A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division Of Laboratory Programs, Standards And Services
December 18, 2014
- CDC Year in Review: “Mission: Critical”
- Johns Hopkins Team Wins U.S. Award for Improved Suit to Fight Ebola
- Deadly Superbugs Could Cost $100 Trillion by 2050
- World’s Most Comprehensive Prostate Cancer Testing Guidelines Released
- F.D.A. Approves System That May Make Blood Transfusions Safer
- FDA Approves Blood Test That Gauges Heart Attack Risk
- Hopkins Researchers Seek Early Cancer Diagnosis Using Tampon-borne Cell-free DNA
- Researchers Discover New Class of Stem Cells
- FDA Approves Cervical Cancer Vaccine That Covers More HPV Strains
- Chlamydia Cases Drop for First Time, but Syphilis up: Survey
- Federal Health IT Strategic Plan Focuses on Interoperability
- Effort Launched to Create Virtual Clipboard for Patient Intake
- Georgia Tech Leads Effort to Convert Electronic Health Records Into Meaningful Data
View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive
CDC Year in Review: “Mission: Critical”
The 10 most challenging public-health threats of 2014
It’s been an unprecedented year for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as America’s public health agency continues its emergency response to the most complex Ebola epidemic in history. Ebola, however, is far from the only critical mission CDC undertook in 2014. “CDC’s Ebola response is the largest global effort in the agency’s history, but we’re carrying out many other public-health missions crucial to protecting American lives,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’re taking action on a wide range of health threats.” In a digital press kit (http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2014/dpk-eoy.html,) CDC reviews its responses to the 10 most important public-health challenges of 2014:
Johns Hopkins Team Wins U.S. Award for Improved Suit to Fight Ebola
For health-care workers taking care of Ebola patients in West Africa, one of the biggest logistical problems has been the “moon suits” they must wear to protect against being infected by the deadly virus. The suits are hot. Taking them off is a meticulous, multistep process that can leave no room for error. Now, a protective suit designed by a team from Johns Hopkins has been chosen as one of the winners in a global competition for solutions to increase the protection and comfort of front-line workers battling Ebola. The competition was launched in early October by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead agency coordinating the U.S. government Ebola response. The suit is easier to take off, and has a small battery-powered source to cool the user by blowing air into the hood, said Youseph Yazdi, executive director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design, which worked with Jhpiego, an international health nonprofit group and university affiliate, and Clinvue, a health-care innovation and design consulting company in Baltimore. If major manufacturers sign on, Yazdi and U.S. officials hope a version of the new protective suit could be on the ground within a few months.
Deadly Superbugs Could Cost $100 Trillion by 2050
Drug-resistant superbugs could cost the global economy as much as $100 trillion between now and 2050, a threat that warrants as much attention as climate change, according to a review led by economist Jim O’Neill. If unchecked, the infections may mean 10 million extra deaths a year, with an impact on global wealth roughly equivalent to losing the U.K.’s economic output every year, O’Neill, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist, told reporters in London.
Ebola Serum Supply Reaches Liberia
Liberia has begun treating Ebola patients with serum therapy - a treatment made from the blood of recovered survivors. Doctors hope the experimental treatment could help combat the virus that has been sweeping West Africa and killing thousands of people. Ebola patients treated in the UK and the US have already received this type of treatment. Doctors in Liberia will monitor how safe and effective the serum treatment being given at the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia is. A number of Liberian health care workers have been trained to give the therapy. Dr David Hoover, the programme's director, said: "This will empower local health care systems to become more self-sufficient and better serve their patients during this current epidemic as well as in the future."
The Top 14 Healthcare Stories of 2014
A list of the 14 top healthcare stories of the year, selected due to their repercussions on the nation, our industry and patients themselves. 2014 was a year of many changes and developments for healthcare and public health. Turnover in nearly every top federal healthcare post, the outbreak of Ebola and a scandal over falsified wait times at the VA had nearly every American's attention on healthcare this year. For those within the industry, a few less broad-reaching but noteworthy events will impact provider operations and care delivery for years to come. Heretofore, a list of the 14 top healthcare stories of the year, selected due to their impact on the nation, our industry and patients themselves.
