Health Policy

What Passes and Fails as Health Policy and Management

What Passes and Fails as Health Policy and Management
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 39, No. 5, October 2014 DOI 10.1215/03616878-2813719

Rodwin, Victor G. and David Chinitz
07/18/2014

The field of health policy and management (HPAM) faces a gap between theory, policy and practice. Despite decades of efforts at reforming health policy and health care systems, prominent analysts state that the health system is ‘‘stuck’’ and that models for change remain ‘‘aspirational.’’ We discuss four reasons for the failure of current ideas and models for redesigning health care: (1) the dominance of microeconomic thinking; (2) the lack of comparative studies of health care organizations and the limits of health management theory in recognizing the importance of local contexts; (3) the separation of HPAM from the rank and file of health care, particularly physicians; and (4) the failure to expose medical students to issues of HPAM. We conclude with suggestions for rethinking how the field of HPAM might generate more promising policies for health care providers and managers by abandoning the illusion of context-free theories and, instead, seeking to facilitate the processes by which organizations can learn to improve their own performance.

Association of weekend continuity of care with hospital length of stay

Association of weekend continuity of care with hospital length of stay
International Journal for Quality in Health Care, Vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 551-563. DOI: 10.1093/intqhc/mzu065

Blecker, S., D. Shine, N. Park, K. Goldfeld, R.Scott Braithwaite, M.J. Radford, and M.N. Gourevitch
07/03/2014

Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association of physician continuity of care with length of stay, likelihood of weekend discharge, in-hospital mortality and 30-day readmission.

Design: A cohort study of hospitalized medical patients. The primary exposure was the weekend usual provider continuity (UPC) over the initial weekend of care. This metric was adapted from an outpatient continuity of care index. Regression models were developed to determine the association between UPC and outcomes.

Setting: An academic medical center.

Main: outcome measure Length of stay which was calculated as the number of days from the first Saturday of the hospitalization to the day of discharge.

Results: Of the 3391 patients included in this study, the prevalence of low, moderate and high UPC for the initial weekend of hospitalization was 58.7, 22.3 and 19.1%, respectively. When compared with low continuity of care, both moderate and high continuity of care were associated with reduced length of stay, with adjusted rate ratios of 0.92 (95% CI 0.86–1.00) and 0.64 (95% CI 0.53–0.76), respectively. High continuity of care was associated with likelihood of weekend discharge (adjusted odds ratio 2.84, 95% CI 2.11–3.83) but was not significantly associated with mortality (adjusted odds ratio 0.72, 95% CI 0.29–1.80) or readmission (adjusted odds ratio 0.88, 95% CI 0.68–1.14) when compared with low continuity of care.

Conclusions: Increased weekend continuity of care is associated with reduced length of stay. Improvement in weekend cross-coverage and patient handoffs may be useful to improve clinical outcomes.

Are hospitals “keeping up with the Joneses”?: Assessing the spatial and temporal diffusion of the surgical robot

Are hospitals “keeping up with the Joneses”?: Assessing the spatial and temporal diffusion of the surgical robot
Healthcare : the Journal of Delivery Science & Innovation, Vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 152-157. DOI: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2013.10.002

Li, H., M.H. Gail, B.R. Scott, H.T. Gold, D. Walter, D, M. Liu, C.P. Gross, and D.V. Makarov
07/01/2014

Background: The surgical robot has been widely adopted in the United States in spite of its high cost and controversy surrounding its benefit. Some have suggested that a “medical arms race” influences technology adoption. We wanted to determine whether a hospital would acquire a surgical robot if its nearest neighboring hospital already owned one.

Methods: We identified 554 hospitals performing radical prostatectomy from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statewide Inpatient Databases for seven states. We used publicly available data from the website of the surgical robot's sole manufacturer (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA) combined with data collected from the hospitals to ascertain the timing of robot acquisition during year 2001 to 2008. One hundred thirty four hospitals (24%) had acquired a surgical robot by the end of 2008. We geocoded the address of each hospital and determined a hospital's likelihood to acquire a surgical robot based on whether its nearest neighbor owned a surgical robot. We developed a Markov chain method to model the acquisition process spatially and temporally and quantified the “neighborhood effect” on the acquisition of the surgical robot while adjusting simultaneously for known confounders.

Results: After adjusting for hospital teaching status, surgical volume, urban status and number of hospital beds, the Markov chain analysis demonstrated that a hospital whose nearest neighbor had acquired a surgical robot had a higher likelihood itself acquiring a surgical robot (OR=1.71, 95% CI: 1.07–2.72, p=0.02).

