iLoveBenefits: Industry News Blog

AHRQ Stats: Statin Use


The number of adults who reported using prescribed statins more than doubled in 10 years, from 17.6 million in 2000–2001 to 40.8 million in 2010–2011. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #458: Trends in Statin Therapy among Adults (Age ≥ 18), United States, 2000 to 2011.)

Mortality from Hypertension has risen 23%

cnCDC: Hypertension mortality climbing
A CDC report found that overall mortality from hypertension has risen 23% since 2000. Meanwhile, mortality from all other causes is down 21%. Deaths linked to hypertension among 45- to 64-year-old men increased by about 58% and nearly 37% for women in the same age group from 2000 to 2013. Ethnic and racial disparities persist but are smaller. “There is a critical need to facilitate and incentivize improvement in blood pressure control and heart health, as well provide optimal patient care,” Dr. Gregg Fonarow said. HealthDay News

If did what we know how to do . . . imagine the impact

Most postsurgical infections in heart patients avoidable, study saysClose to 80% of bloodstream infections, pneumonia or C. difficile colitis cases that follow heart surgery could be avoided, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. However, researchers said chlorhexidine scrubbing before surgery, prophylactic treatment with second-generation cephalosporin, and protocols that limit the need for blood products or additional lines all were linked to reduced risk of infection. (7/29)

Care teams — local health care — supporting the patient

Care teams lead to better heart failure outcomes, studies show

Research presented at a heart failure conference showed that when nurses
and pharmacists work with primary care physicians and cardiologists, patients
received better care. This type of team effort led to 83% of patients achieving
self-care goals and a 35% reduction in all-cause admissions in one study.
Another study found improvements in quality of life scores among veterans. MedPage Today (free registration)

Picking the right facilities can be a matter of life and death

Report: Hospital quality varies significantly by state
A Healthgrades report said the quality of hospital care varies significantly among states but Arizona, California, Illinois and Ohio have the highest care ratings for coronary artery bypass graft, heart attack, pneumonia and sepsis. The report, which analyzed data from CMS, said patients treated at the best hospitals have a 55% lower risk of death and a 42% lower risk of complications. USA TODAY (10/23)

Magnet hospitals have lower mortality rates
Surgical patients at Magnet hospitals were 14% less likely to die compared with those treated at non-Magnet hospitals, a study in the journal Medical Care showed. Researchers said that better patient outcomes at Magnet hospitals were largely attributed to better work environments and a greater number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees and specialty certification. (10/22)

Technology, applications and online access continue to drive innovation

MIT-built heart rate app is flush with success
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology-built application called Cardio permits users to determine their heart rates simply by staring at the smartphone display. “The app measures the amount of light reflected off the face, which matches up to the amount of blood pumped into the face,” writes Ariel Schwartz. Clinical trials show the app to be accurate within three beats of a gold-standard clinical pulse oximeter. FastCoExist (8/10)

Poll: Doctors drive health app downloads among baby boomers
A survey by Mitchell PR showed 60% of baby boomers surveyed said they were most likely to download a health application upon physician recommendation. Researchers also found 48% would download an app to monitor heart disease, diabetes or other chronic disease, and 47% would do so to track weight and exercise. American Medical News (free content) (8/13)

Social media connects, empowers health care providers
Social media site Doximity is allowing health care providers to create professional networks of specialists with whom to confer and to share patient records. “Utilizing socially rooted tools to collaborate among colleagues and experts [whom] we might not otherwise have access to improves care and improves the speed and efficiency with which we can offer that care,” said Dr. Howard Luks. USA TODAY (8/13)

ONC supports Ind. effort to boost access to vaccine records
A website called MyVaxIndiana, launched by Indiana public health officials to boost patient and parent access to immunization records, is receiving praise and support from the ONC. Parents can obtain a personal identification number from physicians to view the child’s immunization history and suggested vaccine schedules based on guidelines developed by the CDC. Modern Healthcare (subscription required) (8/13

What most of need . . . a little more attention . . . especially as we age

Loneliness, social isolation raise risk of early death
Older patients who reported being lonely had a higher risk of dying over the six-year study period than those who did not report loneliness, according to new research. Another study revealed that heart disease patients who lived alone had higher risk of cardiovascular death and all-cause death than those living with other people. “This should send up a little red flag that maybe this patient needs a little bit more attention,” said Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a researcher on the latter study. “Maybe we need to be a little more careful that this patient really does go to fill their prescription.” The findings appear in the Archives of Internal Medicine. (6/18),

Choose wisely: Visit


Choosing Wisely® aims to promote conversations between physicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is:

  • Supported by evidence
  • Not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received
  • Free from harm
  • Truly necessary

In response to this challenge, national organizations representing medical specialists have been asked to “choose wisely” by identifying five tests or procedures commonly used in their field, whose necessity should be questioned and discussed. The resulting lists of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” will spark discussion about the need—or lack thereof—for many frequently ordered tests or treatments. Learn More.

This concept was originally piloted by the National Physicians Alliance, which, through an ABIM Foundation Putting the Charter into Practice grant created a set of three lists of specific steps physicians in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics could take in their practices to promote the more effective use of health care resources. These lists were first published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

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After implementing use of a 27-question checklist before discharge, 30-day readmissions for heart failure patients dropped from 20% to 2% in a recent study; the checklist focuses on medications and dosage modification, counseling and monitoring intervention, and follow-up instructions.


Unwarranted Variation in Cardiology

While nearly all cardiologists in a recent survey denied ordering a potentially unnecessary cardiac catheterization for financial reasons, more than 27% reported doing so if a colleague in the same situation would do so frequently or sometimes, and nearly 24% reported doing so out of fear of malpractice.

Source: “Variation in Cardiologists’ Propensity to Test and Treat,” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, abstract only, April 13, 2010,