Viewpoints: Outcomes Worse For Elders In For-Profit Care; Telemedicine Should Remain After Pandemic Ends
Editorial pages weigh in on these public health matters.
For-Profit Nursing Homes Are A Bad Deal For Older Americans
Nursing homes and hospice care are supposed to provide safe refuges for older people and those near the ends of their lives. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they have been just the opposite. Many nursing homes and hospice care organizations are now for-profit institutions. There is ample evidence they are putting profits ahead of people and that is taking a deadly toll during the pandemic. (Haider J. Warraich, 4/19)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Telemedicine Doesn’t Need To Fade Away After The Pandemic
This past year, telemedicine has been a critical alternative to in-person visits. They’ve helped doctors like me stay connected to patients, a lifeline for some. Many patients, particularly those with mental health struggles, have told me how much easier it is to see me from home, avoiding the hassle of traveling to “see me” in person. Other doctors — psychiatrists, sleep specialists, neurologists, and dermatologists –—have told me similar stories and use telemedicine to manage many conditions remotely, providing needed access for many and sorting out who should be seen in person. However, it’s at risk of fading away. Telemedicine visits have dropped off since the initial peak early in the pandemic. This was expected. Some diseases need in-person evaluations and some patients prefer in-person visits. But now, many doctors have scaled back further, in some cases advocating for in-person visits first. (Krisda H. Chaiyachati, 4/19)
Data Is The Key To Repairing The Nation's Healthcare System
Demand for innovation designed to improve healthcare delivery—and resilience during difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic—reflects a number of key challenges: rising healthcare costs, suboptimal outcomes, deaths of despair, declining longevity and post-pandemic challenges to behavioral health. Healthcare information technology and the power of providers, payers and government agencies sharing and analyzing data can illuminate the path to better care and improve outcomes for all. (Reed Hartley, 4/20)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
CDC Declares Racism A Public Health Threat. Researchers Weigh In On Why.
It isn’t really news to hear that experiencing racism, both interpersonal and structural, is bad for a person’s health. Any member of a racial or ethnic minority in this country has understood that racism is harmful to their health, in some form, since this mass of land was first called the United States. What is news is the acceptance of the anecdotal with the scientific evidence, and taking measurable steps to track and repair the harm to public health that has come from racism. “What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans,” Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a recent statement. (Lisa Deaderick, 4/18)
The FDA Should Embrace Remote Inspection Technology
While pharmaceutical regulatory authorities in other countries are employing creative ways like video-based remote inspections to fulfill their obligations to the public, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration remains committed to conventional on-site inspections. By September 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had precipitated a virtual pause in drug inspections: Roughly 85% of inspections had been curbed within U.S. borders and 99.5% outside the country. (Patrick McLaughlin and Tyler Richards, 4/19)
Los Angeles Times:
Does Your Doctor Speak Your Language?
Imagine that you woke up with weakness in your right arm and difficulty speaking. You’re a Spanish speaker and you go to the emergency room, where the doctor attending to you took Spanish in high school. Because the ER is busy, he decides he can get by without an interpreter. You tell him about your symptoms, and that you are worried you might be having a stroke. The doctor understands the Spanish word for “arm” but is not clear about the rest. After a quick physical exam, he sends you to get X-rays to rule out a broken arm. Meanwhile, your condition worsens. Research suggests that it’s not uncommon for doctors to overestimate their own language abilities. In one study, researchers compared medical residents’ self-reported Spanish proficiency with their proficiency as measured by an objective test. They found that 1 in 3 residents who classified themselves as proficient did not test as such. Despite this, residents at all proficiency levels reported sometimes discussing clinical care with patients and families in Spanish without the aid of an interpreter. (Mimi Zheng, 4/19)