Monday Roundup

The Wall Street Journal reports that

Two of the most advanced experimental coronavirus vaccines entered the pivotal phase of their studies on Monday, with the first subjects receiving doses of vaccines developed by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

Researchers evaluating the vaccines plan to enroll 30,000 people in separate last-stage, or phase 3 trials, results of which will determine whether the vaccines protect against symptomatic Covid-19, and whether they should be cleared for widespread use.

Let’s go.

Also on the vaccine front, Healio informs us that the “Influenza vaccination was significantly associated with reduced risks for all-cause death, cardiovascular death, and death from acute myocardial infarction or stroke among adults with diabetes, according to an analysis of registry data.”

The FEHBlog recommends that you listen to, or read the transcript of, this week’s Econtalk podcast in which the host economist Russ Roberts discussed the COVID-19 emergency with Nissam Nicholas Taleb, who is a noted author on the topic of probability. Enlightening.

The American Hospital Association reminds us the July is Minority Mental Health Awareness month by offering a website full of resources. The FEHBlog attended an NCQA Digital Quality Summit breakout session track on racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare last week. Some of the health plan participants spoke up about the difficulty of identifying the racial and ethnic characteristics of their members. That is an important prerequisite to conducting investigations that will lead to solutions. It occurred to the FEHBlog that racial and ethnic characteristics could be added to the ICD-10 code set which would allow coders to spread this information via healthcare claims.

MedPage Today offers a variety of telehealth updates such as the following:

A program that integrated a dedicated team of 24/7 telemedicine clinicians with automated text message check-ins was able to monitor COVID-19 patients at home and quickly support those whose symptoms grew worse, a case study in NEJM Catalyst showed.

Outcomes from the first 3,000 patients invited to participate in the University of Pennsylvania Health System COVID Watch program showed that 83% of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients were managed by the automated program; only 17% escalated to needing clinical care, reported Anna Morgan, MD, MSc, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues.

Finally, the Society for Human Resource Management summarizes recent U.S. Labor Department workplace guidance on COVID-19 issues.

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