Healthcare Business Week in Review: Stroke Costs Up, MRSA Prevention Tactics, Employee Wellness

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Stroke costs are predicted to more than double by 2030, and the number of people having strokes by then may increase by 20 percent, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The aging U.S. population is the main reason for the increases, with almost four percent, or one in 25 American adults, predicted to have stroke in 2030, or an additional 3.4 million people. Annual costs due to lost productivity could rise from $33.65 billion to $56.54 billion, and costs to treat stroke may increase from $71.55 billion in 2010 to $183.13 billion. What steps need to be taken? See our story for details.

Using germ-killing soap and ointment on all intensive-care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections by nearly half and significantly reduce the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ICUs, according to a multi-disciplinary team study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, REDUCE MRSA trial evaluated the effectiveness of three MRSA prevention practices: routine care, providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA, and providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients.

In addition to being effective at stopping the spread of MRSA in ICUs, the study found the use of germ-killing soap and ointment on all ICU patients was also effective for preventing infections caused by germs other than MRSA.

Young children who missed more than half of recommended well-child visits had up to twice the risk of hospitalization compared to children who attended most of their visits according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Children with chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease were even more likely to be hospitalized when they missed visits, according to the study, which included more than 20,000 children enrolled at Group Health Cooperative. And children with chronic conditions who missed more than half of the recommended well-child visits had more than three times the risk of being hospitalized compared to children with chronic conditions who attended most of their visits.

In other prevention-related news, HHS issued final rules on employment-based wellness programs, supporting workplace health promotion and prevention as a means to reduce the burden of chronic illness, improve health, and limit growth of healthcare costs, according to the HHS.

And lastly, more than 10 million Americans directly benefited from a telemedicine service during the past year, likely double the number from just three years ago, according to American Telemedicine Association estimates. Telehealth’s broad reach encompasses telemedicine — the use of telecommunications technology to deliver clinical diagnosis, services and patient consultations — as well as the exploding field of mobile health. Tell us how you’re utilizing telehealth in HIN’s third comprehensive e-survey on Telehealth. Respond by June 30, 2013 and receive a free executive summary of the compiled results. Your responses will be kept strictly confidential.

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