Health Highlights: Oct. 28, 2019

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Racial Bias in Widely Used Health Care Software: Study

Black patients are less likely than whites to receive special care due to a racial bias flaw in a widely-used software program that helps direct care for millions of U.S. patients, researchers say.

The software, which is used by insurers and hospitals, predicts costs rather than sickness, the Associated Press reported.

Even when they’re not as sick as black patients, whites tend to be most costly than blacks. The software regularly advised placing healthier white patients into health care risk management programs ahead of less-healthy blacks because the white patients had higher costs, according the study published in the journal Science.

Changing the software could more than double the number of black patients placed these programs, said study leader Dr. Ziad Obermeyer, University of California, Berkeley.

Software maker Optum said the study findings are “misleading” because hospitals can and should use their own socio-economic data along with cost algorithm, the company told the AP.