Despite Promise, EMRs Have Not Reduced Administrative or Billing Expenses

Barak Richman JD, PhD Bartlett Professor of Law and Business Administration Duke University

Prof. Barak Richman

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Barak Richman JD, PhD
Bartlett Professor of Law and Business Administration
Duke University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The US not only has the highest health care costs in the world, we have the highest administrative costs in the world. If we can reduce non-value added costs like the ones we document, we can make substantial changes in the affordability of health care without having to resort to more draconian policy solutions.

Our paper finds that administrative costs remain high, even after the adoption of electronic health records.  Billing costs, for example, constituted 25.2% of professional revenue for ED departments and 14.5% of revenue for primary care visits.  The other numbers are captured below.

Administrative Costs Still High With EHRs

Administrative Costs Still High With EHRs

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Hand Osteoarthritis: Hydroxychloroquine No More Effective Than Placebo

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Sarah Kingsbury PhD
Osteoarthritis Strategic Lead
Deputy Section Head, Musculoskeletal Medicine and Imaging
Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine
University of Leeds

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Osteoarthritis of the hand is a painful and disabling condition, estimated to effect up to 31 per cent of people aged over 70. It can stop people from carrying out everyday activities and can limit their quality of life. The first-line pharmacological treatments for hand osteoarthritis, including paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are often not effective and are associated with side effects. Doctors have used hydroxychloroquine, an established treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, as an off-label alternative, supported by increasing evidence that inflammation is a factor in osteoarthritis. Until now, there has not been a large-scale study into whether using hydroxychloroquine works.

HERO was a 12 month randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled, pragmatic trial, designed with a view to replicate anecdotal reports of hydroxychloroquine use in clinical practice, and  powered to detect a moderate effect equivalent to that for NSAIDs in this population. The study involved 248 patients at 13 NHS hospitals in England: all had the condition for at least 5 years, had changes to the joints in their hands consistent with osteoarthritis and reported moderate to severe pain on at least half of the days in the previous three months to the study commencing.

Participants were randomised 1:1 to either hydroxychloroquine or placebo and followed up at 3 monthly intervals for 12 months. The study found that patients initially reported a small reduction in the severity of pain before the improvement plateaued. However, a similar amount of change was seen in both the group receiving hydroxychloroquine medication and the group taking the placebo.

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What is the Biggest Modifiable Risk Factor For Dementia? Alcohol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“undefined” by Iñaki Queralt is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michaël Schwarzinger, MD, PhD

Translational Health Economics Network (THEN)
Paris

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The association of heavy drinking with dementia has been known for decades. For instance, there is about no Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome without heavy drinking and the syndrome was described in 1890. But this type of dementia is very rare. Also, heavy drinking is knowingly associated with multiple risk factors for dementia onset such as hypertension or diabetes. But heavy drinkers generally refuse to participate to cohort studies and declaration of alcohol use among participants is generally biased downward… So the study rationale is very strong, but supporting empirical evidence is quite scarce.

This nationwide study included all 31+ million adults discharged from hospitals over 6 years, i.e., 50% of the French population before 65 years old and 80% above that age. Of 1.1+ million adults diagnosed with dementia, one in twenty had an early-onset (before 65 years old). Heavy drinking was recorded in most (56%) early-onset dementia cases: two-third in men; one-third in women. In addition, the association of heavy drinking with dementia goes far beyond 65 years old, both directly (>3 times higher risk for dementia onset after controlling for more than 30 known risk factors for dementia) and indirectly as heavy drinking was associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset. Accordingly, heavy drinking had the largest effect on dementia risk of all independent modifiable risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes.

The effects were found whatever dementia case definition or population studies.

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Coronary Bypass Preferable To Stenting For Diabetes With LV Dysfunction

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Jayan Nagendran MD, PhD, FRCSC Director of Research, Division of Cardiac Surgery Associate Professor, Department of Surgery Division of Cardiac Surgery University of Alberta

Dr. Nagendran

Dr. Jayan Nagendran MD, PhD, FRCSC
Director of Research, Division of Cardiac Surgery
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery
Division of Cardiac Surgery
University of Alberta

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The primary modalities of treatment of symptomatic coronary artery disease (coronary heart disease) are either percutaneous coronary intervention (coronary stunting) or coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. There are well designed clinical trials that guide clinical practice for the treatment of patients with diabetes requiring coronary revascularization and there are trials that examine the best modality of coronary revascularization in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. However, there is a lack of evidence for patients with both diabetes and left ventricular dysfunction. As such, we performed a propensity matched study of patients with diabetes and left ventricular dysfunction undergoing either percutaneous coronary intervention compared to coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. We used our provincial database that captures >100,000 patients undergoing coronary angiography to attain our two cohorts for comparison.

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CTC Blood Test Can Reduce Unnecessary Prostate Biopsies in PSA ‘Gray-Zone’

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
https://cellmaxlife.com/Atul Sharan
Co-Founder & CEO at CellMax 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Approximately 30 million men in the United States take the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) screening test. Recent studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine have established that PSA screenings have resulted in reduced mortality from prostate cancer. However, the problem with the PSA test is that many patients will receive indeterminate results. Only one in five of patients who have taken the test will have a positive biopsy for prostate cancer, but 33 percent of these patients could suffer from biopsy related side effects, and 1 percent will require hospitalization.

