Trending News Today: Health Insurer Set to Part Ways With Express Scripts

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

A video game called Mozak is helping scientists model brain neurons with more accuracy than conventional computer-based modeling tools, according to The New York Times. The Center for Game Science developed the game in collaboration with the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Mozak asks players to trace lines over fuzzy images with a computer mouse. The game uses points, leveling up, and leader boards that publicly rank player performance to crowdsource the creation of the 3D models of neurons. Since November, thousands of individuals have played Mozak, the NY Times reported. The primary goal of using games such as Mozak is to use high-quality neuron reconstructions done by humans to train computers to more accurately conduct the same job. Furthermore, the future goal is to help scientists better understand the roots of neurodegenerative diseases. Thus far, Mozak has helped the Allen Institute increase the number of neuron reconstructions from 2.33 a week to 8.3. Currently, there are approximately 200 individuals who play Mozak.

Malaria transmission was eliminated in the United States in the early 1950s, but a new study finds that hospital cases have steadily been increasing in recent years. In a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, investigators analyzed national hospital admissions data from 2000 to 2014. The results showed that approximately 1500 patients are hospitalized with malaria in the United States each year, a number far higher than expected. “We don’t know of any active transmission in the US so we assume that these cases are all travelers or immigrants,” investigator Diana Khuu told NPR. Most of the hospitalizations were black men aged 25 to 44 years, which lead the study authors to hypothesize that many of the patients are first or second generation immigrants who traveled to Africa to visit friends and family.

Express Scripts announced Monday that its biggest customer, Anthem Inc, will likely not extend its pharmacy benefits management agreement, which is set to expire at the end of 2019. According to The Wall Street Journal, Express Scripts said it pledged $1 billion per year in price concessions through 2019 if Anthem would extend the deal beyond the current expiration date. But in a recent conversation with Anthem, the health insurer revealed that it is looking to move in a different direction, and has issued a request for proposals seeking a new PBM once the agreement expires, the WSJ reported.