World’s Most Comprehensive Prostate Cancer Testing Guidelines Released
Leading cancer authorities in Australia released for public consultation the world's most robust set of clinical practice guidelines, aimed at maximising the benefits and reducing the harms associated with the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer; the second most common male cancer worldwide. If ratified, these new draft guidelines are expected to inform international opinion and clinical practice regarding PSA testing, where currently consensus is lacking and widespread confusion about best practice exists. Approaches to prostate cancer testing differ across the world. Decision-making is complicated by the need to balance effective cancer detection and care, with concerns about over-diagnosis and prostate cancer treatment adverse side effects, including urinary incontinence, loss of sexual potency in men treated by radiotherapy and bowel problems. The new draft guidelines, developed under the auspices of Cancer Council Australia's guidelines unit with funding from Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), address these risk/benefit concerns.
F.D.A. Approves System That May Make Blood Transfusions Safer
The Food and Drug Administration approved the first system that could be used by blood banks to destroy viruses and bacteria in donated blood plasma, potentially making transfusions safer. The system represents an extra safety step beyond testing donations for viruses like H.I.V. and hepatitis C, and one that can protect against pathogens that seem to emerge periodically, as well as the known ones. “You can’t test for something unless you know what it is,” said William M. Greenman, the chief executive of Cerus, the company that developed the product, which is known as the Intercept Blood System. He said Intercept was “much more comprehensive than what you would be able to achieve with testing.” The product is being used in a clinical trial in West Africa to make plasma donated by Ebola survivors safer to use as a possible treatment for people who still have the disease.
FDA Approves Blood Test That Gauges Heart Attack Risk
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new blood test that can help determine a person's future odds for heart attack and other heart troubles. The test is designed for people with no history of heart disease, and it appears to be especially useful for women, and black women in particular, the agency said. "A cardiac test that helps better predict future coronary heart disease risk in women, and especially black women, may help health care professionals identify these patients before they experience a serious [heart disease] event, like a heart attack," Alberto Gutierrez, director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in an agency news release. The test tracks the activity of a specific biological signal of vascular inflammation, called Lp-PLA2. Vascular inflammation is strongly associated with the buildup of artery-clogging plaques in blood vessels, the FDA explained. As plaque accumulates, arteries narrow and the chances of a serious cardiovascular event increase. "Patients with test results that show Lp-PLA2 activity greater than the level of 225 nanomoles per minute per milliliter are at increased risk for a [heart disease] event," the FDA said.
Syphilis Test Gets OK for Wider Use
A fingerstick blood test for syphilis is simple enough that untrained healthcare workers can use it outside of traditional laboratories, the FDA has ruled. The FDA said it would waive that requirement, making it possible for the test to be used in physicians' offices, emergency rooms, maternity wards, other healthcare facilities, and a range of other sites. Also, workers using the test won't require specific training, the agency said. The CLIA waiver is the first for a syphilis test. "The broader availability and easier access to this test should contribute to a higher rate of detection of syphilis infection," Alberto Gutierrez, PhD, of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health said in a statement. The agency made the move after the manufacturer, VEDA LAB of Alencon, France, submitted data for whole blood samples from 417 subjects collected by fingerstick over the course of 4 months at three testing sites representing typical CLIA-waived sites, such as doctors' offices.
eBioscience, an Affymetrix Business, Launches the First Assay to Detect RNA and Protein Simultaneously in Millions of Single Cells
“Single-cell analysis is a rapidly growing field in biomedical research that yields an unprecedented level of information,” said Filippos Porichis, PhD, Director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard’s International Programs and first author of a newly published Nature Communications paper citing the use of RNA transcript with flow cytometry. “PrimeFlow RNA Assay enables high throughput detection of RNA and protein expression; therefore, it can be used to characterize, mechanistically and phenotypically, co-expression of RNAs with the functional proteins at the single-cell level. This assay, with a user-friendly protocol that has many similarities with standard antibody-staining procedures and data acquisition of flow cytometry, is an invaluable tool for any immunology lab performing translational research.”
