Wednesday, 15 July 2020

New WHO guidelines call for more evidence on airborne transmission

The World Health Organization released new guidelines on the transmission of the novel coronavirus. These guidelines acknowledge some reports of airborne transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Though it didn’t confirm that the virus spreads through the air.  

WHO acknowledged that some outbreak reports about indoor crowded spaces indicate that there is a possibility of aerosol transmission and some examples can be during choir practice, in fitness classes or in restaurants.  

Though WHO said more research is needed urgently to investigate such instances and assess their significance in the transmission of COVID-19.  

After reviewing the evidence, the WHO said the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces or close contact with infected people spreading virus through respiratory secretion, saliva, or droplets released when a person who is infected sneezes, coughs, sings or speaks.  

The new guidelines state that people should avoid crowding in places, should have good ventilation in buildings, follow social distancing and should wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.  

Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado said that this is a right move but a small one. It is gradually becoming clear that the pandemic is driven by super-spreading events, and that the best explanation for many events is aerosol transmission.  

Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert said that WHO is using an outdated definition of droplets and aerosols. It is too focused on the size of the droplets and the distance they travel. 

WHO defines aerosols as being under 5 microns since only particles that small could float in the air long enough to be inhaled.  

But Jimenez and Marr mentioned that a much larger range of particle size has been shown to contribute to infection. 

Instead of the size, they believe the differences between droplets and aerosols should be based on how the infection occurs.  

When a person inhales the virus and gets infected, its an aerosol and when the infection occurs by contact, they are droplets.  

But WHO has focused on airborne transmission at long distances and Marr notes that breathing in aerosols is more worrisome when in close contact and when people are in the same room.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Hospital for Special Surgery opens a new facility in Florida

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) opened a new facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. The facility announced its leadership and medical team and the scheduling of almost 1,000 appointments.

David Altchek, MD, founding medical director of HSS Florida and chief emeritus of the HSS Sports Medicine Institute, said in a press release that the new facility will be able to serve as a real center of excellence for patients seeking a wide-range of musculoskeletal health services.

He also mentioned that he is looking forward to working with some of the world’s most highly skilled physicians, surgeons and other specialists at the spectacular HSS Florida campus.

HSS Florida is a 60,000 square-foot facility and the leadership includes orthopedic trauma surgeon Nick Sama, MD, as associate medical director for inpatient services, and sports medicine and shoulder surgeon Ryan Simovitch, MD, as associate medical director for ambulatory services.

HSS Florida’s medical team will help patients with various injuries and pain, including sports injuries and general orthopedic pain.

The facility will also offer sports performance services. HSS Florida will include full-time Florida-based physicians, as well as physicians who will split their time between the New York and Florida HSS facilities.

Louis A. Shapiro, president and CEO of HSS said that HSS is making the highest level of musculoskeletal care more convenient for a community that appreciates and values quality.

This new facility is unique and also unlike any of the other previous expansions as this a brand-new comprehensive center built from the ground up and located outside of the New York City tri-state area.


Wednesday, 13 November 2019

CMS expands telehealth coverage for treatment of opioid abuse disorder

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will have new reimbursement codes for care providers who utilize telehealth to treat opioid abuse patients. As part of the 2020 Physician Fee Schedule, CMS is adding three CPT codes that will allow providers to bill Medicare for telehealth services included in bundled episodes of care for opioid abuse treatment, including care delivered to the home.

These codes were first proposed in July to apply connected health technology to the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma mentioned in a July press release announcing the proposed codes. She said that proposals were being announced so that the government doesn’t come in the way of patient care, by giving clinicians the support they need to spend valuable time taking care of these patients to ensure their diseases were well-managed and their quality of life is preserved.

Now included in this newly announced final rule in a category titled Communication Technology-Based Services, the codes are:

HCPCS code G2086, covering at least 70 minutes during the first calendar month of office-based treatment for opioid use disorder, including development of the treatment plan, care coordination, individual therapy and group therapy and counseling;

HCPCS code G2087, covering at least 60 minutes in a subsequent calendar month of office-based treatment for opioid use disorder, including care coordination, individual therapy and group therapy and counseling; and.

HCPCS code G2088, covering each additional 30 minutes beyond the first two hours of office-based treatment for opioid use disorder, including care coordination, individual therapy and group therapy and counseling (filed alongside the code for a primary procedure).

An analysis of the new codes penned by Nathaniel Lacktman, a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm and chair of its national Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team, and Emily Wein, a healthcare lawyer with the firm, the new codes combine with recent legislation to give new opportunities to deliver care to the patient’s home.

Source -

Friday, 11 October 2019

Suicide deaths and the ‘Opioid Crisis’

Writing in her blog at the National Institute On Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow and co-author Dr. Joshua Gordon of the National Institute of Mental Health offer an insight that “Suicide Deaths are a major component of Opioid Crisis that must be addressed.”

They mention that opioid overdose epidemic is not restricted to people with opioid addiction who accidentally take too much of a pain reliever or unknowingly inject a tainted heroin product.

Hidden in the alarming number of overdose deaths is a significant number of people who decide to take their own life. The authors also mention that due to the current initiatives to reduce opioid prescribing, many patients in pain find it unable to get treatment they need or get stigmatized as “addicts” by the healthcare system. Thus, compounding their difficulties.

There is a rising desperation and despair of people in agony who are denied treatment by misdirected policies of Federal and State drug enforcement agencies and State Medical Boards.

A recent study states that 40% of primary care clinics in Michigan will no longer allow their doctors to prescribe opioids to new patients.

But medical prescribing cannot possibly be the only cause of opioid crisis. It is time we recognize that America’s opioid and suicide crisis are much larger than just prescribing or street drugs. The factors responsible for addiction and suicide are socio-economic. Forty years of wage stagnation compounded by automation of manual labor jobs, structural unemployment and the hollowing-out of rural communities have made millions of people vulnerable to the distractions of street drugs. The crisis is not of medical exposure, but of despair. The labor force has to be redeveloped without which a change will not occur in either overdose or suicide statistics.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

What are the benefits of growing Remote Patient Monitoring Market?

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a healthcare delivery system that is driven by technology in order to monitor patient’s health, outside the traditional clinical setting. Remote health monitoring systems are affordable and smarter.

Device manufacturers traditionally targeting hospitals and clinics are now presented with new potential revenue channels as they begin offering their services to consumers. These observations have been revealed in the research report from Business Insider Intelligence.

Today, US health systems and hospitals are moving towards improved health care outcomes and reduced costs. One of the tools they use to achieve this aim is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) technology. This type of patient care extends the reach of physicians, enables the relationship between patients and caregivers. It also offers providers continuous real time health data.

RPM is a specific technology used to electronically transmit information between patients and physicians. Common patient remote monitoring devices are voice apps that remind diabetes patients to take insulin, while allowing doctors to monitor the disease, digital blood pressure cuffs that lets patients to remotely send physicians their blood pressure and pulse.

Providers using RPM – enabled home healthcare and other telehealth delivery methods are reducing hospital readmission penalties. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, reduced the risk of hospital re-admissions by 76% and held patient satisfaction score over 90% by equipping patients with tablets and RMP equipment.

Seniors are driving positive ROI from RPM technology and home-based care largely due to the cohort's high incidence of multiple chronic diseases.

A KLAS Research report surveying 25 healthcare organizations found 38% of healthcare organizations running RPM programs focused on chronic disease reported reduced re-admissions and 17% reported cost reductions.

The future trend in RPM is miniaturization. Device makers are making solutions smaller and less invasive as they partner with new players to expand their market share.