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#NowTrending: This Week’s MedTech News

We bring you this week’s healthcare and medtech trends, in Boston and beyond:

1. Reduced Residency Hours Aren’t Terribly Problematic

In a study published in the October 2014 issue of Health Affairs, researchers found that capping medical residency hours at 80 hours per week with shifts not exceeding 30 hours – a reform implemented in 2003 – didn’t affect the quality of medical care. This comes after long discussions and worry about whether or not shortened residency training could result in lower-quality physicians.

In fact, after collecting data from 4 million patients in Florida between 2000 and 2009, lead study author Anupam Jena is quite certain that the reforms haven’t adversely affected patient care or physician expertise at all. “This is perhaps the most hotly debated question in medical education,” Jena told Harvard Medical School, “with many believing that doctors trained with fewer hours are less well-prepared for independent practice after the completion of residency.”

2. The EHR Battle Continues… Cough, Ebola

By now, you probably know that Ebola victim Thomas Duncan died in a Texas Hospital last week. What you might not know is that the hospital released a statement about a procedural flaw rumored to involve the hospital’s online health records system – a flaw that apparently led to miscommunications between the nurses and doctors who sent Duncan home despite his symptoms.

Cue even more electronic health records angst. Amidst a now-frenzied effort to curb Ebola, this new information again raises questions about the effectiveness of our current EHRs. If you have a new EHR idea in your back pocket just waiting to be implemented, now’s the time.

3. The Romneys Are All About That Brain Research


Mitt and Ann Romney announced their investment in a new neurological illness center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on October 14, 2014. Photo via Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, announced this week that they’ll be launching the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The center will apparently assemble great doctors and scientists to collaborate and study five neurological diseases that currently have no cure: multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and brain tumors. The building is set to open in 2016.

Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, which explains her deep interest in this research. “I’m running out of time,” she said in an interview. “I just want to accelerate what’s happening.”

4. The Salivary Revolution Comes to Boston

Salivary diagnostics may hold the key to early disease prevention, according to Dr. Phil Stashenko, President and CEO of the Forsyth Institute. The Institute’s opened their new Center for Salivary Diagnostics in Cambridge last week in partnership with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and after obtaining $4.2 million in development grants. Stashenko and others hope to focus on diabetes and pre-diabetes identification for now, as well as active tuberculosis, Lyme disease and concussion monitoring.

“We think that the center has the potential to revolutionize the health care landscape by creating new opportunities for early disease prevention and detection,” Dr. Stashenko said to CBS Boston. “The mouth is the portal to the body and saliva contains all the same diagnostic information as blood.”

Jenni Whalen

Jenni Whalen

    Jenni Whalen is the Executive Assistant of Editorial at Upworthy. She was previously MedTech Boston's Managing Editor and has an MS in Journalism from Boston University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Bucknell University. Whalen has written for Greatist, Boston magazine, AZ Central Healthy Living and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other places. She has also worked as a conference planner, ghost writer, researcher and content developer.

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