Retail Clinics Will Keep the Light on For Ya
A 2010 survey of 11 countries found that Americans look for after-hours care in emergency departments more often than any other industrialized nation, according to a New York Times report. The reason: convenience. People work during the day and their kids are in school — a day off at the doctor’s office isn’t ideal. And retail clinics make visits easier. A recent study looking at Aetna insurance claims from 2010 to 2012 found that 58 percent of visits to retail clinics were for minor issues that hadn’t been treated before, suggesting “when people found it easier to go to the retail clinic, they lowered their threshold for what they’d go to the doctor for. ”Many hospitals are teaming up with retailers to open their own clinics. If the goal is to improve access, that appears to be working, but if the goal is to reduce national health care spending, the $14 per person increase associated with retail visits isn’t promising.
Don’t Take Your Apps Too Seriously
There are a lot of health apps out there — 165,000 involving health and wellness to be exact, according to an L.A. Times report. Julie Hadduck, whose husband died of skin cancer in 2010, used an app, that promises a diagnosis in seconds, to snap a photo of a suspicious mole on her 9-year-old daughter. "It came came back red," said Hadduck, "and I was freaked out." She took her daughter to a dermatologist who diagnosed the mole as benign. That’s why some docs are warning patients not to rely heavily on medical advice from apps. Some that are designed for diabetics don’t give recommendations to call 9-1-1 when sugar levels are critically low. Others designed to deal with depression give no recommendation to seek help if users report feeling suicidal or unsafe. Mobile health care apps are relatively new, and will likely face stricter regulations in the future.
Former Facebook Exec Takes on Cancer
The man who helped to revolutionize the music industry is now looking to turn another field upside down — cancer research. Tech billionaire Sean Parker announced this week that he's giving $250 million to six cancer centers across the country, aiming to accelerate research, USA Today reports. Those dollars will go toward immunotherapy, a treatment that bolsters the body’s immune system to help it kill cancer cells. Parker, who founded music service Napster and played a part in the start of Facebook, wants to shift immune therapy from a "treatment of last resort" to something that doctors perform on the front line of cancer care, according to the report. His is one of the largest cash infusions for cancer research, and will help to coordinate research better among the six academic cancer centers.
Flashback to the 1960s
It’s not the ’60s anymore, but scientists for the first time have visualized the effects of LSD on the human brain, according to a CNN report. Researchers at Imperial College London gave the the drug and a placebo, each two weeks apart, to 20 healthy volunteers with previous experience in having used psychedelics, and then imaged their brains inside an fMRI scanner to visualize the activity. Images of the brain under a a hallucinogenic state showed nearly the entire brain lit up with activity. “Scientists have waited 50 years for this moment — the revelation of how LSD alters our brain biology,” said David Nutt, senior researcher on the study.