Antibiotics Still Overprescribed in Many Outpatient Settings

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra, MD, senior author Deputy Director Office of Antibiotic Stewardship CDC

Dr. Fleming-Dutra

Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra MD
Deputy Director
Office of Antibiotic Stewardship
CDC

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

Response: Antibiotics are life-saving medications that treat bacterial infections. Any time antibiotics are used, they can lead to antibiotic resistance and could cause side effects such as rashes and adverse events, such as Clostridium difficile infection, which is a very serious and sometimes even fatal diarrheal disease. This is why it is so important to only use antibiotics when they are needed. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you and the side effects could still hurt you.

A previous study* reported at least 30% of antibiotic prescriptions written in doctor’s offices and emergency departments were unnecessary. However, the data from that study did not include urgent care centers or retail health clinics. We conducted the current analysis to examine antibiotic prescribing patterns in urgent care centers, retail health clinics, emergency departments, and medical offices.

*Fleming-Dutra, K., et al. (2016). “Prevalence of Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescriptions Among US Ambulatory Care Visits, 2010-2011.” JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 315(17): 1864-1873. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2518263

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Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer Risk – What is the Correlation?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephanie J. Weinstein, M.S., Ph.D.  Metabolic Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH 

Dr. Weinstein

Stephanie J. Weinstein, M.S., Ph.D. 
Metabolic Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute, NIH  

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

Response: Vitamin D, known for its role in maintaining bone health, is hypothesized to lower colorectal cancer risk via several pathways related to cell growth and regulation. Previous prospective studies have reported inconsistent results for whether higher concentrations of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the accepted measure of vitamin D status, are linked to lower risk of colorectal cancer. The few randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation and colorectal cancer completed thus far have not shown an effect; but study size, relatively short supplementation duration, and only moderate compliance may have contributed to their null findings.

To address inconsistencies in prior studies on vitamin D, and to investigate associations in population subgroups, we harmonized and analyzed participant-level data from over 5,700 colorectal cancer cases who had blood collected before colorectal cancer diagnosis, and 7,100 matched cancer-free controls. Study participants were drawn from 17 prospective cohorts from the United States, Europe, and Asia and were followed for an average of 5.5 years (range: 1 – 25 years). We used a single, widely accepted assay and laboratory for new vitamin D measurements and calibrated existing vitamin D measurements. In the past, substantial differences between assays made it difficult to integrate vitamin D data from different studies. Our novel calibration approach enabled us to explore risk systematically over the broad range of vitamin D levels seen internationally.  Continue reading

New HIV Vaccine Advances in Phase 2 Studies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard Director, Center for Virology and Vaccine Research Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA 02215

Dr. Barouch

Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard
Director, Center for Virology and Vaccine Research
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, MA 02215

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

Response: This study demonstrates that the mosaic Ad26/Env HIV vaccine candidate induced robust and comparable immune responses in humans and monkeys.

Moreover, the vaccine provided 67% protection against viral challenge in monkeys.   

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Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Struggle to Make Meaning of Their Illness

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Ann M. O’Hare, MD Professor,Division of Nephrology University of Washington Investigator, VA HSR&D Center of Excellence Affiliate Investigator, Group Health Research Institute Seattle, WA 

Prof. O’Hare

Dr. Ann M. O’Hare, MD
Professor,Division of Nephrology
University of Washington
Investigator, VA HSR&D Center of Excellence
Affiliate Investigator, Group Health Research Institute
Seattle, WA

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

Response: We set out to conduct a qualitative study among patients with advanced kidney disease to learn about their thoughts and experience with advance care planning.

Our questions, especially at the beginning of the interview were quite broad and asked patients more generally about their experiences of illness and care. Although we did not ask patients about the emotional impact of illness and care, this came across as a strong theme when we analyzed the interviews, and that is what we describe here.

