Today’s NewsStand — July 15, 2020

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

Iowa news

Masks likely to be encouraged the rest of the year

Masks have been a hot topic of late, especially as the weather’s warmed up. Health experts from UnityPoint Health say it’s not necessary to wear one when you’re outside and able to physically distance yourself from others, but in crowded outdoor spaces, you need one. As for being uncomfortable, experts say to take regular breaks from wearing your mask. You can find a place to sit down, away from others. (WQAD)

Mental health is employee health

Over the last decade, employee mental health has been an increasing topic of interest for businesses around the country. The recent impacts of COVID-19 have only continued to show us the importance for companies to offer programs to help employees mentally cope with different situations both at work and in life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Iowa, 1 in 5 adults, or roughly 600,000 Iowans, live with some form of mental illness. (Business Record)

Auditor says Test Iowa results illegally go to private firms before reaching state health department

Coronavirus test results from the Test Iowa program are not being immediately reported to the Iowa Department of Public Health as required by law, State Auditor Rob Sand said Tuesday. Instead, once the test results are analyzed by the State Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville, they are sent to two private, Utah-based companies involved in the Test Iowa program, then to a separate state office, making the public health department the fourth entity to receive them. (Des Moines Register)

National news

CMS issues guidance for new telehealth eCQM reporting in 2020 and 2021

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has put together further detailed guidance for how health care providers should be documenting and reporting electronic clinical quality measures for telehealth encounters. The new telehealth-eligible eCQMs are for any eligible professionals or eligible clinicians participating in CMS quality reporting programs for performance period 2020, including the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and Advanced Alternative Payment Models, Comprehensive Primary Care Plus, Primary Care First, and the Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program for Eligible Professionals. (Healthcare IT News)

Using technology to improve health in America’s rural West

Characterized by geographic remoteness and a general scarcity of health care providers, the U.S. rural West is home to many low-income, aging and chronically ill Americans, who struggle disproportionately with opioid addiction, obesity, mental health issues and more. The burdens of poverty, scant transportation options and a shortage of medical specialists makes getting proper health care next to impossible for some of these folks — a mounting concern as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. (Scope)

Anxiety and depression triple during COVID-19, study finds

Job loss, business shutdowns, closed schools and fears of getting infected with COVID-19 have fueled a surge in reported cases of anxiety and depression among adults, a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found. The study found that 11 percent of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder in 2019. But in 2020 — which has been plagued by more than 137,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 — those reports have increased to 36.5 percent of adults. (KDSM)