State Highlights: Minn. Health Spending Growth Slows This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. A selection of health policy stories from Texas, Minnesota, California and Florida.The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Claims Drop Under State-Run Women’s Health Program in TexasTo stop Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving public financing, Texas’ Republican leaders gambled that the state could operate a contraception and cancer-screening program for low-income women without tens of millions of federal dollars. But with the exclusion of about 40 Planned Parenthood clinics — none of which performed abortions — from the Texas Women’s Health Program in 2013, records showed that claims for birth control and wellness exams dropped, as did enrollment numbers (Aaronson, 12/12).Minnesota Public Radio: Minn. Health Care Spending Grew At Slower Rate In Recent YearsA Minnesota Department of Health study finds health care spending in the state continued at a slow 2 percent growth rate from 2010 to 2011. That compares to an annual average pace of growth over the past decade of about 6 percent. The state’s health care spending [growth] rate was half the nation’s rate of nearly 4 percent in 2011 (Stawicki, 12/12). Los Angeles Times: Doctor Pleads Guilty To Fraud Scheme With Homeless ‘Patients’A doctor who conducted unnecessary procedures on mostly homeless patients and billed Medicare and Medi-Cal pleaded guilty Thursday to filing a false tax return and participating in the $1.55-million scheme, authorities said. From 2008 to 2012, Dr. Ovid Mercene, 61, admitted patients, most of them homeless, to a Los Angeles-area hospital for treatment they did not need with the purpose of defrauding taxpayer-funded health programs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office (Barragan, 12/12). California Healthline: Budget Blueprint Draws Quick PraiseA blueprint of priorities for the 2014-2015 California budget released by Assembly Democrats Wednesday drew quick praise for its efforts to address child poverty and public health. … The Democrats’ goals include restoring some cuts in Medi-Cal reimbursements and restoring such programs as the Early Mental Health Initiative, Asthma Public Health Initiative and Black Infant Health (Norberg, 12/12).Health News Florida: FMA Protests Doctor-DroppingThe Florida Medical Association is backing a Connecticut lawsuit challenging UnitedHealthcare’s decision to cancel Medicare Advantage contracts. The Association filed a brief late Wednesday supporting the Connecticut State Medical Society’s attempt to block the insurance carrier from tearing up thousands of physician contracts (Shedden and Gentry, 12/12).Related KHN coverage: UnitedHealthcare Dropping Hundreds Of Doctors From Medicare Advantage Plans (Jaffe, 12/1).Georgia Health News: Poll: Many Georgians Nervous About ACAThree in four Georgians say they’re satisfied with the overall value of their health care, according to a new poll released Thursday. But Georgians show concerns about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, said the poll of 400 residents, released by Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Nearly half of respondents — 47 percent — expect the ACA will result in their paying more for health care, with just 11 percent saying they believe they will pay less (Miller, 12/12).
The Target: BP program helped us to standardize our procedure for blood pressure determination across the clinic as a whole, thus leading to improved patient outcomes and quality of care delivery”said Thomas Mihelich, M.D., Chief Quality Officer at Utica Park Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of 340 clinics receiving Gold level recognition this year. Of the 103 million Americans with high blood pressure, less than half of them have it controlled to a healthy level. Through the Target: BP program, healthcare providers have access to tools and resources to not only help them remain mindful of blood pressure management but help more of their patients become involved with their care and health goals in order to get their blood pressure under control.Related StoriesHealthy blood vessels could help stave off cognitive declineDon’t ignore diastolic blood pressure values, say researchersScientists turn type A blood into universal type O, potentially doubling blood transfusion stocks“A driving force behind Target: BP’s goal of improving cardiovascular health is the physician and patient partnership,” said AHA President Ivor Benjamin, M.D., FAHA. “No single risk factor has more impact on the nation’s death rates from cardiovascular disease than high blood pressure. We are pleased to see more and more practices prioritize blood pressure control and collaborate with their patients to achieve the program’s goal of reducing heart disease and strokes in their communities.”Experts agree that high blood pressure can often be managed effectively when patients work with their physician to create and follow a treatment plan.“Although we have the tools to effectively treat high blood pressure, many patients face a variety of barriers making it difficult to successfully manage the condition. Target: BP is meant to facilitate ways around those barriers,” said AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, M.D. “We applaud the physicians who are already working hard to control their patients’ blood pressure. And, because we know that improving control rates by just a few percentage points can lead to tens of thousands of additional hypertensive patients with controlled blood pressure, we will continue to urge more physician practices, health systems and patients to join this effort to prioritize blood pressure control. By increasing the national blood pressure control rate, we will be able to save many more lives and improve health outcomes for patients throughout the nation.”More than 1,650 physician practices and health systems nationwide