Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines of the Week
By Dr. James Palermo // June 28, 2014
Topics Include Hospital Cyber-Spies; Older Moms and Longevity; Insurance Companies: Big Obamacare Winners — and More
Some U.S. hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients that are designed to identify high-risk patients–those most likely to get sick.
This information, which is compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions, can track certain behaviors such as where a person shops or dines, the food they buy, and whether they smoke.
The objective is to plug this information into algorithms so that hospitals have an opportunity to intervene with individuals who are demonstrating “high risk” behavior and possibly prevent occurrence or progression of illness.
However, patients and privacy advocates have voiced concerns that the expansion of big data into their medical care and the perception of human beings as simply the sum of data points is intrusive, a threat to privacy and will harm the physician-patient relationship. (Pettypiece and Robertson, Bloomberg, 6/26)
One of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of my 22-years of surgically treating patients with smoking related diseases, such as atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease and lung cancer, was managing their smoking habit and nicotine addiction and convincing, and in many cases cajoling, them to quit.
Unfortunately, it frequently took a medical disaster and the consequences of surgery before they finally “got it.”
The CDC says that the very aggressive and compelling $50-million-a-year multimedia tobacco education campaign portraying former chronic smokers dealing with the often dreadful consequences of their disease and treatment, is still needed.
Despite declines in smoking, 18% of adults still smoke cigarettes and 21% use some form of tobacco product every day or most days. (Painter, USA Today, 6/24)
According to research recently published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, older moms may be rewarded with longer lives.
Extending the findings of several other studies, this one, which included over 4,800 people from 551 families, showed, “Women who bore their last child between the ages of 33 and 37 had the best shot at becoming a longevity champion,” and “were 2.08 times as likely to live to an exceptional age as moms who had no more children after 29.”
The research suggests that the robust health associated with women capable of conceiving and bearing children for several decades, and perhaps an evolutionary benefit to her offspring and their children may account for the findings. (Healy, Los Angeles Times, 6/25)
The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is never too early for parents to start reading to newborns.
Research shows that reading aloud to babies promotes the enhancement of cognitive, motor, language and developmental skills, and that families served by programs such as Reach Out and Read actually read together more often, while providing children entering kindergarten a larger vocabulary, stronger language skills, and a “jump start” to better prepare and achieve their potential throughout their academic careers. (Joyce, The Washington Post, 6/24)
Research out of the University of Navarra in Spain and recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that study participants who watched 3 or more hours of TV a day doubled the risk of premature death compared with participants who reported watching 1 hour or less of TV a day.
Research team leader Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez of the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra said, “As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging.
Our findings suggest adults may consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods and reduce television watching to no longer than 1-2 hours each day.”
Of note, computer use and time spent driving did not show an impact on premature death. (Whiteman, Medical News Today, 6/26)
The contentious debate over the effectiveness and value of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) rages on in the political arena, and stakeholders across the spectrum are adapting and trying to cope with the law’s outcomes and ramifications.
As the dust clears on the first 6 months of “full” implementation of Obamacare, it appears that the biggest “winner” among stakeholders is not the people, providers or politicians, but the insurance industry. (Novak, CNBC, 6/26)