Morning Read: Study finds meds via microchip works well

In a small study in Denmark, researchers found that delivering medicine via microchip  works as well as injections. Doctors used wireless technology to deliver daily doses of an osteoporosis drug via a microchip. Women who received Forteo via the implant responded similarly to the women who got shots.

The Massachusetts company MicroChips developed the device. Robert Farra, PhD, is the president of MicroChips and said that this new treatment method could improve compliance and make it easier for patients to manage their medications.

The company could have a difficult time gaining FDA approval because there are several drugs already on the market that successfully treat bone loss. Also the chip would have to be approved as a device and a drug.

One doctor is urging his colleagues to jump into the world of social media with Google+ instead of Twitter or Facebook.


Dr. Criag Koniver argues on that Google’s circles  and hangouts  are a safe and practical way to connect with patients.

He likes Google+ for several reasons, including:

  • Circles allow for keeping anything you want private
  • Google Hangouts make it easy to run a group visit directly
  • Everyone knows Google so the barrier to entry is low

The CEO of a small rural hospital says that building your own network is one key to succeeding with telemedicine. The Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH) is in rural North Central Washington State.

Kevin Abel, CEO of LCCH, said that seven best practices helped the hospital provide specialized care without going bankrupt. These best practices include build your own network, applying for grants, and conducting regular training drills with staff.

As part of the project, the hospital added services in radiology, cardiology, mammography, stroke care and other specialties. The hospital kept its business model tightly focused and worked as independently as possible. Patient outcomes have improved as well, Abel said, particularly among stroke victims.

Health insurance companies now have a form letter that they can use to tell customers how premiums are spent and when they are owed a rebate. The Affordable Care Act requires a specific percentage of money to be spent on health care as opposed to overhead. If this medical loss ratio tips too far in one direction, companies have to pay a refund.

“They are among the most important consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act because they provide more transparency to consumers and also make sure that consumers get value from their premium dollars,” Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the CMS, said during a call with reporters.

You can find the details of the sample letters on the CMS web site.

The supreme test of the Affordable Care Act is coming up in about three weeks. At the end of March, the Supreme Court will begin three days of hearings on the health care overhaul law. Jackie Judd of Kaiser Health News talks with Stuart Taylor, a contributing editor for the National Journal about what to expect.
The seriousness of this case is reflected in the big chunk of time the justices have set aside to hear arguments – 6 hours – and the number of friends of the court briefs that have been filed – more than 100.

In the interview Taylor said, “It’s been 56 years since they’ve argued as many as six hours on a single case and those were two historic cases in 1966: Miranda vs. Arizona and the Voting Rights Act case. They’ve cut back on their other cases, there are only half as many arguments in other cases for the rest of the term, or at least in April, as they usually do.”

Kaiser Health News has posted a video of the interview as well as a transcript.

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