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  05:29:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 286 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Rise In Disease Prevalence Drives Need For Wellness

Rayvelle Stallings, MD, Chief Medical Officer of inVentiv Medical Management

Poor lifestyle choices have led to an increased prevalence of expensive chronic diseases, according to Rayvelle Stallings, MD, Chief Medical Officer of inVentiv Medical Management. At MedBen’s recent Wellness Conference, Dr. Stallings highlighted the growing health crisis in America, and how a coordinated worksite wellness effort can reduce medical costs and foster a healthier workplace.

“Nearly 9 out of 10 medical claims can be traced to lifestyle decisions that individuals make, so clearly there is an opportunity to help people make smart health choices,” Dr. Stallings stated in her presentation. “That’s why over 70% of employers are looking for employee engagement solutions.”

MedBen, in partnership with inVentiv, offers the iHealth Wellness Education Program to employees. Dr. Stallings noted that through focused, interventional coaching for patients with high-risk, modifiable, and traditionally costly diseases, iHealth helps to educate employees and their family members about positive lifestyle changes and appropriate wellness prevention testing. The program also encourages the establishment of “medical home” for every plan member – specifically, their family doctor.

In contrast to other wellness programs that rely on personal health assessments from plan members, iHealth performs an an electronic analysis of medical claims data using the member’s company claims history. By doing so, iHealth detects health patterns that would benefit from specialized nurse coaching, as well as providing members with customized recommendations for certain wellness screening tests.

Dr. Stallings also discussed the positive effects of wellness incentives to members, such as reduced premiums and gym discounts. “Incentives have powerful behavioral effects,” and even small awards can spur greater participation in a wellness program, Dr. Stallings observed.

To learn more about MedBen Worksite Wellness, we invite you to contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  12:57:53 pm, by MedBen5   , 167 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Middle-Age Fitness Reduces Health Costs In Later Life

It comes as no surprise that most people incur higher medical costs in their senior years. But new research suggests a potential way to bring those expenses down by over one-third.

According to HealthDay News, a Dallas, Texas-based study of more than 20,000 people determined that fit middle-aged men and women had, on average, 38% lower medical costs later in life compared to people who failed to stay in shape.

“We found that fitness confers dividends later in life even when other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and obesity are controlled for,” said study author Dr. Justin Bachmann.

Average annual claims for medical costs for the least-fit men, at $5,134, were about 36% higher than the average of $3,277 a year for the most-fit men. The average medical claims of $4,565 for the least-fit women were about 40% higher than the $2,755 average for the most fit.

Levels of fitness were determined by a treadmill test measuring metabolic equivalents (METs), Bachmann said. The higher the METs, the more fit a person is.

  12:12:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 208 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Will Health Insurance Exchanges Get Rebranded?

As we note the latest health care reform news on this blog, we often use the phrase “health insurance exchange” to describe a government-run place where individuals and small businesses can compare and purchase health care plans. Little did we realize, however, that its use may be confusing prospective consumers.

According to Kaiser Health News, Medicare officials would like to see a change in phraseology going forward. “We are recommending not using the word ‘exchange’” in enrollment materials, said Julie Bataille, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Communications. The word, she observed, gives the impression that consumers may have to swap something.

So noted. But what does CMS suggest we use in its place? While no definite substitutes were recommended, Bataille did add that “[w]ords like ‘marketplace’ resonate much more with the consumer and also tend to be something that is all inclusive.”

But really, is “marketplace” any better? It sounds rather antiquated to our ears, like a gathering of ancient Greeks selling goods from pushcarts. Perhaps “health insurance boutique” or “health insurance shopping district” instead? We shall see… and anyway, Bataille said that CMS plans to get public feedback on whether to use the word “exchange” before making any changes.

  10:58:12 am, by MedBen5   , 225 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Panels Recommend HIV, Weight Loss Drugs; Agency Offers MS Treatment Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is all over the news today:

  • An FDA advisory panel has recommended approval of the drug Truvada to prevent the spread of HIV infection in high-risk, healthy people, WebMD reports.