“The major advantage of this technology is the ability to detect, with high sensitivity, mRNAs for which flow cytometry antibodies against the corresponding proteins perform poorly or are not available,” adds Dr. Daniel Kaufmann, Research and Clinical Associate Professor, Dept. of Medicine, University of Montreal. “Furthermore, the capability to directly measure non-coding RNAs, whose critical functional roles are increasingly recognized, in a heterogeneous cell population has vast potential applications in cell biology.”
Great Basin Scientific Begins Trial for Staph Assay; Updates MDx Pipeline
Great Basin Scientific said that it has initiated a clinical trial for its sample-to-result Staph ID/R (identification/resistance) molecular diagnostic test. Compared to competitive molecular assays for blood-borne staph infections, the Great Basin Staph ID/R assay will offer speciation of several clinically critical Staphylococcus species, the company said. Such information will allow clinicians to accurately and promptly distinguish environmental contaminants, which comprise 20 to 30 percent of total positive blood cultures, from truly infectious pathogens, it added. Further, the assay will require less than two minutes of hands-on time and will provide a result in less than two hours, Great Basin said.
FDA Clears Additional Flu Strains for Focus' MDx Assay
Quest Diagnostics business Focus Diagnostics said that the US Food and Drug Administration has cleared eight additional influenza strains on the Simplexa Flu A/B & RSV Direct kit. The kit originally received 510(k) clearance in 2012. The additional flu strains cleared by the FDA are H7N9; H3N2 (both the Minnesota and Indiana strains; H1N1 (2011); H3N2 (the Ohio and Texas strains); and influenza B (Brisbane and Wisconsin strains).
FDA OKs Blood Test Distinguishing Between HTLV-I and HTLV-II
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a blood screening test that distinguishes between human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) and HTLV-II, which can cause adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma and myelopathy. The approval comes as good news for blood donation centers that screen blood for the two retroviruses. Until now, they have relied on two FDA-approved tests that can identify HTLV-I and HTLV-II, but not tell them apart. Donations that test positive for the retroviruses are discarded, but blood establishments have one more job to do: notify the donor why his or her blood was rejected, and provide information about the health risks posed by the viruses.
Alere Gets FDA Waiver for Rapid HIV Test
The FDA has granted a waiver under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments for expanded use of the Alere Determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo test for HIV infection. The point-of-care rapid diagnostic test, previously only available to hospitals and laboratories licensed to conduct moderate complexity tests, can now be used in doctor’s offices, clinics and public health settings.
CLSI Offers eLearning Certificate Program on Implementing the Cost of Quality in the Laboratory
The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) has released a new eLearning program, Implementing the Cost of Quality in the Laboratory Certificate Program. This online learning program provides guidance to laboratories in understanding and managing the different types of quality costs that affect processes, services, and financial well-being in the laboratory setting.
Hopkins Researchers Seek Early Cancer Diagnosis Using Tampon-borne Cell-free DNA
Following promising early results, researchers from Johns Hopkins are expanding a project that used sequencing to detect cancer mutations in cell-free DNA from Pap smear fluids into a larger effort to also examine the vaginal fluids collected in tampons. In November, the researchers, led by associate professor Luis Diaz, published their first data from a small pilot study of the tampon sequencing method in Obstetrics and Gynecology. In this study, the team analyzed DNA extracted from tampons used by women about to undergo surgery for a pelvic mass to see if they could detect TP53 mutations associated with the women's tumors in cell-free tumor DNA shed into the vaginal fluid. Diaz also discussed the results at last month's annual meeting of the Association for Molecular Pathology. While their earlier research using Pap smear fluid had limited success in detecting ovarian cancer mutations, the researchers did see extremely high sensitivity for mutations associated with endometrial cancers, identifying 100 percent of these tumors in a group of 24 women. If the group can replicate that sensitivity in a larger cohort, Diaz said that cervical fluid specimens or tampons might be developable as an actual sample type for clinical testing. "Based on what we've seen, in the future, standard Pap smears should be more than good enough for endometrial cancer," he said.
Researchers Discover New Class of Stem Cells
Researchers have identified a new class of lab-engineered stem cells – cells capable of transforming into nearly all forms of tissue – and have dubbed them F-class cells because they cluster together in "fuzzy-looking" colonies. The discovery, which was described in a series of five papers published in the journals Nature and Nature Communications, sheds new light on the process of cell reprogramming and may point the way to more efficient methods of creating stem cells, researchers say.
