Susana Machado • January 6, 2018

The Friday Saturday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

OK, Google: How Do We Stop Physician Burnout?

Physician burnout is a well-recognized problem which has been compounded by the adoption of electronic health records. EHRs have added an average of 1.5 hours to a physician’s workday according to research done by the AMA and the University of Wisconsin.

Some physicians have taken to hiring medical scribes, but there aren’t people with the required skill set to meet the demand. Google has been working on speech to text software for awhile now, the same kind that is used in Google Assistant and Google Translate.

A research team at google found it is possible to build a model using multiple speakers and reached a 20 percent word error rate with their initial study

Will CRISPR Even Work in Humans?

The gene editing tool of the future has only really been tested in animal subjects, leaving the human response to the technology a bit unknown.

New research sheds some light on how CRISPR would behave, but it isn’t exactly good news. Most CRISPR uses the Cas9 protein to operate. Two of most common bacteria Cas9 is derived from are Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, which most humans have developed adaptive community to. This means Cas9 could be ineffective in a human.

The Cancer Care Disparity

Fewer Americans are dying from cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. From 1990 to 2015, the mortality rate has slowly decreased for a total 26 percent drop. However, racial and economic inequalities have persisted across the decades.

Among black Americans, the cancer rate is 15 percent higher. The report reaches the conclusion that the disparity is “largely because of inequalities in wealth that lead to differences in risk factor exposures and barriers to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.”

The Subtlety of the Microbiome Unlocks New Treatment

The link between the presence of microbes and poor health is more complicated than one might think. We naturally have bacteria residing in us at all times, most are neutral and some even beneficial to our health. However, the bacteria can shift into a negative state and once it happens it’s difficult to treat.

There’s good news: a research has found a way to stop the transition to negative bacteria by replacing the metal they depend on with tungsten. So far, the method has been successful in mice.

How U.S. Drug Policy is Changing

2017 saw some bipartisan cooperation in the passage of policy like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA) and the latest reauthorization of the FDA user fee program.

The FDA has also changed its tune by speeding up the approval process for things like digital health applications though still emphasizing the “gold standard” of FDA review. Health Affairs thinks this new FDA style will continue in 2018.

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