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Friday, October 23, 2020
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Not all Excel spreadsheets are created equal

Communication   Covid-19   Patient Care   Reimbursement/Payment

Today’s Read: 3 minutes

Millions have lost health insurance because they or a loved one has lost their job. Facebook and Twitter strike back against Covid-19 disinformation spread by the POTUS. Telehealth may have changed in-office primary care, and an excel spreadsheet may have stopped Covid-19 reporting in the UK. Finally, a virtual escape.

MORNING BRIEF

Job loss has meant health insurance loss for many

Nearly 8 million people in the U.S. with employer-sponsored health insurance lost their jobs as of June this year. According to a Commonwealth Fund report, these people and their dependents, which accounts for 6.9 million more, lost medical coverage during the pandemic.

Of the nearly 15 million affected, those aged 35-54 as well as women bore the brunt of these job losses, especially because they are also likely to have dependents on their insurance. The report only looked at job losses, so the total number of people who actually lost health insurance could still depend on whether furloughed employees were still insured or whether people choose to be insured outside their employer’s plan after losing their job. 

Have you encountered more patients without insurance? In your experience, how does the loss in insurance affect people seeking health care? Any tips to share for helping patients without insurance from within the system?

Social media platforms take down POTUS’s Covid-19 disinformation

With early voting starting in five to 10 days (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming), the PBS NewsHour looked at the health care proposals of Donald Trump and Joe Biden: 

Yesterday both Facebook and Twitter took actions against President Trump’s posts claiming Covid-19 was less deadly than the flu. Facebook removed the post, saying users are not allowed to make claims about the severity of the pandemic and that it broke the rules against harmful misformation. On Twitter, the president’s tweet was marked with a warning label stating it is in violation of Twitter’s “rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19.” However, the company stated it “determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

This comes after a group of Cornell University researchers found that President Trump is responsible for 38% of the falsehoods circulating about the pandemic.

What are some falsehoods about the pandemic that you hear from your patients?

Telehealth’s shortcomings

During the pandemic, telehealth has become a life line between patients and their health care providers. While the quantity of these appointments rose, the quality may not, finds research published in JAMA Network Open.

First researchers looked at how the pandemic affected the number of visits occurring. Primary care visits decreased by 21.4% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the average quarterly visit volume of the second quarters of 2018 and 2019. Then, when analyzing the quality of those visits, they found evaluations of blood pressure and cholesterol levels were less common during telemedicine than during office-based visits: 9.6% versus 69.7% for blood pressure and 13.5% versus 21.6% for cholesterol. 

Researchers concluded that Covid-19 pandemic was associated with changes in the structure of primary care delivery, with the content of telemedicine visits differing from that of office-based encounters. 

Have you been able to work around these assessment limitations when practicing telemedicine? How did you do so? Do you think wearables provide a viable solution? Have more of your patients shared information from wearables during Covid-19?

ONE BIG NUMBER

16,000

The number of British coronavirus cases that went unreported because the national data exceeds the old-fashioned, 1987 Excel XLS file format limit of 65,000 rows. The result was a delay in contact tracing and an under-reporting of figures for eight days, the BBC reports. Following the incident, Public Health England updated file format to XLSX, enabling 16 times the number of cases to  be recorded in the files (but hopefully all of those rows won’t be necessary).

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