Inflammatory Markers May Predict Alcohol Dependence
Plasma cytokine levels may be markers for, and play a part in, alcoholism and common substance abuse behaviors, new research suggests. A study of 40 adult men who had been clinically diagnosed with alcohol dependence showed a significant association between the disorder and decreased activity for bone marrow–derived hematopoietins and chemokine monocyte chemotactin protein 3 (MCP3). In addition, increases in the levels of the proinflammatory cytokines GRO (growth-regulated oncogene-alpha) and RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T-expressed and secreted) were significantly correlated with impulsivity in alcoholism.
Now, Nanomimics to Fight Against Malaria Parasites
Researchers at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute have now developed so-called nanomimics of host cell membranes that trick the parasites. Malaria parasites normally invade human red blood cells in which they hide and reproduce. They then make the host cell burst and infect new cells. Using nanomimics, this cycle can now be effectively disrupted: The egressing parasites now bind to the nanomimics instead of the red blood cells. Researchers of groups led by Prof. Wolfgang Meier, Prof. Cornelia Palivan (both at the University of Basel) and Prof. Hans-Peter Beck (Swiss TPH) have successfully designed and tested host cell nanomimics.
Japanese Team Discovers Antibiotic Effective Against MRSA
A Japanese team has discovered an antibiotic effective against the MRSA superbug, according to an online article of the U.S. journal Nature Chemical Biology. The team, including University of Tokyo researchers Hiroshi Hamamoto and Kazuhisa Sekimizu, discovered the antibiotic compound in bacteria collected in soil near the shoreline of Okinawa Island. The compound, which they named lysocin E, destroys the membranes of MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and some other bacteria by interacting with menaquinone in their membranes, the team said in the article. MRSA is a bacteria resistant to many antibiotics and infections and can cause serious health issues. Because human and other mammal cell membranes do not contain menaquinone, the compound is believed to be relatively safe in them. The team confirmed the effectiveness of lysocin E in experiments on silkworms and mice.
On-Off Switch for Critical Stem Cell Gene Discovered
University of Toronto (U of T) researchers investigating stem cells in mice report for the first time an instance of a relationship between the Sox2 gene, which is critical for early development, and a region elsewhere on the genome that effectively regulates its activity. The discovery could mean a significant advance in human regenerative medicine, as the Sox2 gene is essential for maintaining embryonic stem cells that can develop into any cell type of a mature animal. "We studied how the Sox2 gene is turned on in mice, and found the region of the genome that is needed to turn the gene on in embryonic stem cells," said Jennifer Mitchell, Ph.D., of U of T's department of cell and systems biology. She is also the lead investigator of a study (“A Sox2 distal enhancer cluster regulates embryonic stem cell differentiation potential”) published in Genes & Development.
Ebola Virus May Replicate in an Exotic way
Study indicates target for future drugs for measles, Ebola, RSV.
University of Utah researchers ran biochemical analysis and computer simulations of a livestock virus to discover a likely and exotic mechanism to explain the replication of related viruses such as Ebola, measles and rabies. The mechanism may be a possible target for new treatments within a decade. “This is fundamental science. It creates new targets for potential antiviral drugs in the next five to 10 years, but unfortunately would not have an impact on the current Ebola epidemic” in West Africa, says Saveez Saffarian, senior author of a new study published by the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Computational Biology.
FDA Approves Cervical Cancer Vaccine That Covers More HPV Strains
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new vaccine with expanded protection against the human papillomavirus (HPV), by far the leading cause of cervical and certain other cancers. The agency said that Gardasil 9 can shield users against nine strains of the virus, compared to the four strains covered by Gardasil, the Merck & Co. vaccine approved in 2006. Merck also makes Gardasil 9. "Gardasil 9 has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers," the FDA said in an agency news release. "Vaccination is a critical public health measure for lowering the risk of most cervical, genital and anal cancers caused by HPV," Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the release. "The approval of Gardasil 9 provides broader protection against HPV-related cancers." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends the HPV vaccine for boys and girls at age 11 or 12, so they are protected before being exposed to the sexually transmitted virus.
