Helix, a company formed by Illumina in 2015, has drawn a new section on the blurry line between healthcare and entertainment using direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests. For the surprisingly low price of $80, Helix will sequence a person’s exome, using the same Illumina machines most researchers use. After a one-time saliva submission, Helix clients can choose from a menu of existing analyses from outside vendors that vary from < $100 to about $250. Currently, the Helix website lists 19 different options for clients to learn about their DNA. They include one that uses DNA information to inform which wines are likely to be appealing and another for learning carrier status for a host of mutations that are associated with disease (e.g., cystic fibrosis) for future children if both parents are carriers. As Helix adds more vendors, clients will have the opportunity to order additional analyses to learn more information around their genetic make-up.
Like it or not, electronic medical/health records (EMR/EHR) are here to stay. As the healthcare world continues to move away from fee-for-service and toward value-based medicine, there is an increasing need to accumulate historical data regarding patient outcomes in order to individualize patient management, treatment, and develop best practices. But as innovative health systems develop and implement programs to take advantage of the reams of data available to them, it becomes clear that there are crucial elements that must be considered.
As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program (HACRP) was established to incentivize hospitals to reduce the number of HAC’s per year (Source:www.cms.gov). HAC’s differ slightly from hospital-acquired infections (HAI’s) although both designations fall under the regulations set forth by the HACRP.
- HAI’s: infections patients may contract while under treatment in a healthcare facility (urinary tract infections, sepsis, etc).
- HAC’s: any other situation or condition that may occur (including medication errors, pressure sores, falls).
WBUR’s “Here and Now” this week featured an article regarding the use of immunotherapies to decrease allergic reactions, specifically to peanuts.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’re well aware of the significant health risks peanut allergies present to individuals. Symptoms run the spectrum from a runny nose and throat itchiness to full-blown anaphylaxis, which includes constriction of the airways, a severe drop in blood pressure (shock), and loss of consciousness. While the most common cause of a reaction is eating peanuts or food that contains them, they can also be triggered by skin contact, cross-contamination during food handling, and even inhalation of dusts or aerosols containing peanuts (Source: Mayoclinic.org). An allergic response to peanuts can occur in just minutes.