5 federal healthcare updates

From a decline in flu activity to an increase in physician wait times, here are five federal healthcare updates Becker's has reported on since Jan. 6:

1. Economic activity, driven mainly by greater inpatient volumes linked to the "tripledemic" of respiratory syncytial virus, flu and COVID-19, grew in December for the 31st straight month in the hospital subsector, the Institute for Supply Management said Jan. 9.

2. The omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is gaining dominance in the U.S., though its prevalence still varies by region. The subvariant accounted for 27.6 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases in the week ending Jan. 7, up from 18.3 percent the previous week, CDC estimates show.

3. Nearly half of ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations disrupted care delivery, a Dec. 29 study in JAMA Health Forum found.

4. Wait times for physician appointments increased by 8 percent since 2017, according to the "Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates," a study AMN Healthcare released in partnership with Merritt Hawkins.

5. Flu activity remains high but continues to decline in most parts of the country, the CDC's latest FluView report shows. Thirty-nine states and regions reported high or very high flu activity levels for the week ending Dec. 31, down from 44 that reported the same the previous week.

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