Chlamydia Cases Drop for First Time, but Syphilis up: Survey
The burden of sexually transmitted disease shifted slightly in 2013, with the first reported decline in one STD, but a significant increase in another, the federal government said. Some 1.4 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its new STD surveillance report. This marked the first time a decline has been reported in chlamydia, the CDC said, noting that the infection rate fell around 1 percent to 446.6 per 100,000 people in the last year. Chlamydia is monitored because it can be hard to detect, and can cause severe scarring and other complications in people’s reproductive organs if untreated. The next most commonly reported STD — gonorrhea — was relatively stable, with 333,004 cases reported and a rate of 106.1 per 100,000 people. For syphilis, the third most common reported STD, some 17,375 cases were reported in 2013. This translates into a rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people, an increase of 10 percent from 2012.
Current Rules to Determine Strep Throat in Children not Accurate
A new study indicates that current clinical prediction rules used by physicians to determine whether children have "strep throat" caused by group A streptococcal infection may not be accurate. The study is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Group A streptococcus bacteria cause about 30%-40% of sore throats (pharyngitis) in children; the remaining cases are usually viral. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, but because there is overlap between symptoms of bacterial and viral pharyngitis, most clinical guidelines recommend microbiologic testing with a rapid antigen detection test or a throat culture.
Ebola Vaccine Trial 'interrupted' due to Joint Pains
The clinical trial of an Ebola vaccine in Switzerland has been interrupted after some patients complained of joint pains in their hands and feet. The trial was stopped one week early in all 59 volunteers "as a measure of precaution", the University of Geneva Hospital said. The vaccine being tested is one developed by NewLink, and recently bought by Merck. The side-effects in the Geneva trial were experienced by four volunteers. The hospital said human safety trials would resume on 5 January in up to 15 volunteers after checks had taken place to ensure the joint pain symptoms were "benign and temporary".
Avian Flu Spreading in Southwest British Columbia
The avian influenza outbreak in southwest British Columbia has spread to seven farms, and 155,000 birds have died of the virus or will be euthanized, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said. The outbreak began when turkeys and chickens at two farms in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver tested positive for the H5N2 strain of the disease. Its origin is unknown, and more farms could be affected, officials said.
Emergency Room Visits Related to Indoor Tanning
Indoor tanning exposes users to intense UV radiation and is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer. However, little is known about the more immediate adverse outcomes of indoor tanning. This study provides the first national estimates of visits to emergency departments related to indoor tanning. We examined cases from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a national probability sample of hospitals in the U.S. and its territories. Patient information is collected from each NEISS hospital for every emergency visit involving an injury associated with consumer products. From this sample, the total number of product-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide can be estimated.
Hospitals Improve in 17 Quality Measures, Narrow Racial Inequality in Care
Hospitals have improved on 17 care quality measures, and provide better and more equitable care for blacks and Hispanics for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers, led by Amal N. Trivedi, M.D., of Brown University, assessed six quality measures for acute myocardial infarction, four measures for heart failure and seven measures for pneumonia, adjusting for patient- and hospital-level covariates and comparing rates among white, black and Hispanic acute-care hospital patients who received care between 2005 and 2010. Co-author Michael Fine, M.D, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, said in a study announcement that the results, while encouraging, do not speak to outcomes achieved.
Federal Health IT Strategic Plan Focuses on Interoperability
The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for 2015-2020. The agency is accepting public comment through Feb. 6. The draft focuses on interoperability and how health organizations can collect, share and then use data to improve the care process across the nation. The plan is divided into five goals:
• Expand Adoption of Health IT
• Advance Secure and Interoperable Health Information
• Strengthen Health Care Delivery
• Advance the Health and Well-Being of Individuals and Communities
• Advance Research, Scientific Knowledge, and Innovation
Effort Launched to Create Virtual Clipboard for Patient Intake
The thorny issue of how to automate the patient intake process came up for discussion and, hopefully, eventually a solution, thanks to a meeting of roughly 40 representatives from payers, providers, health information technology vendors, health IT business associations and the federal government's Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
“The goal is to make the first experience (going) into your GP, specialist or hospital as simple as buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks,” said Devin Jopp, president and CEO of the not-for-profit Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange, Reston, Va. “They're on a good track,” said Debbie Bucci, IT architect with the ONC. “From my perspective, they're really trying to tackle the lofty goal of trying to involve the patient and ease their burden.” The end game for the meeting was to get agreement on how best to develop a “virtual clipboard,” a mobile application that will replace the paper-based documents, medication reconciliation, card scanning and the clipboard itself. Aneesh Chopra, former White House chief technology officer, also endorsed the virtual clipboard effort, seeing a parallel with it and a coalition announced last week called Argonaut to leverage mobile health technology to improve healthcare IT, interoperability and improved patient access to information.
