The link between chronic conditions and social determinants of health, how predictive analytics may ease the burden of flu outbreaks, and more.

1. Flu vaccination and predictive analytics

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could help health organizations reach more people with the flu vaccine.

“Influenza vaccine is one of the most available preventive services there is,” said Joshua Sclar, MD, MPH, and BioIQ’s chief medical officer. “It eliminates a significant number of barriers for most people, and yet uptake is still pretty low.”

Data such as predictive analytics can help identify at-risk demographic groups. Payers can then target these people with prevention campaigns. The data can also help payers predict the likelihood of hospitalizations if patients get the flu.

“It’s a resource-allocation game here,” Sclar said. “You have finite resources to try and get the population vaccinated, and you want to dedicate those resources as appropriate to the highest-risk populations you can identify.”

2. Obesity and cancer rates on the rise in young adults

Cancer and obesity in young adults seem to go hand-in-hand, shows a new American Cancer Society report. Researchers studied data on adults between the ages of 24 to 49 and found a higher risk of obesity-related cancers in this age group. The analysis, published by The Lancet Public Health, also found the risk of colorectal, gallbladder, pancreatic and endometrial cancers in millennials was almost double the rate that baby boomers had at the same age.

“The risk of cancer is increasing in young adults for half of the obesity-related cancers, with the increase steeper in progressively younger ages,” said co-author Ahmedin Jemal, the American Cancer Society Surveillance and Health Services Research Program vice president.

3. Chronic conditions tied to social determinants of health

There’s a link between New Jersey’s poorest zip codes and people with chronic diseases who visit emergency rooms, according to the Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation (CHART). The outcome shows that New Jersey hospitals spend over $2 billion each year in emergency room care for patients. These patients did not require additional treatment but were shown to have chronic conditions.

“You can live well with a chronic condition, but that requires access to primary care, a medical home and care management,” said Cathy Bennet, New Jersey Hospital Association’s president and CEO.

“CHART’s study zeroes in on hotspot zip codes where there are clear gaps in that level of care. These communities demand greater attention to make sure all individuals have access to the services they need.”

4. Increasing flu activity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released its latest flu report for the week ending January 26. Here’s a summary of the latest stats:

  • Close to 6,000 confirmed cases of Influenza A and 120 of Influenza B.
  • 8 percent increase in outpatient visits for influenza-like symptoms. The national baseline is 2.2 percent.
  • 4,423 confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations.
  • 24 children have died from the flu this season.
  • 45 states reported widespread flu activity.

5. Patients willing to try digital treatments

Over 50 percent of consumers surveyed said they would try treatment for a medical condition via an FDA-approved app or digital tool, found a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

“The arrival of digital therapeutics — an emerging health discipline that uses technology to augment or even replace active drugs in disease treatment — is reshaping the landscape for new medicines, product reimbursement and regulatory oversight,” the report says. “This means that new data sharing processes and payment models will be established to integrate these products into the broader treatment arsenal and regulatory structure for drug and device approvals.”

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