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Today's word count is 879, or <4 minutes.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Technology has advanced to the point where research study participants can be identified by their MRI scans even after all other identifying information has been stripped, according to an experiment detailed yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported on by the NYT.
Why it matters, per Axios' emerging-technologies reporter Kaveh Waddell: If stored medical data were leaked, it could potentially be used to identify study participants for marketing, scams or even stalking.
The big picture, per the WSJ: These "results are the latest to find technology has outflanked privacy protections in health care, where an aggressive push is under way to amass and mine medical data from patient medical records, research, medical devices and consumer technology such as smartwatches."
Details: An MRI includes a person's entire head, and imaging technology is advanced enough to create a reconstruction of the face from the scan.
Yes, but: The experiment, performed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, included only 84 subjects. Some privacy experts question whether the process could be replicated among a larger population with current technology.
Our thought bubble, per Kaveh: With ever more advanced AI, details about our bodies and behaviors — even data we’ve long forgotten we’ve shared — can come back to identify us.
Go deeper: Medical AI has a big data problem
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The National Sheriff's Association has become a loud critic of prescription drug importation in recent years, but there's a catch: Its anti-importation campaign is funded by a nonprofit that's backed by PhRMA, Bloomberg reports.
Between the lines: The association has struggled financially in recent years, and turned to seeking grants from corporations and nonprofits. This year, the Partnership for Safe Medicines — a PhRMA-backed nonprofit — is the sheriffs' biggest grant-provider.
"The commercials are just one part of a two-year campaign that used secret payments, a widely criticized consultant’s report and even celebrity drug cops to concoct public-safety arguments against drug importation and then use them to foster the appearance of widespread concern among law-enforcement groups," Bloomberg's Ben Elgin writes.
Several hospital systems are lobbying Medicare to stop basing certain payments on their sticker prices, also known as "chargemasters" — prices the Trump administration has required them to disclose publicly, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
The intrigue: Hospitals aren't advocating for lower Medicare payments. They want to reduce the prices they list publicly, while retaining the same Medicare revenues.
How it works: Hospitals have a chargemaster that lists the rack rates of every service, test and procedure.
Driving the news: Six hospital systems and a trade organization for hospital executives are each paying $2,000 a month to fund the Chargemaster Alternatives for Medicare Payment Alliance.
The bottom line: Hospitals don't like having to post their high chargemaster rates. It's embarrassing, but they also argue the rates are misleading because they don't reflect patients' out-of-pocket costs.
Youths and young adults are likely to continue using various tobacco products after trying flavored products like menthol or mint, according to a new study from JAMA Network Open.
Driving the news: Juul announced last week a halt in its flavored vape products, signaling further cooperation with the FDA, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes. Juul banned all flavors except mint, its most popular flavor.
The big picture: The study notes that all flavored tobacco products are gateways to regular use, not just e-cigarettes.
The public is still divided over whether outlawing flavored e-cigarettes or all e-cigarettes is a good idea, according to data from Kaiser Family Foundation.
About half of the doctors and nurses in the U.S. — 54% — experience substantial symptoms of burnout, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Why it matters: Overworked doctors are more likely to make medical errors and face malpractice claims. They are also more likely to experience absenteeism, substance abuse or, in some cases, suicide attempts, Marisa writes.
Details: Health care workers are prone to burnout because the bulk of the U.S. health care system's dysfunction lands on them.
Have a great day!