Presented in no particular order, here are the overall top 10 stories of the year, based on what articles were most widely read and shared. We've included their headlines and opening paragraphs, with links to finish each story.
10. Rural hospital closings lift mortality rates
As rural hospitals close, mortality rates go up, says a new study. With over 100 such facilities shuttered since 2010 and another 430 in jeopardy of doing the same, University of Washington researchers, who looked at 92 of them, have found that such closings are leading to a 5.9 percent rise in mortality rates.
“Rural closings increase travel times for patients, and lead to outmigration of health care professionals post-closure, severely dismembering patient access to care and exacerbating social disparities in health outcomes,” researchers Kritee Gujral and Anirban Basu wrote in their study, published online by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
9. SEC probes Siemens, GE and Philips over business with China
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened a new probe into allegations of bribes negotiated between leading manufacturers — Siemens AG, Philips NV, and General Electric Co. — and Chinese government and hospital officials for the sale of medical equipment.
The allegations, outlined in a Reuters exclusive, come less than a month after the FBI launched a separate investigation into allegations made against Siemens, Philips, GE and Johnson & Johnson concerning illegal kickbacks to government officials in exchange for securing contracts with public health programs across Brazil over the past two decades.
If true, the actions in both cases go against the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA), which bars Americans, U.S. companies and foreign enterprises whose securities are listed in the U.S. from paying foreign officials in exchange for business. Violating the act could result in fines from the SEC.
8. MR incident in Sweden lands nurse in intensive care unit
An MR incident has landed a clinical staff member in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Sweden.
An unnamed male who works as an X-ray nurse was seriously injured Wednesday afternoon after becoming stuck in the magnetic force of an MR camera system in a mobile cart at the entrance of Sunderby hospital. Two security guards who tried to help him also suffered minor injuries.
“We have a pretty good picture of what has happened and the police are connected because this is a workplace accident. It is a tragic event and the X-ray nurse in question has long experience,” said Per Berglund, head of the county health care division in Norrbotten County, in a statement.
7. More of GE healthcare unit could be on block: CEO
The GE above-expectations Q4 revenue sent the company's stock up 14 percent during the morning of Thursday January 31, along with news that included an aggressive plan to potentially sell nearly half of its healthcare unit.
CEO Larry Culp acknowledged as much in a post-earnings conference call, stating, “We expect to monetize just up to under 50 percent of our healthcare business,” adding that the unit “continues to prepare for public company separation, and that is progressing very well," according to CNBC.
6. The road ahead for breast density awareness
For those fighting for better diagnostics and treatment of breast cancer, February 15, 2019 was a day of victory. That was the day the U.S. approved a federal law requiring the inclusion of breast density reporting language within mammography reports to convey to patients and their physicians the status of a woman’s breast density, the risks associated with it, and information on additional screening options.
5. First scan in US performed with uEXPLORER Total-Body PET/CT
United Imaging has installed the first of its uEXPLORER Total-Body PET/CT System in the U.S. at the University of California, Davis, with clinicians there already using it for scanning.
The first of these scans was performed on 49-year-old Magdalena Gonzalez, a mother of seven, to better stage her lymphoma, with the total-body capability of the scanner enabling it to visualize cancer that has spread beyond a single tumor site in a single scan.
4. GE Healthcare launched more than 30 new AI applications at RSNA
GE Healthcare launched more than 30 new AI applications at RSNA, as well as a new CT solution and the first contrast-enhanced mammography solution for biopsy.
The healthcare tech giant showcased algorithms designed for modalities across its entire equipment portfolio, including the new Revolution Maxima, a CT scanner that can automatically align patients to the isocenter of the bore and determine the location of landmarks for different CT exams.
3. Whistleblower reveals secret Google-Ascension healthcare data deal
Project Nightingale, a “secret scheme” to transfer 50 million American health records from healthcare provider Ascension to Google has been revealed by the Wall Street Journal.
The data move included names and medical histories of the patients that could be accessed by Google staffers, according to a follow-up story by The Guardian.
The whistleblower also posted a video detailing the project on social media platform Daily Motion that begins with the words, “I must speak out about the things that are going on behind the scenes.”
2. ViewRay hit with class action lawsuit over alleged false claims
Radiotherapy technology company ViewRay has been hit with a class action lawsuit alleging the company made “false and/or misleading statements,” as well as failing to disclose pertinent facts about its technology. It calls for ViewRay to pay damages in accordance with federal securities laws to parties who invested in company shares between March 15, 2019 and August 8, 2019.
1. Top takeaways from RSNA 2019: The human side of imaging
Last week the radiology world converged on McCormick Place in Chicago for the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). As one might have expected, AI was a dominant topic. There was even an entire exhibit hall dedicated to it.
And yet, in many ways, the human aspect of radiology was even more prominent.
It felt almost as if, after all these years of asking rhetorical questions about computers replacing humans, the industry is finally getting comfortable with the concept of AI and can consider it in nuanced, practical terms. This, the editorial team at HealthCare Business News agrees, is good news for everyone.