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This Week in Managed Care: January 3, 2020


This week, the top managed care stories included the FDA announcing a ban on flavored e-cigarettes; Google’s artificial intelligence system can find breast cancer as well as experts; new diabetes guidelines including 2 new drug classes to treat comorbidities.

The FDA announces a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, Google’s artificial intelligence system can find breast cancer as well as experts, and new diabetes guidelines find more uses for 2 therapy classes.

Welcome to This Week in Managed Care, I’m Christina Mattina.

FDA Bans Some e-Cigarette Flavors, Preserves Exemptions

The FDA on Thursday said it would ban most e-cigarette flavors that appeal to teenagers, although the plan features 2 major exceptions to aid vaping manufacturers and adults who use the devices.

The ban will cover fruit, candy, mint, and dessert flavors from cartridge-based products that are popular with high school students. Menthol and tobacco-flavored products, which some adults have used to quit smoking, will be allowed.

The ban will also largely exempt tank-based vaping devices that cater to adult smokers.

Anti-tobacco advocates condemned the exemptions. Said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, “Only the elimination of all flavored e-cigarettes can end the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic and stop e-cigarette companies from luring and addicting kids with flavored products.”

For more, visit ajmc.com.

Google AI Shows Promise in Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Google’s artificial intelligence system was shown to be as good as expert radiologists in detecting off mammograms in which women had breast cancer and in reducing potential errors.

The study, published in the journal Nature, adds to research showing the promise of AI systems in reducing errors in diagnosing breast cancer, as radiologists still miss about 20 percent of cancers in these common screenings.

But AI won’t be replacing radiologists any time soon, said Dr Lisa Watanabe: “AI software is only helpful if it actually moves the dial for radiologists.”

For more, visit ajmc.com.

New Diabetes Guidelines Suggest Use of New Therapy Classes

Updated guidelines from the American Diabetes Association call for 2 newer classes of therapy in type 2 diabetes care to be used when patients have comorbidities.

SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists show cardiovascular protection in outcomes trials in patients with both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk.

In the section entitled Pharmacologic Approaches to Glycemic Treatment, authors state: “The inhibitors should be considered for patients when atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), heart failure, or chronic kidney disease predominates independent of [glycated hemoglobin] A1C.”

Speaking with AJMC®, Dr Javed Butler of the University of Mississippi said specialists in diabetes and cardiology should work together on common guidelines: “Guidelines across specialties have to be written and harmonized. This is a pet peeve of mine: cardiologists, and endocrinologists, primary care practitioners, pharmacists, nurse practitioners—whoever is going to be touching these patients—all have different guidelines…The bottom line is that we are all working with the same patient and using the same evidence. Problems arise when the team players are not on the same page.”

Read more at ajmc.com.

Survey Finds Concerns About Workers’ Financial Stability

MassMutual’s recent Workplace Financial Wellness Study reports that a majority of employers believe their workers are struggling financially and having a hard time with medical costs.

The survey found that:

  • 53% of employers believe employees are struggling from hearing them talk about it
  • 46% gained this view from retirement plan participation
  • 67% see issues with future readiness for retirement
  • 64% see issues with the ability to pay for medical expenses

Consumer and student loan debt are among the reasons for employee financial struggles, the survey found.

For more, visit ajmc.com.

Most-Read Journal Articles Include Studies on Telehealth, Out-of-Network Billing, Annual Wellness Visits

Finally, AJMC® has tallied the results for its most-read journal articles for 2019:

  • At number 3 is “Patient and Clinician Experiences With Telehealth for Patient Follow-up Care
  • At number 2 is “Influence of Out-of-Network Payment Standards on Insurer—Provider Bargaining: California’s Experience
  • And the most-read article is “Medicare Annual Wellness Visit Association With Healthcare Quality and Costs

For more about our top articles, visit ajmc.com.

For all of us at AJMC®, I’m Christina Mattina. Thanks for joining us.

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