The Physician on Call, To Make Sense of it All!


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U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Stance on Smoking causes CVS to Exit

Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent out several letters to governments and companies across the world. These letters contained the Chamber’s efforts to curtail anti-smoking measures adopted by governments and agencies in several countries. When the reports of this global lobbying reached CVS Health Corporation, the company decided to resign from the Chamber.

David R. Palombi, the Senior Vice President of CVS, admitted that the company was surprised by the Chamber’s decision. He insisted that CVS’s purpose was to help people attain better health and use of tobacco was in direct conflict with that. In light of the Chamber’s recent decisions, CVS couldn’t remain a member of the organization.

Chamber’s Stance against Antismoking Laws

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its wide network of international affiliates made a conscious effort to target restrictions on smoking in public spaces, bans on menthol and slim cigarettes, excise tax increases, graphic warning labels and advertising restrictions. According to the New York Times, they specifically focused on developing countries.

This stance puts the Chamber in direct conflict with World Health Organization, which has been actively trying to curb the use of tobacco all over the world. For several years now, the Chamber has been aggressively lobbying against the restrictions on tobacco use. This highlights the organization’s historically strong ties with the powerful tobacco industry.

However, this campaign counteracts the efforts made by some of the organization’s members. There are four health-care companies that serve on its board, Anthem, the Steward Health Care System of Boston, the Health Care Service Corporation and the Indiana University Health System. All of them actively support antismoking programs.

When questioned, the Chamber defended in their actions. They insisted that they were merely safeguarding the business interests of its members. The statement called the recent revelations, “a concentrated misinformation campaign.” The organization made it clear that they didn’t support smoking and wanted people to quit the habit. They were, however, keen on protecting the intellectual property rights and trademarks of all products that were legal to sell.

Disapproval Abound

The CVS resignation is the latest in a long line of adverse consequences of the Chamber’s campaign. Just last week, several Senate Democrats condemned the lobbying, calling it craven and unconscionable.

Even Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group commented on Twitter that the chamber was making a mistake and was on the wrong side of history. All major healthcare companies in the Chamber have explicitly stated that they would continue to oppose smoking and they don’t support the Chamber’s recent efforts.

How small steps early on can curb obesity later in life

It is a struggle to lose weight as an adult, each pound takes dogged effort and every step forward can be succeeded by two steps back. However, if you start targeting obesity early on and bring it to heel in childhood, it is less likely to show up in adulthood. There has been a great deal of debate over childhood obesity, especially over how to address it.


Recently, there was a steady conducted; it showed clearly that just implementing a few steps could not only decrease the likelihood of childhood obesity, but also significantly decrease the healthcare cost and increase revenue.


Different approaches


Four approaches to addressing the problem of childhood obesity were considered and each varied in effectiveness and ease of implementation. The project was called CHOICES or Childhood Obesity Cost-Effectiveness Study and the results were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. It was observed that all methods were effective to some degree; it was also apparent that two were particularly effective.


Placing tax on sweetened-drinks


According to this study, making sweetened drinks more expensive by placing taxes on them would directly affect the amount consumed by children, therefore lowering their body-mass index (BMI). However, the advantages didn’t end there. Every unit of BMI lowered in the first two years because of this, could cost a person $3.16. Yet, they estimated that about $23.2 billion would be saved in healthcare costs over a period of 10 years. Moreover, revenue of $12.5 billion would be earned every year through the new taxes.


Removing tax subsidy for advertizing on children’s television


Similarly, simply removing advertisements promoting junk food and soft drinks from children’s television was also effective. Every dip in BMI unit cost a person $1.16. It saved $343 million in healthcare cost over a period of 10 years and earned revenue of $80 million every year.


The costlier options


While increasing moderate to vigorous activity in schools and promoting healthier habits in preschool have merits and should be implemented, they do prove expensive in comparison. For exercise, better trained teachers and more facilities would be required. That would amount to $401 per unit of BMI reduced per person.


Implementing the less expensive options would be easier while schools and parents worked on encouraging a more active lifestyle and healthier eating habits in children. A combination of the four would be needed for promoting overall childhood health. However, taxing sweetened drinks and advertising on children’s television is a good place to start with.


The Benefits of Telemedicine

Today, telemedicine is being used by some of the best and most reputed doctors and hospitals. Medical practitioners use telecom technology to remotely evaluate & diagnose as well as treat patients. There was a time when this was no more than a novelty, but is now a very standard procedure which is used by medical practitioners across the world. So exactly how does Deschamps M.D’s telemedicine program benefit patients? Take a look:

Read more “The Benefits of Telemedicine”

Technology in Healthcare Data

In 1996 the United States government enacted HIPAA which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. What this initially did was protect health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they changed or lost their jobs. Title 2 of the document was what required establishments to commit to certain national standards for Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR). Read more “Technology in Healthcare Data”

The Way Back To Family Medicine

Every year more and more doctors are going to a cash-only business model (“Cash-only” is a loose description. Many do accept payment by debit or credit card too.)

According to CNN money about 4% of respondents to a survey conducted in 2012 by the American Academy of Family Physicians said they took only cash at their practices, up from 3% in 2010. And a physician compensation report by WebMD site Medscape found 6% of doctors had a concierge or cash-only practice in 2013, compared with 4% in 2012. Read more “The Way Back To Family Medicine”