NewsStand, Feb. 23, 2024

NewsStand, Feb. 23, 2024

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|February 23, 2024

Iowa news

Nearly half of Iowa’s kids aren’t vaccinated against deadly HPV virus

Nearly two decades since the vaccine against the human papillomavirus first arrived in Iowa, local public health officials in parts of the state say they still struggle to persuade residents to vaccinate their children. In 2023, about 56% of the state’s 13- to 15-year-olds were fully vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection linked to deadly cancers. That includes certain types of cancers that are prevalent in Iowa. The new data from the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services shows last year’s immunization rates align with recent years. The HPV vaccination rate among adolescent Iowans had fallen slightly from 57% in 2022 to nearly 58% in 2021 and almost 59% in 2020. (Des Moines Register)

Report finds Iowa has fastest growing rate of new cancer in U.S.

An estimated 21,000 Iowans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2024, according to an annual report that tracks yearly cancer trends. The annual Cancer in Iowa report by the Iowa Cancer Registry found Iowa has the fastest-growing rate of new cancers and the second-highest rate in the country. It found the top new diagnoses will be breast, prostate and lung cancer, which are estimated to make up 40.5% of new cancer diagnoses. But it found cancer deaths continue to trend downward in Iowa, estimating 6,100 Iowans will die from the disease this year. (Iowa Public Radio)

Chartis: Iowa among states with lowest rural hospital closure risk percentage

According to a new report from Chartis, 1% to 9% of Iowa’s rural hospitals are at risk of closing. Nationally, about 418 rural hospitals are at risk of closure. Chartis analyzed 16 vulnerability indicators and found nine were statistically significant in predicting hospital closures, including case mix index, Medicaid expansion, average daily census swing, occupancy, government control status, and years of negative operating margin. The hospital’s average length of stay and change in net patient revenue also factored into its risk of closure. (Chartis)

National news

Law enforcement seizes health care hacker gang’s servers

An international law enforcement operation seized the infrastructure of LockBit, a ransomware gang known for targeting the U.S. health care industry. LockBit’s dark web leak site now displays a seizure notice left by British and U.S. law enforcement declaring that “Operation Cronos” is responsible for the takedown. The ransomware gang first emerged in 2019 and has taken responsibility for several hospital and health system hacks, including a December cyberattack on Chicago-based Saint Anthony Hospital and a cyberattack on Trenton, N.J.-based Capital Health. (Gov Info Security)

AI is becoming health care’s ‘high-stakes’ experiment

Implementing AI in health care is evolving into a “high-stakes experiment.” Physicians use unregulated artificial intelligence tools, including virtual assistants for note-taking and predictive software aiding in disease diagnosis and treatment. This is because regulation by the government for AI in health care has been sluggish because of extensive funding and staffing challenges encountered by agencies like the FDA. Consequently, this lack of regulation turns AI deployment in health care into an experiment. Currently, the FDA needs more resources to monitor AI because the technology is constantly learning and can work differently in various situations, meaning the agency would have to monitor AI over time as software changes. (Politico)

The tide is turning on health care megamergers

Proposed health care mergers and acquisitions continue to face backlash from hospital and physician groups and state and federal lawmakers — signaling a turn of the tide against megadeals. In 2023 alone, Becker’s reported on 10 called-off or unwound hospital deals, many of which were in part because of Federal Trade Commission intervention, state regulatory reviews, and the financial and economic environment. Most recently, just as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana paused its proposed $2.5 billion sale to Elevance Health, Portland-based CareOregon and Long Beach, Calif.-based SCAN Group also diffused their plan to merge under the name HealthRight Group. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

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