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The Era of Thinking Computers is Here, says Ginni Rometty, Leader of IBM
Hospitals & Health Networks

At HIMSS15, IBM Watson Health officially made its launch. Now two years later, the head of IBM spoke to a packed room about the future of health technology and how health care can be a leader for change during the opening keynote of HIMSS17.

“We are in a moment, where we can actually transform many parts of health care. We can reinvent many pieces and we can change many things,” says Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO, IBM.

Rometty delivered a meaningful message sprinkled with hope that the promise of big data and predictive analytics is not something of the future, but that “it’s mainstream and it’s here.”

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Homeopathic remedies harmed hundreds of babies, families say, as FDA investigated for years

Case 7682299: Aug. 1, 2010. A mother gives her toddler three homeopathic pills to relieve her teething pain. Within minutes, the baby stops breathing.

“My daughter had a seizure, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing about 30 minutes after I gave her three Hyland’s Teething Tablets,” the mother later told the Food and Drug Administration. “She had to receive mouth-to-mouth CPR to resume breathing and was brought to the hospital.”

The company, Hyland’s, promotes “safe, effective, and natural health solutions” that appeal to parents seeking alternative treatments. But the agency would soon hear much more about Hyland’s teething products. Staff at the FDA would come to consider Case 7682299 one of the luckier outcomes.

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The Race to Map the Human Body—One Cell at a Time
Scientific American

The first time molecular biologist Greg Hannon flew through a tumour, he was astonished—and inspired. Using a virtual-reality model, Hannon and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge, UK, flew in and out of blood vessels, took stock of infiltrating immune cells and hatched an idea for an unprecedented tumour atlas.

“Holy crap!” he recalls thinking. “This is going to be just amazing.”

On 10 February, the London-based charity Cancer Research UK announced that Hannon’s team of molecular biologists, astronomers and game designers would receive up to £20 million (US$25 million) over the next five years to develop its interactive virtual-reality map of breast cancers. The tumour that Hannon flew through was a mock-up, but the real models will include data on the expression of thousands of genes and dozens of proteins in each cell of a tumour. The hope is that this spatial and functional detail could reveal more about the factors that influence a tumour’s response to treatment.

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Who Will Be Our Aging Champion?
California Health Report

“Is California prepared to meet the needs of the aging baby boomer generation?”

That was the question posed three years ago by the California State Senate Select Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care chaired by Senator Carol Liu (D-La Canada), where I served as Chief of Staff.

After a year of research, briefings by experts and public hearings, the Select Committee replied with a resounding, “No, it is not.” The committee’s report, A Shattered System: Reforming Long-Term Care in California concluded that the current hodgepodge of a system fails to organize around consumer needs and is almost impossible to navigate.

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The Definitive Guide to Repealing & Replacing Obamacare
The Health Care Blog

“So how about it, Nash? You scared?”

“Terrified… mortified… petrified… stupefied… by you.” (–A Beautiful Mind)

Fear is now a sign that you are an intelligent, educated, open-minded and caring person. Being scared is incontestable proof that you have a beautiful heart. When it comes to your health, there is palpable terror that soon, very soon, the bad guys will take away Obamacare, which was the source of health care and life itself for many.

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Republicans are selling health-care reform that people don’t want
Washington Post

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says Obamacare is failing. Club for Growth president David McIntosh warns that voters “gave Republicans the charge to repeal and replace Obamacare,” so the “delays and discussions about repairing Obamacare need to stop.” The problem is that voters fear disruption, don’t want to lose what they have and won’t find what Republicans are selling very attractive.

Ask voters, not politicians, what their complaints are about the Affordable Care Act and they’ll say rising premium costs, high deductibles and the individual mandate. Look at what Republicans are offering, however, and you’ll see that they address only one issue — the individual mandate.

