Science, Health & Tech

We cover these essential linchpins of the Pittsburgh regional economy, and how they impact residents' personal health and employment. 

Usually a monopoly results in bigger bills for consumers, since a lack of competition allows a business to demand high prices. But a new analysis from the University of Pittsburgh finds that's not always the case for the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Two western Pennsylvania health care giants have a deal that averts the looming breakup of their business relationship, an agreement that prevents disruption and higher costs for many patients.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Half of all medical marijuana permits issued in Pennsylvania are for severe or chronic pain.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Many people look into their family histories because it gives them a sense of identity. Black Americans often hit brick walls when doing this research, and some are turning to DNA testing to illuminate lost branches of their family trees.


Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Forced air heating and cooling systems aren't always very efficient at keeping homes at a comfortable temperature. Just ask Jacob Kring, a co-founder and CEO of local startup HiberSense. He's a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, and said during his time there, he lived in a "crappy" college apartment.

Both photos by Gene J. Puskar/AP

Most UPMC patients with Highmark insurance will lose in-network access to the medical system's doctors and facilities at the end of this month, a Commonwealth Court judge ruled on Friday. 

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Addiction treatment needs to be integrated with other aspects of patients’ lives, according to presenters at the Pittsburgh-based Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions. Those aspects include stable housing and employment, adequate social support and other chronic health issues.

A Tick Researcher's Tips For Staying Safe Outdoors

Jun 13, 2019
Kara Holsopple / The Allegheny Front

 

 

The rise of Lyme disease cases in Pennsylvania has been alarming. There were 10,000 in 2018, and that’s more than in any other state. The illness can cause flu-like symptoms and a rash in its early stages, and if left untreated, more serious health issues like arthritis and nervous system disorders. 

UPMC Hearing Gives Glimpse Into Bitter Highmark Feud

Jun 12, 2019
Marc Levy / AP

Two days, three witnesses and hundreds of pages of exhibits all boil down to one question: Did UPMC agree to a clause that would give the state a chance to extend its 2014 agreement with UPMC and Highmark?

At stake is whether people with Highmark insurance will still be able to access UPMC care after that agreement's June 30 expiration date, or whether they'll face exorbitant out-of-network rates.

Learning a new skill can be tricky, and neuroscientists aren’t entirely sure how humans do it.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are using video games, brain implants and Rhesus monkeys in an effort to figure it out. 

Medical Marijuana Laws Are No Answer For U.S. Opioid Deaths, Study Finds

Jun 10, 2019
Gosia Wozniacka / AP, file

new study shoots down the notion that medical marijuana laws can prevent opioid overdose deaths, challenging a favorite talking point of legal pot advocates. 

Both photos by Gene J. Puskar/AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wants a judge to require UPMC to keep accepting Highmark health insurance under a deal set to expire this month.

UPMC announced Thursday that the Hillman Cancer Center would accept all insurers, including Highmark commercial and Medicare Advantage plans. 

Carnegie Mellon University

Two Carnegie Mellon University creations will be sent to the moon in 2021, aboard a Peregrine lander built by Pittsburgh company Astrobotic.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

University Pittsburgh Medical Center is dropping plans to seek prepayment from out-of-network Highmark Medicare Advantage patients when consent decrees linking the competing health care giants end on June 30. 

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it will post a monthly list of underperforming nursing homes. This comes after Pennsylvania’s two US Senators released a report highlighting a lack of federal oversight of these facilities.

Jessica Kourkounis / AP

On today's program: Potential solutions to Pennsylvania's growing pension crisis; former mined lands are being converted into forests; and how preventive medicine can inform a diagnosis before disease takes root. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

There are more than a dozen research laboratories run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs across the country, all with the common goal of developing new ways to help veterans adjust to life after the military. 

Dan Speicher / Tribune-Review

On today’s program: Robotics are injecting new life into manufacturing; the Advanced Leadership Initiative brings experienced black executives to the C-suite; only half of eligible Pennsylvanians are receiving WIC assistance; and a Tribune-Review report finds a lack of oversight in regional public pools. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

A recent analysis by the Pittsburgh-based Jewish Healthcare Foundation finds that just 50 percent of eligible Pennsylvanians receive assistance from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC.

TOBY TALBOT / AP

Telemedicine has the potential to connect people in rural communities to health care providers who might otherwise take hours to reach by car. But a new University of Pittsburgh study finds that many of these places lack the infrastructure to actually make telemedicine possible.

Wolf Administration Creates Suicide Prevention Task Force

May 31, 2019
Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is bringing together state agencies to address suicide in the commonwealth. 

Suicide rates in Pennsylvania increased 34 percent between 1999 and 2016, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have an obligation to provide resources and promote safe, supportive environments so people we serve know that there are places to turn if they are in crisis," Wolf said in a news release.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

A Pennsylvania judge plans to rule in a couple weeks about whether and how a five-year consent decree that's about to expire between two mammoth health care providers and the attorney general's office can be modified.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

On today’s program: PA's Supreme Court kicks the UPMC/Highmark case back down to a lower court; exposure to high levels of pollution may lead to increased risk of childhood cancer; and the final installment of WESA's series Still Working.

Janice Carr / CDC via AP

Hospitals should reconsider the prevailing one-size-fits-all approach for treating sepsis, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Supreme Court Tuesday kept alive hopes that people with Highmark insurance can continue using UPMC doctors, finding that a provision in a five-year consent decree was too ambiguous to make a definitive ruling.

Rachel Gobep / UPMC

Dozens of UPMC workers and allies rallied Tuesday outside UPMC Montefiore Medical Center, ahead of the health service’s annual public meeting. Employees say the nonprofit has harassed and intimidated workers who try to unionize for better pay and benefits.

Carnegie Mellon University

  

University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University researchers are developing emergency medicine technology for the U.S. military that uses artificial intelligence.

Toby Talbot / AP

Housing for people with opioid use disorder tops the list of spending from a large federal grant to address opioid addiction in Pennsylvania.

GENE J. PUSKAR / AP

On Tuesday, some of UPMC's service workers will strike during the nonprofit health service's annual public board meeting for its Shadyside and Presbyterian hospitals. Workers plan to go on strike as early as 7 a.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Wednesday. 

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