Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
The European Union granted approval to a new mobile birth control app, according to NPR. It was created by particle physicist Elina Berglund, who left her job after she helped discover the subatomic particle Higgs boson. The Natural Cycles app relies on a woman’s recorded daily temperatures taken with a highly accurate thermometer and details about menstruation in order to determine fertility. When the risk of pregnancy is high, the app produces a red light to indicate that intercourse should be avoided or protection should be used, NPR reported. A green light indicates that the risk of pregnancy is low. The Natural Cycles app is the first in the world to get approved by a European health agency as a contraceptive.
Bigfoot Biomedical and north suburban-based Abbott Laboratories have joined forces to combine technologies to make it easier for individuals with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels. According to the Chicago Tribune, Abbott already sells its tracking sensor called FreeStyle Libre in more than 35 countries outside the United States. The sensor can be worn on the back of the upper arm for 14 days to track blood glucose levels, eliminating the need for patients to prick their fingers for calibration. A handheld reader can be placed near the device to see current glucose levels, trends, patterns, and where the levels may be headed. Meanwhile, Bigfoot is developing a system that would use the glucose data from the sensor to help patients determine how much insulin to use. Glucose data would be sent to the mobile app, where patients could check to find out how much insulin they should administer. According to Abbott, FreeStyle Libre is under FDA review for potential sale in the United States.
A report from the Medicare Trustees projects that the trust fund for Medicare’s hospital insurance coverage will be depleted in 2029—–a 1 year improvement from last year’s projections, according to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The extended solvency projection can be contributed to lower spending in 2016, lower projected inpatient hospital utilization, and a slightly better projected hospital insurance deficient in 2017 than in 2016, according to HHS. “As the Trustees Report says, this means that reform for the program is needed,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD. “At HHS, we take seriously our responsibility to protect Medicare for this generation and those to come, and we are pursuing all available avenues to improve Medicare’s sustainability in ways that put patients first.”