Tag: Uncategorized

And the real reason health reform matters

And in case you’d forgotten what the health care reform battle is really about, here’s video from Reuters about an open air clinic for the uninsured in Virginia… 

Report Identifies Five Key Challenges to Health Information Exchange

The government’s $19 billion investment
in health information technology is a pivotal catalyst in our pursuit
of a smart, fully interconnected health information system.  However,
as we wait for this investment to take root, there are several immediate
issues the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of
the National Coordinator of HIT must address.

In a recent paper for the Federation
of American Hospitals, my Avalere colleagues and I distilled the following
five concrete issues that officials must tackle to ensure we create
an HIT infrastructure that fulfills its promise of improved access,
quality, and value.

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Op-Ed: Health in All Policies

At the heart of current health care reform discussions – which focus on expanding access to care and  establishing mechanisms to finance broader coverage as well as reduce rapidly escalating costs – must be the promotion of good health and the prevention of disease.

Good health is essential to the economic prosperity and wellbeing of the American people. Individually, we are less productive when we become ill; collectively, our nation is less secure when burdened with the high cost of disease. Today, with 45 percent of Americans suffering from a chronic condition and a national fiscal crisis, both our nation’s health and economic security are in peril.

Deteriorating health is a major driver of this crisis. One in five Americans smoke and 66 percent of adults are obese or overweight, fueling a chronic disease epidemic and skyrocketing health care costs. As childhood obesity rates dramatically rise, American children may, for the first time ever, live shorter lives and be less healthy than their parents.

Just as Americans are ailing, so too is our health care system. The U.S. health care system suffers from considerable fragmentation, inefficiencies and inequities. The United States spends nearly twice as much on health care, per person, as any other nation, and the health sector constitutes one sixth of our economy. Yet this significant investment delivers shockingly poor results. America ranks 49th on life expectancy worldwide, 37th on overall health status and performs the worst among industrialized countries at avoiding premature deaths through timely and effective medical care.

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Say we get some sausage–then what?

sausage (sô´sǐj)
n. A highly seasoned minced meat usually stuffed in casings of prepared
animal intestine.


Congress is obviously in the thick of the sausage making. The August recess is pending. Bills may or may not be moving. The legislative process, especially at this point, is not particularly pretty or, to be honest, as thoughtful as we all might hope. It is the process, though, right? There was essentially no way around something like this intestine stuffing, especially in an effort to fix health care–such a large sector of the American economy. And in spite of the messy work and depending on the day, the observer and the poll, it nevertheless seems likely that something will come out of the kitchen, right? It is also probably safe to say, though, that any reform law is not going to be the panacea–the ultimate health and health care fix. Instead, if a law indeed passes, it's clear that we're going to spend the next five, 10, 15 years adjusting, backtracking, redesigning and working toward better care. In other words, the implementation is going to matter, and it's going to matter a lot. On July 30 in Washington, D.C. at the Hart Senate Office Building, the RWJF-funded High-Value Health Care Project led by Mark McClellan of the Engelberg Center at Brookings hosted a panel discussion focused on just that–the implementation. Specifically, Mark, Carolyn Clancy of AHRQ, John Tooker of the American College of Physicians, Steve Findlay of the Consumers Union and Jim Chase of Minnesota Community Measurement talked to a large Capitol Hill audience about what it will take to make health care deliver sustainable high value. 

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California Moves Backward on Covering Uninsured Children

During tough budget times, most states have maintained their commitment to covering uninsured children. At least eighteen states have even further strengthened coverage for uninsured children, despite budget problems, as the recession has increased the need.While many states have prioritized covering uninsured children, California lawmakers voted to deny coverage to nearly 800,000 children. This decision ignores strong public support for providing affordable health coverage to children and families. This decision also undermines California’s ability to access federal funds, just when the state needs them most. The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 made the federal government an even stronger partner for states that prioritize covering uninsured children. California’s $144 million children’s coverage cut will cost the state $267 million in federal funds.This is a difficult time for state budgets but an even harder time for family budgets, and many states are responding to meet the need. Alabama, Washington, North Dakota, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Montana have all expanded coverage; Oregon and Ohio are on the verge of doing the same. Other states have instituted reforms designed to make their CHIP and Medicaid programs more family-friendly, all with the goal of increasing access to affordable health coverage for children.California faces unique public policy challenges that have contributed to this step backward for children. The state was hit particularly hard by the economic and housing crises. More importantly, California has legal restrictions that put large shares of the state’s budget out of lawmakers’ reach, as well as supermajority requirements for passage of budget legislation.While the search continues for ways to help California restore affordable health coverage options for children and families and hope remains high that national health insurance reform will be enacted soon, California’s decision should not diminish the accomplishments of the other states. It is critical that states keep working to strengthen and maintain the gains they’ve made in offering affordable health coverage options to uninsured children and that the federal government remain a strong partner in their efforts.

