What We're Reading: Pharma May Bow to Political Pressure

What we're reading, January 18, 2016: even if there is no drug price control legislation, pharmaceutical companies may bow to political pressure; study finds physician-led hospitals perform better; and Twitter can be used to obtain the patient perspective on medical errors.

Legislation for drug price control may seem unlikely, but historically, the drug industry has bowed to even the suggestion of government intervention in pricing. Austin Frakt, PhD, wrote for The New York Times’ Upshot blog that the high price of drugs and proposals to address the issue in the news is starting to have a moderating effect on prices, similar to what happened when the Clinton administration’s health plan was being developed in the 1990s. Today, congressional scrutiny and other political pressure has caused pharmaceutical stock prices to fall and will likely slow the growth of drug prices.

New research has found a clear correlation between high-performing hospitals and physician leadership. The Guardian reported that hospitals may fare better if they encourage doctors to seek and be selected for chief executive roles. Overall, the study found that physician-led hospitals reported quality scores approximately 25% higher than non-physician—led hospitals. However, of the 6500 hospitals in the US, only 235 are led by doctors.

A study of Twitter determined that the social media app can be used to help providers collect data and gain a better view on the patient’s perspective on medical errors, according to Healthcare Informatics. Of 1000 publicly accessible tweets matching a set of phrases related to patient safety and medical errors, 83% identified the type of error and more than half identified an emotional response: 47% expressing anger or frustration; 21% expressing humor or sarcasm; and 14% expressing sadness or grief.

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