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The BioIQ Blog

February 3, 2017

The Friday Five: Top Population Health News, Jan. 30 – Feb. 3

Coffee cup next to laptop

Telehealth predictions for 2017;  health insurers question what an ACA replacement will look like and more.

1. A new study suggests that even normal-weight women may be at greater risk for colon cancer if they have certain traits, such as elevated levels of blood fat, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and low levels of good cholesterol, reports WebMD. Current guidelines recommend colon cancer screening primarily based on a person’s age. However, the study authors concluded that identifying at-risk individuals by their metabolic type could help prevent these cancers and catch them at an earlier stage, saving more lives. “Know your own metabolic health, even if your weight is normal,” said Juhua Luo, the study’s senior author.

2. NPR reports that cancer researchers are testing whether a generic drug that has been used for more than 40 years to treat parasitic infections – including pinworms – may also help fight cancer. At a time when it can cost a billion dollars to develop a new drug, the idea of repurposing existing drugs is appealing, according to Bruce Bloom, the president and chief science officer of Cures Within Reach, which has helped fund mebendazole research. “It’s not likely that mebendazole or any other single repurposed drug is ever going to cure cancer,” Bloom says. However, he envisions the possibility that combinations of repurposed drugs might help the body to manage cancer.

3. While lawmakers push ahead with efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, health insurers are questioning what a replacement will look like. Becker’s Hospital Review highlights the five things you need to know about the ongoing debate.

4. The top U.S. health systems are increasingly looking to telehealth to engage their patients and extend their reach. Writing for Healthcare IT News, Roy Schoenberg, MD, MPH, CEO, American Well, says that last year alone, dozens of U.S. health systems including NewYork-Presbyterian and Marshfield Clinic introduced telehealth for the first time. When implemented correctly, telehealth can support improved chronic condition management and overall population health, facilitate provider-to-provider consulting and referral management, and enable providers to acquire more patients. Given these benefits, Schoenberg believes telehealth will be a key focus of the HIMSS Annual Conference and a high priority for many healthcare leaders in 2017. Here are his five predictions for this growing industry.

5. Health insurance companies are following a few key ways to improve patient health outcomes and reduce spending, reports HealthPayer Intelligence. These strategies include putting more focus on preventive care, a reduction in unnecessary medical testing, and better patient health outcomes by transitioning to value-based care reimbursement. Health insurance companies looking to reduce rising medical costs, improve patient health outcomes, and ensure high member satisfaction should consider following these four steps.

 

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