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Brainstorm Health: Minimally Invasive Surgery, Merck Rotavirus Vaccine, Obamacare Open Enrollment

Welcome to November, readers.

It’s going to have to be a short one from me today (back with some meatier—and exclusive—content for your Friday read, so stay tuned for that!).

One story that’s well worth your time until then? A pair of new studies suggesting that minimally invasive surgery, an increasingly accepted method of treatment for cervical cancer, may wind up doing more harm than good.

A key quote: “Patients who underwent the minimally invasive surgery had four times greater likelihood of [cancer] recurrence than when they had the surgery through the open approach,” according to MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Dr. Pedro Ramirez.

Back with you tomorrow. Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Remote patient monitoring makes a reimbursement headway. Monitoring patients remotely (often via digital means) is becoming an increasingly common tactic in health care. But, in the industry, the ultimate motivator is reimbursement. To that end, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized a rule for allowing home health firms to be reimbursed for patient monitoring services (including biometric data collection) under Medicare beginning in 2020. (MobiHealthNews)


Supply chain problems thwart Merck rotavirus vaccine. Drug giant Merck will cease exports of a critical rotavirus vaccine to West Africa. The reasons, according to the company, are “country-specific requirements, unanticipated manufacturing issues and packaging challenges that put greater stress on our already strained packaging capacity.” Merck said it has offered to help UNICEF and the global vaccine alliance Gavi find alternative treatments for people in the region. (Fortune)


Obamacare open enrollment begins today. How will it fare? The open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act officially began this morning. Last year, nearly 12 million Americans signed up despite consistent Trump administration efforts to undermine the health law (a drop of just about 3% from the preceding year), including a virtual elimination of outreach and advertising for the program (not to mention swirling uncertainty about its very fate). The question is, will that trend hold true for the coming enrollment season, especially with the nixing of the individual mandate? Time will tell; but don’t be too surprised if the ACA manages to hold up despite its thousand cuts.



Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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