If you work or plan to work in healthcare, you should stay as informed as you can about the industry, but you may struggle to find time between night classes or night shifts. If so, here are five healthcare news topics you should catch up on:
The Future of the Affordable Care Act
A new pool of patients is entering the healthcare system with the rollout of the national and federal marketplaces. President Barack Obama says that enough people have signed up to make the reform successful. Republicans continue to fight the law, but won't see success in the near future since they lack majority in the US Senate. Meanwhile, the President has implemented several changes to the act. Medical billing and office assistants will be most directly affected by this law and are already juggling new billing requirements and insurance plans. But any healthcare worker might see some of the effects, such as an increase in the patient population.
The Doctor Shortage
The American Association of Medical Colleges is predicting a doctor shortage within the next few years, partly because of the increase in the patient population. Nurses and physician assistants will play key roles in replacing some of the tasks of doctors, especially in the states where nurse practitioners can practice independently.
Medical Conspiracy Theories
Almost half of Americans believe at least one out of six common medical conspiracies, according to a recent study. For example, some believe that doctors and the government want to vaccinate children even though they know that vaccines can cause psychological disorders. Don't expect patients to take your word for granted. Nowadays, patients come to their appointments armed with both accurate and false information they acquired from Dr. Oz and Dr. Google. While you may not be able to calm all of these patients, willingness to explain why a medical procedure is necessary and the ability to back it up with science will go a long way.
Studies on Fatty Acids
Healthcare workers traditionally advise patients to cut down on trans fat and saturated fat and to eat polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats instead. The goal is to reduce the risk of heart disease. But a recent study challenged this conventional wisdom and found no significant difference between eating unsaturated fats versus saturated fats. The study is one of many where conflicting advice exists on nutrition. While you should be aware of this study, you should also know that it is controversial. Some have said that the study has several shortcomings. In this, as in many other nutritional dilemmas, it seems as if the jury is still out.
New Guidelines on Statins
Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol. While clinicians typically prescribe them to patients who have a history of heart disease, new guidelines recommend that millions more Americans at risk of heart disease should take the drug. The American Heart Association published the guidelines in November 2013. This story is in the news again because researchers at Duke University have calculated how many more people would be eligible with the new guidelines. Some of the healthcare news stories above will impact virtually everyone working in the field, while others may not impact your daily work. Regardless, they will be conversation starters both at the water cooler and during lunch break.