Georgia Tech Leads Effort to Convert Electronic Health Records Into Meaningful Data
Project will develop methods and algorithms to turn clinical health record databases into useful phenotypes Ever since the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), medical universities, hospitals and other health institutions have amassed enormous databases of information comprising a diverse array of information such as diagnoses, medications and lab results. While such databases promise to serve as rich resources for clinical research, the data tends to be difficult, time-extensive and costly to analyze. A new project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) aims to change that. “As available now, databases of electronic health records are diverse and massive, but they are also messy and heterogeneous. There’s a lot of noise,” said Jimeng Sun, associate professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Computational Science and Engineering. “Our charge is to find ways to make the information more robust and easier to read, thus leading to meaningful clinical concepts without extensive labor and time.” In addition to developing the algorithms and methods, the professors will try to develop new health analytics curricula as a massive open online course (MOOC) and for tutorial sessions at conferences.
Patients Want More From Their EHRs
Having established a level of trust and familiarity with electronic health records over the past few years, increasing numbers of U.S. patients are looking for more advanced features from their EHRs, according to a new survey from the National Partnership for Women & Families. The study, "Engaging Patients and Families: How Consumers Value and Use Health IT," follows up on a similar 2011 report that assessed consumer views toward EHRs. A lot has changed since then, with more and more patients comfortable with the idea of digitized records, and easier online access to health information spurring more patient engagement in their care. In the past year, more than four in five patients with online access to their health records (86 percent) used their online records at least once, according to NPWF; more than half (55 percent) used them three or more times a year.
Why Barriers Between Tech, Healthcare are Fading
The barriers between healthcare and tech companies are disappearing as companies focused on greater efficiency disrupt the landscape, Bob Kocher and Bryan Roberts, investors at a venture capital firm Venrock, write at Harvard Business Review. They point to the myriad ways in which technology is promoting services, while eliminating jobs not focused on providing care, including:
- Digital insurance markets
- Digital price transparency tools
- Cloud services
- Self-service mobile applications
Reducing healthcare administrative costs is projected to save up to $250 billion a year, they say.
Healthcare to be 'plagued' by Data Breaches in 2015
The risk of experiencing a data breach "is higher than ever," according to Experian's second annual industry forecast, which shows how the "consistently high value of healthcare data on the black market" means there will be little respite from risk-fraught landscape. There's also the not-insignificant fact that the "potential cost of breaches for the healthcare industry could be as much as $5.6 billion annually," according to the report. Experian sees some disquieting trends for 2015 on the security front. Among them:
• More hackers will target cloud-based data, with an increase in breaches involving the loss of usernames and passwords. "We expect this increase in hackers targeting online credentials such as consumer passwords and usernames to gain keys to the castle, with the likelihood that compromising one record can often give access to all sorts of other information stored online."
• Business leaders will held to higher standards. "It is clear that security can no longer be viewed as just an IT issue," according to Experian. "In 2015, scrutiny of corporate leadership’s management of security may continue to increase in the form of legal and regulatory action after a major incident."
• Employees will could be a threat. "Although businesses will increase focus on security protocols against external hackers this year, we predict that many will miss the mark on protecting against insider threat."
• The Internet of Things is expanding the risk. As more devices feature Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors, and more organizations adopt interconnected systems and products, "cyberattacks will likely increase via data accessed from third-party vendors."
U.S. Hospitals Spend More on Administration Than Patient Care
Hospital administration costs in the United States run about $667 per person each year, whether hospitalized or not--for about $215 billion in total. That compares to $158 per person in Canada, $164 in Scotland and $325 in the Netherlands. If U.S. hospital administrative costs were on par with Canada, each U.S. household would save about $2,000 a year.
Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.
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