IDEO and Ix Innovation Design

Ionescu_Arna_217pxNext week Matthew will be in a workshop with the folks from design firm IDEO and our friends from the Ix Center. In preparation we’re posting this article from IDEO’s Arna Ionescu who was at the recent joint Health 2.0 Meets Ix Conference on a panel moderated by the Center for Information Therapy’s President Josh Seidman. And if that wasn’t all incestuous enough, this post was originally on Josh’s blog over at Ix.

Thank you to those of you who participated in our interactive webinar last Tuesday. During the webinar we used IDEO’s design approach to tackle the challenge of providing effective Information Therapy (Ix) to a fictional character named Vernon, who has minimal resources and was  recently diagnosed with high blood pressure.

To inspire solutions for this challenge, members of the IxAction
Alliance submitted images of unexpected learning moments in their daily
lives. These images spanned from public service billboards to Snapple
caps and restaurant placemats. In advance of the webinar, the IDEO team
synthesized the images into brainstorm questions.

The webinar attendees voted and selected the brainstorm question,
“How Might We leverage curiosity to prompt Vernon to engage with Ix?”
Following IDEO’s brainstorm rules attendees submitted ideas using the webinar software.

More than 30 ideas were generated in the ten minute brainstorm, and
a second vote allowed the attendees to select which idea to pursue
further. Attendees selected the “High Blood Pressure Club.” We
discussed “$10, 10 minute prototypes” – an approach that allows us to
try out fast and cheap experiments to gain insight before costly design
and implementation efforts.

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Illinois AG: Shady AIDS Charity’s Web Campaign Broke State Law

Four months after we first reported on a sketchy AIDS "charity" with a nationwide fundraising campaign,
authorities have begun to crack down. But the move might not have much
impact if other officials don't follow suit.

The Illinois attorney general alleged in a lawsuit Thursday that the Center for AIDS Prevention
solicited donations illegally and falsified official documents. The
group's fundraising campaign has featured ads on the Web sites of the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and others for months, drawing attention to the charity's shady practices.

In March, we noted that the group promoted false health information and ineffective herbal remedies, misled potential donors with claims about its battle to "stop
AIDS," and repeatedly failed to provide a full accounting of how it
spends contributions. Its financial records show no expenses, and there
is no evidence that it has provided any services to people with AIDS,
its stated mission.

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After Nurses Investigation, Scrutiny Turns to Other California Health Boards

Earlier this month, ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times published an investigation detailing the failure of the California Board of Registered Nursing to investigate and discipline nurses accused of misconduct in a timely manner. An examination of all disciplinary cases from 2002 to 2008 found that the board took an average of more than three years to investigate and close them — while the nurses accused of wrongdoing continued to practice without restriction. The day after the story was published, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced most members of the board, and its longtime executive officer resigned the day after that.

The fallout has continued. There have been a slew of follow-up editorials and articles in California newspapers. One, in the Los Angeles Times, said of the governor's response: "This time, he acted to protect patients, but where was the gubernatorial outrage when the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners, which included several of Schwarzenegger's friends, was accused in a state audit of similar failures to put consumers first?"

Another, in the San Francisco Chronicle, suggested that "Schwarzenegger shares a measure of blame too: his imposed work furloughs will slow investigations, and his administration should have been on the problem earlier."

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We love Paris in the Springtime: Health 2.0 announces Europe 2010

MétropolitainAbbesses We’ve had great participation in Health 2.0 Conferences from Europe and across the globe, and today we’re delighted to announce that we’re going to be holding a Health 2.0 Conference in Paris on April 6–7, 2010. It’ll be at the Cite Universitaire, which is a beautiful building in the southern part of Paris, with hidden inside it a very modern conference facility.

The conference will be called Health 2.0 Europe 2010 and it will be a unique experience. We will integrate the best of European web/mobile based technologies, and compare, contrast and contextualize them with leading examples of Health 2.0 from North America. We’ll be seeing what works in the context of Europe’s evolving health care systems, whether there are commonalities across European systems that can lead to economies of scale (or not!), and what the “boundary-less” online world means for consumers and physicians working in distinct health care systems.

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