Health Policy

The Brazilian Health System: History, Advances, and Challenges

The Brazilian Health System: History, Advances, and Challenges
The Lancet, Vol. 377, no. 9779, pp. 1778-1797. 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60054-8

Paim, J., C. Travassos, C. Almeida, L. Bahia, and J. Macinko
05/21/2011

Brazil is a country of continental dimensions with widespread regional and social inequalities. In this report, we examine the historical development and components of the Brazilian health system, focusing on the reform process during the past 40 years, including the creation of the Unified Health System. A defining characteristic of the contemporary health sector reform in Brazil is that it was driven by civil society rather than by governments, political parties, or international organisations. The advent of the Unified Health System increased access to health care for a substantial proportion of the Brazilian population, at a time when the system was becoming increasingly privatised. Much is still to be done if universal health care is to be achieved. Over the past 20 years, there have been other advances, including investments in human resources, science and technology, and primary care, and a substantial decentralisation process, widespread social participation, and growing public awareness of a right to health care. If the Brazilian health system is to overcome the challenges with which it is presently faced, strengthened political support is needed so that financing can be restructured and the roles of both the public and private sector can be redefined.

Robotic Surgery Claims on United States Hospital Websites

Robotic Surgery Claims on United States Hospital Websites
Journal for Healthcare Quality, Vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 48-52. DOI: 10.1111/j.1945-1474.2011.00148.x

Jin, L.X., A.M. Ibrahim, N.A. Newman, D.V. Makarov, P.J. Pronovost, and M.A. Makary
05/17/2011

To examine the prevalence and content of robotic surgery information presented on websites of U.S. hospitals. We completed a systematic analysis of 400 randomly selected U.S. hospital websites in June of 2010. Data were collected on the presence and location of robotic surgery information on a hospital's website; use of images or text provided by the manufacturer; use of direct link to manufacturer website; statements of clinical superiority; statements of improved cancer outcome; mention of a comparison group for a statement; citation of supporting data and mention of specific risks. Forty-one percent of hospital websites described robotic surgery. Among these, 37% percent presented robotic surgery on their homepage, 73% used manufacturer-provided stock images or text, and 33% linked to a manufacturer website. Statements of clinical superiority were made on 86% of websites, with 32% describing improved cancer control, and 2% described a reference group. No hospital website mentioned risks. Materials provided by hospitals regarding the surgical robot overestimate benefits, largely ignore risks and are strongly influenced by the manufacturer.

Prediction of patient-specific risk and percentile cohort risk of pathological stage outcome using continuous prostate-specific antigen measurement, clinical stage and biopsy Gleason score

Prediction of patient-specific risk and percentile cohort risk of pathological stage outcome using continuous prostate-specific antigen measurement, clinical stage and biopsy Gleason score
BJU International, Vol. 107, no. 10, pp. 1562-1569. DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2010.09692.x

Huang, Y., S. Isharwal, A. Haese, F.K.H. Chun,D.V. Makarov, Z. Feng, M. Han, E. Humphreys, J.I. Epstein, A.W. Partin, and R.W. Veltri
05/01/2011

Objectives: To develop a ‘2010 Partin Nomogram’ with total prostate-specific antigen (tPSA) as a continuous biomarker, in light of the fact that the current 2007 Partin Tables restrict the application of tPSA as a non-continuous biomarker by creating ‘groups’ for risk stratification with tPSA levels (ng/mL) of 0–2.5, 2.6–4.0, 4.1–6.0, 6.1–10.0 and >10.0. • To use a ‘predictiveness curve’ to calculate the percentile risk of a patient among the cohort.

