Nov. 11 - 15, 2013

National Coverage

Shift in Cholesterol Advice Could Double Statin Use
After decades of cajoling Americans to know their cholesterol level and get it down as low as possible, the nation's leading heart specialists are changing course. …The effect of the new guidelines would be to double the number of Americans who are candidates for lifelong statin therapy, according to Dr. Sidney Smith of the University of North Carolina, one of the guideline writers.

Can Obama fix Obamacare?
Yahoo! News
Former President Bill Clinton made headlines when he suggested that President Obama “fix” the Affordable Care Act so that Americans who are losing their health care plans could keep their coverage. … "In my view, as politically appealing as President Clinton’s suggestion is, it would be extraordinarily hard at this late date to reverse course, given all the changes that already have taken place in the insurance market," said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy & Management at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Qigong Could Decrease Fatigue in Prostate Cancer Survivors
Huffington Post
The slow, meditative exercise of Qigong could help prostate cancer survivors beat a common side effect of the condition, according to a small new study in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship. Researchers from the University of New Mexico Cancer Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 12 weeks of Qigong decreased fatigue and distress among prostate cancer survivors, compared with stretching classes.

Scientists study effect of diet complexity, estrogen hormone receptors on intestinal microbiota
Texas A&M University and University of North Carolina School of Medicine scientists have completed a study on the effect of diet complexity and estrogen hormone receptors on intestinal microbiota.

One-in-five surgically eligible patients denied insurance for bariatric surgery, study finds
Medical News (website)
University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers found patients who were denied or delayed insurance approval for bariatric surgery, despite being cleared by their medical team, had a mortality rate three times higher than patients who received insurance approval without delay.

Regional Coverage

A frequent Obamacare critic, Rep. Ellmers says GOP has its own plan
The Star (Kansas City)
The troubled start of the Affordable Care Act is giving Republican critics in Congress a new game plan…Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., says it’s no longer all about votes to repeal …Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the plan Ellmers helped draft isn’t a viable replacement for Obamacare.

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State & Local Coverage

New hospital transparency rules show charges vary widely
North Carolina patients will soon have more access to medical costs than ever, thanks to a state law requiring hospitals to post their charges. Medicare is also releasing charges for the top 100 procedures at 3,000 facilities across the nation, giving patients another way to research costs.

The WRAL Investigates team compared the various costs and procedures and found that charges vary widely among North Carolina’s hospitals. Many variables, such as length of stay and drugs that are prescribed, can be factors, but WRAL found that which supplies doctors choose to use can often affect the bottom line the most.

States continue to place clinicians where they are in short supply, despite recession
Medical Xpress
Despite the recent recession, states increased the overall number of loan repayment programs designed to recruit health care professionals to live and practice in underserved communities, according to research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"This is good news for our country's health care system and people's access to care," said Donald Pathman, a physician and professor of family medicine who led the study. "The study shows that states recognized the importance of loan repayment and other incentives and were willing to create more programs even during the early, toughest years of the recent recession when states' budgets were stretched thin."

How UNC Health Care built a cloud-based big data platform that saves lives
BusinessCloud News
The buzz around big data tends to centre on how, with emerging analytics and database technologies, businesses can optimise their operations, products or services, improve customer retention, and – as a result – improve the bottom line. But the University of North Carolina Health Care (UNCHC), a large non-profit healthcare provider based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina recently put these technologies to work keeping patients out of hospitals and saving lives.

Volunteers build UNC obstacle course to help prevent falls
For many elderly people, a simple fall can lead to complications, which can become life-threatening. That's why physical therapy often focuses on helping patients avoid falls. In Chapel Hill, volunteers have built an outdoor course to help those patients regain their balance. Fifty volunteers from 14 different Lowe’s Home Improvement stores devoted three days to building the special outdoor challenge course at the UNC Healthcare Rehabilitation Center.

Doctors weigh in on length-of-stay hospital stats
Triangle Business Journal
On Tuesday, I reported that hospitals were seeing fewer total acute care days per 1,000 population even as discharges from hospitals per 1,000 population stayed essentially unchanged. These figures, which were compiled by the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, part of UNC-Chapel Hill, show that North Carolinians are going to the hospital at essentially the same rate for the past 20 years but are staying in the hospital for a far shorter time.

Doctors weigh in on length-of-stay hospital stats
Triangle Business Journal
...These figures, which were compiled by the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, part of UNC-Chapel Hill, show that North Carolinians are going to the hospital at essentially the same rate for the past 20 years but are staying in the hospital for a far shorter time.

Area doctors are weighing in about the implications of these numbers.Dr. Brian Goldstein, chief operating officer for UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, said first and foremost, it is the desire of doctors to do the right thing.

Diabetes costs are approaching $300 billion per year. Here's what UNC is doing about it 
Triangle Business Journal
… A disease that hits far more Americans than breast cancer is diabetes, something that chewed up $245 billion of costs in 2012, according to the American Diabetes Association. In an effort to work toward cures for diabetes, UNC-Chapel Hill has two ongoing clinical trials to test new treatment methods.

UNC Health Care explores partnership with Nash system
Triangle Business Journal
A UNC Health Care spokeswoman confirmed that the Chapel Hill-based hospital system could partner with Nash Health Care. It would be just another example of health care consolidation, and another partner for UNC Health Care, which has formed various arrangements with hospitals around the state in the past few years.

UNC Health Care: Carolina Breast Cancer Study enrolls record 3,000 participants   
The MountainXpress (Asheville) 
Researchers leading the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS) have enrolled the 3,000th participant for the study’s third phase, making it the largest-ever population-based study of breast cancer in North Carolina and one of the largest in the world. This milestone completes enrollment and initiates the five year follow-up.

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