    The Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee recommended the agency allow the drug’s use for men who have sex with men; uninfected partners of HIV-positive partners; and others at risk of infection through sexual activity. Truvada was approved in 2004 to treat people already infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

  • The New York Times reports that FDA advisors have recommended approval of the weight-loss drug lorcaserin, saying that its benefits outweighed potential risks. If the agency approves the drug by its scheduled deadline of June 27, lorcaserin would be the first new prescription diet pill to reach the market in 13 years.

    Earlier this year, an advisory committee recommended approval of the weight-loss drug Qnexa. The agency is expected to decide whether to approve it by July 17.

  • The FDA has warned against the use of an experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis, the Los Angeles Times reports. Known as liberation therapy, the treatment is meant to open narrowed veins in the head and neck via the insertion of balloons or stents.

    The agency claims that the therapy has caused death, strokes, nerve damage and abdominal bleeding and has no proven benefits for MS sufferers.


  05:42:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 398 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Strong Teeth Requires Healthy Habits

Taking care of your teeth is one of the best investments you can make for better health… and you get a dazzling smile to boot. In WebMD the Magazine, David Leader, DMD offers eight ways to keep your mouth in great shape. We summarize his suggestions below.

  1. Pay a visit. Spend some quality time with your dentist (twice a year, the American Dental Association advises), and you’ll catch problems such as decay, gum disease, trauma, or cancer at an early stage.
  2. Count the years. Children should see a dentist by the time they’re 1, and until they are coordinated enough to tie their own shoes they’ll need help cleaning their teeth. And older folks have special oral issues that require mouth maintenance.
  3. Can the soda. Phosphoric acid and citric acid give soda its “bite” but also eat away at the surface of your teeth. Although the occasional soda won’t hurt, a can or more a day makes your tooth enamel softer and more susceptible to cavities.
  4. Don’t sugarcoat it. To avoid being among the 20% of people in the United States who face tooth decay every time they look in the mirror, try to cut down on sugary treats, and aim to brush and floss after every meal or snack.
  5. Pack it in. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes not only turn your teeth an unsightly shade of yellow, they eat away at your gums, increasing your risk of tooth loss. Even worse, tobacco chemicals can lead to oral cancer.
  6. Use the right toothbrush. You want a brush with soft bristles. With the right technique, it should last two to three months.
  7. Practice proper technique. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, pointed toward the gum line, and use gentle, short, circular motions. Brush each tooth 10 to 15 times, but don’t overdo it.
  8. Finesse flossing. Wrap about a foot of floss around your index fingers, keeping about two inches between your fingers to work with. Unroll a fresh section of floss for each tooth, and keep the floss tight against the tooth to break up plaque while leaving your gums in good shape.

One more tip: If you have a good dental plan, use it to your advantage. And if you don’t… well, we just happen to know where your group can get one. For information about MedBen Dental, call Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  11:37:00 am, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Lengthy Drives May Harm Commuter's Health

Lengthy commutes can do more than drive up your gas budget – it may raise your weight as well, according to a new study.

ABC News reports that people who drive long distances to work tend to be more overweight than non-commuters. In reviewing the medical records of nearly 4,300 Texas commuters, researchers discovered that the more people drove, the less they exercised. In addition, extended time in the car appears to contribute to higher blood pressure.

“It could just be a function of having less discretionary time to be physically active,” said Christine Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., lead author of the study. “Or it could be related to people burning fewer calories because they’re sitting longer.”

Hoehner theorized that because commuter have less time to cook and more time to snack in the car, diet could also be to blame.

“I think the message for folks who live a long way from work and have a desk job is to find ways to build physical activity into their day,” said Hoehner, adding that workplaces should “allow and even encourage physical activity breaks.”

  09:44:22 am, by MedBen5   , 219 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

Big Companies Testing Value-Based Rx Copays

Some larger employers are experimenting with a different take on pharmaceutical benefits – one that pays for drugs based on their potential to prevent higher medical costs in the future.

