Study: Structural changes account for majority of slower spending   05/06/2013
U.S. health care spending growth slowed by more than $500 billion between 2003 and 2012, largely due to a host of structural changes, according to a study published today in Health Affairs. The study attributes 37% of the spending slowdown to the 2007-2009 recession, 5% to Medicare policy changes, 3% to a decline in private insurance coverage and 55% to “a host of structural changes,” including slower spending for prescription drugs and advanced medical imaging, increased patient cost sharing and greater efficiency by health care providers. “If these trends continue during 2013-22, public-sector health care spending will be as much as $770 billion less than predicted,” the authors conclude. “Such lower levels of spending would have an enormous impact on the U.S. economy and on government and household finances.” The May issue of the journal examines the recent slowing in growth of health care expenditures and proposals for putting the Medicare program on a more sustainable path.
HHS alerts providers to potential cyber threat   05/06/2013
A “hacktivist” group is planning to conduct numerous cyber attacks against the U.S. tomorrow, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Critical Infrastructure Protection Program. Based on information provided by the National Cybersecurity Communications and Integration Center, the attacks could target more than 150 websites and social networking accounts, including government agencies and U.S. financial institutions. HHS said it is not aware of any specific targeting of health care and public health sector organizations, but that elements of the sector have been targeted in the past. For more information or assistance, contact the HHS CIP Program at cip@hhs.gov.
FDA urges steps to prevent breast cancer drug mix-ups   05/06/2013
To reduce the potential for medication errors, health care professionals should include the FDA-approved nonproprietary name when ordering the breast cancer drug Kadcyla, the Food and Drug Administration announced today. Some publications, compendia references, health information systems and Internet sites are using the original nonproprietary name for the drug, called the United States Adopted Name, which could be confused with the nonproprietary name for the breast cancer drug Herceptin, FDA said. To reduce the potential for errors, FDA advises health care professionals to use both the FDA-approved brand name (Kadcyla) and nonproprietary name (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) when communicating medication orders, on preprinted order sets and in computerized order entry systems. “Additionally, strategies should be employed to warn against confusion between Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) and Herceptin (trastuzumab) in medication-related computer systems,” the agency said. For more information, see the FDA notice.
About 20% of adults meet overall physical activity guidelines   05/06/2013
Only one in five U.S. adults gets the recommended amount of physical activity, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just over half of adults report getting the recommended aerobic activity and about 30% the recommended muscle-strengthening activity, based on the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, conducted by state health departments. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic activity such as walking, or 75 minutes of more vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines also recommend muscle-strengthening activities such as push-ups or sit-ups at least two days a week.