Health News Roundup

The strength of the faith community in health advocacy, and more in this week’s roundup

Jenna Carlesso, The Connecticut Mirror, February 4
For years, faith leaders across the state have gathered to talk about the health issues affecting their congregants. In minority communities, that discussion often focuses on disparities in treatment, access to care and health outcomes. The Reverend Robyn Anderson heard the concerns and is turning them into advocacy. Anderson helped form a network of more than 30 churches and 3,500 members to carry the voices of underrepresented communities – especially African Americans and other people of color – to state agencies and the legislature.
Savannah Kuang, KQED, February 1
If you get sick or are diagnosed with a disease, your physician will often write you a prescription for medication. But what if kale and carrots were also part of your treatment plan? This is part of a holistic approach to tackling health disparities in California. The Food as Medicine Collaborative partners with health clinics, food banks and pantries, and the private sector to run “food pharmacies” that help bridge the divide between health care systems and food services. The Collaborative also seeks to make policy changes.
Chris Arnold, NPR, February 5

A lot more people are getting loans these days from a new breed of lenders known as fintechs, or financial technology firms. And some of these lenders factor in where loan applicants went to college. These financial firms may be discriminating against people based on where they went to college, a watchdog group says. In particular, the group found that a lender named Upstart appears to be charging higher interest rates on student loans to graduates of historically black or predominantly Hispanic colleges.

Sara G. Murray, Robert M. Wachter, and Russell J. Cucina, Health Affairs Blog, January 31
When artificial intelligence (AI) is built into electronic health record (EHR) software, who is responsible for the consequences? Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform health care, but implementation at the point of care has many challenges. Many health systems find it attractive to implement AI developed by electronic health record vendors that is integrated directly into existing systems. The leading developer of EHRs, Epic Systems, Inc., has created a growing set of predictive models. This case study describes the experience of implementing one of the predictive models developed by Epic and the ethical issues raised by its deployment.
Neil Prose and Ray Barfield, STAT, February 5
Housekeepers in hospitals usually pass through hallways and elevators unnoticed, but they can make important contributions to patient care. Some bring meal tickets to patients who can’t afford food, while others share home-cooked meals with patients and their families. Still others provide support and encouragement, often in patients’ native languages. Two doctors at Duke realized the lack of appreciation being shown to these unlikely caregivers and organized a group to learn more about their stories, which was turned into a documentary.