At a Google Health event called The Check Up, the technology giant shared artificial intelligence-focused research and development updates. Google unveiled new AI efforts, including tools that can help treat cardiovascular conditions and improve maternal health.
Researchers are attempting to confirm whether photos of eye interiors can reveal cardiovascular risk factors in addition to diabetes-related diseases. They will collaborate on the clinical research with several partners, including EyePACS and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan to research whether the built-in microphones on a smartphone could record heart sounds when placed on the chest. This could then be used to detect heart valve disorders.
Google is also targeting maternal health is as an area for improvement. Through a partnership with Northwestern Medicine, Google will work on open-access studies that help validate the use of AI in conducting ultrasounds and performing assessments. Together, the organizations will develop and test AI ultrasound use with the aim of making it more generalizable.
TELEMENTORING PROGRAM CUT HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS BY NEARLY HALF
A Project ECHO telementoring program that involved primary care providers resulted in a decrease in hospitalizations among Medicaid patients with diabetes, according to a new study.
Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a collaborative medical education and care management model that uses video technology to train and support providers. The goal is to increase access to specialty care in rural and underserved areas.
Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School found a 44.3-percent drop in inpatient admissions among Medicaid patients with Project ECHO providers compared with their counterparts. Further, researchers observed a 61.9 percent reduction in inpatient spending among Medicaid patients whose providers participated in Project ECHO compared with the control group.
SURPRISE BILLS AND PAYMENT STRUGGLES IMPACTED PATIENTS IN 2021
The majority of consumers faced surprise medical bills in 2021 and expressed concern about financial hardships due to outstanding healthcare costs, InstaMed’s 12th annual Trends in Healthcare Payments report found.
Consumer finances have improved since the start of the pandemic, with more than half (65 percent) of the general population reporting that they were in good financial health. Financial support from the government may have played a role in this, as 53 percent of consumers used stimulus checks to pay bills, and 30 percent directed the checks toward paying down debt.
However, consumers faced significant financial challenges regarding healthcare in 2021. Nearly half of households had healthcare expenses in the past year, and around a third of individuals put off seeking healthcare services due to cost. Out-of-pocket healthcare spending and deductibles also increased, contributing to financial struggles.
What’s more, nearly 90 percent of consumers were surprised by a medical bill last year, with 56 percent receiving a bill that was more than they expected and 50 percent receiving an unexpected bill.
PATIENT DEMOGRAPHICS IMPACTING RELATIONSHIPS WITH PROVIDERS
Anxious patient-provider relationships were more commonly reported among women and millennial patients, according to a survey commissioned by athenahealth.
The majority of females and millennial patients, defined as Americans born between 1981 and 1996, were worried about provider perception. According to the survey, 55 percent of females and 62 percent of millennials did not address health concerns with their providers to avoid appearing anxious, dramatic, or silly.
Specifically, 64 percent of female respondents reported higher stress or anxiety levels during the pandemic. The increase in stress resulted in poor lifestyle habits for 52 percent of female respondents, with the biggest concern being worse eating and exercise practices, a major detriment to patient health.
Of millennial respondents, 69 percent noticed an increase in stress or anxiety brought on by the pandemic. More than 60 percent of millennial respondents found that their stress turned into poor lifestyle habits, with worse eating and exercise impacting 38 percent.
MACPAC IDENTIFIES 4 TOOLS FOR MEDICAID MANAGED CARE ORGANIZATIONS
States have four main tools at their disposal for managing risk in Medicaid managed care organizations, according to a MACPAC issue brief.
First, states may implement medical loss ratios and profit caps. In the Affordable Care Act marketplace, medical loss ratios play an important role in shifting the focus of payer spending to quality of care. In Medicaid, states can use medical loss ratios to help set managed care rates.
Risk corridors are the second way states can manage risk in Medicaid managed care contracts. The state is not the only entity to receive savings with this tool—the managed care organization and the state share in the savings and losses.
Third, states can use risk adjustment and acuity adjustment to manage risk. Lastly, states could use withholds to manage risk in managed care settings, specifically performance risk. In this scenario, the state does not pay the managed care organization until the managed care organization fulfills specified quality measures.
MODERNA EXPANDING MRNA VACCINES TO RESPIRATORY CONDITIONS
Moderna will expand its mRNA vaccine pipeline through two new development programs, including a combination respiratory vaccine candidate and a program against four endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs).
First, Moderna will launch its respiratory combination vaccine program to target three of the most notable viruses causing respiratory disease in older adults. The new combination vaccine candidate, mRNA-1230, will become an annual booster for SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
The company is also introducing a program to develop vaccine candidate mRNA-1287 for endemic HCoVs, a significant cause of global respiratory disease. Currently, four HCoVs account for nearly 10–30% of upper respiratory tract infections in adults.
Respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death and disability globally. About 75,000– 125,000 children are hospitalized with RSV annually. Globally, RSV affects an estimated 64 million people and causes 160,000 deaths each year. Most cases of respiratory disease are under-diagnosed and under-treated, which creates a burden on individuals and families.