Managed Care e-News
May. 8, 2012

Insurers embrace 'virtual' doctor visits
Kaiser Health News
Insurers such as UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Cigna, and large employers such as General Electric and Delta Air Lines are getting on board, pushing telemedicine as a way to make doctor "visits" cheaper and more easily available. Proponents also see it as an answer to a worsening doctor shortage.More

Error-prone system is headache for insurers, providers, patients
The Plain Dealer
Medical billing codes tell the story of a patient's treatment, dictating how much is paid to medical providers and, ultimately, who pays it — an insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid, or you. They also are at the heart of many, but not all, of the billing issues that drive consumers crazy. More

Report: US outspends 12 other countries on healthcare
Modern Healthcare
The U.S. outspends 12 other industrialized countries on healthcare, but does not provide superior care to those nations, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. Using data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, researchers compared healthcare spending, supply, utilization, prices and quality among the industrialized countries of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.More

FDA says number of new drug shortages down
Health officials said the number of new shortages of crucial drugs used to treat cancer and other illnesses had been halved compared to a year ago, and attributed the improvement to earlier notice from drugmakers about looming supply issues. There have been 42 newly scarce drugs so far this year, compared to 90 in the same period a year ago, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said on Thursday on the agency's website.More

How does the FDA monitor your medical implants? It doesn't, really
Each prescription drug you take has a unique code that the government can use to track problems. But artificial hips and pacemakers? They are implanted without identification, along with many other medical devices. In fact, the FDA doesn't know how many devices are implanted into patients each year — it simply doesn't track that data. More

For breast cancer care, whole breast radiation may be best
HealthDay News
Women who receive a type of partial-breast radiation called brachytherapy may go on to have higher rates of breast cancer recurrence and side effects such as breast pain and infection than women receiving whole-breast radiation, a new study indicates.More

Training immune system to fight cancer comes of age
More than 100 years after researchers first explored the potential to harness the body's immune system to fight cancer, the field's leading doctors see the concept finally proving itself on a large scale in the next year or two. Two drugs based on immunotherapy are already available and have met with mixed results. More

US fares poorly on premature births
The United States has a higher rate of babies born early — and therefore at greater risk of death or health problems – than more than 125 other countries, including Rwanda, Uzbekistan, China and Latvia, according to a new report. About 12 percent of U.S. babies are born at 37 weeks or less, according to the report, which found a worldwide range of as few as 4.1 percent of babies in Belarus to as many as 18 percent in Malawi. More

Like: Facebook feature spurs organ donor signups
Bloomberg Businessweek
Thousands of Facebook users recently have signed up to be organ donors, thanks to a new feature on the social networking site that makes it easier to register. The new option was announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a way to boost the number of potential organ donors. More

Even at higher genetic heart risk, lifestyle helps
It's no secret that healthy habits do your heart good. But a new study helps confirm that lifestyle also matters for people who have a genetically increased risk of heart problems. The study, reported in the American Journal of Cardiology, focused on men who had at least one parent who'd had a heart attack before the age of 55.More

1-2 punch against cystic fibrosis — someday, maybe other diseases
New data on an experimental drug combination being developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals should give hope to tens of thousands of people suffering from cystic fibrosis. If the drug combo proves successful, it could also open up new avenues for genetic research to lead to treatments for terrible diseases, raising the possibility that pairs of drugs developed in tandem could succeed where single pills have failed.More

Preventing autism after epilepsy
Early-life seizures are known to be associated with autism, and studies indicate that about 40 percent of patients with autism also have epilepsy. A study from Boston Children's Hospital finds a reason for the link, and suggests that an existing drug, already shown to be safe in children, could help prevent autism from developing in newborns who have seizures.More

Can video games make you smarter?
Men's Fitness
If you always knew video games made you sharper, you've been validated — there's research now to prove it. A new study conducted at the University of Toronto found that non-gamers who played a first-person shooter game demonstrated improved visual attention, a crucial skill that comes into play when you're say, driving a car, or shooting hoops. More