Patients and Methods: In all, 5730 and 1646 patients were treated with radical prostatectomy (without neoadjuvant therapy) between 2000 and 2005 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) and University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf (UCHE), respectively. • Multinomial logistic regression analysis was performed to create a model for predicting the risk of the four non-ordered pathological stages, i.e. organ-confined disease (OC), extraprostatic extension (EPE), and seminal vesicle (SV+) and lymph node (LN+) involvement. • Patient-specific risk was modelled as a function of the B-spline basis of tPSA (with knots at the first, second and third quartiles), clinical stage (T1c, T2a, and T2b/T2c) and biopsy Gleason score (5–6, 3 + 4 = 7, 4 + 3 = 7, 8–10).

Results: The ‘2010 Partin Nomogram’ calculates patient-specific absolute risk for all four pathological outcomes (OC, EPE, SV+, LN+) given a patient’s preoperative clinical stage, tPSA and biopsy Gleason score. • While having similar performance in terms of calibration and discriminatory power, this new model provides a more accurate prediction of patients’ pathological stage than the 2007 Partin Tables model. • The use of ‘predictiveness curves’ has also made it possible to obtain the percentile risk of a patient among the cohort and to gauge the impact of risk thresholds for making decisions regarding radical prostatectomy.

Conclusion: The ‘2010 Partin Nomogram’ using tPSA as a continuous biomarker together with the corresponding ‘predictiveness curve’ will help clinicians and patients to make improved treatment decisions.

A New Formula for Prostate Cancer Lymph Node Risk

A New Formula for Prostate Cancer Lymph Node Risk
International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, Vol. 80, no. 1, pp. 69-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2010.01.068

Yu, J.B. D.V. Makarov, and C. Gross
05/01/2011

Introduction: The successful treatment of prostate cancer depends on the accurate estimation of the risk of regional lymph node (LN) involvement. The Roach formula (RF) has been criticized as overestimating LN risk. A modification of the RF has been attempted by other investigators using simplified adjustment ratios: the Nguyen formula (NF).

Methods and Materials: The National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database was investigated for patients treated in 2004 through 2006 for whom at least 10 LN were examined at radical prostatectomy, cT1c or cT2 disease, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) <26 ng/ml (N = 2,930). The Yale formula (YF) was derived from half of the sample (n = 1,460), and validated in the other half (n = 1,470).

Results: We identified 2,930 patients. Only 4.6% of patients had LN+, and 72.6% had cT1c disease. Gleason (GS) 8–10 histology was found in 14.4% of patients. The YF for prediction of %LN+ risk is [GS – 5] × [PSA/3 + 1.5 × T], where T = 0, 1, and 2 for cT1c, cT2a, and cT2b/cT2c. Within each strata of predicted %LN+ risk, the actual %LN+ was closest to the YF. Using a >15% risk as an indicator of high-risk disease, the YF had increased sensitivity (39.0% vs. 13.6%) compared with the NF, without a significant reduction in specificity (94.9% vs. 98.8%). The NF was overly restrictive of the high-risk group, with only 2% of patients having a >15% risk of LN+ by that formula.

Conclusion: The YF performed better than the RF and NF and was best at differentiating patients at high risk for LN+ disease.

Fine particulate matter pollution linked to respiratory illness in infants and increased hospital costs

Fine particulate matter pollution linked to respiratory illness in infants and increased hospital costs
Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 May;30(5):871-8.

Sheffield P, Roy A, Wong K, Trasande L.
05/01/2011

There has been little research to date on the linkages between air pollution and infectious respiratory illness in children, and the resulting health care costs. In this study we used data on air pollutants and national hospitalizations to study the relationship between fine particulate air pollution and health care charges and costs for the treatment of bronchiolitis, an acute viral infection of the lungs. We found that as the average exposure to fine particulate matter over the lifetime of an infant increased, so did costs for the child's health care. If the United States were to reduce levels of fine particulate matter to 7 percent below the current annual standard, the nation could save $15 million annually in reduced health care costs from hospitalizations of children with bronchiolitis living in urban areas. These findings reinforce the need for ongoing efforts to reduce levels of air pollutants. They should trigger additional investigation to determine if the current standards for fine-particulate matter are sufficiently protective of children's health.

