Health Policy

The Evolving Private Psychiatric Inpatient Market

The Evolving Private Psychiatric Inpatient Market
The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 2011. Volume 38 / Issue 01 / January 2011, pp 122-131, Published online

Erica Hutchins, Richard Frank and Sherry Glied
01/01/2011

The private psychiatric hospital market has exhibited great volatility over time. From 1976 to 1992, the number of hospitals more than doubled, while in the decade following, the number of facilities dropped by half. Recently, however, the industry has begun to grow again. The evolution of this market reflects the response of a private industry with access to capital markets to changes in both the supply of substitutes and the demand for services. Most recently, the limited supply of facilities and expanded demand for psychiatric services have spurred renewed growth. The two leading firms today, Universal Health Services, Inc., which rode the market crest and downturn since the 1980s, and Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., a newer entrant, have employed different strategies to take advantage of these opportunities. The rapid responsiveness of the private psychiatric hospital market, as exemplified by these two firms, presents significant potential for shaping future mental health policy.

Economics of children's environmental health

Economics of children's environmental health
Mt Sinai J Med. 2011 Jan-Feb;78(1):98-106

Trasande L
01/01/2011

Economic analyses are increasingly appearing in the children's environmental-health literature. In this review, an illustrative selection of articles that represent cost analyses, cost-effectiveness analyses, and cost-benefit analyses is analyzed for the relative merits of each approach. Cost analyses remain the dominant approach due to lack of available data. Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses in this area face challenges presented by estimation of costs of environmental interventions, whose costs are likely to decrease with further technological innovation. Benefits are also more difficult to quantify economically and can only be partially alleviated through willingness-to-pay approaches. Nevertheless, economic analyses in children's environmental health are highly informative and important informants to public-health and policy practice. Further attention and training in their appropriate use are needed.

Major Expansion of Primary Care in Brazil Linked to Decline in Unnecessary Hospitalization

Major Expansion of Primary Care in Brazil Linked to Decline in Unnecessary Hospitalization
Health Affairs, Vol. 29, no. 12, pp. 2149-2160. 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0251

Macinko, J., I. Dourado, R. Aquino, et al
12/01/2010

In 1994 Brazil launched what has since become the world’s largest community-based primary health care program. Under the Family Health Program, teams consisting of at least one physician, one nurse, a medical assistant, and four to six trained community health agents deliver most of their services at community-based clinics. They also make regular home visits and conduct neighborhood health promotion activities. This study finds that during 1999–2007, hospitalizations in Brazil for ambulatory care–sensitive chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and asthma, fell at a rate that was statistically significant and almost twice the rate of decline in hospitalizations for all other causes. In municipalities with high Family Health Program enrollment, chronic disease hospitalization rates were 13 percent lower than in municipalities with low enrollment, when other factors were held constant. These results suggest that the Family Health Program has improved health system performance in Brazil by reducing the number of potentially avoidable hospitalizations.

Intraurban Differences in the Use of Ambulatory Health Services in a Large Brazilian City

Intraurban Differences in the Use of Ambulatory Health Services in a Large Brazilian City
Journal of Urban Health, Vol. 87 no. 6, pp. 994-1006. 10.1007/s11524-010-9499-4

Turci, M.A., M.F. Lima-Costa, F.A. Proietti, C.C. Cesar, and J. Macinko
12/01/2010

A major goal of health systems is to reduce inequities in access to services, that is, to ensure that health care is provided based on health needs rather than social or economic factors. This study aims to identify the determinants of health services utilization among adults in a large Brazilian city and intraurban disparities in health care use. We combine household survey data with census-derived classification of social vulnerability of each household’s census tract. The dependent variable was utilization of physician services in the prior 12 months, and the independent variables included predisposing factors, health needs, enabling factors, and context. Prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated by the Hurdle regression model, which combined Poisson regression analysis of factors associated with any doctor visits (dichotomous variable) and zero-truncated negative binomial regression for the analysis of factors associated with the number of visits among those who had at least one. Results indicate that the use of health services was greater among women and increased with age, and was determined primarily by health needs and whether the individual had a regular doctor, even among those living in areas of the city with the worst socio-environmental indicators. The experience of Belo Horizonte may have implications for other world cities, particularly in the development and use of a comprehensive index to identify populations at risk and in order to guide expansion of primary health care services as a means of enhancing equity in health.

Consumer Estimation of Recommended and Actual Calories at Fast Food Restaurants

Consumer Estimation of Recommended and Actual Calories at Fast Food Restaurants
Obesity (Silver Spring). Oct 2011; 19(10): 1971–1978.

Elbel, B.
10/04/2010

Recently, localities across the United States have passed laws requiring the mandatory labeling of calories in all chain restaurants, including fast food restaurants. This policy is set to be implemented at the federal level. Early studies have found these policies to be at best minimally effective in altering food choice at a population level. This paper uses receipt and survey data collected from consumers outside fast food restaurants in low-income communities in New York City (NYC) (which implemented labeling) and a comparison community (which did not) to examine two fundamental assumptions necessary (though not sufficient) for calorie labeling to be effective: that consumers know how many calories they should be eating throughout the course of a day and that currently customers improperly estimate the number of calories in their fast food order. Then, we examine whether mandatory menu labeling influences either of these assumptions. We find that approximately one-third of consumers properly estimate that the number of calories an adult should consume daily. Few (8% on average) believe adults should be eating over 2,500 calories daily, and approximately one-third believe adults should eat lesser than 1,500 calories daily. Mandatory labeling in NYC did not change these findings. However, labeling did increase the number of low-income consumers who correctly estimated (within 100 calories) the number of calories in their fast food meal, from 15% before labeling in NYC increasing to 24% after labeling. Overall knowledge remains low even with labeling. Additional public policies likely need to be considered to influence obesity on a large scale.

Designing Comparative Effectiveness Research On Prescription Drugs: Lessons From The Clinical Trial Literature

Designing Comparative Effectiveness Research On Prescription Drugs: Lessons From The Clinical Trial Literature
Health Affairs, Vol. 29, no. 10 (Oct 2010), pp. 1842-1848. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0843

Chokshi, D., J. Avorn, and A.S. Kesselheim
10/01/2010

As comparative effectiveness research becomes a more prominent feature of clinical medicine, investigators and policy makers would do well to seek lessons from prior examples of this type of research. Our analysis of previous examples reveals lessons in three key areas: choice of comparison treatments, time frame of study, and widespread applicability of study results. Based on our observations, we offer suggestions for increasing the clinical applicability of comparative effectiveness research, such as employing surrogate endpoints that meet a specific threshold of validity. Future trials that address these areas of concern hold the greatest promise for improving patients’ outcomes.

Childhood Obesity: public health impact and policy responses

Childhood Obesity: public health impact and policy responses
"Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity: Current Status, Consequences and Prevention" Debasis Bagchi, Editor. Sept-2010

Kersh, R. & Elbel, B.
09/17/2010

Understanding the complex factors contributing to the growing childhood obesity epidemic is vital not only for the improved health of the world's future generations, but for the healthcare system. The impact of childhood obesity reaches beyond the individual family and into the public arenas of social systems and government policy and programs. Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity explores these with an approach that considers the current state of childhood obesity around the world as well as future projections, the most highly cited factors contributing to childhood obesity, what it means for the future both for children and society, and suggestions for steps to address and potentially prevent childhood obesity.

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