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September 27, 2019

Healthcare is a changin'

First, Amazon came for our books. Now, our doctors? —

This week, Amazon launched Amazon Care, a virtual primary care clinic. It's being rolled out to Amazon employees in the Seattle area for now but is expected to expand. It will provide telemed support, including "advice, answers, diagnosis, treatment or referrals," possibly followed up by an in-person visit of medical staff to the employee's home. As Amazon works its way into the $3.5 trillion dollar health sector, new technologies are expected to emerge, changing healthcare as we know it. Are you ready, Marty?

Drones and drugstores. Welcome to 2019 —

Walgreens recently announced that it's partnering with Wing, an Alphabet (Google) company, to deliver products from stores directly to consumers' homes using airborne drones. Wing is the first drone company certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to be a consumer-facing air carrier. Walgreens said this is a major move to develop the "drugstore of the future," allowing for customers to receive the products and services they need at the moment they need them.

Something machines can't fix. Nurses and PTSD —

"The battles involved in the nursing profession - military or not - increase a person's risk of PTSD." 1 in 4 nurses experiences PTSD at some point throughout their careers. With 91% of the nursing profession being made up of women, what does this mean for the future of their mental health? Critical care nurses are hit the hardest, with upwards of 24% of ICU nurses showing symptoms of PTSD related to their role. The good news is that hospitals and healthcare workers are becoming more aware of these issues and are establishing groups and classes to find ways of healthfully dealing with these challenges.

Robot acrobatics could mean a new lease on life for some —

On Tuesday, Boston Dynamics released a new video of their robot, Atlas , breaking out in a gymnastics sequence - one that surely trumps any level of athleticism a robot has shown before, and heck, even most people. Similarly, Japanese robotics company Cyberdyne is working to "fuse man, machine and information," with their latest breakthrough enabling the usage of HAL (the Hybrid Assistive Limb) through brainwaves to help people walk again.

The (nursing) empire strikes back —

This week was a big one for strikes. It looked rough on Monday, as nurses of the University of Chicago Medical Center recovered from their very first strike on Friday, while the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions planned their own for October 14th. Although contract negotiations weren't settled , and the nurses of UChicago might strike again, they returned to work on Wednesday morning (outcome tbd). Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente reached a hopeful contract agreement with the Coalition of unions, who are asking for a $130 million workforce development plan for healthcare workers.

Vaping outlook, not great —

Vaping and e-cigarettes were long touted as being safer alternatives to traditional means of smoking, however recent medical discovery is putting that notion to shame and leading to state and federal responses. Massachusetts' Gov. Charlie Baker declared a 4-month ban on all vaping product sales following 61 reported cases of vaping-related breathing illnesses. The ban was approved by the Public Health Council and will last until January 25, 2020. On Wednesday, the US House held a public hearing on the risks of vaping, where Congress grilled the FDA for failing to identify and prevent the issue of teen usage, as there have now been at least 530 people sickened and nine killed by vaping-related illness nationwide.

Clockin' Out ✌

When you have to tell a nurse they're floating to another unit, but you want to soften the blow.

"Good morrow, yond astonishing nurse! Thou art being sent on a grand adventure to the kingdom of Medical-Surgical Sorcery. Your squire, Ashley, wilt also be going with thee."