Health News Roundup

Telemedicine and family doctors, barriers to dental care for people with developmental disorders, and more in this week’s roundup


Dental care is tough to find for people with autism, other developmental disorders
David Tuller, The Washington Post, April 22
People with autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders face enormous barriers to adequate and timely dental care. Many dentists either avoid treating these patients or lack the skills needed to do so. Some patients with developmental disabilities are unable to endure even regular dental exams or cleanings without general anesthesia. But most dentists don’t offer it and getting insurance to cover it for routine dental work is often a struggle. In some states, officials and private-sector organizations are trying to address this large unmet need among patients who may suffer in silence, unable to articulate their distress.


Telemedicine, walk-in clinics cloud role of family doctor
Tom Murphy, The Associated Press, April 16
Convenience rules in health care now, where patients can use technology or growing options like walk-in clinics and urgent care centers to get help whenever they need it. A survey last year found that about a quarter of U.S. adults don’t have a regular doctor. Health care experts say the changing, fragmented nature of care is precisely why people still need someone who looks out for their overall health. They know patients’ medical histories, and they’re trained to spot problems that may be developing instead of just addressing symptoms that prompted the patient’s visit. But the nature of primary care is changing as patients branch off to drugstore clinics and urgent care centers.


Social determinants of health: Getting a better picture
Benjamin Harris, Healthcare IT News, April 22
How often in past 12 months have you gone without a meal? How often do you need a ride to a medical appointment? These sorts of questions are never easy for physicians to ask, but more and more providers understand their importance. These insights can help identify people whose environment or life circumstances may have an upstream effect on their health – and point the way toward improvements in their care. But when a health system takes on new patients, how can they identify those who may need additional assistance or are most at risk?


Liver illness strikes Latino children like a ‘silent tsunami’
Rob Waters, Kaiser Health News, April 19
Linked both to genetics and diets high in sugar and fat, “fatty liver disease is ripping through the Latino community like a silent tsunami and especially affecting children,” said Dr. Rohit Kohli, chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Recent research shows about 1 in 4 people in the U.S. have fatty liver disease. But among Latinos, especially of Mexican and Central American descent, the rate is significantly higher. One large study in Dallas found that 45% of Latinos had fatty livers.