#PNN In Other News

Here are some other local, state or national stories we are reading that may impact you, your practice or your patients.

Physicians are key to making precision medicine investments pay off | Finding the best care for a patient can be a constantly moving target. The number of stakeholders, the constant advance of new information and treatment options and the nuanced demands of different payers make for a maze of complexities to navigate. In the field of oncology, for example, nobody but a specialist could be expected to keep up with the growing wealth of knowledge in the treatment of individual cancers. Yet most patients are treated by general oncologists who may not be abreast of every best course of action for specific conditions. These practices might not know which treatments a patient could be pre-approved for, or which payers are most likely to compensate and for what. As the practice of tailoring precision medicine plans for each patient takes hold, physicians are being asked to make more specific treatment decisions than ever before. "You have labs, you have payers, you have providers and you have pharma – and they’re all interested in what the doctor is about to do with a patient," said Clynt Taylor, CEO of Intervention Insights, which makes a tool called Trapelo that helps streamline treatment and payment options.

How hospitals are using AI to save their sickest patients and curb 'alarm fatigue' | From interpreting CT scans to diagnosing eye disease, artificial intelligence is taking on medical tasks once reserved for only highly trained medical specialists — and in many cases outperforming its human counterparts. Now AI is starting to show up in intensive care units, where hospitals treat their sickest patients. Doctors who have used the new systems say AI may be better at responding to the vast trove of medical data collected from ICU patients — and may help save patients who are teetering between life and death. "Critical care is essentially this interface between humans and technology," says Peter Laussen, chief of critical care medicine at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. "The amount of data streaming from the patient in the ICU is huge," encompassing readings of blood pressure, heartbeat, oxygen levels and other vital signs.

Trouble Seeing a Specialist? Here’s What’s Driving the ‘Doctor Drought’ | It's arguably the most prominent case of centralized workforce planning in U.S. history. Result? Our aging population has exposed that freezing the supply of specialist physicians is an Rx for long waits, inflated prices, and an unhealthier America. For the past quarter century, the following conviction's been a cornerstone of U.S. healthcare policy: America has too many heart surgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists and the like, and far too few primary care doctors. That's a nice theory, but it's not what the marketplace is showing. The on-the-ground bidding for newly-minted doctors by hospitals, HMOs and big medical groups that now employ almost 90% of all newly hired physicians is signaling that America needs more of every kind of practitioner. And the biggest need is precisely for the specialists whose ranks our Congress and federal health care agencies are determined to cap.

New federally funded clinics emphasize abstinence, natural family planning | Thousands of California women and teenagers seeking free or discounted reproductive health services through a federal program could find themselves in clinics that focus on abstinence and natural family planning as methods of birth control. Operated by the California-based Obria Group, the health centers appear to be modeled after faith-based crisis pregnancy centers, designed to persuade women to continue their pregnancies, but with a twist: Obria’s clinics encourage young clients to use online apps, developed with funding from religious conservatives, to “move them away from sexual risks as their only option in life, to an option of self-control.”

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