have joined Target: BP™ since 2015, sharing a common goal to reduce the number of adult patients with uncontrolled blood pressure and improve health outcomes associated with heart disease. Launched in 2017, the Target: BP Recognition Program is an extension of Target: BP™. More information about Target: BP and a full list of this year’s recognized participants can be found at TargetBP.org. Source:https://www.ama-assn.org/ Oct 19 2018American Heart Association and American Medical Association award physician practices and health systems with Target: BP™ Recognition Program designation for their commitment to prioritize blood pressure control within the communities they serve The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) today recognized 802 physician practices and health systems from across the country for their commitment to reducing the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes each year. As part of the annual Target: BP Recognition Program, run jointly by the two associations since 2017, these practices are being recognized for their commitment to helping more patients improve blood pressure control.More than 8.7 million people with high blood pressure are represented by this year’s 802 program participants. The highest level of achievement in the program is to reach a control rate of 70 percent or more, signifying Gold status. According to this year’s Target: BP data, nearly half of Target: BP Recognition Program participants reached Gold status—with these health care organizations achieving on average 77 percent of their hypertensive patients’ blood pressure controlled. Data for the program is based on high blood pressure control being defined as less than 140/90 mmHg. read more
Source:https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2018/november/yelp-reviews-reveal-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-emergency-departments-and-urgent-care-clinics Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 12 2018Yelp reviews reveal that emergency departments are viewed as being higher quality but lacking in service as compared to urgent care centers, which patients rate the opposite, according to a new study from researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study results, published this month in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, provide a unique opportunity for researchers and clinicians to learn from online reviews, which provide a raw narrative from consumers.”Today’s world is very digital, and it’s very common for consumers to rate a restaurant, hotel or service online, a practice that is spilling over into health care,” said the study’s lead author, Anish Agarwal, MD, a National Clinician Scholars fellow and Emergency Medicine physician at Penn Medicine. “As an emergency department physician, patients often tell me that the internet is the first place they go for information about medical conditions and to research providers. Health systems and clinicians can learn a lot about the communities they treat and how people experience the services they provide by looking to online ratings and reviews.”In this new study, researchers, with the help of an automated system, analyzed high (five-star) and low (one-star) Yelp reviews for both emergency departments and urgent care centers, two venues that patients can select from when in need of acute care.Researchers identified key themes in the five-star reviews of emergency departments, including bedside manner, treatment of family members, and access to care on nights and weekends. Urgent care centers were unique in receiving five-star reviews more often for factors including ease of refilling prescriptions and being positively recommended by others.On the other side, emergency departments received negative remarks for speed of care, while urgent care centers received one-star reviews as a result of poor reception experiences and patients lacking confidence in the care received.”We are seeing more and more that patients are sharing their experiences online, and they’re looking to social media platforms and online communities to help inform their decision-making,” said Kevin B. Mahoney, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “Within these review and rating websites lies a trove of decision-making data that we can and should be culling through to help inform how care is delivered, and what matters most to our patients in emergency situations.”Related StoriesIt is okay for women with lupus to get pregnant with proper care, says new studyAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchUrgent care centers have proliferated widely across the country in the past 15 years. Between 2007 and 2016, visits increased by more than 1,700 percent. But while emergency departments have established surveys for patients and their families to report their experiences, there is not a clear equivalent for gathering direct feedback from patients who visit urgent care centers.The study’s senior author, Raina Merchant, MD, director of the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health and an associate professor in Emergency Medicine, believes Yelp reviews could fill a knowledge gap.”Online reviews provide a rapid way of taking the pulse of how this acute care market is emerging and what consumers look for in these settings” said Merchant. “These platforms can also help us identify new focus areas, in an effort to provide better, more efficient care to patients based on their expressed needs.”The researchers analyzed more than 100,000 Yelp reviews, posted between 2005 and 2017–in the midst of the urgent care boom–tied to 1,566 emergency departments and 5,601 from urgent care centers. During the study period, an average of one new review for an emergency department or an urgent care center appeared every hour of every day.The reviews fell largely on one end of the spectrum or the other: five stars or one star. Roughly 47 percent of emergency