Just leveraging an asset

This week the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Walmart is looking to create “town centers” in their parking lots that will include things like restaurants, day care establishments, health clinics, and more. To see concept drawings titled “Walmart Reimagined” (sounds very Disney-like), go here. And why not? Walmart is sitting on literally square miles of parking lots. If the parking lots Walmart owns were combined, they’d be larger than Tampa, Florida. The obvious angle for InsightCity readers is the potential for these centers to hold health clinics. Everyone shops at Walmart. Well, not everyone, but 95% of you spent money at Walmart in 2016. We’ve written previous InsightCity articles about the rise of the healthcare clinic (e.g. Minute Clinic) and this, perhaps, is another move in that direction.

Missed the midterms?

If you somehow didn’t know that US midterm elections were last week… can you recommend the rock you’ve been sleeping under? I could use some rest. Here are some election stories InsightCity readers will find interesting: Healthcare was on voters’ minds more than any other issue, as shown by exit polls and money spent on advertising. Antivax PACs funded candidates to retaliate against politicians who push vaccination requirements in their districts. Former Celgene head Bob Hugin lost to incumbent Bob Menedez in the battle of the Bobs New Jersey’s senate race. Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah voters decided to expand Medicaid in their states, while Montana voters said ‘no, thanks.’ Michigan and Missouri waved a green flag for recreational and medical marijuana, respectively. Need more? You can find a more detailed healthcare-related election round-up here (just without InsightCity’s signature snark.)

Sayonara, stupid stuff

If asked, we’re guessing most workers could identify tasks that are stupid in their day-to-day. Concerned that it could be a factor in nurse burnout, Dr. Melinda Ashton introduced a program called “Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff” aimed at streamlining documentation tasks so that healthcare professionals can spend more time interacting with patients. That could mean more time listening to patients, which could cut down on diagnostic errors. Nurses and doctors submitted their pain points in using their EHRs and Dr. Ashton found, “We had really good nurses who have been doing repetitive tasks for ten years who never mentioned them before.” Sometimes you just need an invite to complain about your IT problems, although that never stops my coworkers. Props to Dr. Ashton for calling it “stupid stuff” instead of “administrative simplification.”

Kiwis taxing fizzy drinks

That title makes very little sense out of context, amiright? Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand are recommending a tax on sugary beverages. (Full nerdy article here.) Their study found that consumers of sugary beverages (aka, “fizzy drinks”) are more likely to make other unhealthy food choices, including not reading food labels. The implication, they say, is that allowing people to make their own—more informed—choices through better labeling of sugary drinks can never work because those people are less likely to read the improved labels. In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson, Doh! Researchers point to the UK as an example where taking the decision away from consumers and, instead, implementing a sugary beverage tax has resulted in drink manufacturers reducing the sugar content in products, removing any need for the consumer to be informed or make a healthy decision. Ahhh, the old personal rights and responsibilities vs. seemingly-obvious thing to do dilemma.

The Choice is yours…

… and Amazon hopes you get your medical devices from the Choice brand. Why? Because they own it – and everything else. Amazon and the Arcadia Group announced the launch of an “Amazon-exclusive” brand of consumer-use medical devices for diabetes and hypertension management. According to Arcadia’s CEO, “Our products are best in class and very affordable. Over time we intend to incorporate voice-driven measurement interpretation as well as individualize wellness recommendations. This is all possible with Alexa and will provide patients with a wellness experience not available until now.” Great, soon Alexa will also tell me I’m fat. To see some of the worst and best choices on The Price is Right go here. The last 2 minutes are priceless. Pun, intended.

Out of their mind(fulness)

As you know, the FDA is not too happy with JUUL for improper marketing practices aimed at America’s youth. Essentially, the agency alleges that by making vaping “cool,” they’re trying to get the next generation addicted to nicotine. Well the marketing geniuses at JUUL must have mistaken their foot for their vapes, because one of their “solutions” involved offering schools up to $20,000 to use an anti-vaping curriculum they developed. Hey y’all? That’s not a good look. After all, the tobacco industry tried to do the same in the eighties, and those education programs may have caused more students to smoke. JUUL’s version of the course would’ve included the science behind e-cigs, blaming teen use on peer pressure and, uh, mindfulness through telekinesis?? Yeah, why vape when you can move clouds with your mind (audio required)?

That’s going to leave a mark

Ever wonder why your significant other about falls down in pain when they slightly stub their toe and you can dig out a splinter with a dull kitchen knife and just shake it off? No? Turns out they (or you) might not just be a wuss. This article does explains there is “rapidly expanding evidence that dozens of genes and variants go into determining our pain sensitivity and how well analgesics – like opioids – reduce our pain and even our risk for developing chronic pain.” So, next time someone says “go rub some dirt on it” you can tell them you have a variation in your SCN9A gene. For everything you ever wanted to know about pain, go here. Speaking of pain, there wasn’t much at the All Drug Olympics.

Brother, can you spare a dime

Turns out pharma companies can spare a dime (or more) for cancer patients who want to participate in clinical trials. Pennsylvania recently became the 2nd state (after California) to sign a bill that “provides for reimbursement of patient expenses associated with participation in cancer clinical trials.” Wait, we need a bill for that? Guess so. The participation rate for people with cancer in the US is really low, like 3% low. Maybe these bills will create some positive momentum for clinical trial participation. Just a 1% increase in participation rates would be huge, given there are over 1,000 assets in the development pipeline targeting cancer. Apparently FDA came out with some guidance that reads “paying research subjects in exchange for their participation is a common and, in general, acceptable practice.” Good to know.