HPM Faculty News

Angus on the evaluation of machine learning in medical practice

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MEDPAGE TODAY – The chair of Pitt Med’s Department of Critical Care Medicine, Derek Angus (BCHS '92), sees the need for more evaluation of machine learning in medical practice. Just as computer scientists wrestle with the curse of dimensionality when generating an AI algorithm, clinical investigators wrestle similarly when evaluating the utility of the algorithm. Such evaluation could overwhelm standard RCT designs.  

Braund coauthors American Heart Association's Call to Action on Rural Health

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With this advisory, the American Heart Association is calling for a sustained commitment of health care and other stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels to work together to improve rural health. HPM's Wendy Braund was among the authors stating, "understanding and addressing the unique health needs of people residing in rural America is critical to the American Heart Association's commitment to health equity and its focus on social... 

Gellad concerned that delayed generics increase surprise medical bills

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AXIOS – Big pharma is often successful in securing additional years of monopoly pricing, creating a higher baseline price for when generics finally come out. "Every year that goes by when a generic is delayed is another 6+ percent increase in the price the generic will cost when it finally hits the market," tweeted HPM’s Walid Gellad last week.  

Jarlenski confirms inconsistencies in enforcement of ACA birth control coverage

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VICE - The most recent research found that insurance was inconsistent in guaranteeing full coverage of birth control options. “This is an ongoing issue,” said HPM’s Marian Jarlenski, who researches maternal and child health. “You may be hit by a surprise bill; you may just decide to pay out-of-pocket, not knowing there might be an appeals process; or you could go to a different clinic.”  

Sabik finds Massachusetts’ health reforms helped catch more cancers early

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - “Our study is the first to present evidence that Massachusetts' health reform may be associated with a shift to earlier-stage diagnosis for a cancer that has a high cure rate when caught early,” said HPM's Lindsay Sabik. “We expect that early cancer diagnosis will likely be one of the major success stories of national health insurance reform.”  

James study on how a ‘care system’ must change to adequately support caregivers

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In a March 2018 Journal of Palliative Medicine article addressing improvements for dementia and senior caregiving, Everette James, interim dean and director of the Health Policy Institute, and other researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the RAND Corp. stated that “fundamental changes are needed in the way we identify, assess, and support caregivers. Educational and workforce development reforms are needed to enhance the competencies ... 

Gellad on how availability of biosimilars may impact drug pricing

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MANAGED HEALTHCARE EXECUTIVE –  With prices estimated to be 15-16% lower than originator products, biosimilars hold promise for reducing spending, but it is unclear how list prices, discounts, and net prices for the originator products change with such competition. HPM’s Walid Gellad is co-author on this JAMA Network Open publication. Results show that some prices increased annually by up to 6.1% until the introduction of a biosimilar after whic... 

Drake finds rural-urban flip in health insurance premiums

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UPMC - People in rural areas of the U.S. who receive subsidies to buy health insurance pay less in premiums than their counterparts in urban areas, a flip that occurred in 2018 and has been widening since. “There’s this narrative that, until recently, was correct: Rural populations did not enjoy the same improved health plan affordability under the ACA as people living in cities, now we’re finding that, at least for subsidized enrollees, that’s ... 

Drake on health care policy and the challenge of inertia

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PASADENA STAR NEWS - HPM's Coleman Drake tells us it's an exciting year for the Affordable Care Act marketplace. More generous subsidies are available, overall premiums are only increasing slightly, and some insurers are expanding into new markets. But more research is needed for us to understand why some enrollees are not benefiting from the competitive market. Known to economists as inertia, this phenomenon occurs when health plan enrollees st... 

Jarlenski receives 2019 John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators

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Congratulations to Marian Jarlenski for being named the recipient of the 2019 John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators. Jarlenski was presented with this award at the AUPHA Annual Meeting in New Orleans in June. This award is used to recognize young faculty who have received their PhD within the past six years for their contributions to the research literature in the field of health services.   

Over 700 doctors were paid more than a million dollars by drug and medical device companies, Gellad responds

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PROPUBLICA - HPM's Walid Gellad said it is quite striking how much money doctors were earning from other activities aside from patient care. More than 2,500 physicians received at least half a million dollars from drug makers and medical device companies in the past five years alone. And that doesn’t include money for research or royalties from inventions. More than 700 of those doctors received at least $1 million.  

James says tweets indicate nicotine dependence, withdrawal symptoms of JUUL users

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UPMC - "We found many self-reported symptoms of nicotine dependence," said co-author A. Everette James, director of the Pitt Health Policy Institute and interim dean of Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health. "Because of the lack of public knowledge about the dependence risks, it makes sense that many people seemed surprised about experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when they could not use their device."   

Donohue paper reviews pros and cons of marketing pharmaceuticals directly to consumers

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HPM’s Julie Donohue weighs in on how marketing pharmaceuticals directly to consumers isn’t new.  In the paper “A History of Drug Advertising”, Donohue outlines the case for and against these advertisements. Proponents tout patient and consumer rights to make informed decisions, while bioethicists and historians believe pharmaceutical companies are “disingenuously using the language of individual rights to support commercial activities.”  

Drake: there appears to be a major loophole in background checks for private, online gun sales

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STAR TRIBUNE - Fewer than 10% of sellers appear to require a background check. “We tried to search each listing for evidence suggesting the seller would need a background check," said HPM's Coleman Drake. "The results indicate that this is a potentially large loophole on private sales. The policy implication for lawmakers is that if the government wants meaningful regulation of firearms sales, the online market needs to be included.”  

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