Vital Signs Blog

Blog: ACP urges docs to prescribe more generics

Doctors often prescribe expensive brand-name drugs even when generics would be cheaper and just as effective. Physicians should instead prescribe generics whenever possible, the American College of Physicians recommended this week.


Blog: Gaps between the ACA and a GOP Senate leader's view of the law

A Wall Street Journal interview with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) focusing on his criticisms of the Affordable Care Act raises doubts about how closely Thune, the third-ranking Senate Republican, follows healthcare developments.

Blog: California cancer surgeries often done at low-volume facilities

Despite evidence of the correlation between low volumes and worse patient outcomes, more than 600 cancer surgeries in California were performed at hospitals that did only one or two of the procedures a calendar year, according to a report released Thursday.

Blog: UnitedHealth's test of plan with no-charge primary care will be closely watched

UnitedHealth Group's new Harken Health subsidiary is a test of what Harken CEO Thomas Vanderheyden calls relationship-based primary care. This responds to what many experts say is a need for value-based benefit designs that encourage people to receive recommended primary and preventive care.


Blog: Senate Republicans face split over repealing the ACA's Medicaid expansion

Congressional Republicans face a slight problem in trying to advance an Obamacare repeal bill that bypasses the Senate filibuster process: Some Senate Republicans from states that have expanded Medicaid under the law don't want to repeal its big Medicaid expansion, according to The Hill newspaper.


Blog: Operating room inefficiencies could pose patient safety risk

A new study exploring efforts to keep operating rooms free of contamination ended up revealing some interesting findings about inefficiencies.

Blog: Scam tracker logs several potential healthcare-related frauds

A free online tool launched Tuesday by the Better Business Bureau has logged 100 possible scams related to healthcare in more than 7,000 incidents of fraud reported by consumers.


Blog: ACA faces a major threat from its Democratic parents

Two key ACA funding sources face serious political jeopardy this year, according to a report in The Hill newspaper. A move to repeal the Cadillac and the medical-device excise taxes raises questions about whether Democratic congressional leaders have considered the long-term ramifications.


Blog: Health plans getting more expensive, narrower for 2016

The picture of health insurance sold on the exchanges for 2016 is becoming clearer: Premiums are rising at a faster pace than the previous year, and insurers are gradually ditching broader networks, according to new industry analyses.

Blog: Study defends 'defensive medicine'—sort of

The practice of offering unnecessary and costly medical tests or treatments to protect physicians from being sued adds billions to the nation's healthcare costs. But if those tests and treatments result in fewer errors and malpractice claims, they may not be so wasteful.

Blog: Cancer drug promises burdened by costs

Given the tremendous impact drug spending has on the economy, comparative-effectiveness researchers are more frequently urging the frank evaluation of both costs and value.


Blog: Public health officials take up inequality as their cause

Presidential cabinet members and past and present surgeons general appeared at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in Chicago. But the names that seemed to be on everyone's mind were Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.


Blog: Prevent blood clots, win money

Hospitals that can prove they have effective strategies for reducing rates of hospital-acquired blood clots could win up to $10,000 from the federal government. Fewer than half of hospital patients, the CDC says, receive appropriate inpatient prevention methods.


Blog: Off-label use of prescription drugs boosts safety risks

The off-label use of prescription drugs is common and legal but not necessarily risk-free. A patient's risk of suffering an adverse event, according to a new study, is 44% higher when they're prescribed drugs in ways that diverge from their originally approved use.

Blog: AMA and other physician groups urge Congress to fix meaningful-use rules

A coalition of 111 medical societies led by the American Medical Association is urging Congress to “refocus” the federal requirements for providers under the electronic health-records incentive payment program.

Blog: Study shows long hours tied to higher stroke risk

Last Thursday was World Stroke Day. Did you notice? Or were you too busy working long hours to pay any attention? If so, take note of this: A recent study found that people who work long hours appear to have a 33% higher stroke risk than those working standard hours.


Blog: GOP debate, Ryan's election as House speaker tee up Medicare as a top issue

Last week's Republican presidential debate and the elevation of Rep. Paul Ryan to House speaker made it clear that the 2016 elections will carry very high stakes for Medicare—not to mention for Medicaid, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act.

Blog: Texas docs plead for relief from 'meaningless abuse'

The Texas Medical Association wants Congress to intervene and make changes to the federal electronic health-record incentive payment program it's calling "meaninglessl abuse."

Blog: 'Groundbreaking,' 'game-changing' cancer drug? Don't believe the hype

The media may inadvertently be the biggest culprit in exaggerating the potential benefit of new cancer drugs, and that could lead to misunderstandings among patients and the public, according to a new JAMA Oncology report.


Blog: Novartis backtracks on comments regarding $390 million settlement

Novartis issued a “clarification” Tuesday on comments attributed to its CEO saying a $390 million federal settlement wouldn't change the company's future behavior. The settlement, which has not been finalized, would resolve charges that Novartis paid kickbacks to specialty pharmacies.

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