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Health Care Providers A Major Contributor to Problem of Antibiotic Overuse

SALT LAKE CITY - 10 percent of health care providers write an antibiotic prescription for nearly every patient (95 percent or more) who walks in with a cold, bronchitis or other acute respiratory infection (ARI), according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-supported study published in the Annals ...

Genetic Testing in Kids is Fraught with Complications

American Society of Human Genetics Issues Recommendations on Age-Appropriate Genetic Testing in Children and Adolescents A woman coping with the burden of familial breast cancer can’t help but wonder if her young daughter will suffer the same fate. Has she inherited the same disease-causing mutation? Is it best to be prepared ...

David Perry, M.B.A., named Chief Marketing Officer

University of Utah Health Sciences is delighted to announce David R. Perry, M.B.A., has been named Chief Marketing Officer effective July 1. In this key leadership position, Perry is charged with creating a comprehensive strategy for further developing and growing the reputation of the University of Utah Health Care and Health ...

Genomics England Selects Omicia and University of Utah Technology for 100,000 Genomes Project

Genomics England announced that it will be using technology co-developed in a partnership between the University of Utah and Omicia, and exclusively commercialized through Omicia, to interpret the DNA of Britons as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project, a national effort to hasten creation of diagnostics and treatments that are ...

Nation's Research Funding Squeeze Imperils Patient Care, Say Top Medical School Deans

Constraints in federal funding, compounded by declining clinical revenue, jeopardize more than the nation’s research enterprise. These twin pressures have created a “hostile working environment” that erodes time to conduct research, “discourages innovative high-risk science” and threatens to drive established and early-career scientists out of the field. And this, in ...

Health Care Transformation

First Do Less Harm

Hospitals have been surveying discharged patients for years, asking them things like how well providers communicated or catered to their emotional needs. But it’s not clear what many do with the data, except at places like University of Utah Health Care (UUHC), writes The New York Times reporter, Gina Kolata. By posting its physician reviews online, UUHC made it clear that each patient visit was “a high-stakes interaction.” Doctors responded by being the kind of doctor their patients wanted them to be, and patient satisfaction scores soared.

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Could Peer Pressure Improve Care?

"A basic principle of health care is that everyone strongly favors transparency—for everyone but themselves," wrote Thomas H. Lee in the Harvard Business Review, extolling the virtues of the University of Utah's pioneering move to publish patient satisfaction scores on its Find-A-Doctor website. The U. was the first academic medical center in the U.S. to put patient reviews online, complete with comments and an accessible five-star ranking system. Doctors were justifiably nervous. But the U. was "richly rewarded for its creativity and courage," wrote Lee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Press Ganey Associates, the nation's leading provider of patient surveys.

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Out-Yelping Yelp

Doctor rating websites are gaining in popularity, but the problem with consumer portals like ZocDoc and is it's impossible to verify if those submitting scathing or glowing comments are actual patients. Instead of allowing a few squeaky wheels to drive the discussion, the U. decided to "turn the trend" to its advantage, reports The Economist. It was the first of a growing field of health centers to survey its patients and publish their reviews online. "Most reviews are positive, and patient-satisfaction scores have improved...Happy patients communicate an co-operate better with their doctors."

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Since 2012, Algorithms for Innovation has been asking questions and searching for solutions to some of the most impossible problems facing health care today. We believe there's an unprecedented opportunity to invent a new vision for health care, and academic medicine is poised to lead the way. Algorithms for Innovation is designed to spark conversations, highlight best practices, and foster collaboration to help transform the future.

Vivian Lee

Vivian S. Lee
M.D., Ph.D., MBA

Senior VP for Health Sciences
Dean, School of Medicine
CEO, University of Utah Health Care
@vivianleemd +Vivian Lee



The Exceptional Huntsman Cancer Institute

This month, the Huntsman Cancer Institute achieved a significant milestone—the designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, joining an elite group of just over 40 cancer centers across the nation with this award. This designation reflects on the remarkable success the Huntsman Cancer Institute has had in catalyzing collaboration across the health sciences and university.

