Whooping Cough, Measles, and Mumps, Oh My!

Childhood diseases can be a frightening topic, especially when we are seeing the re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping-cough. There have been at least 129 measles cases from 13 states that have been reported in the U.S. in 2014, the highest number since 1996, according to the CDC. In recent years, many studies have sought to find a link between these re-emerging diseases and an increased prevalence of parents “opting out” of vaccinating their children.
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The Affordable Care Act Goes to the Emergency Department

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been promoted with two major goals: expanding health insurance coverage and reducing healthcare costs. Part of the cost reduction is expected to be achieved through the expanded coverage. The proposal is that uninsured patients make use of the emergency department of their local hospital as a primary healthcare option more often than an insured patient with a comparable condition. The insured patient will visit a primary care physician for certain ailments because that visit will be covered. By contrast, the uninsured patient will go the emergency department knowing that they legally cannot be denied treatment because of their insurance status.
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The HIE: Part 2

For 2013, healthcare spending in the United States was estimated at about $3 trillion and is projected to grow to $5 trillion by 2020.

Those numbers are mind-bogglingly large.

By comparison, the annual U.S. GDP was about $16 trillion in 2013. Healthcare represents about 18% of the total. Only China, Japan, and Germany have a national GDP greater than U.S. spending on healthcare. The U.S. is far in the lead in per capita healthcare spending as well, 30% ahead of comparable wealthy, developed nations.
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Hospital Bed Capacity Tracking and Preparedness

The Affordable Care Act has brought a number of changes to the American healthcare landscape, the most well-known of which is the health insurance mandate, the result of which will theoretically increase the number of Americans with health insurance coverage. Here at Health Monitoring Systems, we are closely monitoring the effects of the ACA on emergency department utilization, but also of interest to public health is a provision regarding funding for regional systems for emergency care, including real-time tracking of hospital bed availability.
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Predicting Disease with Google & Comets

Google Flu has been getting a lot of coverage lately, mostly for how it is getting the flu “wrong.” There was a Nature news item in February about Google Flu overestimating the peak of the current flu season. Not to be outdone, Science followed up a month later with an article on the forecast errors of Google Flu from the past two seasons as well as the current one. (original paper here) Also mentioned in the Nature item is the fact that Google Flu missed the initial novel H1N1 epidemic in the spring of 2009.
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