Patients seek alternative ways to pay rising medical bills, Oregon targets homeless population for Hep A prevention, and more.

1. Can IoT improve population health?

Healthcare providers and policymakers are investing in population health management strategies and their corresponding “internet of things” (IoT) technologies. They hope the use of smart medical products such as smart pills and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technologies will reduce chronic disease spending.

“Smart healthcare products improve outcomes related to diagnostic tools and enhance patient treatment along with improving their quality of life,” says a Zion Market Research report.

In a separate report, Zion predicts spending on global population health management will rise from $16.5 billion in 2017 to $86.3 billion in 2024, a compound annual growth rate of over 25 percent.

2. Patients turn to GoFundMe for financial aid

As healthcare costs continue to rise, patients look for alternate ways to foot their medical bills. Is GoFundMe the answer? It is for many. One in three campaigns fall under GoFundMe’s medical category. GoFundMe, the largest crowdsourced fundraising platform online, says medical fundraisers bring in more money than any other category.

“In the old paradigm you would give $20 to somebody who needed help,” said Rob Solomon, GoFundMe CEO. “In the new paradigm, you’ll give $20, you’ll share that and that could turn into 10, 20, 50 or 100 people doing that. So, the $20 could turn into hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.”

Still, providers and policymakers should take note, says Sara Collins, a Commonwealth Fund economist. GoFundMe may serve as a way to raise medical funding for consumers with financial needs, but it doesn’t address the fact that many patients can’t afford their copays and high deductibles.

3. Oregon’s homeless to get hepatitis A vaccine

Oregon’s public health officials are taking a novel approach to address hepatitis A prevention. Officials are targeting the homeless population. In the past, hepatitis A outbreaks were linked to international travel or foodborne illnesses. But today, the virus primarily affects homeless adults over age 40.

“The homeless population just seems like the perfect setup for this transmission,” said Paul Cieslak, MD, medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. “You’ve got people living without the benefit of running water and often without toilet or sewage.”

Health officials say the vaccine is very effective and has all but eliminated widespread outbreaks since its arrival in 1996.

“This is a preventable disease,” said Lisa Ferguson, who oversees Multnomah County’s communicable diseases services team in Oregon. “And vaccination is the way to prevent it.”

4. Healthcare AI to top $36 billion by 2025

U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers will invest significantly in artificial intelligence (AI) over the next several years. So much so that a ReportLinker study predicts spending will leap from the current $2.1 billion to $36.1 billion in six years, a compound annual growth rate of over 50 percent.

“A few major factors responsible for the high share of the hospitals and providers segment include a large number of applications of AI solutions across provider settings; ability of AI systems to improve care delivery, patient experience, and bring down costs; and growing adoption of electronic health records by healthcare organizations,” said the report.

“Moreover, AI-based tools, such as voice recognition software and clinical decision support systems, help streamline workflow processes in hospitals, lower cost, improve care delivery, and enhance patient experience.”

5. Four keys to a happier 2019

Want a happy new year, but not sure how to get it? Embrace the following science-backed strategies published in the New York Times:

  • Change behavior. Eliminate negativity and don’t dwell on bad experiences. Instead, practice optimism even during difficult situations.
  • Move more. People who exercise for as little as 10 minutes a day feel less cranky and more relaxed and cheerful.
  • Hang out with positive people. The company you keep affects your health. Surround yourself with happy friends and family members.
  • Discover meaning in old age. Spend time with elderly people and find out what brings them meaning despite the losses they have faced.


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