This study showed that the CellMax CTC blood test can predict which patients in the gray zone will need/have a positive prostate biopsy with a much lower false positive rate than current standard of care tests, potentially reducing unnecessary biopsies in this group by up to 90 percent. At the same time, the sensitivity of this test at 80 percent was comparable to the current standard of care tests, meaning this test was also accurate in ruling out biopsy in patients. 

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Despite Safe Sleeping Recommendations, Infant Suffocations Continue To Rise

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Guoqing Hu, PhD
Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics
Xiangya School of Public Health
Central South University
Changsha, Hunan, China
   On behalf of the authors

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We’ve known for some time that suffocation is a leading cause of death for American infants – in fact, it is the cause of over 3/4 of the injury deaths to babies under 12 months of age. We’ve also known that there are strategies, such as “safe sleeping”, that can greatly reduce the risk of a baby suffocating to death.

The surprise in our study is that the suffocation rate for infants under 12 months of age appears to be increasing in the United States over the past 15 years. More babies are dying from suffocation today than in the 1990s, and that is a significant public health concern. Think about the implications of each one of those deaths to the infant’s parents and loved ones. There are few things more devastating than losing a baby to an unintentional, or “accidental” death. There are ways we can prevent unintentional suffocations, and we need to work together to inform parents and ensure babies are kept safe to reduce those deaths, especially as rates in the US appear to be increasing. Continue reading

BRCA1/BRCA2 Testing Varies Widely Worldwide

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amanda Toland, PhD, Cancer biology and genetics researcher of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center -- Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute 

Dr. Toland

Amanda Toland, PhD,
Cancer biology and genetics researcher of
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center — Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Breast Information Core (or BIC) is a database that catalogs BRCA1 and BRCA2 sequenced variants.  The BIC is hosted by the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH and has a steering committee that oversees the BIC and has members from Europe, the middle East, Australia and the US.  In BIC SC discussions, we learned that there are differences in how BRCA1/2 clinical is testing between countries.

To characterize this variation, we performed an international survey of 86 genetic testing labs from around the world.

Our main findings are that there were many variations between testing laboratories.  These include: technologies differed for finding “large” genetic sequence variants, what parts of the genes were assessed, how genetic variants were classified as disease associated or not being associated with diseases, if genetic sequencing information was shared in public databases and testing volume.

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Bariatric Surgery Associated With Reduced Need For Diabetes Medications at Six Years

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Jérémie Thereauz
Praticien Hospitalier
Chirurgie viscérale et digestive 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Bariatric surgery has been proved to reduce type 2 diabetes in morbid obese patients. However, results of bariatric surgery at a nationwide level are lacking.

The aim of our study was to assess the 6-year antidiabetic treatment continuation, discontinuation or initiation rates after BS compared with matched control obese patients.

This large-scale nationwide study confirms that bariatric surgery is responsible for a significant 6-year postoperative antidiabetic treatment discontinuation rate compared to baseline and compared to an obese control group without surgery, and a low treatment initiation rate, with gastric bypass being the most effective procedure. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This long term study confirms at a nationwide level, previous mid term randomized studies finding effiicency of bariatric surgery in type 2 diabetes for patients with morbid obesity associated.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Patients and physicians must be aware that morbid obesity still remains a chronic disease even after bariatric surgery, as 50% of patients with pre-existing antidiabetic treatment remained on treatment 6 years after surgery. Our study highlights the message that these patients require careful lifelong follow-up to monitor obesity complications. Complementary medico-economic study would be helpful to determine the relevance of such treatment in a national health care system.

No disclosures

Citations:

Thereaux J, Lesuffleur T, Czernichow S, Basdevant A, Msika S, Nocca D, Millat B, Fagot-Campagna A. Association Between Bariatric Surgery and Rates of Continuation, Discontinuation, or Initiation of Antidiabetes Treatment 6 Years Later. JAMA Surg. Published online February 14, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.6163

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/2672216?resultClick=1

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Machines Can Be Taught Natural Language Processing To Read Radiology Reports

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Eric Karl Oermann, MD Instructor Department of Neurosurgery Mount Sinai Health System New York, New York 10029 

Dr. Oermann

Eric Karl Oermann, MD
Instructor
Department of Neurosurgery
Mount Sinai Health System
New York, New York 10029 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Supervised machine learning requires data consisting of features and labels. In order to do machine learning with medical imaging, we need ways of obtaining labels, and one promising means of doing so is by utilizing natural language processing (NLP) to extract labels from physician’s descriptions of the images (typically contained in reports).

Our main finding was that (1) the language employed in Radiology reports is simpler than normal day-to-day language, and (2) that we can build NLP models that obtain excellent results at extracting labels when compared to manually extracted labels from physicians.  Continue reading

Cigarette Taxes Associated With Increased Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS Associate Professor School of Social Work Boston College Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS
Associate Professor School of Social Work
Boston College 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Increasing cigarette taxes has been a major policy driver to decrease smoking, including adolescent smoking, while taxes on other tobacco products have received less attention. Taxes on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars are all fiscal policies, but they are not all equal. While state taxes on cigarettes have increased substantially over the past decade, there has been little change in policies governing alternative tobacco products.

The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of chewing tobacco and cigar taxes, cigarette taxes, and the enactment of smoke-free legislation on adolescent male and female use of smokeless tobacco and cigars.

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