Health Policy

Community Health Centers Move to the COVID-19 Immunization Frontline

A new analysis from the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative provides current information on the number of community health center staff members and patients who have received COVID-19 vaccines, using data from the latest published Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Center COVID-19 Survey. The Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative is based at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (GW Milken Institute SPH).

Reporting on Local Health Systems

Susan Dentzer, health-care analyst, commentator, journalist, and senior policy fellow at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, discusses local health systems, including how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and best practices for reporting on the subject. Carla Anne Robbins, CFR adjunct senior fellow and former deputy editorial page editor at the New York Times, hosts the webinar.

Philadelphia Tax on Sweetened Drinks Led to Drop in Sales

Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened beverages led to a 38.9 percent drop in the volume of taxed beverages sold at small, independent retailers and a significant increase in the price of taxed beverages, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. This study builds on previous research that suggests beverage taxes can help reduce purchases of sugary drinks, led by Christina Roberto, PhD, an associate professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn, and senior author on this latest paper published in Health Affairs.

Sky-high surprise bills from air ambulance flights possible for many patients

When an emergency dispatcher calls for a helicopter to fly a critically ill patient to a hospital, they don’t have time to check whether they take the patient’s insurance. But after those patients land, 72% of them could face a potential “surprise bill” because their ambulance provider isn’t “in network” with their insurance, a new study of people with private insurance finds. So could 79% of those transported via ground ambulance.

ORNL researchers develop ‘multitasking’ AI tool to extract cancer data in record time

To better leverage cancer data for research, scientists at ORNL are developing an artificial intelligence (AI)-based natural language processing tool to improve information extraction from textual pathology reports. In a first for cancer pathology reports, the team developed a multitask convolutional neural network (CNN)—a deep learning model that learns to perform tasks, such as identifying key words in a body of text, by processing language as a two-dimensional numerical dataset.

Middle-Aged Adults Worried About Health Insurance Costs Now, Uncertain for Future

Health insurance costs weigh heavily on the minds of many middle-aged adults, and many are worried for what they’ll face in retirement or if federal health policies change, according to a new study. More than a quarter of people in their 50s and early 60s lack confidence that they’ll be able to afford health insurance in the next year, and the number goes up to nearly half when they look ahead to retirement.

Direct-to-Consumer Fertility Tests Confuse and Mislead Consumers, Penn Study Shows

Direct-to-consumer hormone-based “fertility testing” for women is viewed by consumers as both an alternative, empowering tool for family planning, and a confusing and misleading one, according to the results of a new study from Penn Medicine. Findings from the small, first-of-its-kind ethnographic study reinforce the need for consumer education around the purpose and accuracy of the tests, which have seen increasing interest in recent years due to the low cost and widespread availability. The study was published in the journal of Social Science and Medicine.

Study sheds light on differences in hospitalization-related care and outcomes for urgent cardiovascular conditions among homeless individuals

In a new retrospective study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine, a team of researchers led by Rishi Wadhera, MD, MPP, MPhil, an investigator in the Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), found that there are indeed striking disparities in in-hospital care and mortality between homeless and non-homeless adults.

How Oncologists Can Ethically Navigate the “Right-to-Try” Drug Law

The 2018 federal Right to Try Act allows patients with a life-threatening illness to be treated with drugs that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many in the oncology community say Right to Try strips away important regulatory protections and view the move as a risky step bound to create ethical dilemmas for physicians whose goal is to guide patients toward safe and appropriate treatment decisions. Oncology is one field at the forefront of requests for unapproved drugs. An interdisciplinary team of bioethicists, oncologists, and lawyers from Penn Medicine and other institutions penned a commentary published online this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology to offer recommendations to help oncologists navigate this new “Right to Try” world, while maintaining their ethical obligations to patients.

New Opioid Prescription Dosages Drop 22 Percent in Penn Medicine’s New Jersey Practices Following Changes to State Law and Health Record Alerts

The total amount of opioids dispensed per new opioid prescription decreased by 22 percent in Penn Medicine outpatient practices in New Jersey after the state passed a law limiting prescriptions to a five-day supply for new opioid prescriptions. Penn Medicine implemented an electronic health record (EMR) alert, or “nudge,” to notify clinicians if that limit had been reached. The study, published online today in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, is one of the first evaluations of a state law’s impact on prescribing outcomes, and is the first report of an EMR being used to make compliance with prescribing limits easier. Importantly, after the prescribing limit and alert went into effect there was no evidence to suggest pain control worsened.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine and CUNY School of Public Health Collaborate to Offer Medical Students M.D./M.P.H. Program

Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) announced an agreement today to offer Einstein medical students an opportunity to complete a five-year program resulting in a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from Einstein and a Master’s Degree in Public Health (M.P.H.) degree from CUNY SPH.