department and 30 percent of urgent care center reviews fell in the one-star category. The disproportionate amount of negative reviews for acute care facilities, compared to other entities reviewed online, like hotels or restaurants, could be a result of what is at stake for the consumer.”If a restaurant provides you with a quick meal exactly as advertised, they meet your expectations,” Merchant said. “With healthcare, things are different. People are often critically ill, the outcomes are uncertain, and the wait can be long–which are all things that sometimes can’t be controlled.”The research team found that each type of facility received similar five-star reviews for comfort, cleanliness of facilities, pediatric care, and professionalism. One-star reviews for poor phone experiences, long wait times, billing difficulties, and pain management were tied to both emergency departments and urgent care centers.Moving forward, the researchers hope to find more nontraditional sources to provide clues about patient experiences and use them to enhance care quality. read more
By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMar 13 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Wireless earphones could be releasing potentially carcinogenic radiation into the heads of the users, finds a new study. Mohd Syis Zulkipl | ShutterstockA group of 250 experts and researchers have signed a petition to the United Nations and World Health Organisation to stop the use of these and other wireless devices.The researchers explain that these wireless ear pieces use a type of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiowave via Bluetooth technology to transmit data. The closeness of this radiation to the brains of the users is cause for concern, say the researchers.Related StoriesTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyCancer killing capability of lesser-known immune cells identifiedJerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado said, “My concern for AirPods is that their placement in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to relatively high levels of radio-frequency radiation.” Phillips is one of the many scientists who have called for a restriction on use of such devices.The petition reads, “Based upon peer-reviewed, published research, we have serious concerns regarding the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to EMF generated by electric and wireless devices.” It goes on to say that the risk of cancer, neurological disorders, and DNA damage that have been associated with EMF exposure cannot be ignored.The International Agency for Research on Cancer too recently agreed that these EMF waves could be “possibly carcinogenic” to humans. These waves are similar to UV rays or X raysbut are not as powerful. They can cause burns at high concentration but are generally of less impact. The debate about whether they are carcinogenic is still ongoing.The World Health Organisation developed guidelines that regulate the amount of EMF the devices are allowed to emit. The petition adds, “The various agencies setting safety standards have failed to impose sufficient guidelines to protect the general public, particularly children who are more vulnerable to the effects of EMF. By not taking action, the WHO is failing to fulfil its role as the preeminent international public health agency.”The guidelines insist that phones should be kept away from the body when not in use. Sleeping with the phone is not a good practice and usage of headsets or headphones to conduct phone calls is suggested as a good option. Sources:Original editorial article: “Are AirPods and Other Bluetooth Headphones Safe?”.IARC classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. WHO. read more
Citation: Digital rail network mapping achieves efficiencies (2018, April 30) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-digital-rail-network-efficiencies.html The EU-funded Skylynx (Upgrading Railways from the Air) project has underlined the benefits of digitalising Europe’s rail network. By more cost-effectively targeting the maintenance of assets along the line, the need to put workers in harm’s way is reduced, allowing operators to allocate staff to more valuable tasks. The deployment of assets can also be more efficiently planned. “Rail operators have in the past visualised the rail corridor using paper and technical drawings,” explains project coordinator Jorge Lopez-Sanchez from SigmaRail in Spain. “What we propose instead is something like a Google Maps app for railways. Pictures are taken by drone, with 3-D ‘street views’ achieved through 3-D cameras. Our Sigma-Q technology also tags assets and relevant information that will be useful for the design, operation and maintenance of tracks.”Europe’s secret success A key aim of the project has been to facilitate the efficient deployment of the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS), a relatively unheralded European success story, according to Lopez-Sanchez. “Before ERTMS, each European country had its own signalling system,” he explains. “This meant that if you wanted to send a train from London to Amsterdam for example, you either had to change trains or equip trains with multiple signalling equipment, which is expensive or slow. This is how the idea to create one single system across Europe came about.”ERTMS is now Europe’s de facto standard signalling system, and for new lines being constructed in Europe, there is no alternative. ERTMS has also become a global success, and is being deployed in countries including Saudi Arabia, Australia and Mexico. The deployment of ERTMS however remains a challenge. Europe’s legacy of multiple automatic train protection systems has slowed progress and required huge political effort in order to agree on a system that is suitable for all EU members. Lopez-Sanchez also points out the technical challenges in creating a system that is truly functional across all EU