An NPR story says that the approach, known as value-based insurance design, is already popular for lower-cost generic drugs that manage chronic conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. By offering reduced copays, companies hope to make these medicines even more affordable for patients, with the goal of avoiding more expensive care down the road.

But how would the concept work with pricier specialty drugs, such as those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer? Coming up with a working model may be tricky.

One issue that would have to be addressed is whether all patients, regardless of income, should have to pay the same price for a specialty drug. Another challenge: determining a copay for a condition that is uncomfortable but not crippling, such as psoriasis, compared to a more disabling condition, like rheumatoid arthritis.

“If you’ve got psoriasis, maybe you pay a 30% coinsurance for the drug,” suggests James Robinson, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “But if you’ve got rheumatoid arthritis, there’s no copayment.”

But Robinson adds that there is no simple method of determining medicinal values. “This stuff is complicated.”


  09:46:57 am, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Over 40% Of U.S. Will Be Obese By 2030, Study Estimates

Some dire predictions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Not only will the number of overweight Americans continue to grow, the proportion considered “severely obese” will be more than double the current rate by 2030.

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that the a study by CDC, in partnership with researchers at Duke University and research firm RTI International, estimates that the percentage of obese Americans will climb to 42% within two decades. Currently, one-third of Americans have a body mass index of 30 or more.

Severe obesity – a BMI of 40 and up, which was extremely rare prior to the early 1970s – will increase to 11% of the population by 2030. A severely obese person is at least 50% over their ideal weight.

“The world has changed in a way that allows people to be that overweight,” Eric Finkelstein, lead author of the study and associate professor at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, told the Health Blog. “Sixty or seventy years ago you couldn’t sustain the excess caloric intake needed to be that heavy.”

The CDC is also concerned about the obesity epidemic in children, and how it affects them later in life. An earlier study tracking weights of children to adulthood found that about 50% of severely obese adults were obese as children, said Bill Dietz, director of the agency’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.


  05:30:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Private Sector Health Care Reform Predictions

A recent Associated Press article says that if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, employers and insurance companies will drive future health care reform law. And should that scenario come to pass, experts expect that:

  • “Workers will bear more of their own medical costs as job coverage shifts to plans with higher deductibles[…] Traditional workplace insurance will lose ground to high-deductible plans with tax-free accounts for routine medical expenses, to which employers can contribute.”
  • “Increasingly, smokers will face financial penalties if they don’t at least seriously try to quit. Employees with a weight problem and high cholesterol are next.”
  • “Some companies will keep the health care law’s most popular benefit so far, coverage for adult children until they turn 26. Others will cut it to save money.”
  • “Workers and family members will be steered to hospitals and doctors that can prove to insurers and employers that they deliver quality care. These networks of medical providers would earn part of their fees for keeping patients as healthy as possible, similar to the ‘accountable care organizations’ in the health care law.”
  • “Some workers will pick their health plans from a private insurance exchange, another similarity to Obama’s law. They’ll get fixed payments from their employers to choose from four levels of coverage: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Those who pick rich benefits would pay more.”

Read more at Yahoo! News.

  04:53:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 240 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Some Hospitals Encourage Induced Deliveries, Watchdog Group Claims

A rising number of early induced deliveries is affecting employer health care costs, Employee Benefit News reports.

While there is a definite need for some babies to be induced before full term (40 weeks gestation) because of medical reasons, a recent study by The Leapfrog Group claims that hospitals increasingly elect this option for other seasons, such as convenience for the mother or doctor – or higher fees for the hospital.

Leapfrog, an employer-driven hospital watchdog group, states that the rates of early elective deliveries should be no higher than 5%, yet a handful of hospitals report rates of over 40%. Moreover, studies suggest that increased use of elective induction of labor, combined with cesarean section between 34 and 36 weeks, have contributed to the increase in the late preterm births.

From the article:

“According to the World Health Organization, there is no medical reason for any region to have a cesarean birthrate higher than 15%. However, in November of 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the national cesarean birth rate at 29.1%, which was the highest rate ever recorded, involving more than a quarter of all births. Preterm birth costs total $26 billion annually, or $51,500 for every infant born prematurely. Nearly half of these costs, or almost $13 billion, fall to employers and other private insurers.”