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Ultrasound Therapy Found To Be Effective Option For Prostate Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Hashim Ahmed Professor and Chair of Urology Imperial College London

Prof. Ahmed

Prof. Hashim Ahmed
Professor and Chair of Urology
Imperial College London

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

Response: Men with localised clinically significant prostate cancer currently undergo radical (whole gland) surgery or radiotherapy. These treatments are effective but can cause urine leakage in 5-30% and erectile dysfunction in 30-60%. Radiotherapy can cause rectal problems in 5%.

So, although there is benefit in treating the cancer in these men, the side effects significantly affect the quality of life. 

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Targeting Breast Cancer Screening To Higher Risk Patients Reduces Overdiagnosis, Costs and Side Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Nora Pashayan PhD Clinical Reader in Applied Health Research University College London Dept of Applied Health Research London 

Dr. Pashayan

Dr Nora Pashayan PhD

Clinical Reader in Applied Health Research

University College London

Dept of Applied Health Research

London 

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

Response: Not all women have the same risk of developing breast cancer and not all women have the same potential to benefit from screening.

 

If the screening programme takes into account the individual variation in risk, then evidence from different studies indicate that this could improve the efficiency of the screening programme. However, questions remain on what is the best risk-stratified screening strategy, does risk-stratified screening add value for money, and what are benefit and harm trade-offs.

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Predicting Death is Difficult, Making it Difficult To Save Money on End of Life Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amy Finkelstein PhD John & Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics MIT Department of Economics National Bureau of Economic Research Cambridge MA 02139 

Dr. Finkelstein

Amy Finkelstein PhD
John & Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics
MIT Department of Economics
National Bureau of Economic Research
Cambridge MA 02139 

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

Response: Although only 5% of Medicare beneficiaries die in a given year, they account for almost 25% of Medciare spending.

This fact about high end of life spending has been constantly used to refer to inefficiency of the US healthcare system. A natural observation is that the fact is retrospective, and it motivated us to explore a prospective analog, which would take as an input the probability of someone dying in a given year rather than her realized outcome. We therefore used machine learning techniques to predict death, and somewhat to our surprise we found that at least using standardized and detailed claims-level data, predicting death is difficult, and there are only a tiny fraction of Medicare beneficiaries for whom we can predict death (within a year) with near certainty.

Those who end up dying are obviously sicker, and our study finds that up to half of the higher spending on those who die could be attributed to the fact that those who die are sicker and sick individuals are associated with higher spending.   Continue reading

HPV Testing Detects Cervical Pre-Cancer Earlier Than PAP Tests

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gina Ogilvie | MD MSc FCFP DrPH Professor | Faculty of Medicine | University of British Columbia Canada Research Chair | Global control of HPV related disease and cancer Senior Public Health Scientist | BC Centre for Disease Control Senior Research Advisor | BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre Vancouver, BC

Dr. Gina Ogilvie

Dr. Gina Ogilvie | MD MSc FCFP DrPH
Professor | Faculty of Medicine | University of British Columbia
Canada Research Chair | Global control of HPV related disease and cancer
Senior Public Health Scientist | BC Centre for Disease Control
Senior Research Advisor | BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre
BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre
Vancouver, BC

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

Response: HPV is known to be the cause of 99% of cervcial cancers.

In this study, we compared the routine screening test for cervical cancer, Pap test, to HPV testing.

We found that by using HPV testing, women were significantly more likely to have cervical pre-cancers detected earlier. In addition, women with negative HPV tests were significantly less likely to have pre-cancers 48 months later.

