• Michael Meadows

Healthcare Hub: August 2018 Issue


For the latest in healthcare, join the Hub! We deliver industry highlights straight to your inbox, so you never feel out of the loop. Click here to sign up now! From the free medical school debate to 5 ways physical therapists can help EM physicians, this is what's happening for August.

NYU and the Free Medical School Debate

Staggering student loan debt has been a hot topic, especially with recent developments regarding now-former student loan ombudsman Seth Frotman this week.

One population in particular feeling the weight of this debt is med school students, with 75% of them owing an average of $192,000 by the time they graduate. Ouch. Now the New York University’s School of Medicine is trying to change that.

The school is raising $600 million to make education totally free for its students. Through these efforts, they hope to alleviate the student debt problem among young doctors, as well as encourage more students to pursue careers in primary care over the higher-paying specialities.

Critics are skeptical as to how effective these tactics are though. Many schools use tuition discounts to lure top medical students. However, as Northwestern University health economist Craig Garthwaite pointed out, if the goal is to mitigate the primary care shortage, making everyone’s tuition free “is not the most target-efficient way to reach that goal."

How many alcoholic drinks is too many?

According to these researchers, just one: A new study conducted by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that the even the occasional drink can be harmful to consumers.

Based on data collected from 195 countries between the years 1990 to 2016, the authors confirm, “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.” One of their findings showed that over a quarter (27.1%) of cancer deaths in women over 50 and 18.9% in men were alcohol-related.

These results contend with long-held assumptions that moderate drinking can improve health, like the link between red wine consumption and heart health. Now these researchers believe that governments should encourage abstinence among their citizens.

5 Ways Physical Therapists are Helping Physicians in the ED

More EM physicians will start working alongside allied health professionals in the emergency department. A new study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine highlighted various benefits of having more ED physical therapists. Here are five ways therapists can help physicians provide optimal patient care.

1. They improve patient flow. High patient census rates are one of the leading causes of burnout, especially among EM physicians. This is a problem PTs can alleviate. As the study showed, ED therapists improve patient flow by decreasing wait times and reducing admission rates for patients with orthopedic symptoms. Researchers also noted that the presence of PTs boosted both patient and provider satisfaction.

2. They specialize in musculoskeletal health. Many patients who end up the ED experience musculoskeletal issues. Therapists are experts in this area of medicine, so they can help doctors in diagnosing and treating these patients.

3. They decrease opioid usage. Emergency department patients often suffer from acute pain, which may be treated with opioid prescriptions. However, the CDC recommends that their use should not exceed three consecutive days for most patients. With more PTs on staff though, emergency departments may opt for therapy as the first line of defense against pain instead of drugs. This shift would reduce the use of opioid prescriptions to treat both acute and chronic pain.

4. They eliminate subsequent ED visits. Physical therapists are experts on patient mobility and safety. They know the limitations of a recovering body and how to educate patients on those limitations. These measures not only provide optimal treatment but can also reduce subsequent ED visits. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that when elderly patients visiting the ED for a fall received PT services, their chances of returning to the ED for another fall lowered significantly.

5. They reduce healthcare spending. ED visits account for a substantial portion of America’s healthcare spending. With the expensive procedures and diagnostics, it’s easy for patients to rack up a staggering bill. PTs can assist on this front too by helping physicians reach more specific diagnoses and eliminating unnecessary diagnostic imaging and procedures.

What do you think: Should more therapists go into emergency medicine? If you’re an EM physician who has worked with an allied health professional, we would love to hear about your experiences!

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