Independence Blue Cross says hospital readmission rates for certain patients dropped 40 to 50 percent after it started analyzing its vast amounts of health data to identify individuals at highest risk of readmission. According to an article Monday in Kaiser Health News, each of those patients were assigned a health coach — at no charge to the patient — to help them with everything from maintaining treatment regimens to finding transportation to a medical appointment. The data includes billing claims, lab readings, prescription lists, family history and more. Although some experts question the use of the data without an explicit OK from the patient, the insurer is expanding the effort, partnering with New York University’s Langone Medical Center to target patients with Type 2 diabetes.
Also in this issue
|ICD-10: The Four Steps to Being Prepared|
|Health Systems Are Jumping into Population Health|
Are American seniors becoming Xanax-ed out? In 2013, Medicare began to cover certain antianxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines. That year, as a ProPublica article noted Wednesday, it paid for 40 million of those prescriptions at a cost of $377 million. The tranquilizers, such as Valium, Xanax and Atvian, are fast-acting, and can be useful for severe anxiety, end-of-life care, seizures and withdrawal, but, many geriatric experts say, should not be used for agitation, insomnia or delirium. And there is concern that clinicians — including some in hospitals — are using them inappropriately to quiet individuals with dementia.
Americans are generally too fat, that we know. But it looks like the rest of the world may be catching up with us, and the consequences are just as dire. From 1990 to 2013, the worldwide prevalence of diabetes rose 45 percent, most of it Type 2, which is usually associated with obesity. The study was published in the British medical journal The Lancet. As the New York Times reported Monday, “a major shift is underway in the developing world, in which deaths from communicable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis have declined sharply, and chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes are on the rise.” Longer lifespans are one reason; another is economic improvement. But, as in the U.S., the medical and economic costs are severe.