How can we solve the opiate crisis? If you’re like most practitioners, you have thought about this problem and found very few helpful solutions. As the death toll rises, steps are being taken to prevent future patients from winding up addicted to opiates but how can we help those who are already taking them?
One of the concerns most often voiced by Americans regarding healthcare is the high cost of prescription drugs. Even with insurance, not all drugs are affordable to every patient, while the same exact medication may be much more accessible to those living in other, comparable nations.
Topics: Affordable Healthcare
In May, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told us that he planned to use his pen to make significant and hopefully positive changes to the healthcare industry in the United States. Staying true to his word, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a proposal that could have a drastic, positive impact on doctor-patient relationships in the U.S.
Over the last decade, the number of individuals struggling with mental health issues has increased, while the number of inpatient beds for mental health patients has continually declined. The journal Psychiatric Services estimated in 2017 that more than 8 million Americans were suffering from serious psychological problems. Unfortunately, this coincides with an ongoing trend of deinstitutionalization that began over 50 years ago when state hospitals decided that many of their mentally ill inpatients would do just as well in the community.
In 2016, Americans spent an average of about $9,000 per person on healthcare. This figure is almost double what patients in comparable high-income countries such as Canada, Germany, Denmark and Japan spent on healthcare in the same period. According to the biennial study published by the the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP), the average cost for an MRI in the United States was $1,119 in 2015. This compares quite unfavorably with prices in other nations. The same MRI could be performed for $503 that year in Switzerland and only $215 in Australia. Having appendix removal surgery in America carried a price tag of almost $16,000, while in Switzerland one could have the same operation for only $6,040, and in Spain it was a mere $2,003.
With the recent high profile suicides in the news, many physicians are thinking about the importance of treating the whole patient, the role of empathy in medicine, and how best to observe the way a patient may be feeling emotionally in addition to how they are faring physically. Depression is dangerous and insidious, and we often feel that we must be on high alert to identify it in those we treat.
Dick Cheney ordered changes to his pacemaker to better protect it from hackers. Johnson & Johnson had to warn customers about a security bug in one of its insulin pumps. And St. Jude spent months in 2017 dealing with the fallout of vulnerabilities in some of the company's defibrillators, pacemakers, and other medical electronics. You'd think by now medical device companies would have learned a lesson about electronic security on medical devices.
Topics: Cyber Liability Insurnance
As we all know, opioid use has skyrocketed in the United States, increasing by 300 percent from 1997 to 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an in depth-analysis in March showing that drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
In March of 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule that would exempt states with at least 85 percent of their Medicaid managed care population from most access-monitoring requirements for services provided through the traditional fee-for-service avenue. This would immediately exempt at least 17 states from existing access monitoring requirements, and could also exempt another dozen states whose managed-care enrollment is close to the threshold.
"The pen is mightier than the sword" is an age-old adage, coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would agree, and would go on to add that the pen is also mightier than Congress.