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Practice Transformation

Patients legitimately taking pain medications are suffering because of the opioid crisis. A new report—Drug Misuse in America 2019: Physician Perspectives and Diagnostics Insights on the Evolving Drug Crisis—finds that 81% of primary care doctors say they’re hesitant to accept new patients who’ve been prescribed pain meds. Some patients are even being discharged from providers because they are on opioids for chronic pain, and the doctor didn’t want to continue treatment. Roughly 75% of physicians indicated they need more education about addiction, including how to monitor for addiction to prescription drugs. (Cincinnati Enquirer; report)
Walgreens Boots Alliance is getting out of the walk-in clinic business. Last week, it announced it will close the roughly 160 in-store health clinics the company runs in the U.S.; it will keep open the 220 run by local health systems. Walgreens’ roughly 400 walk-in clinics and CVS’s 1,000 Minute Clinic locations “have at best barely broken even,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Both companies plan to shift from treating minor or acute issues and focus instead on people with chronic conditions. (Wall Street Journal)

Evidence & Innovation

Biogen’s decision to revisit a once-failed treatment for Alzheimer’s disease came as a surprise to many—and for patients and families, renewed hope. The company halted two late-stage trials for the drug, aducanumab, in March after an analysis showed it was unlikely to work. After an in-depth analysis of the data, Biogen decided to move forward. Biogen is now working with the FDA and its study sites to launch a new study. Everyone who participated before will be included, and this time, there will be no placebo. (TIME)
Eighteen-month-old Omarion Jordan is doing well after gene therapy in December. He has a rare, usually fatal, genetic disorder: severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome—better known as the “bubble boy” disease. He participated in a gene therapy trial at St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Omarion’s bone marrow was altered to correct the missing gene and transplanted back into his body, carried by an HIV virus with all the harmful cells removed. “It’s like a car,” his mother, Kristin Simpson, told the Associated Press. “They take out the harmful elements and use the virus as a carrier for the altered gene.” (AP, via Daily Herald)

Policy Solutions

UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, began covering pharmacogenomic testing for psychiatric medications last month. These meds can be difficult to match to symptoms, leading to months, even years of trial and error. Genetic testing offers the promise of finding the right medication sooner, but many researchers remain skeptical, and the FDA has warned that the tests could potentially steer patients towards the wrong medications. However, coverage is beginning to expand; even Medicare will pay for some tests. United’s policy includes testing for both antidepressant and antipsychotic medications. (NPR; Clinicalomics)
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School may have made a breakthrough in the fight against Tay-Sachs: They treated two children with the disease by administering a gene therapy. Tay-Sachs is a genetic disease most associated with Ashkenazi Jews. It’s still early, but two months out, neither shows any ill effects from the therapy and the younger patient appears to be stabilizing. One child was treated at 30 months, the other at around six months. The next step will be a clinical trial. (WBUR)
Recording Available | Interoperability Forecast: Opportunities & Solutions for Comprehensive Medication Management
Earlier this year, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator released their proposed new regulations to advance interoperability across the health care system and to make it easier for patients and caregivers to access their personal health information. The proposed regulations would have significant implications for how health plans, providers and others handling patient data format, exchange and use health care data. In addition to government-led initiatives, market players are moving forward with their own data and technology transformation strategies, alliances and product development efforts.
This webinar provides a view of developments in healthIT through the lens of our ability to provide a single view of patient care that is necessary to enable a person-centered approach to medication use to ensure appropriate use of medications and gene therapies.
Featuring the voices of Deb Gage, president and CEO at Medecision and GTMRx Institute board member, Lisa Bari, former health IT and interoperability lead at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Innovation Center and Ryan Howells, principal at Leavitt Partners and lead at the CARIN Alliance.

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