Tuesday Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

From Washington, DC,

  • The U.S. Census Bureau informs us,
    • “[T]he U.S. population [was projected to be] 335,893,238 on New Year’s Day, an annual increase of 1,759,535 or 0.53%.
    • “In January 2024, the United States is expected to experience a birth every 9.0 seconds and one death every 9.5 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 28.3 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 24.2 seconds.
    • “The projected world population on Jan. 1, 2024, is 8,019,876,189, up 75,162,541 (0.95%) from New Year’s Day 2023. During January 2024, 4.3 births and 2.0 deaths are expected worldwide every second.”
  • The Internal Revenue Service released the Employers’ Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits for use in 2024.
  • Federal News Network discusses four ways federal pay practices have changed for 2024.
  • The Food and Drug Administration accounts for its recent actions.

From the public health and medical research front,

  • Medscape explains the other health conditions, besides diabetes and obesity, that GLP-1 drugs might treat. It’s an impressive list.
  • STAT News reports,
    • “Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption reduces the risk of developing oral cavity and esophagus cancers, according to a special report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. But more data are needed to conclude whether the same is true for several other cancer types, including colorectal, breast, and liver cancer.
    • “Even so, it is likely that reducing or ceasing to drink alcohol will lessen the risk of these cancers, said Farhad Islami, a cancer epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and an author of the report. “Given that many of these cancers have similar mechanistic pathways, we think we will see a similar association with reduction or cessation,” he said. “That’s why we recommend more studies, so we can have stronger evidence.”
  • BioPharma Dive points out ten clinical trials that are worth watching in the first half of 2024.

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • Healthcare Dive tells us,
    • “BJC HealthCare and Saint Luke’s Health System closed their merger on Monday, about seven months after the Missouri-based systems announced plans to combine.The combined organization will operate under the BJC HealthCare brand in its eastern region, serving St. Louis and southern Illinois. The Kansas City region will retain the Saint Luke’s brand name. The new system has a combined workforce of 44,000 employees, according to a Tuesday announcement.”
  • MedTech Dive notes,
    • “Roche reached an agreement to acquire LumiraDx’s point-of-care testing technology, the companies announced on Dec. 29.
    • “Roche will pay $295 million upfront and an additional amount up to $55 million to fund Lumira’s point-of-care technology platform business until the acquisition closes. 
    • “The acquisition comes as Lumira faces a potential delisting amid declining revenue.”
  • Health Payer Intelligence identifies trends in health insurer strategies for 2024. “In 2024, payer strategies will include improving health equity partnerships, differentiating their Medicare Advantage plans, and offering care navigation.”
  • Healthcare IT News offers an interview with “[t]wo investment bankers discuss the players in the telehealth sector, the main financial backers, the dynamics between venture capital and private equity, and more.
  • Beckers Hospital Review tells us,
    • “Feeling blue? Your employer might have an AI app for that, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 27. 
    • “Workplaces increasingly are offering employees access to digital mental health tools, including AI chatbots meant to mimic therapists and wellness apps that diagnose mental health conditions, the report said. Over the summer, a survey of 457 U.S. companies conducted by professional services company WTW found that about one-third offer a “digital therapeutic” for mental health support. Another 15% were considering adding one by 2025. 
    • “The capabilities and goals of these services vary. Amazon gives employees free access to the app Twill, which uses AI to track users’ moods and create “personalized mental-health plan(s).” A construction workers’ union in Ohio will begin offering access to Wysa, a self-described “emotionally intelligent” AI chatbot that encourages users to “vent or just talk through negative thoughts and emotions” and “let it help you cope with pandemic anxiety and lockdowns.”