PHARMACY

Blue Cross, Zagat to rank doctors

BY Jim Frederick

RALEIGH, N.C. A ranking system to help patients find the doctor they want is expanding to North Carolina.

The system is being offered to members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield in North Carolina, and stems from a partnership between the Blues and Zagat dining guide. The ranking system is already in place in some other states, including California, where Blue Cross of California, a subsidiary of Wellpoint Inc., began offering the Zagat Health Survey tool to its plan members in early 2008.

Blue Cross is North Carolina’s leading insurer, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, and covers more than 3.7 million residents. Under the program, Zagat compiles survey information on physicians in the state based on four broad criteria, including trust, communication, availability and the environment in which the physician practices.

Members can access survey information about physicians online, and can also share their own experiences. The move, noted the News & Observer, is “the latest in a push by insurers, regulators and consumers to provide more data and transparency in the nation’s health-care system.”

The system has been in place in California for nearly a year. Brian Sassi, president of Blue Cross of California, said the program is helping to “make clinical quality and cost transparent for consumers.

“Zagat is widely known and trusted for its ability to help people share and learn from other consumer experiences,” he said last year. “By working with them we are able to create a trusted resource for consumers and actively engage consumers in sharing and using that information.”

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PHARMACY

Researchers test administering medication using nanotechnology, gold

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Researchers have developed a way to use tiny particles of gold to control the administration of drugs for diseases such as cancer, according to a study published in the journal ACS Nano.

The researchers, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created a device that shines infrared light on particles of gold coated with medicine.

The particles vary in size, causing them to melt at different rates depending on the intensity of the light.

The researchers said the device would allow medicine to target specific areas of the body at specific rates, thus minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

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N.J. tests new law requiring vaccinations for school-age children

BY Alaric DeArment

TRENTON, N.J. New Jersey will find out this week if its new law requiring flu vaccinations for schoolchildren has worked, according to published reports.

The state is the first in the country to require schoolchildren to receive flu vaccinations, between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. It required the children to receive the vaccinations by Dec. 31. Children who have not been vaccinated will not be allowed to attend school.

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