QWay Healthcare presents the weekly news update of the US medical industry. Please go through our carefully curated news piece to stay informed on the latest events.

HEALTH

A recent report published in the JAMA Pediatrics revealed that a little over 50% of the children population across 50 states of the USA show detectable level of lead in their blood.

The study also found that about 2% of the children, amounting to over 20,000, showed elevated levels of lead, which could affect their cognitive development.

Nebraska recorded the highest population of children with lead levels, with the percentage standing over 80%.

Considering community-level factors, localities of the predominantly Hispanic and Black population showed more instances of detectable lead levels but fewer instances of elevated lead levels.

After combining data from the US Census and Quest Diagnostics, the researchers concluded the study, evaluating children below six years in all states.

Scientists are of the opinion that vaccines developed with the help of mRNA technology have a better shielding effect from viruses than the traditional ones.

According to Alicia Widge, MD, an immunologist at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, the mechanism of traditional vaccines is more like “an educated guessing game.”

Researchers at Moderna and Pfizer are using mRNA technology to develop future flu shots to make them more efficient and easy to manufacture.

A recent study by Moderna showed that combining three mRNAs of Covid-19, seasonal flu, and respiratory syncytial virus increased the antibody levels for all three in mice.

mRNA vaccines can be manufactured more easily and quickly, due to which they can be combined to protect against a broader range of influenza and seasonal strains of the virus.

TECHNOLOGY

A recent report in the Wall Street Journal highlighted how 5G technology could go beyond smartphones and revolutionize how traditional health systems work.

Several leading health systems in the USA are embracing the advanced 5G technology and evolving their workflow around it.

Some of the front runners in this scenario are the Department of Veteran Affairs, Emory Healthcare’s Innovation Hub, VA hospitals of Miami and Seattle, and Anthem.

With the help of 5G technology, healthcare equipment can exchange the data with the cloud almost in real-time, making it easier to achieve the goal of interoperability.

According to Cristiano Amon, the CEO of Qualcomm, the ultimate aim of 5G “is going to be to ensure that everything is connected to the cloud 100 percent of the time.”

Adventist Health has partnered with Mednition to release an advanced machine learning tool to help nurses in their clinical decision-making process.

The tool will be cloud-based and embedded in the EHRs itself to give the providers the necessary recommendations in real-time.

The tool will be enabled to read through the EHRs of the patients and then help the providers triage the at-risk patients.

The aim of deploying this advanced tool is to improve the workflow in emergency rooms, improve the quality of communication between patients and providers, and improve the patients’ clinical outcomes.

The tool is already in practice in 16 of Adventist’s hospitals, with the other four expected to get it done by the end of this year.

BUSINESS

Marshfield Clinic Health System and Dickinson County Healthcare have signed a letter of intent to merge by the end of this year.

Dickinson County Healthcare is based in Iron Mountain, Michigan, and runs on a single hospital system. The deal is expected to give a massive boost to the rural population it caters to.

The deal is expected to benefit the Dickinson County Healthcare system since it will get access to increased resources from the Marshfield Clinic to improve its primary care and specialty services and boost its pediatric team.

The deal will also strengthen the presence of Marshfield Clinic in that area, with the patients having access to better services.

The deal also has a provision for building a new cancer center to help the locals access advanced oncology services.

Northern Texas-based Christus Health and Texas A&M University College of Medicine formally signed their affiliation agreement earlier this week.

With the agreement in place, the Texas A&M University College of Medicine will now act as the affiliate for the Christus Good Shepherd Internal Medicine Residency program.

The authorities of both institutions feel that the deal will boost the quality of training and recruitment of competent medical professionals.

The internal residency program of A&M University will also be sponsored by Christus Health, which was previously done by the University of Texas at Tyler.

“This partnership allows us to continue our journey to attract and develop the most highly-qualified, talented clinicians to come to Northeast Texas and will only build upon our excellent medical community,” said Chris Glenney, senior vice president of group operations for Christus Health Northeast Texas.

MEDICAL BILLING

CMS released its star ratings for the Medicare Advantage and Part D plans for the year 2022 last week with an aim to help the beneficiaries with a more shoppable experience.

68% of the Medicare Advantage plans covering prescription drugs received four stars, up from 49% last year.

About 90% of the Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries are enrolled in plans with a star rating of at least 4.

Performance star ratings increased for MA-PD plans by 0.31 points since last year, while over 15% of them had a perfect 5-star rating.

The average rating for Part D plans also saw an improvement from last year, with 10 Part D contracts scoring the perfect 5-star.

HHS, the Treasury Department, and the Labor Department received letters of concern from four congressional committee chairs regarding the coverage of contraceptives in ACA health plans.

The letters made it clear that the insurance networks and pharmacy benefit managers are making the system more difficult by proposing contraceptives outside the physician’s recommendations.

They are also at times denying coverage to the FDA-approved contraceptives, making it difficult to get the required pills under the ACA health plan.

In some other cases, payer networks are refusing to cover name-brand contraceptives, but generic contraceptives do not even exist that could be used.

The letters called these kinds of denials from insurers “impermissible coverage denials” and urged the authorities to look into the matter as soon as possible.

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