“There are clear financial incentives [for hospitals to induce].” says Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder. She suggests that health plans pay more for vaginal births and less for elective preterm deliveries.


  01:05:57 pm, by MedBen5   , 233 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Popularity Of Consumer-Driven Health Plans Continues To Grow

Reuters recently reported on the surge in popularity for consumer-driven health plans, which offer lower premiums and greater participant control of medical care funds in exchange for higher deductibles.

Currently, 59% of companies with 1,000 or more employees offer account-based coverage options, such as flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements. That’s up from 53% last year, according to a survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.

The survey also revealed that when employees have a choice between CDHPs and more traditional plan options, an increasing number are going the personal account route. This year, 27% of eligible employees are enrolled, a 35% jump from 2011.

CDHPs continue to gain in popularity for multiple reasons. Certainly, the reduced premiums appeal to employers and employee alike, as does the ability to pay for health care expenses with pre-tax dollars. And with the passage of health care reform, higher deductibles offer businesses a way to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s excise tax on benefit-rich “Cadillac” health plans.

MedBen has administered CDHPs for over a decade. In addition to a full range of account options, we provide seamless plan integration and account coordination. Plus convenient online services that allow easy account management, and tools to make wise health care consumer decisions.

To learn more about the benefits of consumer-driven health plans, we invite you to contact MedBen Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  11:10:32 am, by MedBen5   , 162 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Drug Shortages Still High, But Numbers Are Improving

The number of scarce drugs is still higher than anyone would like, but the situation has definitely improved since last year. According to the Food and Drug Administration, 42 new shortages have been reported so far this year, compared to 90 in the same period in 2011.

As Reuters notes, the FDA stepped up its efforts to combat shortages last year when 250 medicines were in short supply, up from 56 in 2006. Many of the shortages were for cancer drugs and other vital medications, leaving doctors to find more costly or less effective alternatives, or even postpone care.

The most recent FDA list states there are currently about 120 drugs regarded as being in short supply. And the scarcity of drugs like leucovorin, used in the treatment of childhood leukemia, or fentanyl, used in anesthesia, are still affecting patients. The FDA is working with companies to resolve the issue.

Earlier this year, the agency loosened its rules regarding foreign medicines to allow temporary importation of needed cancer drugs.

  10:48:26 am, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

If ObamaCare Falls, Ball's In GOP's Court

The Supreme Court may have already decided the fate of the Affordable Care Act – and to the surprise of many, there’s a halfway decent chance that the entire law could be thrown out. Which would suit many Republicans in Congress just fine.

But should health care reform go back to square one, what do GOPers suggest as an alternative? Not much of consensus there.

As POLITICO notes, Republicans haven’t collectively embraced a full-fledged replacement strategy for health care reform, instead agreeing on a few basic tenets of health policy. For example, most Republicans support the ACA requirement that insurance companies accept all applicants. Most, but not all.

“It’s a terrible idea,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) told POLITICO. He has offered a replacement plan that he said emphasizes voluntary coverage rather than requiring Americans to carry insurance.

Price has been pushing his plan since 2009, and as such, it has more traction than other health agendas. He proposes that Americans receive tax credits, based on income, to help them buy coverage. Groups could pool together to buy health care, and consumers could shop for insurance across state lines.

Of course, presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney also has an alternate plan in mind – one that relies more on state-level reforms and private competition than the existing law.

  10:06:33 am, by MedBen5   , 171 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Want To Live Longer? Start Jogging, Study Says

Jogging regularly can improve your life expectancy, a new long-term study suggests.

According to HealthDay, Danish researchers compared the mortality of joggers and non-joggers who took part in the population study of 20,000 people aged 20 to 93 that began in 1976. Included in that group were 1,878 joggers, who were asked about how fast and how often they jogged.

In the ensuing 35 years, 10,158 non-joggers died, compared to 122 joggers – a 44% drop in the risk of death for joggers. Male joggers extended their life by 6.2 years, and women by 5.6 years.

