toxic, less potent, often costlier options. Two million Americans get antibiotic-resistant infections annually, the C.D.C. has reported, and 23,000 die from them. Moreover, antibiotics interact badly with many of the other drugs older adults take, including such widely used medications as statins, blood thinners, kidney and heart medications. “The number of potential drug-drug interactions with antibiotics are vast,” Dr. Alexander cautioned.”

A spinal surgery, a $101,000 bill, and a new law to prevent more surprises

“New York’s law — and its unique binding arbitration process — has captured the attention of legislators and health wonks across the country. Last year, New Jersey passed a law modeled on New York’s, and Congress is now eying the New York law as a promising base for national legislation. Passing a national version of New York’s law would, in a narrow way, solve one of the most expensive problems that consumers can face in American health care: patients hit with high bills after being seen by out-of-network doctors at in-network hospitals. Republicans and Democrats are working together on the legislation in Congress.”

Tens of Thousands of Heart Patients May Not Need Open-Heart Surgery 

“The operation is a daring one: To replace a failing heart valve, cardiologists insert a replacement through a patient’s groin and thread it all the way to the heart, maneuvering it into the site of the old valve. The procedure, called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), has been reserved mostly for patients so old and sick they might not survive open-heart surgery. Now, two large clinical trials show that TAVR is just as useful in younger, healthier patients.”

Aspiring Doctors Seek Advanced Training In Addiction Medicine

“Public health leaders have been pushing to get more physicians trained in evidence-based treatments like buprenorphine, which has been shown to reduce the risk of death among people who have recovered from an opioid overdose. “As we provide more education and more support to primary care physicians, they will feel more comfortable screening and treating for addiction,” Peterson says.”

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