Physician Practice Roundup—Too many barriers block medications to treat opioid addiction, report says

National Academies: Denying access to medications to treat opioid addiction is denying appropriate medical treatment

The denial of Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) should be considered a denial of appropriate medical treatment, according to a new report (PDF) from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

With support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse as well as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the report called OUD a treatable chronic brain disease and said evidence-based treatment using medication is effective and associated with long-term improved outcomes.

However, the report said, only a fraction of those individuals who receive treatment for OUD receive medications for their condition. (FierceHealthcare)

Adverse childhood experiences translate to higher medical costs in adulthood, study finds

Here’s another reason why physicians need to try to address childhood abuse, neglect and family dysfunction.

While it is well established that adverse childhood experiences are associated with a higher risk of chronic mental and physical illnesses in adulthood, there was little evidence about the impact on healthcare costs.

A new study from UCLA Health, published Thursday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that adults who experienced adverse experiences in childhood had higher household out-of-pocket medical costs and a higher likelihood of medical debt. Household medical costs were 30% higher and the likelihood of medical debt was doubled in adults who experienced three or more adverse experiences during childhood.

A separate study found that interventions that use professionals to provide parenting education, mental health counseling, social service referrals or social support can reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine)

Apple Watch can detect irregular heart rate, but more research needed—Stanford study

For 8 of 10 Apple Watch wearers, the device could potentially spot a heart problem that might lead to stroke, according to a new study out of Stanford Medicine.

The Stanford Medicine Apple Heart Study, based on 400,000 participants, found that the Apple Watch detected irregular heart rhythms in about 2,000 participants and 84% of wearers who received irregular heartbeat notifications were in atrial fibrillation.

Stanford Medicine researchers presented the findings from the large-scale, Apple-funded study at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session and Expo in New Orleans over the weekend and touted the results as showing the potential role for consumer wearable devices to provide an early warning for life-threatening health conditions. (FierceHealthcare)

First obesity-focused competencies for medical education released

Even though 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, few medical students are learning enough about how to treat patients with obesity.

Last week, a group of U.S. health organizations, including the Obesity Medicine Association and American College of Surgeons, released the first-ever obesity-focused competencies for medical education. The competencies, developed by the Obesity Medicine Education Collaborative, are intended to provide a framework for educators training physicians, nurses and physician assistants to develop an obesity medicine curriculum at their institutions. (Obesity Medicine Association)