Conclusion: There is a significant spatial and temporal association for hospitals acquiring surgical robots during the study period. Hospitals were more likely to acquire a surgical robot during the robot's early adoption phase if their nearest neighbor had already done so.

Changing the research landscape: the New York City Clinical Data Research Network

Changing the research landscape: the New York City Clinical Data Research Network
Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2014:179-179.DOI: 10.1136/amiajnl-2014-002764

Kaushal, R., G. Hripcsak, D.D. Ascheim, et al
07/01/2014

The New York City Clinical Data Research Network (NYC-CDRN), funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), brings together 22 organizations including seven independent health systems to enable patient-centered clinical research, support a national network, and facilitate learning healthcare systems. The NYC-CDRN includes a robust, collaborative governance and organizational infrastructure, which takes advantage of its participants' experience, expertise, and history of collaboration. The technical design will employ an information model to document and manage the collection and transformation of clinical data, local institutional staging areas to transform and validate data, a centralized data processing facility to aggregate and share data, and use of common standards and tools. We strive to ensure that our project is patient-centered; nurtures collaboration among all stakeholders; develops scalable solutions facilitating growth and connections; chooses simple, elegant solutions wherever possible; and explores ways to streamline the administrative and regulatory approval process across sites.

Test–retest reliability of a self-administered Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) in primary care patients

Test–retest reliability of a self-administered Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) in primary care patients
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 216-221. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsat.2014.01.007

McNeely, J., S.M. Strauss, S. Wright, J. Rotrosen, R. Khan, J.D. Lee, and M.N. Gourevitch
07/01/2014

The time required to conduct drug and alcohol screening has been a major barrier to its implementation in mainstream healthcare settings. Because patient self-administered tools are potentially more efficient, we translated the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) into an audio guided computer assisted self interview (ACASI) format. This study reports on the test–retest reliability of the ACASI ASSIST in an adult primary care population. Adult primary care patients completed the ACASI ASSIST, in English or Spanish, twice within a 1–4 week period. Among the 101 participants, there were no significant differences between test administrations in detecting moderate to high risk use for tobacco, alcohol, or any other drug class. Substance risk scores from the two administrations had excellent concordance (90–98%) and high correlation (ICC 0.90–0.97) for tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. The ACASI ASSIST has good test–retest reliability, and warrants additional study to evaluate its validity for detecting unhealthy substance use.

‘Big Push’ To Reduce Maternal Mortality In Uganda And Zambia Enhanced Health Systems But Lacked A Sustainability Plan

‘Big Push’ To Reduce Maternal Mortality In Uganda And Zambia Enhanced Health Systems But Lacked A Sustainability Plan
doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0637 Health Aff June 2014 vol. 33 no. 6 1058-1066

Margaret E. Kruk, Miriam Rabkin, Karen Ann Grépin, Katherine Austin-Evelyn, Dana Greeson, Tsitsi Beatrice Masvawure, Emma Rose Sacks, Daniel Vail and Sandro Galea
06/01/2014

In the past decade, “big push” global health initiatives financed by international donors have aimed to rapidly reach ambitious health targets in low-income countries. The health system impacts of these efforts are infrequently assessed. Saving Mothers, Giving Life is a global public-private partnership that aims to reduce maternal mortality dramatically in one year in eight districts in Uganda and Zambia. We evaluated the first six to twelve months of the program’s implementation, its ownership by national ministries of health, and its effects on health systems. The project’s impact on maternal mortality is not reported here. We found that the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative delivered a large “dose” of intervention quickly by capitalizing on existing US international health assistance platforms, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Early benefits to the broader health system included greater policy attention to maternal and child health, new health care infrastructure, and new models for collaborating with the private sector and communities. However, the rapid pace, external design, and lack of a long-term financing plan hindered integration into the health system and local ownership. Sustaining and scaling up early gains of similar big push initiatives requires longer-term commitments and a clear plan for transition to national control.

The global cancer divide: relationships between national healthcare resources and cancer outcomes in high-income vs. middle- and low-income countries

The global cancer divide: relationships between national healthcare resources and cancer outcomes in high-income vs. middle- and low-income countries
Journal of Epidemiology & Global Health, Vol 4, no. 2, pp. 115-124. DOI: 10.1016/j.jegh.2013.10.004

Batouli, A., P. Jahanshahi, C.P. Gross, D.V. Makarov, and J.B.Yu
06/01/2014

Background: Cancer continues to rise as a contributor to premature death in the developing world. Despite this, little is known about whether cancer outcomes are related to a country’s income level, and what aspects of national healthcare systems are associated with improved cancer outcomes.

