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Study: Asthmatics need better allergy management

BY Michael Johnsen

PORTAGE, Mich. — The results of a new study released Thursday recommend allergy testing for both indoor and outdoor allergens in children with asthma, regardless of severity — even for occasional asthma sufferers. According to 2007 NAEPP guidelines, allergy testing is recommended for only perennial indoor allergens in those with persistent asthma. The study, released in the Journal of Asthma, included 1,627 predominately Hispanic children living with asthma in urbanized areas of Orange County, Calif.

“Our data suggest that sensitization to indoor and outdoor aeroallergens can be useful predictors of asthma control, and should be assessed in all asthmatic children,” stated Kenny Kwong, chief of the division of Allergy/Immunology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and one of the co-authors of the study. “This has significant implications for how we manage asthma, particularly in children and certainly in settings such as the inner city.”

Some of the key findings include:

  • Sensitization to tree and weed allergens in those with intermittent asthma at baseline is associated with the loss of well-controlled asthma;
  • Researchers found aeroallergen sensitivity in 74% of patients with persistent asthma severity and in 58% of patients with intermittent severity; and
  • Approximately 70% of all patients were allergic to at least one aeroallergen.

The study, entitled “The Relationship of Aeroallergen Sensitization Phenotypes to Asthma Control in Primarily Hispanic Asthmatic Children,” included children ages 2 to 18 years who enrolled in the Children’s Hospital of Orange County Children’s Breathmobile program from April 2002 to December 2011. The retrospective study included children who showed sensitivity to specific indoor and outdoor aeroallergens during baseline testing and subsequently returned for follow-up care within 6 months of their baseline visit.

 

 

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IHS Technology report: Sales of home health tech expected to double over next five years

BY Michael Johnsen

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Medical providers’ efforts to reduce costs by taking a more holistic approach to healthcare will spur a doubling in the global market for home health technologies in the coming years, according to an IHS Technology report released Thursday titled “World Market for Home Health Technologies – 2014.”

Worldwide revenue for home healthcare devices and services will rise to $12.6 billion in 2018, up from $5.7 billion in 2013. The home healthcare market consists of six distinct segments: independent living services, consumer medical devices, telehealth, personal emergency response systems, wearable technologies and health gaming.

“Healthcare providers are focusing on patient centered care to increase the quality of medical treatment,” stated Roeen Roashan, medical devices and digital health analyst at IHS. “By doing this, medical firms hope to attain lower healthcare expenditures during the lifetime of patients. Home health technologies will play an important role in the continuum of care and in the concept of constantly managing patients’ health.”

From a technology standpoint, the market will experience device convergence, meaning that home health products will become richer in features. This has already occurred to some extent with mobile PERS devices, which are able to act as gateway devices for telehealth, or activity monitors with optical heart-rate sensors. The same phenomenon also will occur in services where IHS expects convergence among independent living services, telehealth and PERS. This trend implies a new generation of more comprehensive health services, which will benefit users of home health products.

Meanwhile, the quantity of patient-generated data will grow exponentially with the increasing use of home health technologies. Big data in healthcare will determine the success of population health management, which is essential to the business model of accountable-care organizations and their objective of providing value-based care.

In addition, healthcare IT vendors are developing highly connected and interoperable solutions taking advantage of patient-generated data to support the decision-making process of healthcare professionals, and to create the inevitable bridge between clinical care and home health.

Furthermore, there is a trend of consumerism in healthcare, implying a renewed focus on the patient and on patient needs. This not only is happening in the market for home health technologies, but also in clinical care, healthcare information technology and other parts of the medical sector.

“As home health technologies converge, a new generation of comprehensive solutions will provide the foundation for a continuum of care,” Roashan said. “Home health technologies, as one segment of healthcare delivery, represent an important factor in accountable-care organizations’ overall goal of providing patient-centered care through population health management.”

 

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WSJ: Walgreens’ Well Experience stores pass HHS review

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Walgreens’ new store format encouraging pharmacists to practice at the top of their license has passed muster with the Department of health and Human Services, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday

"The agency was unable to substantiate allegations from a consumer advocacy group that the new Walgreen ‘Well Experience’ store formats, as a whole, lacked the appropriate safeguards to prevent the disclosure of patient protected health information," WSJ reported. "The agency’s investigation included unannounced site visits at 30 ‘Well Experience’ stores, according to the letter, and while it did note there were individual staff errors at certain locations, there was no evidence of ‘widespread and systemic non-compliance as the errors varied from store to store.’ HHS did provide ‘substantial technical assistance’ to Walgreens, according to the letter."

That assistance amounted to suggestions that Walgreens augment its training program. 

The HHS investigation stemmed from a complaint filed last fall by Change to Win Retail Initiatives, a consumer advocacy group "that is a frequent critic of retail drug stores and is funded by labor unions," the WSJ reported. 

 

 

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