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Health care, not insurance, is what matters
Detroit News

As Democrats used to be fond of saying, elections have consequences. One consequence of the 2016 election is that the Affordable Care Act is doomed, though most of its benefits are likely to survive. There is, it seems, an unwritten rule that once government benefits are extended, they will never be curtailed.

So it is likely the 20 million people who acquired health insurance under Obamacare and those with pre-existing conditions will retain their benefits, and children up to the age of 26 will remain on their parents’ insurance policies.

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Long wish list awaits next federal chief of health IT
Modern Healthcare

The next administrator of the federal government’s office for health information technology will need to empathize with a provider community looking for answers and likely will have fewer tools to help them, according to IT experts.The yet-to-be-named head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS will need to improve interoperability of health systems and come up with a plan to better match patients with their medical records — all with potentially less money to do so.

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Cervical cancer survivor pushing for screening
San Luis Obispo Tribune

Just hearing the word can cause a sinking feeling. For Paulette Apostolou, 49, of Elwood, the distress of a cervical cancer diagnosis was combined with regret. “I didn’t think I needed to go,” Apostolou said. “I was busy building a business with my ex-husband. Just life. I didn’t take care of myself.”

According to the American Cancer Society’s website, about 12,820 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and about 4,210 women will die from cervical cancer in 2017.

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More seniors turning to marijuana for relief from aches and pains
San Diego Union-Tribune

Ruth Brunn finally said yes to marijuana. She is 98. She pops a green pill filled with cannabis oil into her mouth with a sip of vitamin water. Then Brunn, who has neuropathy, settles back in her wheelchair and waits for the jabbing pain in her shoulders, arms and hands to ebb.

“I don’t feel high or stoned,” she said. “All I know is I feel better when I take this.”

Brunn will soon have company.

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New center shows surge in demand for children’s mental health services
San Diego Union-Tribune

Getting a pediatric mental health appointment can take months. But at a new clinic in San Diego, families can walk right in and be seen five days a week.

The facility in City Heights extends the “just show up when you need us” approach that is common at urgent-care centers to psychiatric clinics, which are experiencing a surge in demand nationwide due to fundamental changes in diagnosis and health-insurance coverage.

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Facing Pressure, Insurance Plans Loosen Rules For Covering Addiction Treatment
Kaiser Health News

Aetna, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, will remove a key barrier for patients seeking medication to treat opioid addiction. The change will take effect in March and apply to commercial plans, a company spokeswoman confirmed, and will make it the third major insurer to make the switch.

Specifically, Aetna will stop requiring doctors seek approval before prescribing particular medications ― such as Suboxone ― that are used to mitigate withdrawal symptoms, and typically given along with steady counseling. The insurance practice, called “prior authorization,” can result in delays of hours to days in getting a prescription filled.

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Health Law’s 10 Essential Benefits: A Look At What’s At Risk In GOP Overhaul
Kaiser Health News

As Republicans look at ways to replace or repair the health law, many suggest shrinking the list of services insurers are required to offer in individual and small group plans would reduce costs and increase flexibility.

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Docs In Northwest Tweak Aid-In-Dying Drugs To Prevent Prolonged Deaths
Kaiser Health News

Two years after an abrupt price hike for a lethal drug used by terminally ill patients to end their lives, doctors in the Northwest are once again rethinking aid-in-dying medications — this time because they’re taking too long to work.

The concerned physicians say they’ve come up with yet another alternative to Seconal, the powerful sedative that was the drug of choice under Death with Dignity laws until prices charged by a Canadian company doubled to more than $3,000 per dose.

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Barstow Community Hospital’s chest pain center receives 3-year accreditation
Desert Dispatch

The Barstow Community Hospital chest pain center received a three-year accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care for their notable actions recently.

Receiving the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care accreditation signifies the hospital’s chest pain center is not only in compliance but may exceed a range of strict standards. The Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care is an international nonprofit organization solely focused on improving cardiovascular care by helping facilities to create well-rounded cardiovascular centers in a “cost sensitive environment.”