Methods: The most recent estimates of cancer incidence and mortality were used to calculate mortality-to-incidence ratio (MIR) for the 85 countries with reliable data. Countries were categorized according to high-income (Gross Domestic Product (GDP) > $15,000) or middle/low-income (GDP < $15,000), and a multivariate linear regression model was used to determine the association between healthcare system indicators and cancer MIR. Indicators study included per capita GDP, overall total healthcare expenditure (THE), THE as a proportion of GDP, total external beam radiotherapy devices (TEBD) per capita, physician density, and the year 2000 WHO healthcare system rankings.

Results: Cancer MIR in high-income countries (0.47) was significantly lower than that of middle/low-income countries (0.64), with a p < 0.001. In high-income countries, GDP, health expenditure and TEBD showed significant inverse correlations with overall cancer MIR. A $3040 increase in GDP (p = 0.004), a $379 increase in THE (p < 0.001), or an increase of 0.59 TEBD per 100,000 population (p = 0.027) were all associated with a 0.01 decrease in cancer MIR. In middle/low-income countries, only WHO scores correlated with decreased cancer MIR (p = 0.022); 12 specific cancer types also showed similar significant correlations (p < 0.05) as overall cancer MIR.

Conclusions: The analysis of this study suggested that cancer MIR is greater in middle/low-income countries. Furthermore, the WHO healthcare score was associated with improved cancer outcomes in middle/low-income countries while absolute levels of financial resources and infrastructure played a more important role in high-income countries.

Population Health and the Academic Medical Center: The Time Is Right

Population Health and the Academic Medical Center: The Time Is Right
Academic Medicine, Vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 544-549. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000171

Gourevitch, M.N.
04/01/2014

Optimizing the health of populations, whether defined as persons receiving care from a health care delivery system or more broadly as persons in a region, is emerging as a core focus in the era of health care reform. To achieve this goal requires an approach in which preventive care is valued and “nonmedical” determinants of patients’ health are engaged. For large, multimission systems such as academic medical centers, navigating the evolution to a population-oriented paradigm across the domains of patient care, education, and research poses real challenges but also offers tremendous opportunities, as important objectives across each mission begin to align with external trends and incentives. In clinical care, opportunities exist to improve capacity for assuming risk, optimize community benefit, and make innovative use of advances in health information technology. Education must equip the next generation of leaders to understand and address population-level goals in addition to patient-level needs. And the prospects for research to define strategies for measuring and optimizing the health of populations have never been stronger. A remarkable convergence of trends has created compelling opportunities for academic medical centers to advance their core goals by endorsing and committing to advancing the health of populations.

Association between Arsenic Exposure from Drinking Water and Hematuria: Results from the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study

Association between Arsenic Exposure from Drinking Water and Hematuria: Results from the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study
Toxicology & Applied Pharmacology, Vol. 276, no. 1, pp 21-27. DOI: 10.1016/j.taap.2014.01.015

McClintock, T.R., Y. Chen, F. Parvez, D.V. Makarov, W. Ge, T. Islam, A. Ahmed, M. Rakibuz-Zaman, R. Hasan, G. Sarwar, V. Slavkovich, M.A. Bjurlin, J.H. Graziano, and H. Ahsan
04/01/2014

Arsenic (As) exposure has been associated with both urologic malignancy and renal dysfunction; however, its association with hematuria is unknown. We evaluated the association between drinking water As exposure and hematuria in 7843 men enrolled in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS). Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data was conducted with As exposure assessed in both well water and urinary As measurements, while hematuria was measured using urine dipstick. Prospective analyses with Cox proportional regression models were based on urinary As and dipstick measurements obtained biannually since baseline up to six years. At baseline, urinary As was significantly related to prevalence of hematuria (P-trend < 0.01), with increasing quintiles of exposure corresponding with respective prevalence odds ratios of 1.00 (reference), 1.29 (95% CI: 1.04–1.59), 1.41 (95% CI: 1.15–1.74), 1.46 (95% CI: 1.19–1.79), and 1.56 (95% CI: 1.27–1.91). Compared to those with relatively little absolute urinary As change during follow-up (− 10.40 to 41.17 μg/l), hazard ratios for hematuria were 0.99 (95% CI: 0.80–1.22) and 0.80 (95% CI: 0.65–0.99) for those whose urinary As decreased by > 47.49 μg/l and 10.87 to 47.49 μg/l since last visit, respectively, and 1.17 (95% CI: 0.94–1.45) and 1.36 (95% CI: 1.10–1.66) for those with between-visit increases of 10.40 to 41.17 μg/l and > 41.17 μg/l, respectively. These data indicate a positive association of As exposure with both prevalence and incidence of dipstick hematuria. This exposure effect appears modifiable by relatively short-term changes in drinking water As.

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