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Women With History of Preeclampsia or Gestational Hypertension Have Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jennifer J. Stuart, ScD Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Reproductive & Cardiovascular Epidemiology  Department of Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health  Division of Women's Health Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Dr. Stuart

Jennifer J. Stuart, ScD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Reproductive & Cardiovascular Epidemiology
Department of Epidemiology
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Division of Women’s Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

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

Response: Preeclampsia and gestational hypertension are common pregnancy complications involving high blood pressure that develops for the first time during pregnancy and returns to normal after delivery. Approximately 10 to 15% of all women who have given birth have a history of either preeclampsia or gestational hypertension. Previous studies have shown that women with a history of high blood pressure in pregnancy are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease events like heart attack and stroke later in life when compared to women with normal blood pressure in pregnancy. However, what is less clear is to what extent these women are more likely to develop chronic hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol and when these risk factors begin to emerge after pregnancy.

We examined this question in a cohort of nearly 60,000 American women who we were able to follow for up to 50 years after their first pregnancy. Previous studies have been limited by small numbers, short follow-up, or a lack of information on shared risk factors, such as pre-pregnancy body mass index, smoking, and family history. This research was conducted within the Nurses’ Health Study II, which collected data on these pre-pregnancy factors in tens of thousands of women over several decades.

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Safety Net and Smaller Hospitals Not Well Represented in Medicare’s Bundled Payment Program for Heart Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dan Blumenthal, MD, MBA Assistant in Medicine, Division of Cardiology Massachusetts General Hospital Instructor in Medicine Harvard Medical School

Dr. Blumenthal

Dan Blumenthal, MD, MBA
Assistant in Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Instructor in Medicine
Harvard Medical School 

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

Response: Despite dramatic advances in the treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) over the past half-century, CVD remains a leading cause of death and health care spending in the United States (US) and worldwide. More than 2000 Americans die of CVD each day, and more than $200 billion dollars is spent on the treatment of CVD each year in the US By 2030, over 40% of the US population is projected to have some form of CVD, at a cost of $1 trillion to the US economy.

The tremendous clinical and financial burden of cardiovascular illness has helped motivated policymakers to develop policy tools that have the potential to improve health care quality and curb spending.  Alternative payment models, and specifically bundled payments—lump sum payment for defined episodes of care which typically subsume an inpatient hospitalization and some amount of post-acute care—represent a promising tool for slowing health care spending and improving health care value.

Despite broad interest in implementing bundled payments to achieve these aims, our collective understanding of the effects of bundled payments on .cardiovascular disease care quality and spending, and the factors associated with success under this payment model, are limited.

Medicare’s Bundled Payments of Care Improvement (BPCI) is an ongoing voluntary, national pilot program evaluating bundled payments for 48 common conditions and procedures, including several common cardiovascular conditions and interventions.   In this study, we compared hospitals that voluntarily signed up for the four most commonly subscribed cardiac bundles—those for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and percutaneous coronary intervention—with surrounding control hospitals in order to gain some insight into the factors driving participation, and to assess whether the hospitals participating in these bundles were broadly representative of a diverse set of U.S. acute care hospitals.  Continue reading

CDC’s Change in HIV Policy Impacted Providers’ Role in Prevention

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rogério M. Pinto, LCSW, Ph.D. Associate Professor Associate Dean for Research School of Social Work University of Michigan Ann Arbor, USA

Dr. Pinto

Rogério M. Pinto, LCSW, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Associate Dean for Research
School of Social Work
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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

Response: This research, published in Health Education & Behavior (https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198118760681),highlights the crucial role of providers of social and public health services in helping patients to access lifesaving HIV services. Before 2012, providers were encouraged and trained to link patients to behavioral interventions to help patients modify their behaviors to protect themselves against HIV transmission and infection. A shift in policy from targeting anyone at risk to those at highest risk (called “High Impact Prevention”) made these interventions less available (they were actually discontinued) and new policy dictated that providers should have as many people as possible access HIV testing and link them to HIV primary care in order to receive antiretroviral medication.

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Voluntary Bundled Payment Program For Care After Acute Hospitalization Unable to Achieve Broad Participation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

A Jay Holmgren Doctoral Student, Health Policy and Management Harvard Business School

A Jay Holmgren

A Jay Holmgren
Doctoral Student, Health Policy and Management
Harvard Business School

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

Response: Post-acute care, care that is delivered following an acute care hospitalization, is one of the largest drivers of variation in US health care spending.

