This Week in Health Care News

Inside of CHC, we regularly share links to articles about health care issues, and it seems useful to try to create a summary of the weekly news. 

In the world of marketing, two stories caught people’s attention.  Wal-Mart’s decision to promote health foods got a lot of attention, as seen in this article in the New York Times: Wal-Mart Shifts Strategy to Promote Healthy Foods.  Reuters reported that Cigarette ads may lure teens to smoke.  The Reuters report doesn’t seem like a big surprise, but the Wal-Mart decision seemed to be a pleasant surprise to many.

Several articles about video games caught our attention.  The New York Times ran an article, Video Games and the Depressed Teenager referring to a new study in the journal Pediatrics, Pathological Video Game Use Among Youths: A Two-Year Longitudinal Study.  The New York Times article summarized it as follows:

Two years later, these heavy gamers, who played an average of 31 hours a week, compared with 19 hours a week for other students, were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and social phobias

Meanwhile, PC World ran an article, Video Games May Not Make You Fat After All based on a study from last November, Internet use, videogame playing and cell phone use as predictors of children’s body mass index (BMI), body weight, academic performance, and social and overall self-esteem  PC World summarized the results this way.

Video games were no more a factor in determining weight or body-mass-index (BMI) than Internet or mobile phone use. In fact the study found the strongest predictors were race, age, and socioeconomic status.

To complete the picture, Marketplace interviewed Jane McGonigal about her new book, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.  During the interview, they made a reference to Dr. McGonigal’s TED talk

In health technology, Electronic Health Records were the big discussion.  iHealthBeat reported on a survey, Physicians Split on EHR Systems’ Effect on Health Care Delivery  They reported

39% of respondents said EHRs would help patients;

37% said the effect would be neutral; and

24% said EHRs would negatively affect care (Fox, Reuters, 1/19).

The Wall Street Journal’s Health blog has, Looking For a Game-Changer in Electronic Medical Records.   They pointed to Electronic Health Record Adoption and Quality Improvement in US Hospitals which they say reported

Standard measures of hospital quality aren’t improved much by the use of electronic medical records

This study was focused on hospitals and it would be interesting to see how it carries over in community health centers.  Digging into the underlying report, we find

Prolonged availability of an EHR was associated with some significant gains in quality improvement.

Recent adoption of or upgrade to an advanced EHR was associated with smaller quality gains.

“Ceiling effects” may limit the usefulness of standard hospital quality measures for assessing the effects of EHR adoption on quality.

The blog entry also pointed to an earlier blog post in which Eric Schmidt suggested open-source EMR systems

Meanwhile, incentive payments are available for federally qualified health centers to use electronic health records for Medicaid.  EMR Daily had a report about Winn Community Health Center receiving such a payment.

In the political realm, Americans are still split on health care reform, but only 18% favor a total repeal and Two State Senators – Both MDs – Say Don’t Repeal Healthcare Reform but the House Approves Health Law Repeal  Now House Republicans Plan Their Own Health Bills as Daschle, Frist, Strickland stress bipartisanship on health care

Here in Connecticut, the Public Health Committee Introduced SustiNet Legislation and in Vermont, the State Legislature is considering a Single Payer health care option.

About Aldon Hynes

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