Why healthcare consumers are turning to retail clinics, why now is the best time to get a flu shot, and more.

1. Llamas may hold the keys to universal flu protection

Llama antibodies in a nasal gene spray protected mice from 59 out of 60 flu strains, showed a recent study published in the journal Science. Researchers combined gene therapy and immunotherapy to create a single “mega-antibody” using four flu antibodies found in llamas. Only a form of bird flu that has never infected people thwarted the mega-antibody.

“That’s something that made this quite a unique antibody,” said study co-author Joost A. Kolkman, an antibody engineer at Janssen Pharmaceutical Co., in a New York Times interview. “We saw a coverage that has never been seen before.”

2. Consumers turn to retail clinics for healthcare needs

Surprise bills and unexpected costs are driving consumers to look elsewhere for healthcare. Patients no longer want to deal with confusing bills and frustrating payment processes. They want clarity and convenience. That’s why many are turning to retail health clinics for preventive care and immunizations. Benefits of these clinics include:

  • Speedy appointment times
  • Up-front billing for cash payers
  • Lower fees than primary care visits
  • Routine and preventive care services
  • Ability to shop while waiting for an appointment

Retail clinics may not replace relationships with primary care physicians, but they seem to be serving as a supplement to traditional care.

3. Stay healthy during “darker’ season

Has your body adjusted to brighter mornings and darker nights? Sleep specialists say it can take a couple of days for internal clocks to re-program. Even then, less daylight may affect other aspects of your life like your emotions and your socialization. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your health:

Eat smart.
Reach for healthy protein sources such as fish and nuts.

Dine light. Make lunch your main meal and go with a small plate for dinner. Limit alcohol to two servings or less daily.

Watch your bedtime. Hit the sack an hour earlier to maximize your exposure to morning light.

. Resist the urge to hibernate. Join a club or an exercise class.

Get more light. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, try a lightbox or head south for the winter. Regions closer to the equator get more daylight than those further north.

4. It’s the perfect time to get the flu shot

If you haven’t gotten the flu shot, it’s not too late. In fact, scientists say now is the best time to get immunized.“Since 95 percent of flu outbreaks start in mid-December. It’s best to get the flu shot in early to mid-November,” said Michael T. Osterholm, MD, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends anyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu shot along with people over 65, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system.

5. Grady’s AI curbs costly readmissions

Grady Health System’s B&CI Information Services is using data to target high-risk patients with follow-up EMS services. The organization focuses on a small patient population that may not have the support they need at home.

“What we’re trying to do,” said Robin Frady, B&CI’s executive director, “is within a certain amount of days, reach those patients that may come back for some of those reasons that we can prevent (like) making sure they’re taking their medications.” It’s a cost-effective way to prevent readmissions. Frady said a follow-up visit may cost the system $200. A readmission may run $11,000.

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