The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics

The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics
Oxford University Press.

Glied, Sherry and Peter C. Smith
04/07/2011

The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics provides an accessible and authoritative guide to health economics, intended for scholars and students in the field, as well as those in adjacent disciplines including health policy and clinical medicine. The chapters stress the direct impact of health economics reasoning on policy and practice, offering readers an introduction to the potential reach of the discipline. Contributions come from internationally-recognized leaders in health economics and reflect the worldwide reach of the discipline. Authoritative, but non-technical, the chapters place great emphasis on the connections between theory and policy-making, and develop the contributions of health economics to problems arising in a variety of institutional contexts, from primary care to the operations of health insurers. The volume addresses policy concerns relevant to health systems in both developed and developing countries. It takes a broad perspective, with relevance to systems with single or multi-payer health insurance arrangements, and to those relying predominantly on user charges; contributions are also included that focus both on medical care and on non-medical factors that affect health. Each chapter provides a succinct summary of the current state of economic thinking in a given area, as well as the author's unique perspective on issues that remain open to debate. The volume presents a view of health economics as a vibrant and continually advancing field, highlighting ongoing challenges and pointing to new directions for further progress.

Climate Change and Human Health in Cities

Climate Change and Human Health in Cities
in Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), First UCCRN Assessment Report on Climate Change in Cities (ARC3), edited by C. Rosenzweig, W. D. Solecki, S. A. Hammer, and S. Mehrotra. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011, forthcoming, pp. 183-217

M. Barata (Rio de Janeiro), E. Ligeti (Toronto), Coordinating Lead Authors and G. De Simone (Rio de Janeiro), T. Dickinson (Toronto), D. Jack (New York City), J. Penney (Toronto), M. Rahman (Dhaka), and R. Zimmerman (New York City.)
04/01/2011

Massachusetts Links Pay for Performance to the Reduction of Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Massachusetts Links Pay for Performance to the Reduction of Racial and Ethnic Disparities
Health Affairs. 30(6):1165-1175.

Blustein, Jan, Joel Weissman, Andrew M Ryan, Tim Doran and Romana Hasnain-Wynia.
04/01/2011

The Institute of Medicaid has identified equity as a key dimension of quality. Recently, Massachusetts’ Medicaid program (MassHealth) took the unusual step of linking pay-for-performance (P4P) to the reduction of racial/ethnic disparities for hospital care.  We report on early experience with the program, describing the challenges of implementing an ambitious program in a short time frame, with limited resources.  Our findings raise questions about whether P4P as currently constituted is a suitable tool for addressing disparities in hospital care.

Health and Social Service Expenditures: Associations with Health Outcomes

Health and Social Service Expenditures: Associations with Health Outcomes
BMJ - Quality and Safety. Mar 29 epub, In Press.

Elizabeth Bradley, Benjamin Elkins, Jeph Herrin and Brian Elbel.
03/29/2011

Objective To examine variations in health service expenditures and social services expenditures across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and assess their association with five population-level health outcomes.

Design A pooled, cross-sectional analysis using data from the 2009 release of the OECD Health Data 2009 Statistics and Indicators and OECD Social Expenditure Database.

Setting OECD countries (n=30) from 1995 to 2005.

Main outcomes Life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, low birth weight, maternal mortality and potential years of life lost.

Results Health services expenditures adjusted for gross domestic product (GDP) per capita were significantly associated with better health outcomes in only two of five health indicators; social services expenditures adjusted for GDP were significantly associated with better health outcomes in three of five indicators. The ratio of social expenditures to health expenditures was significantly associated with better outcomes in infant mortality, life expectancy and increased potential life years lost, after adjusting for the level of health expenditures and GDP.

Conclusion Attention to broader domains of social policy may be helpful in accomplishing improvements in health envisioned by advocates of healthcare reform.

 

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