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For many workers, their jobs affect their health and well-being, according to an NPR, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll of 1,600 U.S. workers. They report their jobs have a negative impact on their stress levels (43 percent), eating habits (28), sleeping habits (27 percent), weight (22 percent) and health (16 percent). Nineteen percent work 50 or more hours a week in their primary job. Less than half of those who receive paid vacation days used all or most of them in the past year. They also go to work when they're sick (55 percent overall, 60 percent for health care workers). (RWJF announcementreport)
 
Health care in many U.S. communities improved between 2011 and 2014, but significant variations remain, according to a Commonwealth Fund report released last week. Those areas that improved did so largely because more people had insurance coverage and could afford needed health care, and because health care providers performed better on quality and efficiency measures, such as limiting preventable hospital readmissions, according to researchers. Among the top-level findings: Where one lives matters; poor communities lag behind wealthy ones, but many are making progress. (The Commonwealth Fund)
 
Health care spending in the U.S. will rise 1.3 percent faster than the gross domestic product, according to the CMS Office of the Actuary. A stronger economy, faster growth in medical prices and an aging population are driving the trend. Between 2015 and 2025, national health care spending is projected to grow 5.8 percent annually. Projected national health spending growth "is faster than observed in recent history, but slower than in the two decades before The Great Recession," says Sean Keenan, an economist at the Office of the Actuary. (HealthLeaders Media)
Innovation & Transformation  
For days, you couldn't turn on any media without hearing something about the PokemonGo craze, but augmented reality is old news in health care. MedPage Today offers a few examples. AccuVein helps pinpoint veins for more accurate injections and VA-ST enhances vision for blind or partially sighted individuals. The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is used to help veterans overcome PTSD, train amputees on how to use upper limb prostheses, diagnose a concussion in under a minute and calm a patient who chose local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia during arthroscopic knee surgery. (MedPage Today)
 
An Illinois gastroenterology practice improved quality and decreased cost by sending a monthly questionnaire to patients' phones. Lawrence Kosinski, MD, speaking at an AMA meeting, described how his practice reduced the cost of care for a group of Crohn's disease patients by nearly 10 percent. That includes a 57 percent decrease in inpatient costs and a 50 percent reduction in emergency department visits. (MedPage Today)
 

Bipartisan legislation introduced earlier this month in the House of Representatives would increase access to chronic disease treatment by expanding what can be covered under high-deductible health plans prior to meeting the deductible. H.R. 5652, introduced by U.S. Reps. Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would give HDHPs with health savings accounts the option to cover drugs and services for chronic disease management before the deductible is reached. But don't expect action any time soon: Congress just began a six-week recess. (Business Insurance; announcement) 
  
Consumers & Providers
The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services is talking about delaying implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). They may need to: The "Deloitte Center for Health Solutions 2016 Survey of U.S. Physicians" finds half of physicians aren't even aware the Medicare payment system is about to change dramatically. Significantly, the survey also found that physicians with a high share of Medicare payments are just as unaware of MACRA as others. (FierceHealthcare; survey announcement)
 
 
Out of 2,554 respondents to a survey of primary care physicians practicing in the Department of Veterans Affairs, 43 percent said they use workarounds related to test results management. Reasons identified include using them as memory aids, to improve efficiency and to facilitate internal and external care coordination. "Workarounds to manage EHR-based test results are common, and their use results from unmet provider information management needs," according to the study. "Future EHRs and the respective work systems around them need to evolve to meet these needs." (Becker's Hospital Reviewreport)
 
 
An Iowa nursing assistant posted photos of a nursing home resident with his pants down and hands and legs covered in feces. The photo was deeply disturbing--and so was the fact that posting it wasn't illegal. Iowa officials began working to update the law. It's a national issue, according to ProPublica; nursing home trade industry groups are also holding training events around the country. The organization also compiled a list of incidents since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers shared photos or videos of residents via social media; some of these did involve criminal charges. (ProPublicaincidents)
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New & Noted   
Immune system and social behavior: The immune system appears to directly affect social behavior, even influencing the desire to interact with others, according to research published in Nature. The findings suggest malfunctions in the immune system could be responsible for the social deficits seen in psychiatric and neurological disorders, according to researchers. (Tech TimesNature)
 

Another disease becoming drug resistant: Gonorrhea cases are on the rise, and new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the disease is becoming resistant to azithromycin, one of two drugs in the dual therapy used to treat it. According to a CDC report released Friday, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea rose from .6 percent in 2013 to 2.5 percent in 2014. (Fox News; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report)
Gray

Most PAs not in primary care: More than 70 percent of certified physician assistants in the United States work outside of primary care, according to a new survey from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Among the other findings: Their median age is 38; their median income is $95,000; and the percentage expected to retired this year is 0.6. (FierceHealthcare; survey)

Multi-media 
The first major legislation designed to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is awaiting President Obama's signature. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act authorizes $181 million a year in new spending for addiction and recovery programs. However, it does not provide the funding, so a battle over money seems inevitable. (Cleveland.com video)
 
MarketVoices...quotes worth reading
     
"The takeaway here is that job number one for U.S. employers is to reduce stress in the workplace."--Robert J. Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who directed a survey on health in the workplace, quoted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016