With all the hubbub of recent weeks, some news stories have slipped through the cracks.
A vision of the future of medicine
Continuous monitoring, telemedicne and social media may work in tandem someday to alert of impending heart attacks, said Eric Topol, FACP, at a health care executives summit this week. Alerts would be sent to people's smartphones to warn people to seek help fast. (He didn't mention whether someone's Facebook status would automatically be updated, though.)
Dr. Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego and former chair of the Cleveland Clinic's department of cardiovascular medicine, gave his keynote addresses to the American College of Healthcare Executives in Chicago. He said the more common use of social media involves the patient communities that develop around disease states, leading to trust in those peer groups rather than in physicians. (Free registration required to view.)
Primary care shifting to pharmacies
Pharmacists are taking advantage of their face time with patients, filling in the roles of drug educator and chronic disease coach while filling scripts.
One pharmacist described a monthly coaching program that covers a disease each month. At one meeting, a pharmacist delivered an overview on managing cholesterol, then weighing and measuring everyone and giving them a pedometer to encourage them to walk 10,000 steps a day.
Who'd move for single-payer salvation?
Doctors from around the country told an activist group that they would move to Vermont if the state adopted a single-payer system. They see single-payer systems as a better alternative to insurance dictates and paperwork and would be willing to vote with their feet, so to speak.
Hidden expenses to health care
Out-of-pocket costs not accounted for in previous analyses can reach $1,355 per consumer, in addition to the $8,000 on the books for doctor fees and hospital care. Hidden costs adds up to $363 billion, or nearly 15% more than what's officially recorded, according to a report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The report accounts not only for time off to care for elderly relatives, which accounts for half of the hidden costs, but also money spent on ambulances, alternative medicines, nutritional products and vitamins, and weight-loss products.
Drug-resistant tuberculosis spreading
Multi-drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis could kill hundreds of thousands of people and infect more than 2 million people by 2015, reports the World Health Organization. And treating this group with the wrong drug could create 25,000 cases of extensively-drug-resistant tuberculosis each year.