Trending News Today: Telemedicine Changing Health Care Delivery

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

Drug manufacturers are fiercely opposed to a potential bill in California that would require the companies to justify the cost of drugs following major price increases, reported California Healthline. The bill mandates manufacturers notify health insurers and state agencies within days of an FDA approval for a drug that will cost $10,000 or more per year. Additionally, manufacturers would be required to give notice before a major price hike, and would have to justify the cost in both of these situations. The bill received support from health care providers, patients, insurers, and labor and business groups. However, the pharmaceutical industry believes the bill could cause a shortage of crucial drugs in certain parts of California, according to the report. “It’s probably amongst one of the more heavily lobbied bills — similar to tobacco and the most controversial bills,” California state Sen Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), author of the drug price transparency bill, said in the report.

US Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) is pushing heavily for answers regarding how patient and physician advocates with financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry are able to serve on panels that advise the federal government on pain issues. Sen Wyden said that he is even more concerned about the obvious conflict of interest after he receiving a response from the National Institutes of Health, who is responsible for choosing the members that serve on the panel, reported The New York Times.

The rapid spread of telemedicine is changing the delivery of health care, reported The Wall Street Journal. Through faster internet connections, smartphones, and the alteration of insurance standards, health care providers are now shifting towards electronic communications that allow them to contact patients by phone, email, or webcam. Furthermore, physicians are now consulting with each other electronically, which at times can involve making split-second decisions. “It’s almost like being at the bed side. I can’t shock a patient (restart his heart with electrical paddles), but I can give an order to the nurses there,” critical care specialist Vinaya Sermadevi said in the report. Mercy health system’s new Virtual Care Center is a medical facility that provides remote support for ICUs, emergency rooms, and other programs in 38 small hospitals from North Carolina to Oklahoma. In the past year, Mercy specialists have monitored ICUs, which revealed a 35% decrease in patient average length of stay and 30% fewer deaths than previously thought.