Doctors pick 2016's biggest, most frustrating news stories

A pile of newspapers
Medical news was in the headlines in 2016.

From antibiotics to Zika, a survey of healthcare pros identified more than 30 news stories they say had the biggest impact on them this year. Making the list: the Zika virus outbreak, the election of Donald Trump, the new MACRA payment model and the country’s opioid epidemic.

Medscape's “Year in Medicine” survey includes 38 stories; here's a handful of note.

The Zika virus: The Zika epidemic was far and away the biggest medical news story of the year, according to the survey. A total of 63% of doctors said Zika, which can cause devastating birth defects, was the biggest medical news story of 2016. The first baby with Zika-related microcephaly was born in Florida in June, and in July the first cases of locally acquired Zika infection were reported in the U.S.

Donald Trump: This was the news event that most frustrated 30% of survey respondents. Nearly a third called it the most exciting news of the year. Trump’s win has many implications for healthcare policy, including a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  

Drug costs: Mylan’s decision to raise the price of EpiPens, a commonly prescribed emergency medicine for life-threatening allergies, from $100 to $600 or more created a furor and was another example of the high cost of drugs. About a quarter of doctors (26%) in the survey said increasingly high drug costs was the second most frustrating news of the year.

MACRA payment model: The government released final regulations in October to implement the Medicare Accountability and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which replaced the sustainable growth rate formula for setting Medicare reimbursement. It’s a complex 2,400-page regulation.

Maintenance of certificationWhile most doctors embrace lifelong learning, a survey found 81% say that MOC activities are a burden. In April, Oklahoma became the first state to pass a law that removes MOC as a requirement for physicians to obtain a license, get hired and paid, or secure hospital admitting privileges.