Today’s NewsStand – May 17, 2019

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

MercyOne Hospital in Dubuque to study needle exchange programs
The opioid crisis has become a national epidemic. Now, the MercyOne Hospital in Dubuque is conducting research in needle exchange programs to examine their effectiveness. Everyday, more Americans are contracting diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C because they are exchanging unsanitary needles. Syringe service programs were created to combat this problem. Now, MercyOne Hospital is examining these programs. As there are numerous locations of them across the country. However, it is currently illegal in Iowa for these programs to exist. (KWWL)

New UnityPoint Health-St. Luke Hospital’s service diagnoses heart condition early
Emery Coughlin’s parents describe her as a happy six-month-old, thanks to what one UnityPoint Health-St. Luke Hospital’s doctor described as an evolved approach to patient care. The doctor caught the irregular heart beat on the monitor almost by chance, which kicked off a multidisciplinary care effort for the unborn child, led by Dr. Dilli Bhurtel, a pediatric cardiologist at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s. Bhurtel was able to diagnose Emery with SVT using a fetal echocardiogram, a test similar to an ultrasound that diagnoses heart conditions in patients still in the uterus. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Fundraiser to help expand non-profit’s mental health and disability programs
A local nonprofit is raising money to expand its mental health and disability program around central Iowa during National Mental Health Awareness Month. Community Support Advocates is an organization that provides a free support service to people who have a disability or mental illness through art. The nonprofit uses the Momentum: Art Studio inside Mainframe Studios to host free programs like art classes, provide free art supplies, and give program participants exposure to art shows and auctions. (WHO)

National News

Hospitals look to computers to predict patient emergencies before they happen
Hospital command centers have proliferated across the country in recent years, with medical centers from Oregon to Florida deploying them to tackle a range of data-monitoring tasks, such as maximizing bed capacity, calibrating staffing levels, and detecting the onset of sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection that is a common killer in hospitals. Recent advances in artificial intelligence promise to help hospitals identify new warning signs of patient deterioration and intervene earlier in the process. (STAT)

Will Washington state’s new ‘Public Option’ plan reduce health care costs?
Millions of Americans who buy individual health insurance, and don’t qualify for a federal subsidy, have been hit with sticker shock in recent years. Instability and uncertainty in the individual market — driven in part by changes Congress and the Trump administration made to the Affordable Care Act — have resulted in double-digit premium increases. Now Washington state has passed a law designed to give consumers another choice: a new, “public option” health insurance plan that, in theory, will be cheaper. (Iowa Public Radio)

Patients aren’t sold on virtual health benefits, payers find
Health plans have been quick to embrace virtual care, but a new survey from America’s Health Insurance Plans shows most patients aren’t showing the same enthusiasm for the technology in a clinical setting. Commercial, managed Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans each reported difficulties with patient engagement. (Healthcare Dive)