To address this, Medicare has created several payment reform systems targeting post-acute care, including a voluntary bundled payment program known as the Model 3 of the Bundled Payment for Care Improvement (BPCI) Initiative for post-acute care providers such as skilled nursing facilities, long-term care hospitals, or inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Participants are given a target price for an episode of care which is then reconciled against actual spending; providers who spend under the target price retain some of the savings, while those who spend more must reimburse Medicare for some of the difference.

Our study sought to evaluate the level of participation in this program and identify what providers were more likely to participate. We found that fewer than 4% of eligible post-acute care providers ever participated in the program, and over 40% of those who did participate dropped out. The providers more likely to remain in the program were skilled nursing facilities that were higher quality, for-profit, and were part of a multi-facility organization.

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African Americans Less Likely To Be Treated With Statins

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael G. Nanna, MD Fellow, Division of Cardiology Duke University Medical Center Durham, NC

Dr. Nanna

Michael G. Nanna, MD
Fellow, Division of Cardiology
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC

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

Response: We know that African Americans are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease than white patients. We also know that African American individuals have been less likely to receive statin therapy compared to white individuals in the past. However, the reasons underlying these racial differences in statin treatment are poorly understood. We set out to determine if African American individuals in contemporary practice are treated less aggressively than whites and, if so, we wanted to investigate potential reasons why this might be the case.

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Physician MOC Status Linked To Better Diabetes Performance Measure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bradley Gray, PhD
Senior Health Services Researcher
American Board of Internal Medicine

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

Response: This study is part of an ongoing effort to improve and validate ABIM’s MOC process through the use of real data that is ongoing here at ABIM.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: The paper examines the association between MOC status and a set of HEDIS process quality measures for internists twenty years past the time they initially certified. An example of one HEDIS performance measure we looked at was percentage of patients with diabetes that had twice annual HbA1c testing. The key findings of the paper are that physicians who maintained their certification had better scores on 5 of 6 HEDIS performance measures than similar physicians who did not maintain their certification.

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2/3 Canadians Do Not Receive Timely Surgery for Hip Fractures

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel Pincus MD Department of Surgery Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences University of Toronto

Dr. Pincus

Daniel Pincus MD
Department of Surgery
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
University of Toronto

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

Response: We chose to look at hip fractures because is the most common reason for urgent surgery complications have be tied to wait times (and in particular wait times greater than 24 hours).

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Pressure To Produce Cheaper Generics Linked to More Hazardous Drug Recalls

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“pills” by Dominique Godbout is licensed under CC BY 2.0George P. Ball PhD
Operations and Decision Technologies Department
Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405,

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

Response: We sought to examine how the intense pressure on firms to produce generic drugs more cheaply might influence product quality.

We find that the greater proportion of generic drugs a firm manufactures, the more severe product recalls they experience, because of an apparent relaxation of manufacturing quality standards. Additionally, they experience fewer less severe recalls, which may also result from forces of competition.

When the opportunity exists to not announce a recall that has high discretion, competition may lead firms to forgo the recall to avoid negative ramifications associated with recalls.

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Cigna Creates Online Initiative To Drive Patient-Provider Conversations Regarding Pain and Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Stuart Lustig, M.D., M.P.H National Medical Executive for Behavioral Health Cigna

Dr. Lustig

Dr. Stuart Lustig, M.D., M.P.H
National Medical Executive for Behavioral Health
Cigna

Dr. Lustig discusses Cigna’s efforts to curb the opioid epidemic.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for the Applying American Society of Addiction Medicine Performance Measures in Commercial Health Insurance and Services Data study?

