NEW YORK TIMES - Fewer patients are winding up in nursing homes, and hundreds of the facilities are closing each year. Nationally, “200 to 300 nursing homes close each year,” said HPM's NICHOLAS CASTLE. The number of residents keeps shrinking, too, from 1.48 million in 2000 to 1.36 million in 2015, according to federal data.
NATIONAL LAW REVIEW - Alumna MELISSA FAN (HPM '12) is hired as an associate at Dinsmore Law Firm. Melissa focuses her practice on health care law, corporate law, regulatory and compliance issues and food and drug law. She received her JD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Before joining the firm, Melissa interned with Judge Michael Wojcik of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.
ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Children are at a considerable disadvantage when competing with adults for livers from deceased organ donors in the U.S. allocation system. “Using national, long-term data, our report is the first to demonstrate that the scoring system, on its own, dramatically underestimates the risk of death in the next 90 days and, thereby, disadvantages children," says HPM chair MARK ROBERTS.
SCIENCE - In an effort to understand the epidemic dynamics and perhaps predict its future course, Pitt Public Health researchers analyzed records of nearly 600,000 overdose deaths. Dean DONALD BURKE, HPM's HAWRE JALAL, and colleagues concluded that the U.S. drug overdose epidemic has been inexorably tracking along an exponential growth curve since at least 1979.
HEALIO - According to a new study, when adjusting for additional clinical and social variables, hospital variation in readmission rates are reduced. “In several pay-for-performance programs, Medicare ties payments to readmission rates but accounts only for a limited set of patient characteristics — and no measures of social risk — when assessing performance of health care providers,” said HPM's ERIC ROBERTS, and colleagues.
The Health Sciences Library System has created a new program called Spotlight Series: Software Developed @ Pitt. This program focuses on software developed by Pitt health sciences researchers. DAVID SINCLAIR, PHDL post-doctoral researcher/programmer, will present at the first session on “FRED: A versatile Framework for Modeling Infectious Diseases and Other Health Conditions.”
HEALIO - During a shortage, drug prices increase two times as quickly as they would have in the absence of a shortage, according to findings published in Annals of Internal Medicine. “Prescription drug shortages may result in substitution of less effective drugs, delays in necessary treatments, and omission of or reductions in doses,” INMACULADA HERNANDEZ (HPM '16) and colleagues wrote.
NBC - Children who need lifesaving liver transplants are losing out to adults. A system used to determine who is most in need of a transplant significantly underestimates the risk of death for younger children with liver disease, a Pitt Public Health study found. Senior author and HPM chair, MARK ROBERTS, said, "pediatric transplant physicians have long recognized the scoring system isn’t adequate when comparing children to adults."
BIOPHARMA DIVE - More than 90 organizations, predominantly patient groups, criticized CVS Caremark's decision last month to incorporate value-based drug pricing analyses in some of its coverage choices, urging the company to reconsider in a Sept. 12 letter addressed to CVS CEO Larry Merlo. HPM's WALID GELLAD told BioPharma Dive that the actual action being debated may not be so severe.
POLITICO - The Senate is expected to pass a sweeping opioid crisis response package this week, paving the way for a final agreement between the two chambers. Even without direct savings, patients could benefit from lowered costs of hospital-administered drugs if the hospitals use that money to increase other services, says HPM's WALID GELLAD.
NEW YORK TIMES - One of the world’s top breast cancer doctors failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies in recent years, omitting his financial ties from dozens of research articles in prestigious publications like The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. “If leaders don’t follow the rules, then we don’t really have rules,” says HPM's WALID GELLAD.
PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES - The winners of Pittsburgh Business Times’ 30 Under 30 awards program represent a diverse group of young professionals who are being recognized as up-and-coming executives, innovators, and thought leaders who will shape the future of Pittsburgh. ABBY MILES (HPM '13), manager of business analytics at Jewish Association on Aging is among the 2018 class.
BIOPHARMA DRIVE - Scott Gotlieb, FDA commissioner, has been very vocal on twitter as a way to communicate the FDA's goals and to invite public comment and scrutiny. Stakeholders both inside and outside the agency have given Gottlieb credit for both transparency and effort. However, there are risks to the volume and pace of Gottlieb's methods, says HPM's WALID GELLAD.
NEW YORK TIMES - A group of economists is suggesting that many small tweaks, such as reigning in long-term care hospitals, could tame health care spending. HPM's JEREMY KAHN said there are some patients with particular ailments who benefit from the setting, but agreed with the economists that the hospitals are a historical accident, defined more by payment rules than patient needs.
THE INCLINE - Scent with Love, the all-volunteer organization takes donated flowers from weddings and other events and brings them to places like the Children’s Home in Bloomfield, Bethlehem Haven in Bluff, and Family House in Oakland and Shadyside. The organization was founded by SHANNON HALDEMAN (HPM '20), who knows that walking in to a new hospital can be intimidating for some patients and families. The flowers are a welcome addition.