Health News Roundup

How nail salon workers helped change community health care, misinformation about a deadline pregnancy complication, and more

Linking care to community

Nail salon workers helped turn the idea of community-centered health into reality
Andrea Caracostis, Jo Carcedo, STAT, August 2
One by one, the young nail salon workers came to the HOPE Clinic in Houston battling serious coughs, neck and arm pain, and fungal infections in their fingernails. Clinicians would help them with these ailments — but they kept coming back. Health care practitioners routinely see how social, economic, and environmental factors affect their patients’ health. What’s not always clear, though, is what role health care practitioners can play in improving these conditions beyond the confines of an exam room. After seeing firsthand the repeated health problems faced by nail salon workers, organizations in Houston tried to find out.

Health care innovation

Companies respond to an urgent health care need: Transportation
Janet Morrissey, The New York Times, August 9
As many as 30 percent of all patients skip doctor appointments, citing transportation as a key reason, according to a report by SCI Solutions, a health care technology firm. The no-shows cost the health care industry $150 billion in lost revenue annually, as unused time slots cost a doctor an average of $200, the report said. Those missed appointments could cost the patient and health care system even more in the long-term if a mild illness — left unchecked — turns into a chronic or debilitating one. Several technology start-ups have set up shop over the past two years to address this need.

To keep you healthy, health insurers may soon pay your rent
Bruce Japsen, Forbes, August 14  
A homeless man in Phoenix named T.J. made 254 trips to the emergency room, had 32 hospital admissions and cost UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurance company, and the U.S. health care system more than $294,000 since 2015. That’s when, according to an account made to Wall Street analysts, UnitedHealth executives stepped in.

Energy-hog hospitals: When they start thinking green, they see green
Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News, August 16
Hospitals are energy hogs. With their 24/7 lighting, heating and water needs, they use up to five times more energy than a fancy hotel. Some hospitals are revamping with a different goal in mind: becoming more energy-efficient, which can also boost the bottom line. The health care sector — one of the nation’s largest industries — is responsible for nearly 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions — hundreds of millions of tons worth of carbon each year. Hospitals make up more than one-third of those emissions.

Maternal health

Trusted health sites spread myths about a deadly pregnancy complication
Nina Martin, ProPublica, August 15
Preeclampsia, a dangerous form of hypertension that can develop during pregnancy or in the days and weeks after childbirth, is one of the most common causes of maternal death and severe complications in the U.S. The large majority of deaths occur after delivery, often from strokes. But you’d never know it from the incomplete, imprecise, outdated and sometimes misleading information published by some of the most trusted consumer health sites in the country. The greatest risk is to black mothers, who are more likely to enter pregnancy with chronic high blood pressure and to develop preeclampsia. They are more than twice as likely to die from the condition than white women.