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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Our fourth annual STAT Madness — our bracket-like contest for universities, medical schools, and nonprofit research institutions to compete for the most exciting research this past year — is officially open. Get in on the action here

Overwhelming majority see a difference in health costs and care delivery

A new survey from information services company Wolters Kluwer finds that 98% of the nearly 2,000 respondents agree that there are substantial differences in how care is delivered and how much it costs. Here’s what else the survey found: 

  • Care and cost differences: 63% don’t believe they would pay an identical amount for the same treatment or condition regardless of where they were treated. When the survey looked at respondents’ roles, physicians were more aware than hospital executives of cost and care differences. 

  • Election 2020: 73% said health care would be a main issue in the upcoming election. Nearly 90% said the health care system needs a complete overhaul. 

  • Future hospitals: 40% of consumers say that in the future, hospitals should consider the high cost of medicines, while only 13% of executives surveyed think the same.

How Purdue planted its 'anti-story' to downplay risks of OxyContin 

STAT and ProPublica are out with a new story in our ongoing investigation of Purdue Pharma, which examines how the OxyContin maker facilitated publication of sympathetic articles in the news media, deterred negative coverage, and aggressively countered criticism over its role in the opioid epidemic. In one instance, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute wrote an essay for the New York Times that minimized OxyContin’s addiction risk, but the article didn’t disclose the author’s and AEI’s involvement with Purdue. Emails and documents obtained by ProPublica show that Purdue paid the think tank $50,000 annually, and that before publication, the author sent a draft to a Purdue Washington lobbyist to check if it “seems imbalanced.” Read more here.

Self-testing for HIV could help increase screening rates

Providing at-home HIV testing kits to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men could be a good strategy to ensure regular screening, new research finds. Data from nearly 2,000 participants — roughly half of whom were controls — found that nearly 77% of those given self-tests reported screening for HIV three or more times during the one-year study period, compared to about 22% in the control group. Those in the self-test group also reported twice as many infections as those in the control group — which authors say should be expected since they are a new population to be tested. Still, more than 70% of these people also reported looking into treatment, and study participants also distributed tests to others in their social group, suggesting that the option for self-testing could further help prevention and treatment efforts. 

Inside STAT: Warren’s health care evolution earns friends on the left, foes back home

Elizabeth Warren speaks to voters at Exeter High School. (JESSICA RINALDI/THE BOSTON GLOBE)

In her bid for president, Elizabeth Warren has evolved from a Massachusetts senator sympathetic to her home state’s health care interests to a more national figure interested in broad, sweeping changes that go beyond what affects the Bay State. She helped write the landmark 21st Century Cures Act, which promised $5 billion in biomedical research, but when the time came to vote, hers was a resounding “no” because “Big Pharma got its handout,” she declared. Not only has she angered Massachusetts health industry leaders, but as a relatively late arrival to the progressive “Medicare for All” camp, fellow liberals are also questioning her bonafides. Read more from STAT’s Lev Facher and the Boston Globe’s Liz Goodwin. 

The barriers keeping schools from following rules to reduce concussions

All U.S. states implemented laws between 2009-2014 to prevent sports-related concussions, but a small new study finds that there are still several barriers to ensuring schools comply. Although the laws vary, they generally require concussion education and prohibiting athletes suspected of concussions from play. Researchers surveyed athletic trainers at 64 high schools from 26 states — most of them public — and found that a failure to properly educate parents, coaches, and athletes using an information sheet, and a lack of time for educational meetings were among the main barriers. Among the reasons why schools didn’t keep students from playing: athletes underreporting their concussion symptoms as well as resistance from coaches and parents to keep kids from playing. The small sample size offers a limited understanding, but points to the need for encouraging concussions to be reported more, the authors write. 

Health care professionals don’t get regular blood pressure training

A new survey from the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association finds that despite recommendations to receive regular training for monitoring blood pressure, health providers don’t get that instruction. Here’s more: 

  • The context: The AHA and AMA in 2017 released new guidelines for measuring and treating BP, as well as for setting goals for those with high BP. 

  • The findings: About half of health care providers said they hadn’t been retrained to measure BP after leaving professional school. A third of nurses said the same. At the same time, more than half said a refresher on BP measurements ought to be required. 

  • The takeaway: AMA and AHA developed a new e-module to help health professionals regularly receive training. The tool is being tested in conjunction with four other institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania.

What to read around the web today

  • Meet Amy Dunn, STAT 2019 Wunderkind. STAT
  • A blind man sees his birthday candles again, thanks to a bionic eye. OneZero
  • How earnest research into gay genetics went wrong. Wired
  • Confined to a Toronto nursing home bed 24 hours a day, Tommy Sec wants to die. The Star
  • Opinion: Hopewell House hospice has closed. You should care about that. STAT

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Tuesday, November 19, 2019


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