Category: Science and Other News

Licensing Out-of-State Doctors: Half of Medical Boards Perform Poorly

caduceus_blogTelemedicine embraces technologies as diverse as surgeons operating robots remotely, radiologists reading scanned images remotely, or psychiatrists conducting therapy sessions via videoconference. A new research article in the Telemedicine and E-Health Journal shows how difficult state regulatory barriers are making it for doctors to practice effective telemedicine.

One barrier to effective adoption of telemedicine is that states license physicians, and those licenses are not portable. When physicians seek licenses in other states, they face pointless administrative hassles.

The Future of Medicine and the Internet of Things

As previously noted on this blog, investments in digital health ventures doubled in 2014. Institutions, analysts and MDs envision the opportunity to reduce the colossal inefficiency of current medical practice by exploiting the Internet of Things.

According to a recent JAMA article, the number of mobile devices connected via the internet is doubling every five years, and there will be nearly seven connected devices per individual by 2020.

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Source: Digital Medical Tools and Sensors from JAMA.

U.S. Ranks First in Intellectual Property Rights

The International IP Index, published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) was released earlier this week. The full report can be found here.

Now in its third edition, the GIPC Index provides data analysis intended to be a tool for governments to understand the key IP factors that drive business innovation. In addition, the index reflects indicators that companies monitor closely as they plan their R&D. Key IP inputs measured include: Patent protection, enforcement and international treaties.

As the first ranked country in the index, the report attributes the U.S.’s score to the following areas of strength:

  • Pharmaceutical-related patent enforcement and resolution mechanism
  • Patentability and strict definition of computer-implemented inventions
  • Digital rights management legislation
  • Protection of trade secrets
  • Deterrent civil remedies and criminal penalties
  • Commitment to and implementation of international treaties
    Read More » »

Electronic Health Records and Adolescents’ Privacy

This blog has written about complaints from both physicians and nurses regarding the costs and time devoured by using Electronic Health Records, which have been imposed on practices despite not adding value.

In a JAMA article published earlier this month, three physicians discuss EHRs’ challenge to adolescents’ and parents’ privacy. So-called minor consent laws permit adolescents to secure health care services without parental consent for drug use, pregnancy and pregnancy preventions, STDs and mental health. These laws underscore the professional consensus that absent confidentiality, adolescents will be reluctant to seek care for sensitive health issues.

With paper records, care provided under minor consent laws was segregated from other medical records and difficult to access. Because EHRs aggregate information for all health care provided within a so-called integrated system, parents have the means to electronically access confidential information, often facilitated by web portals to the records.

FDA Regulation of Mobile Health Apps is a Real Threat

Do you want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate your smartphone? Many in the booming digital health industry are indifferent to the risks of the FDA regulating apps as medical devices. As I noted in a recent Health Alert, the FDA’s current doctrine is to allow most new apps onto the market without regulation. However, this openness is defined only in rules written by the FDA itself, not legislation. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and others in Congress have proposed to amend the law to prevent the FDA from overreaching.

Entrepreneurs and patients who think that the FDA’s current posture is eternal should be aware of a campaign to regulate apps for health. Here’s a recent article from Mother Jones:

Online retailers like iTunes and Amazon offer thousands of apps promising all kinds of real-time information about your body — they can measure blood pressure, take your pulse, track your menstrual cycle, and tell you how well your lungs are working. Mobile health is one of the fastest-growing app categories: According to the consulting firm research2guidance, there are 100,000 mobile health apps on the market, double the number available two and a half years ago. The industry is worth some $4 billion today, and analysts predict that it will reach $26.5 billion by 2017.

Happy New Year 2015!

May you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year! All of us at the NCPA appreciate your support.

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Merry Christmas!

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NCPA will be closed December 22nd through December 26th.

We’ll resume blogging on Monday, December 29th!

Hiring in Ambulatory Clinics Back on Track in November; Other Health Jobs Lagging

Last Friday’s employment report caused some joy in the land: 321,000 jobs were added in November. My Forbes colleague Bruce Japsen cheered an “Obamacare jobs bump” in health services. If true, this would be an example of Bastiat’s broken-window fallacy: Broken windows create employment for glaziers, so the government should encourage breaking windows.

Similarly, Obamacare “broke” health care. So, we cannot be sure if jobs added in health care are adding value to society, or just a response to Obamacare’s making health care even more inefficient than it was.

However, there was no Obamacare jobs boom in November. As shown in Table 1 and Table 2, jobs in health care increased by 0.19 percent from October. Non-health nonfarm civilian jobs increased 0.23 percent. So, healthcare jobs increased at a marginally slower rate than other jobs.

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The Circular Firing Squad in U.S. Health Care

Who is to blame for the U.S. healthcare crisis? JAMA has published an opinion piece by three physicians illustrating a fundamental difficulty in identifying the causes of the healthcare crisis. Individuals construct “casual stories” to assign blame. Subjective narratives gain momentum among researchers, policy makers, journalists, and the public:

  • Payers: Insurers create barriers to health care (high deductibles and gatekeepers) and excessive administrative waste (billing and coding).
  • Life Science Industry: Manufacturers saddle patients and payers with excessively high prices and underinvest in novel therapeutics.
  • Physicians and Hospitals: Financial incentives have led clinicians and health care organizations to focus on delivering volume over value. Hospitals overinvest in high margin services (cardiology and oncology) and underinvest in essential services (obstetrics and psychiatry).

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us at the NCPA, we wish you and yours a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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