News in Brief: Week of Sept. 30- Oct. 4

October 02, 2013 01:37 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

USPSTF Issues Draft Recommendation on Interventions for Child, Teen Drug Use

According to a newly released draft recommendation( from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of primary care-based behavioral interventions to prevent or reduce illicit drug or nonmedical pharmaceutical use in children and adolescents.

The recommendation applies to children and adolescents younger than 18 and does not apply to children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with drug abuse or drug dependence. All people who are abusing or addicted to drugs should receive treatment, said the USPSTF.

In deciding whether to provide such behavioral interventions, the task force recommends that family physicians and other primary care health professionals consider the potential preventable burden, cost, potential harms and current practice.

The draft recommendation will be open for public comment( until October 28.

FDA Applies Risk-based Standards to Certain Medical Apps

The FDA has issued final guidance( for developers of mobile applications (apps) that provides only limited regulation of most health and wellness apps while applying more rigorous risk-based standards to diagnostic and other medically oriented apps.

In a Sept. 23 press release(, the FDA said it would exercise "enforcement discretion" for the majority of apps because most apps pose a minimal risk to consumers. At the same time, the FDA plans to focus its regulatory oversight on a subset of mobile medical apps that "present a greater risk to patients if they don't work as intended."

According to the press release, the FDA will focus its efforts on mobile medical apps that

  • are intended to be used as an accessory to a regulated medical device, such as an app that allows a health care professional to make a specific diagnosis by viewing a medical image from a picture archiving and communication system on a smartphone or a mobile tablet, or
  • that transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device, including apps that turn a smartphone into an electrocardiography machine to detect abnormal heart rhythms or determine if a patient is experiencing a heart attack.

Mobile medical apps that undergo FDA review will be assessed using the same regulatory standards and risk-based approach that the agency applies to other medical devices.

Nonprofit Organization Launches Essay Contest for Health Care Anecdotes

A nonprofit organization is holding an essay contest( that will award patients and health care professionals a total of $4,000 in cash for anecdotes that best illustrate the importance of cost awareness in health care.

Costs of Care is seeking written entries between 500 and 700 words long that tell a story about events such as delivering or receiving better care at a lower cost or finding out how much a medical treatment or test might cost. In addition to patients, Costs of Care is asking for entries from health care professionals, including physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, clinical assistants and health administrators, as well as students of these professions.

There will be four $1,000 prize winners: two from the health professionals group and two from the patients group. Key dates for the essay contest are:

  • Dec. 1 -- contest deadline,
  • Jan. 1, 2014 -- finalists announced, and
  • Jan. 15, 2014 -- prize winners announced.

Grants Will Promote Rural Health Care Coverage

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)( is awarding more than $2.5 million to rural health organizations in an effort to expand health care coverage to uninsured individuals and families living in rural areas of the United States.

HRSA is awarding about $25,000 each to more than 50 rural health care organizations( to help educate the uninsured about what options are available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to help the organizations enroll the uninsured in state-based health insurance marketplaces. Organizations receiving the rewards include universities, local and critical-access hospitals, and other rural nonprofit or public organizations.

The Department of Agriculture also is assisting with the outreach to rural populations. The department's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is working with the University of Georgia to establish a network of educators to help the uninsured and underinsured in rural areas make more informed choices about participating in the marketplaces.