Observed to Expected Excess Mortality for the United States, Updated October 31, 2020

This week’s refresh of the excess mortality count from the CDC (last updated October 28 [I think]). The federal agency identified over 294,000 excess deaths across the country since the start of this year (about 5,000 more than last week’s estimate). The overall excess mortality rate decreased from 11.4% last week to 11.3% this week. Data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, updated October 28, 2020

Delays to Low-Risk Thyroid Cancer Treatment During COVID-19—Refocusing From What Has Been Lost to What May Be Learned and Gained

“In recent years, a worldwide increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer has been acknowledged and has primarily been attributed to overdiagnosis of small, low-risk papillary thyroid cancers. Observational evidence suggests that active surveillance is a safe and effective management option for carefully selected patients with low-risk papillary thyroid cancers. In light of this contemporary data, guidelines now include more conservative treatment options for patients diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Ultimately, these guidelines help to avoid potential overtreatment and improve quality-of-life outcomes. Yet despite all this, the willingness to accept less invasive management options, specifically the uptake and acceptability of … Read More

What tests to use, when, why—and why not? Pitfalls of mass testing for COVID-19

“Concerns about hotspots flaring in schools of all types, sports teams, and workplaces lend special urgency to answering how best to limit the spread of COVID-19, and specifically how to test for and track the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the general population. An ongoing public health debate centers on whether we should use sub-optimal tests on a massive scale, testing frequently to overcome their analytical shortcomings. The basic argument was encapsulated in the 9/11 Health Affairs post by Paltiel and Walensky and has two parts. First, that widespread screening will dramatically expand testing capacity and ease ongoing strain on critical supply … Read More

Association Between Surgical Technical Skill and Long-term Survival for Colon Cancer

“Surgeons were recruited from the Illinois Surgical Quality Improvement Collaborative in 2016 for a video-based technical skills assessment program.4 Each surgeon submitted 1 representative video of a laparoscopic right hemicolectomy that they performed. Videos were reviewed by 12 or more surgeons, including 2 colorectal surgeons with video evaluation experience. Skill scores were assigned using the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons Video Assessment Tool, and the mean score from all raters was used. Skill score was analyzed separately by terciles and as a continuous variable. Patients who underwent any minimally invasive colectomy for stage I to III epithelial-origin colon … Read More

Accelerating Science-Driven Reimbursement For Digital Therapeutics In State Medicaid Programs

“For evidence-based, prescribed digital therapeutics to reach the most vulnerable populations, they need to be reimbursable by Medicaid. [..] One example is WellDoc, an FDA-cleared digital therapeutic that has been shown to improve outcomes for patients with Type 2 Diabetes, leading to cost savings for employers and health plans. Another example is the FDA-cleared digital health platform Propeller Health, an evidence-based platform for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are also digital therapeutics earlier in the FDA-clearance pipeline with growing literature demonstrating reproducible clinical effect. One example is Cognoa, an evidence-based FDA breakthrough-designated company that focuses on diagnosis … Read More

Perspectives of VA Primary Care Clinicians Toward Electronic Consultation-Related Workload Burden: A Qualitative Analysis

“Improving our understanding of clinician-level perceptions regarding e-consultation is important for informing program implementation and adoption, and ensuring that e-consults facilitate delivery of high-quality care. Prior evaluations demonstrated that primary care clinicians and specialists believe that e-consults may improve communication between clinicians. Primary care clinicians and specialists across several health care systems have reported that use of e-consultations increases the efficiency of care and reduces appointment burden for patients. [..] In a 2018 study, primary care clinicians working in safety-net clinics described e-consultations as “increased administrative burden, broadened clinical responsibility, and restructuring of specialty care delivery.” A perception among primary … Read More

A Moment with Duke’s Dori Steinberg: On Nutrition Beyond Calories and Health at Every Size

“[Question] What are you working on right now that you’re excited about? [Steinberg] Our team is developing a behavioral intervention focused on improving intuitive eating and diet quality using digital health tools (apps, video coaching, APIs) to improve blood pressure. Most notably, we were purposeful in not focusing on calories or changing one’s weight in this project. I am excited to offer people something that can improve health independent of changing body size or weight. Reducing weight stigma is something I aim to work on more in future projects. [Question] Who’s doing something that you admire in healthcare today, and … Read More

A Moment with Gina Merchant: On Shiny Objects and Technology’s Path to Meaningful Behavior Change

“[Question] What’s the biggest barrier to getting things done in your line of work? [Merchant] The biggest barrier I face, and observe others facing, is being asked to play by a set of rules and a culture handed down by the tech industry, which does not transfer well to the health tech industry. For example, product timelines are often too short to bring an effective product to market (and despite lip service to iteration, products often remain unchanged year over year). Also, the right combination of experts and leaders are often missing seats at the table; there isn’t enough investment … Read More

Gilead’s Covid-19 Drug Is Mediocre. It Will Be a Blockbuster Anyway.

“the F.D.A.’s decision to grant the drug full approval — which means the company can now begin broadly marketing it to doctors and patients — has puzzled several outside experts, who say that it may not deserve the agency’s stamp of approval because it is, at best, a mediocre treatment for Covid-19 [remdesivir..]. “I think most people think that because a drug is F.D.A. approved, that means it must work,” said Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies the drug industry. He and other researchers recently found that less than one-third of new … Read More

Comparison of Community-Level and Patient-Level Social Risk Data in a Network of Community Health Centers

“no clear standard has emerged on how to implement social risk screening, nor how clinicians can or should use social risk information to adjust patient care or make referrals to community resources. Moreover, some have questioned the benefit of integrating social risk screening into primary care, raising concerns about the additional burden of adding more required data collection to already busy primary care practices and the limited resources available to address identified social risk factors. [..] relying solely on community-level data to understand the social context of an individual patient and/or to guide patient-level interventions poses a risk of ecological … Read More