Thursday, February 23, 2017

On Call by Casey Ross & Max Blau
Good morning! Starting next week, we'll be shifting On Call to give you a wider variety of news from STAT. Instead of the daily newsletter, we'll give you more full-length journalism and more of the health and medicine coverage that is relevant to you twice per week, on Tuesday and Friday. In the meantime, here's the latest news affecting hospitals and health care. Follow us at @statnews or like us on Facebook. Thank you. 

Just in: A startup gets $7 million to help Spanish speakers with health care

America is bilingual, but health care isn't. That’s the tagline for Consejo Sano, a California-based startup that’s raised more than $7 million to get medical providers more engaged with their Spanish-speaking customers. Rather than adapt English-language practices for Spanish speakers, Consejo Sano designs culturally and linguistically accurate medical and health information for providers to use with their Spanish-language population. Much of this is done through text messaging.  

Consejo Sano is among the growing number of startups addressing language barriers for patients whose native language is something other than English. Design firm Appstem and the University of California-Davis recently announced the development of a digital platform that streamlines the translation and transcription of filmed telemedicine interviews with non-English speaking patients for better diagnosis. And HealthTap just launched an app that would give Chinese speakers access to doctor consultations via text, video, or voice.

Today in STAT: A tour to diversify the next generation of doctors 

The Cornetts are a family of eight aspiring doctors who've had few interactions with physicians who are black, like them. Black and Latino clinicians are in short supply throughout the US, and, for some, the process of getting that medical or dental degree can be daunting. STAT's Karen Weintraub takes a look at efforts to improve the numbers of minority health care providers through a program called Tour for Diversity. Started by a group of black and Latino doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and other health care professionals, Tour for Diversity helps students navigate their way into different medical professions. Read more.

As STAT continues to cover issues regarding race, ethnicity, and other social disparities in health and medicine, we want to hear from those of you who live these experiences. We’ve started a private Facebook group where readers are free to discuss openly issues that they may encounter within this sphere. Join the group here.

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Quote of the Day: Bad hospital design is hazardous to our health

"Hospitals are among the most expensive facilities to build...but evidence suggests we’ve been building them all wrong — and that the deficiencies aren’t simply unaesthetic or inconvenient. All those design flaws may be killing us.” — Dr. Dhruv Khullar.

Khullar, a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, takes readers on a tour of hospital design flaws: poorly lit rooms and hallways, slippery floors, and a lack of private space that discourages sleep, but encourages infection. In addition, he writes, hospitals are designed to be depressingly sterile and unwelcoming. As a solution, Khullar points to the work of Roger Ulrich, a luminary of hospital design who suggests that sunlight and views of the natural world promote healing. 

A freestanding answer to America’s rural hospital crisis

Freestanding emergency centers represent a promising solution to the hospital shortage in rural communities across the US. But developing them isn’t easy, even in communities in desperate need of medical help. A new article in Health Affairs lists barriers such as low federal reimbursement rates and restrictive regulations, including state boards whose hospital members block freestanding centers to root out potential competition.

So what’s the solution? The article’s authors suggest a government-led effort to spur development of these facilities in underserved areas. State and federal regulators could create special designations to reduce regulation and spur construction. They could also provide direct grants and other financial incentives.

Or they could simply ignore the problem and let hundreds of rural hospitals close with no plan to replace them. A recent study predicted that as many as 650 rural hospitals could soon close their doors.


  • A new diagnosis: Post Election Stress Disorder (Kaiser Health News)
  • Judge rules Texas can't cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood (NPR
  • Caring for immigrant patients at an uncertain time (WBUR Boston)
  • An equation for unnecessary costs: When evidence says no, but doctors and patients say yes (The Atlantic)

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