“We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity,” Peter Schnohr, chief cardiologist of the Copenhagen City Heart Study, said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology. “The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

The researchers determined that simply jogging at a slow pace for one to two and a half hours weekly provided the most significant benefits. “You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless,” said Schnohr.


  04:49:51 pm, by MedBen5   , 296 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Incentives, Communication Vital To MedBen Clients' Wellness Successes

Phil Annarino of Fisher-Titus Medical Center

In 2007, MedBen launched a Worksite Wellness with a simple idea – detect and treat health risks as early as possible. Five years later, employers who have put the plan in place are seeing real results. At last week’s Wellness Conference, representatives from two MedBen clients talked about the success of their respective programs.

Yesterday, we highlighted Park National Corporation’s presentation. Today, we offer an overview of Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s approach to wellness.

Phil Annarino, Vice President of Human Resources at Fisher-Titus Medical Center‘, believes that hospitals not only have a vital interest in keeping their own employees healthy, they also should serve as the central coordination point for population health management. “Hospitals are best positioned to promote a message of community wellness and personal accountability for good health,” he said in his presentation.

By using Fisher-Titus’ company claims history, MedBen Worksite Wellness detected health patterns that would benefit from specialized nurse coaching. Employees and dependents who have been identified with high cholesterol, diabetes and other key conditions are contacted by home phone or letter for disease-specific education.

To encourage participation, Fisher-Titus pays for all required wellness tests at 100% when rendered through a participating provider. As a further inducement, employees who do not complete required tests by a specific date must pay a premium surcharge for the following plan year.

Like Park National, Fisher-Titus uses a variety of communication tools to keep employees in compliance, including bulletin boards, Intranet and the company newsletter. Employees also receive a Wellness Guidelines brochure, and are advised to use the MedBen Access website to check their wellness compliance status.

MedBen thanks Phil for providing his insights at the Wellness Conference. For additional information about MedBen Worksite Wellness, we invite you to call Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  12:43:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 207 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Medicare Fraud Sweep Results In 107 Arrests

One positive outcome of the health care reform law that’s hard to dispute: a heightened effort to crack down on Medicare fraud. Last year, the federal government recovered a record $4.1 billion in fraudulent health care payments. And yesterday, the Obama administration announced that a new Medicare fraud sweep resulted in 107 arrests for schemes involving a total of $452 million in false claims.

According to The Wall Street Journal, nearly half of that total was perpetrated by just seven individuals in Louisiana over six years. They were accused of signing up elderly, mentally ill and drug-addicted patients for mental-health services that were never rendered or were medically inappropriate.

The WSJ also notes that the “departments of Justice and Health and Human Services… say they are trying to shift their focus to stopping the government from paying false claims rather than trying to recover the money later.”

MedBen has a similar vigilance to uncover fraud as early as possible. Our Anti-Fraud Unit reviews questionable claims, and other related information, to help conserve plan assets. Additionally, claims examiners are trained to refer potentially fraudulent claims to their departmental manager.

If you’d like to learn more about our anti-fraud measures, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  11:50:19 am, by MedBen5   , 233 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

High Acidity In Energy Drinks Can Permanently Damage Teeth

The high acidity levels in sports and energy drinks can erode tooth enamel, according to a recent study published in the journal General Dentistry. Teenagers, many of who consume such drinks on a daily basis, are in particular danger of doing irreversible damage to their teeth, researchers say.

“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” says Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

Medical News Today reports that researchers tested the acidity levels of 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks by immersing samples of human tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes, followed by immersion in artificial saliva for two hours.

After the five days of testing, the researchers found evidence of enamel erosion. Both types of drinks did damage, but energy drinks appear to cause twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.

Jennifer Bone, DDS, MAGD, a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry, recommends that sports and energy drinks be consumed in moderation. Also, users should chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of the drinks. “Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal,” she says.


