Friday health stories making news

Physician burnout is again a significant concern and a serious issue around telehealth. These are the stories being reported in the media this week. Here are summaries with links.

Cerebral Treated a 17-Year-Old Without His Parents’ Consent. They Found Out the Day He Died. According to employees and documents, the telehealth startup didn’t use software to flag minors; the company says it complies with state rules, and the case is an outlier. Telehealth startup Cerebral had software that could verify customer IDs but didn’t use it to check birth dates and other details, a policy that resulted in some minors being treated without parental consent, according to former employees and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Nearly two-thirds of doctors are experiencing at least one symptom of burnout, a huge increase from before the pandemic. But the situation is not irreparable, researchers say. Results released this month and published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a peer-reviewed journal, show that 63 percent of physicians surveyed reported at least one symptom of burnout at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, an increase from 44 percent in 2017 and 46 percent in 2011. Only 30 percent felt satisfied with their work-life balance, compared with 43 percent five years earlier.

Obama tells San Diego audience that precision medicine is held back by ‘creaky’ health care system. Former President Barack Obama lauded the advances that researchers are making in precision medicine but lamented the sluggish pace of adopting these technologies in the U.S. health care system at an event in San Diego on Wednesday.

Long COVID is likely to cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars and will almost certainly affect multiple industries, from restaurants struggling to replace low-wage workers to airlines scrambling to replace crew to overwhelmed hospitals, experts are predicting. Data from June 2022 from the CDC shows that of the 40% of American adults who contracted COVID-19, nearly 1 in 5 still have long COVID symptoms. That works out to 1 in 13, or 7.5%, of the overall U.S. adult population. Drawing from the CDC data, Bach estimates in her August 2022 report that as many as 4 million working-age Americans are too sick with long COVID to perform their jobs. That works out to as much as $230 billion in lost wages or almost 1 percent of the U.S. GDP.

The amount of money spent on research and development (R&D) for new pharmaceutical drugs doesn’t correlate with high prices for the medications, according to a study published Monday and including the work of UC San Diego researchers. An international team of researchers evaluated whether high R&D costs explain high drug prices in the United States but found no link between them. In the paper published Monday in JAMA Network Open, Wouters, and researchers at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego found no such association for 60 new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration from 2009 to 2018. The study authors acknowledged that the analysis was limited by small sample size.