Response: In 2016 Cigna announced a collaboration with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to improve treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders and establish performance measures and best practices for addiction treatment. Mining anonymized data from Cigna’s administrative data, Brandeis University researchers have validated a new way to hone in on trouble spots where substance use disorder treatment for opioid, alcohol and other drug dependence is suboptimal, like the way police departments use computers to identify high crime areas in need of greater scrutiny and attention.

The technique uses ASAM-defined performance measures to assess substance use disorder treatment patterns, giving researchers the ability to sort through administrative data and measure to the extent to which patients being treated for opioid or alcohol use disorder are receiving and using evidenced-based medications proven to be effective in improving outcomes and retention in treatment. It also measures whether those patients received support during substance withdrawal – a critical factor in the success of addiction treatment plans. The performance measures were first tested on the Veterans’ Health Administration in 2016 and now, on data from Cigna.

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For Your Surgeon, Do You Want Younger Hands or More Experience?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Untitled” by Marcin Wichary is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, MPH, PhD
Assistant professor
Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCL
Los Angeles, CA 

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

Response: We studied whether patients’ mortality rate differ based on age and sex of surgeons who performed surgical procedures. Using a nationally representative data of Medicare beneficiaries aged 65-99 years who underwent one of 20 major non-elective surgeries, we found that patients treated by older surgeons have lower mortality than those cared for by younger surgeons, whereas there was no difference in patient mortality between male and female surgeons. When we studied age and sex together, we found that female surgeons at their 50s had the lowest patient mortality across all groups.

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Maryland’s Global Budget Plan Did Not Change Hospital or Primary Care Usage

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Eric T. Roberts, PhD Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Dr. Roberts

Eric T. Roberts, PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

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

Response: There is considerable interest nationally in reforming how we pay health care providers and in shifting from fee-for-service to value-based payment models, in which providers assume some economic risk for their patients’ costs and outcomes of care.  One new payment model that has garnered interest among policy makers is the global budget, which in 2010 Maryland adopted for rural hospitals.  Maryland subsequently expanded the model to urban and suburban hospitals in 2014.  Maryland’s global budget model encompasses payments to hospitals for inpatient, emergency department, and hospital outpatient department services from all payers, including Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers.  The intuition behind this payment model is that, when a hospital is given a fixed budget to care for the entire population it serves, it will have an incentive to avoid costly admissions and focus on treating patients outside of the hospital (e.g., in primary care practices).  Until recently, there has been little rigorous evidence about whether Maryland’s hospital global budget model met policy makers’ goals of reducing hospital use and strengthening primary care.

Our Health Affairs study evaluated how the 2010 implementation of global budgets in rural Maryland hospitals affected hospital utilization among Medicare beneficiaries.  This study complements work our research group published in JAMA Internal Medicine (January 16, 2018) that examined the impact of the statewide program on hospital and primary care use, also among Medicare beneficiaries.

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Patients With Multiple Chronic Diseases Incur High Out-of-Pocket Expenses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Grace Sum Chi-En National University of Singapore

Dr Grace Sum    Chi-En

Dr Grace Sum Chi-En
National University of Singapore

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

Response: Chronic diseases are conditions that are not infectious and are usually long-term, such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, chronic lung disease, asthma, arthritis, stroke, obesity, and depression. They are also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Multimorbidity, is a term we use in our field, to mean the presence of two or more NCDs. Multimorbidity is a costly and complex challenge for health systems globally. With the ageing population, more people in the world will suffer from multiple chronic diseases.

Patients with multimorbidity tend to need many medicines, and this incurs high levels of out-of-pocket expenditures, simply known as cost not covered by insurance. Even the United Nations and World Health organisation are recognising NCDs as being an important issue.

Governments will meet in New York for the United Nations 3rd high-level meeting on chronic diseases in 2018. Global leaders need to work towards reducing the burden of having multiple chronic conditions and providing financial protection to those suffering multimorbidity.

Our research aimed to conduct a high-quality systematic review on multimorbidity and out-of-pocket expenditure on medicines.  Continue reading