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On the Importance of Marrying Science with Compassion

At a time when the nation is so singularly focused on the business of health care –– on getting lean, bending the cost curve, and treating patients as consumers –– it can feel as if medicine has strayed from its roots, its raison d'être. Why, then, as I reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing our graduating Class of 2015, I am filled with so much optimism?

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A Low-Tech Tool for Everyone's Health Toolbox

Family health portraits are growing in importance as scientists race to find the genetic causes of all manner of diseases, and develop targeted drugs, treatments and personalized prevention plans. Most Americans understand this; 96 percent consider family health histories to be “very important” or “somewhat important,” according to 2014 survey by a pediatric oncologist and Associate Professor of Pediatrics here at the University of Utah. Yet fewer than 37 percent actively compile such information.

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Research Roundup

Diabetes Patients Fare Better When Pharmacist Leads Follow-up Care

Author: Carrie McAdam-Marx, Ph.D., RPh, associate professor of pharmacotherapy
Co Author: Karen Gunning, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacotherapy, Brandon Jennings, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacotherapy, Arati Dahal, Ph.D., U Pharmacotherapy Outcomes Research Center, Mukul Singhal, B.Pharm., doctor student U College of Pharmacy
Journal: Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy
Date: 07-27-2015

Type 2 diabetes patients may do better controlling their blood sugar levels when they receive follow-up primary care from a team of providers led by a clinical pharmacist. Further, a study led by a University of Utah College of Pharmacy faculty found that a pharmacist-led Diabetes Collaborative Care Management Program (DCCM) could better hold the costs of medical care. The researchers conducted the study using de-identified medical records of Type 2 diabetes patients who’d had trouble controlling their blood sugar levels and were treated at patient-centered, community-based primary care clinics in the greater Salt Lake City area. The study looked at patients whose drug management was led by a clinical pharmacist and those whose plan was not managed by a clinical pharmacist and compared health care outcomes, how often they saw their providers and the total health care costs of each group. “A pharmacist-led diabetes collaborative care management program in a patient-centered primary care setting was associated with significantly better follow-up glycemic control relative to comparison patients,” the researchers reported in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy. The data also suggested that the DCCM program was associated with a less substantial increase in all-cause total costs in patients with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes relative to the comparison patients. This could help reduce costs of managed care payers, the researchers reported.

View article in Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy

'Cold' Comfort: Study Shows Freezing Doesn't Harm Epinephrine

Author: Scott E. McIntosh
Co Author: Heather Beasley, fourth-year medical student, University of Utah, William R. Smith, M.D., St. John's Medical Center, Jackson Hole, Wyo., Albert Wheeler, M.D., St. John's Medical Center Jackson Hole, Wyo., adjunct assistant professor of surgery, University of Utah , Pearlly Ng, M.D., volunteer faculty, University of Utah School of Medicine
Journal: Wilderness and Environmental Medicine
Date: 07-23-2015

Millions of people use epinephrine to fend off potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions because of allergies to medications, foods, insect stings and other triggers. People susceptible to anaphylactic reactions experience swelling, hives, low blood pressure, dilated blood vessels and other symptoms, which, if not treated immediately, can be fatal. The most common treatment is the use of a needle-and-syringe auto injector that delivers epinephrine into the body to relieve the symptoms. In the backcountry, the drug can be exposed to extremely cold temperatures when people ski, climb mountains and backpack during winter. The maker of a widely used auto injector of epinephrine, EpiPen, recommends replacing the device if it gets frozen. Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine and two physicians in Jackson Hole, Wyo., wanted to find out if epinephrine can remain effective even if it freezes. In a study published in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, they report that after freezing and thawing vials of epinephrine over a period of seven days–to temperatures as low as 13 below zero Fahrenheit–the solution maintained a concentration within limits considered safe for use in emergency situations. The study, although small, provides evidence that epinephrine does not degrade after freezing and thawing, the researchers report. This information is beneficial to those who recreate in the backcountry and have the potential for severe allergic reactions.