  05:17:24 pm, by MedBen5   , 285 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

MedBen Clients Achieve Healthier Workplace With Wellness Focus

Jill Evans of Park National Corporation

In 2007, MedBen launched a Worksite Wellness with a simple idea – detect and treat health risks as early as possible. Five years later, employers who have put the plan in place are seeing real results. At last week’s Wellness Conference, representatives from two MedBen clients talked about the success of their respective programs.

Today, we highlight Park National Corporation’s presentation. On Thursday, we’ll offer an overview of Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s approach to wellness.

Jill Evans, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources at Park National Corporation, oversees the health care needs of nearly 1,300 medical plan members. Since partnering with MedBen in 2008 to introduce an “opt-out” wellness program, the percentage of members receiving annual wellness exams, cholesterol screenings and colonoscopies has more than doubled.

“After three years, the costs for asthma, hypertension and coronary artery disease are coming down, or at least remaining neutral instead of increasing,” Evans said in her presentation, adding that status reports help them track the cost of specific conditions.

Key to these accomplishments is offering incentives for program participation. Park pays 100% of the recommended screenings when completed by an in-network provider. Covered participants who complete recommended screenings by a designated date are “compliant” and receive lower premiums, deductibles and co-insurance for the following year. Those who do not move to the higher-cost “non-compliant” plan.

Also important is maintaining participant awareness of the program. To that end, Park uses an assortment of screening reminders – everything from restroom and kitchen flyers to automated phone messages, to ensure the message gets across.

MedBen thanks Jill for providing her insights at the Wellness Conference. For additional information about MedBen Worksite Wellness, we invite you to call Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  05:05:02 pm, by MedBen5   , 215 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Sleep Habits Can Genetically Influence Weight, Study Says

It’s universally accepted that proper diet and exercise can help people stay in shape. Also benefical in keeping off the pounds – an extra hour or two sleep each day. And a new study suggests that slumber habits can actually modify genetic and environmental influences on BMI (body mass index).

According to Medical News Today, researchers from University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle used self-reported data from identical and fraternal twins about their sleep patterns as well as their weight and height. Two-thirds of the participants were women, and their average age was 36.6 years.

The authors found that:

  • The participants who slept at least nine hours per night were slimmer than those who slept less.
  • Participants who slept less than 7 hours per night had a higher genetic risk of a greater BMI
  • For those sleeping over nine hours per night, genetic factors accounted for approximately 34% of variations in weight
  • For participants sleeping less than 7 hours each night, genetic factors accounted for about 70% of variations in weight
  • For participant sleeping between 7 to 9 hours each night ("normal” sleep), genetic factors accounted for about 60% of variations in weight

Neurologist and lead author Nathaniel Watson said that while BMI and sleep are both inherited features, variations in the twins’ weight could be linked to their sleep duration.

  04:22:21 pm, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Providers Slowly Adapting To E-Prescriptions

While much medical information is now communicated electronically, many doctors still write prescriptions the old-fashioned way – with pen in hand. The New York Times recently examined the advantages of e-prescribing, and the progress (and lack thereof) in getting providers to adopt the system.

The push to transmit drug instructions directly to the pharmacist has benefits that go beyond simple convenience. A 2010 study of prescription processing found that for every 100 paper prescriptions, 37 contained some kind of error – and that number doesn’t take into account legibility issues. In contrast, only 7 in 100 errors were detected when e-prescribing software was used.

Previous studies of prescriptions in hospital settings turned up error rates of about 5 per 100 paper prescriptions – most of which were not serious, but a handful of which carried potential for harm. Even so, only about 36% of all prescriptions were delivered electronically in the United States in 2011 – and 70% of hospitals have yet to make the change.

So what keeps more providers from going 100% electronic? Certainly, cost is a consideration. As the Times article notes, the 2009 stimulus package helps doctors financially, but payments are included as part of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and spread out of five years. So the upfront costs can be formidable.

Another hurdle is the extra work time involved in entering data to electronic records. “These systems are far from plug and play,” says Rainu Kaushal, a professor of medical informatics at Weill Cornell Medical College and co-author of the 2010 study.

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