Member States, as well as deploying advanced systems along old rail lines. Digitalising rail networksGathering data on the state of these lines is therefore crucial. “Deploying advanced signalling systems such as ERTMS requires operators to know the exact location of safety-related rail assets such as signals and danger points,” explains Lopez-Sanchez. “You can imagine that a system designed to carry thousands of people at a speed of up to 350 km/h requires a high degree of accuracy.” This was the starting point of the Skylynx project; applying cutting-edge technology to develop the digital models of rail corridors. “The benefits for industry are huge,” says Lopez-Sanchez. “Workers for example will not be required to gather data from the tracks, since this task can be accomplished using drones. This will significantly improve safety. Rail companies will be able to quickly identify lines in need of maintenance, saving time and money. At the end of the day, operational efficiencies will translate into lower costs for the general public.” Credit: Skylynx EU-funded researchers have been able to gather accurate geographical data through the use of drones, remote sensing and 360-degree cameras to deliver digital 3-D models of railway lines. This will assist rail and infrastructure companies in assessing tracks throughout their lifecycle. Satellites helping to modernise railways Provided by CORDIS Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Swiss food giant Nestle announced Monday it will pay $7.15 billion in cash for the rights to market Starbucks products around the world, outside of the company’s coffee shops. Starbucks commits $10M for greener coffee cup Brewing up a ‘global coffee alliance’ The agreement gives Nestle, which owns the Nescafe and Nespresso brands, a strong platform for continued growth in North America, the company said in a statement.Nestle is focusing on coffee as a main growth area and has already made some acquisitions in the sector.The Starbucks business covered by the deal currently generates around $2 billion sales annually and includes coffee beans and ground coffee that Nestle will be selling in supermarkets around the world.”This transaction is a significant step for our coffee business, Nestle’s largest high-growth category,” said Nestle CEO Mark Schneider in a statement.”Both companies have true passion for outstanding coffee and are proud to be recognised as global leaders for their responsible and sustainable coffee sourcing,” he said.The deal does not include any of Starbucks’ coffee shops and cafes.Around 500 Starbucks staff will join Nestle, the company said, but the operations would continue to be located in Seattle.Both companies would collaborate on “innovation and go-to-market strategies”, it said.Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson hailed the deal as “historic” and said it would create a “global coffee alliance”. Nestle, which has been under intense shareholder pressure to improve its profitability, has begun to reposition itself since Schneider took over at the start of last year.The former head of German healthcare group Fresenius has pushed for the food giant to focus in on a few areas, like bottled water, infant nutrition and pet care, with coffee a top priority.’Unexpected transaction’While Nestle’s Nespresso and other coffee products are omnipresent in Europe, they have had a harder time catching on in the United States.Over the past 15 months, the company has clearly set its sights on high-end coffee brands in North America. It snapped up a majority share in California-based Blue Bottle Coffee last September, and two months later bought Texas company Chameleon Cold Brew.At the same time, Nestle has been selling off parts of its confectionary business, handing over its US candy business earlier this year to Italy’s Ferrero for nearly $3.0 billion.Analysts hailed Monday’s deal.”Nestle has once again surprised the market with an unexpected transaction,” Jean-Philippe Bertschy of Vontobel said in a research note.He said that “coffee is one of the key growth pillars in the CEO’s strategy, (and) allows Nestle to gain scale in the US, a weak spot so far.”He acknowledged that “the price might appear expensive, but given the returns, the deal could exceed the cost of capital within three to four years”. The transaction, which needs approval from regulators, should be finalised by the end of 2018, Nestle said, adding that the deal should start making a positive contribution to its earnings per share and its growth targets starting next year.The company saw its shares swell 0.6 percent in mid-morning trading at 76.84 Swiss francs a piece, as the Swiss stock exchange’s main SMI index was up just 0.15 percent.Starbucks, meanwhile, said it will use the cash to accelerate share buybacks. The Seattle-based company said it now expected to return some $20 billion to shareholders through buybacks and dividends by 2020. © 2018 AFP Explore further Citation: Nestle pays $7.15 billion to sell Starbucks products (2018, May 7) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-nestle-billion-starbucks-products.html read more