View article in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine

Smokers Fare Worse Than Nonsmokers After Spine Surgery

Author: Meic H. Schmidt, M.D., MBA
Co Author: Erica F. Bisson, M.D., Christian A. Bowers, M.D., Samuel F. Hohmann
Journal: Frontiers in Surgery
Date: 05-28-2015

Along with its many other harmful effects, smoking cigarettes appears to adversely affect the outcomes and total costs of patients who undergo surgery for spinal disease.

University of Utah School of Medicine researchers looked at the de-identified records of 122,608 non-smokers and 13,903 smokers treated in hospitals belonging to the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC). The study looked at patients in the four largest diagnostic groups: fracture, dorsopathy (deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or function of the spine), congenital spine disease and spinal curvature. Outcomes were based on five categories—length of stay; ICU admissions; hospital readmissions, complications and total cost.

The researchers found that compared to nonsmokers patients who smoke tobacco had longer hospital stays, higher admission rates to ICUs, higher hospital readmission rates, more complications and worse outcomes in three of the four diagnostic groups—fracture, spinal dorsopathy and spinal curvature. Smoking patients also had higher total hospital costs than non-smokers in all groups, with increases of 23 percent and 36 percent, respectively, among smokers in the two largest diagnostic groups, dorsopathy and fractures. Outcomes across all categories on those two groups were worse among smokers. 

While more studies are needed to better define the association between smoking tobacco and worse outcomes in spine surgery patients, the authors advise surgeons to encourage spine surgery patients to enroll in formal smoking cessation programs before undergoing an operation.

View article in Frontiers in Surgery

Critical Immune Factors May Haved Adapted to Evade Common Pathogen Inhibitors

Author: Nels C. Elde
Co Author: Dustin C. Hancks, Melissa K. Hartleuy, Celia Hagen, Nathan L. Clark
Journal: PLOS Genetics
Date: 05-05-2015
A pathogen’s ability to infect new individuals within and across species is largely driven by its capacity to hijack cellular machinery and overcome the immune system. Pathogens have evolved multiple means to evade and shut down host immunity. Typically, mechanisms of inactivation involve direct interactions between host and pathogen factors. To escape inhibition over the course of generations, host factors frequently evolve in a manner that disrupts interactions at specific interfaces with pathogen factors. Likewise, pathogens adapt to restore such interactions, and these genetic tug-of-wars have been described as “molecular-arms races.” University of Utah researchers focused on the adaptation of two critical host immune factors, cGAS and OAS, which share identity in protein structures despite very limited genetic similarity. Their analysis identifies a variety of ways, including amino acid changes on protein surfaces, by which these host factors appear to escape pathogen-mediated inhibition. Surprisingly, some amino acid substitutions are located at equivalent sites suggesting that cGAS and OAS may have adapted to evade common pathogen encoded inhibitors. These data also identify protein surfaces that are targeted by viruses to inhibit host immunity. Taken together the study results indicate the existence of critical, yet-to-be identified viral antagonists of cGAS and OAS.

View article in PLOS Genetics

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In Utah, you can truly have it all. Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas offer newcomers diverse neighborhoods, great schools, arts and entertainment, and endless possibilities for sports and recreation. A strong economy and low cost of living make Utah a perfect choice to call home.

University of Utah Health Sciences

University of Utah Health Sciences is an economic engine unlike any other in Utah. With more than 14,000 faculty and staff it is one of the state's largest employers and contributes millions of dollars in net tax revenue to Utah every year. But University of Utah Health Sciences' impact goes beyond the balance sheet. Its bottom line includes the health and well being of Utah residents in every corner of the state and from all walks of life.

University of Utah Health Sciences is the only university health care system in the state of Utah and provides patient care for the people of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and much of Nevada. It is also the training ground for most of Utah's physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and other health care professionals.

Named as one of theTop 10 in QualityBy University Health System Consortium

Named as one of the100 Great Hospitals In AmericaBy Becker's Hospital Review

Ranked as one of theBest Performing Health Care Systemsby us news & world report

Health Sciences Received$235 Million In GrantsDuring Fiscal Year 2013