Policy & Practice


ACOG Down on Home Genetic Tests

At-home genetic testing should be discouraged because of the potential for patients to misinterpret the test or get an inaccurate result, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Genetics and Committee on Ethics said in a recent policy statement. Genetic testing should be performed only after a consultation with a qualified health care professional and a referral to a genetic counselor or medical geneticist may be necessary in the case of complex testing, according to the policy. “Appropriate pretest and posttest counseling should be provided, including a discussion of the risks, benefits, and limitations of the testing,” ACOG advised.

MDs Don't Recruit Research Subjects

Nearly 95% of Americans in a recent survey said that their physician has never spoken to them about participating in a medical research study. The survey results, released by the Society for Women's Health Research, also found that less than 10% of respondents had ever participated in such a study. Further, women were less likely than men to know that research opportunities were available. About 73% of women were aware of research opportunities, compared with 83% of men who were surveyed. Women were also more likely to say that they were too old or too sick to participate in research, according to the study. For example, 7.2% of women said that their age made them hesitant to participate in clinical research, compared with 2.4% of men. “Women 65 and older are among the fastest growing segments of our population, and we have very little health research data on them,” Sherry Marts, Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs for the society, said in a statement. “This lack of information is an area of great need and growing concern.” The telephone survey included responses from 2,028 U.S. adults.

Women Favor Medical Home

More than half of American women in a recent survey said they had difficulty navigating the health care system. The survey, commissioned by the American Academy of Family Physicians, found that women aged 18-34 years had the most trouble obtaining health care services, with 74% saying it was at least somewhat difficult. But most women support the concept of the patient-centered medical home. More than two-thirds of women surveyed said that being able to obtain same-day appointments for acute illnesses was important to them. And 62% said that having one physician to coordinate all their care was important. “A system that is difficult to navigate and relies on patients to deliver tests and communicate diagnoses leads to fragmented care, duplication of tests, and sometimes unnecessary procedures—all of which steadily drive up the cost of health care for the nation as a whole,” Dr. James King, AAFP president, said in a statement. The online survey of 1,270 adult women was conducted by Harris Interactive.

Doubt Cast on Health IT Savings

Health information technology, when coupled with other reforms, can help reduce health spending in certain settings, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. However, the adoption of health IT alone will not produce significant savings, the report concludes. “Office-based physicians in particular may see no benefit if they purchase [an electronic health record]—and may even suffer financial harm,” the CBO report said. Recent studies by the RAND Corporation and the Center for Information Technology Leadership estimate savings from health IT at around $80 billion annually. However, the CBO takes issue with those estimates because the savings figures are derived by assuming a number of changes to the health care system. The CBO report also outlines possible policy options for the federal government to encourage the adoption of health IT by physicians and hospitals. CBO analysts found that a subsidy to providers could increase adoption but would be costly to the government. On the other hand, a mandate for adoption or a penalty for lack of adoption would also be effective but costly for providers. The full report is available online at

Group Calls for Obesity Action

The advocacy group Campaign to End Obesity, in concert with the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and others, has issued a call to action outlining what it said Congress must do to address the obesity epidemic. “It is time for the government to take a more comprehensive policy approach to the problem—to look holistically at factors that influence obesity and to look for ways to support people in preventing, managing and treating the disease,” the report said. The call to action said that there is much more that lawmakers can do about improving school nutrition and physical activity standards, and that Congress also should consider reimbursement for providers who manage and treat obesity.


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