What We’re Reading: Pediatric Mental Health; Study on Cognitive Decline, COVID-19 Link; UnitedHealth to Acquire Change Healthcare

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic disrupted many mental health services for children; a study on the long-term effects of COVID-19 will soon kick off; a $13-billion deal has been struck for UnitedHealth to buy Change Healthcare.

Psychiatric Care for Children Suffers Due to the Pandemic

A 24% increase in mental health issues was seen from mid-March through mid-October among children admitted to emergency departments across the United States, reports Kaiser Health News. For preteens and adolescents, there was a 31% jump. Experts highlight that forced isolation and loneliness, brought on by remote learning and lack of socialization, may be to blame, with spikes also seen in cases of severe depression, especially among those with autism. And with many hospitals running at capacity, children are more often being forced to wait days for a bed compared with only hours before the pandemic.

WHO to Spearhead Study on Link Between COVID-19, Cognitive Decline

More than 25 countries and the Alzheimer’s Association are collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate the long-term effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Evaluations will be performed on 2 groups of patients: (1) confirmed cases with follow-up at 6, 9, and 18 months, and (2) participants of current international studies to enhance understanding of the “underlying biology that may contribute to Alzheimer’s and other dementia.” A more complete understanding of how COVID-19 affects the brain is sought, particularly its immune response.

UnitedHealth, Change Healthcare Deal in the Works

In a deal that includes a $5-billion debt, for a total value of $13 billion, UnitedHealth Group Inc will purchase Change Healthcare Inc, details Bloomberg. Together, the companies hope the deal will improve health care outcomes and lower costs by simplifying services through new software, data analytics, and technology offerings, among others. Andrew Witty, president and CEO of Optum, UnitedHealth’s payer division, reports the deal will streamline 3 vital processes—clinical, administrative, and payment—to better serve patients.