This Time, DeSalvo’s Really Going

DeSalvo_2_190x1271.jpgKaren DeSalvo, the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, is leaving the office, for real this time. DeSalvo, who will continue as acting assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health & Human Services, apparently was slated to leave almost two years ago when she was asked to join the ASH office, but the field informally requested that she stay on. The former New Orleans health commissioner has advanced quickly on the national health care scene, and she describes her public health philosophy in a Q&A and a video.

Why So Many Olympians Are Cupping at the 2016 Summer Olympics

Cupping: It isn’t pretty, but it does the body good.

michael-phelps-cuppingAt least that’s what some of this year’s Olympians say. Many are using the ancient therapy to relieve swelling and promote healing, NPR reports.

Cupping, often used in concert with such other Chinese therapies as acupuncture, uses the suction of a glass cup to bring blood flow to muscle tissue. It has been said to help patients with everything from muscle pain to arthritis, insomnia, fertility problems and more, although there isn’t currently scientific proof to back up those claims. Regardless, the practice may have gotten its biggest endorsement yet: The unusual red marks caused by the cups have popped up all over the shoulders of U.S. gymnasts and swimmers in Rio — most notably champion swimmer Michael Phelps. Scientific backing or not, we predict this therapy doesn’t “suck.”

Autism Friendliness in the Desert

In “How Phoenix Became the Most Autism-Friendly City in the World,” "PBS NewsHour" correspondent Bob Donvan reported this week that the Arizona city is the epitome of population health management for one specific segment of its residents. Population health management requires people and organizations across a community to come together to address not only the medical needs, but also the social factors that impact health and well-being — everything from housing and transportation to education and employment. Thanks in large part to one very determined mother, institutions, businesses and individuals throughout Phoenix have teamed up to help everyone understand people with autism, and to provide training, jobs and even housing. Donvan visited a preschool that includes autistic and non-autistic children. “They are inclusive of kids who are different or who have autism or who have disabilities out on the playground,” one activist said. “They’re future employers. They’re future co-workers. So we’re not having to teach these kids directly. They’re just consumed around people who are different from them.”

When Pigs Fly

A human receiving a kidney harvested from a genetically modified pig is an example of one of the possible outcomes of cross-species stem cell research to be funded by the National Institutes of Health. Now that the NIH has lifted a ban of funding for that kind of research, the thought of a pig-grown kidney doesn’t sound so creepy, but it isn’t difficult to think of some that do. How about a human being genetically altered to grow fish scales in order to swim faster? Or a pig growing wings? Those kinds of stem cell applications are a long way off, according to The New York Times, but nobody’s ruling them out either.

Home Caregiver Training Can Work Wonders

Keeping high-cost patients out of the emergency department is a key consideration for hospitals today, and simple training of home caregivers may make a huge dent in this regard, Kaiser Health News reports. With a new pilot program around Los Angeles, home caretakers for seniors and the disabled have been trained in completing simple medical tasks such as administering CPR and first aid, infection control, medication and chronic disease. The idea is that, rather than going to the ED for simple ailments, these low-income seniors would instead receive care at home. So far, the pilot, paid for by the state, has shown promise, researchers with the University of California San Francisco have found. Repeated ED visits declined by 24 percent on average in the first year after training caregivers, KHN reports, and 41 percent in the second year.