© 2019 AFP Samsung Electronics—the flagship company of the sprawling Samsung Group, by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate the South’s economy—spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold Samsung delays launch of folding Galaxy smartphone The Galaxy Fold has been widely promoted as the “world’s first foldable smartphone” The move by the world’s biggest smartphone maker—announced after reviewers provided with early devices reported screens breaking within days of use—comes less than three years after its Galaxy Note 7 disaster.The company said the Galaxy Fold, which had been due for its US release on Friday, “needs further improvements” before customers can receive it and a new release date will be announced in the coming weeks.Samsung Electronics—the flagship company of the sprawling Samsung Group, by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate the South’s economy—spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold.It has been widely promoted as the “world’s first foldable smartphone” and is part of its strategy to propel growth with groundbreaking gadgets, while rivals such as China’s Huawei have been racing to bring similar devices to market.Kim Dae-ho, an analyst at Institute for Global Economy, said Samsung can regain customer trust as long as it identifies the problem and releases the perfected Fold “in the quickest possible time”.”Samsung is facing its biggest test ever,” he said. “If they manage to pull this one off, it can bring greater success. Right now it is standing at the crossroads of destiny.” Citation: Samsung facing crucial test over Galaxy Fold delay, analysts warn (2019, April 23) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-samsung-crucial-galaxy-analysts.html Samsung earlier this month launched the 5G version of its top-end Galaxy S10 device but faces increasing competition from Huawei across different price ranges, and has warned of a more than 60 percent plunge in first-quarter operating profit in the face of weakening markets.Independent technology analyst Rob Enderle said the failure of a flagship item could send Samsung buyers to rivals.”If a halo product fails, people don’t trust that you build quality stuff,” Enderle said.”It can do incredible damage. And Huawei is moving up like a rocket, so this could be good for Huawei.”Samsung Electronics shares closed down 0.33 percent in Seoul on Tuesday.’Pre-emptive action’But analysts say that while the decision to delay may hurt Samsung’s brand reputation in the short term, it could ultimately prevent it from repeating the critical mistakes of 2016, which cost it billions of dollars. Explore further That year, Samsung’s reputation suffered a major blow after a damaging worldwide recall of Galaxy Note 7 devices over exploding batteries. South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics is “facing its biggest test ever”, analysts said Tuesday after it delayed the release of its $2,000 foldable phone over screen problems. At the time, the firm showed a slow response to initial reports of the devices catching fire, claiming the hazard was only limited to a “small fraction of phones” manufactured.But it later ended up announcing a recall of 2.5 million smartphones after several devices exploded. It eventually traced the problem to the batteries, but decided to kill off the model for good.Analyst Kim said the tech giant’s approach with the Fold was quite different from the way it handled the Note 7 fiasco.”Back in 2016, Samsung was overconfident with its technology,” and did not respond to the initial reports immediately, he said. “As a result, the damage was enormous,” he said.”The fact that Samsung is delaying the release of the Fold—although the problem isn’t as serious as the one Note 7 had—means it is taking pre-emptive action this time.” Samsung’s reputation suffered a major blow in 2017 after a damaging worldwide recall of Galaxy Note 7 devices over exploding batteries This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more
SHARE SHARE SHARE EMAIL political development COMMENT Published on March 25, 2019 Elections 2019 While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the dominant partner in every State it has opted for alliance, it is not the case in Tamil Nadu. Here, it is at best, a junior partner trying to get a toe-hold in a state that has been a Dravidian bastion for decades. It was happy to be allotted just five seats (another regional party PMK got seven) in the alliance led by AIADMK. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that was powered by a Modi wave, all it managed was a solitary seat in Tamil Nadu. It contested in nine constituencies and its vote share was just 5.5. per cent.Better performance This time the party expects a much better performance as it hopes to capitalise on the vacuum in the political leadership in the State which, for the first time in several decades, is going to polls without the presence of a charismatic leader. Apart from that, the various welfare measures that the central government has announced that benefitted Tamil Nadu in a big way should favour the BJP. “In the past several decades, the entire political scene in Tamil Nadu was based on pro or anti-Dravidian leaders. There were five prominent leaders in Tamil Nadu – K Kamaraj, C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi, M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa. People were voting for and against these leaders. Now, there is a very big vacuum for leadership. Hence we feel the pattern of voting will definitely change this time. People don’t have a choice in leadership on which there were voting earlier,” said Thirupathy Narayanan, State Executive Member & State Head, Media Relations, BJP.It hopes to garner more seats and share than 2014 when it had won just one seat. Of course, its previous best tally was when it won four seats in 1999 when it was part of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) alliance.Infrastructure supportHe said Tamil Nadu people will vote for parties based on their principles and performance and claimed that the BJP has supported the infrastructure development of the State in the past five years. “We hope the corruption-free record and Centre’s several schemes that brought a lot of benefits to common man and poor will be acknowledged. Tamil Nadu benefitted a lot in many schemes of the Centre,” he added.Narayanan also said that corruption has been big a problem in the country including Tamil Nadu. BJP government at the centre has taken a lot of measures to curb corruption. The party, he said, would highlight the Modi government’s clean image and tell people of Tamil Nadu that it is time a similar transformation is brought about in the State. COMMENTS read more