Health Policy

Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress

Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress
Committee on Core Metrics for Better Health at Lower Cost; Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2015.

David Blumenthal, Elizabeth Malphrus, and J. Michael McGinnis (Eds.)
04/28/2015

Thousands of measures are in use today to assess health and health care in the United States. Although many of these measures provide useful information, their sheer number, as well as their lack of focus, consistency, and organization, limits their overall effectiveness in improving performance of the health system. To achieve better health at lower cost, all stakeholders—including health profes­sionals, payers, policy makers, and members of the public—must be alert to the measures that matter most. What are the core measures that will yield the clearest understanding and focus on better health and well-being for Americans?

With support from the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Healthcare Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a committee to identify core measures for health and health care. In VITAL SIGNS: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress, the committee proposes a streamlined set of 15 standardized mea­sures, with recommendations for their application at every level and across sec­tors. Ultimately, the committee concludes that this streamlined set of measures could provide consistent benchmarks for health progress across the nation and improve system performance in the highest-priority areas.

In Knickman and Kovner (eds.) 2015. Health Care Delivery in the United States,

In Knickman and Kovner (eds.) 2015. Health Care Delivery in the United States,
11th Edition. Springer Publishing LLC

Gusmano, MK. and Rodwin, VG. Comparative Health Systems.
04/14/2015

Windows can sometimes be mirrors. A look at health systems abroad can enable us to develop a better understanding of our health system in the United States. An international perspective suggests that the United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, but unlike other wealthy countries, we fail to provide universal health insurance coverage and experience large inequities in access to primary and specialty care. Health care costs are often a source of financial strain, even bankruptcy, for people with serious illness (Hacker, 2006), and Americans suffer from high rates of mortality that could have been avoided with timely and appropriate access to a range of effective health care services (Nolte & McKee, 2012). There is also evidence that the U.S. health care system squanders resources and fails to address many of its population’s health care needs. Not surprisingly, public opinion polls regularly find that medical professionals and the public are dissatisfied with the system and believe major change is necessary (Blendon, Benson, & Brulé, 2012). 

Power and Priorities: The Growing Pains of Global Health; Comment on “Knowledge, Moral Claims and the Exercise of Power in Global Health”

Power and Priorities: The Growing Pains of Global Health; Comment on “Knowledge, Moral Claims and the Exercise of Power in Global Health”
Int J Health Policy Manag 2015, 4(x), 1–2

Karen A. Grépin
03/05/2015

Shiffman has argued that some actors have a great deal of power in global health, and that more reflection is needed on whether such forms of power are legitimate. Global health is a new and evolving field that builds upon the historical fields of public and international health, but is more multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary in nature. This article argues that the distribution of power in some global health institutions may be limiting the contributions of all researchers in the field

Assessment of a government-subsidized supermarket in a high-need area on household food availability and children's dietary intakes

Assessment of a government-subsidized supermarket in a high-need area on household food availability and children's dietary intakes

Brian Elbel, Alyssa Moran, L Beth Dixon. Kamila Kiszko, Jonathan Cantor, Courtney Abrams and Tod Mijanovich
01/07/2015

Objective: To assess the impact of a new government-subsidized supermarket in a
high-need area on household food availability and dietary habits in children.
Design: A difference-in-difference study design was utilized.
Setting: Two neighbourhoods in the Bronx, New York City. Outcomes were
collected in Morrisania, the target community where the new supermarket was
opened, and Highbridge, the comparison community.
Subjects: Parents/caregivers of a child aged 3–10 years residing in Morrisania
or Highbridge. Participants were recruited via street intercept at baseline (presupermarket
opening) and at two follow-up periods (five weeks and one year
post-supermarket opening).
Results: Analysis is based on 2172 street-intercept surveys and 363 dietary recalls
from a sample of predominantly low-income minorities. While there were small,
inconsistent changes over the time periods, there were no appreciable differences
in availability of healthful or unhealthful foods at home, or in children’s dietary
intake as a result of the supermarket.
Conclusions: The introduction of a government-subsidized supermarket into an
underserved neighbourhood in the Bronx did not result in significant changes in
household food availability or children’s dietary intake. Given the lack of healthful
food options in underserved neighbourhoods and need for programmes that
promote access, further research is needed to determine whether healthy food
retail expansion, alone or with other strategies, can improve food choices of
children and their families.

The Effect of the Diffusion of the Surgical Robot on the Hospital-level Utilization of Partial Nephrectomy

The Effect of the Diffusion of the Surgical Robot on the Hospital-level Utilization of Partial Nephrectomy
Medical Care, Vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 71-78. DOI: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000259

Sivarajan, G., G.B. Taksler, D. Walter, C.P. Gross, R.E. Sosa,and D.V. Makarov
01/01/2015

Introduction: The rapid diffusion of the surgical robot has been controversial because of the technology’s high costs and its disputed marginal benefit. Some, however, have suggested that adoption of the robot may have improved care for patients with renal malignancy by facilitating partial nephrectomy, an underutilized, technically challenging procedure believed to be less morbid than radical nephrectomy. We sought to determine whether institutional acquisition of the robot was associated with increased utilization of partial nephrectomy.

Methods: We used all payer data from 7 states to identify 21,569 nephrectomies. These patient-level records were aggregated to the hospital-level then merged with the American Hospital Association Annual Survey and publicly available data on timing of robot acquisition. We used a multivariable difference-in-difference model to assess at the hospital-level whether robot acquisition was associated with an increase in the proportion of partial nephrectomy, adjusting for hospital nephrectomy volume, year of surgery, and several additional hospital-level factors.

Results: In the multivariable-adjusted differences-in-differences model, hospitals acquiring a robot between 2001 and 2004 performed a greater proportion of partial nephrectomy in both 2005 (29.9% increase) and 2008 (34.9% increase). Hospitals acquiring a robot between 2005 and 2008 also demonstrated a greater proportion of partial nephrectomy in 2008 (15.5% increase). In addition, hospital nephrectomy volume and urban location were also significantly associated with increased proportion of partial nephrectomy.

Conclusions: Hospital acquisition of the surgical robot is associated with greater proportion of partial nephrectomy, an underutilized, guideline-encouraged procedure. This is one of the few studies to suggest robot acquisition is associated with improvement in quality of patient care.

Shanghai rising: health improvements as measured by avoidable mortality since 2000

Shanghai rising: health improvements as measured by avoidable mortality since 2000
International Journal of Health Policy Management; 4(1), 1–6.

Gusmano, MK., Rodwin, VG. Wang C., Weisz D., Luo L., and Hua F.
12/27/2014

Over the past two decades, Shanghai, the largest megacity in China, has been coping with unprecedented growth of its economy and population while overcoming previous underinvestment in the health system by the central and local governments. We study the evolution of Shanghai’s healthcare system by analyzing “Avoidable Mortality” (AM) – deaths amenable to public health and healthcare interventions, as previously defined in the literature. Based on analysis of mortality data, by cause of death, from the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we analyze trends over the period 2000–10 and compare Shanghai’s experience to other mega-city regions – New York, London and Paris. Population health status attributable to public health and healthcare interventions improved dramatically for Shanghai’s population with permanent residency status. The age-adjusted rate of AM, per 1,000 population, dropped from 0.72 to 0.50. The rate of decrease in age-adjusted AM in Shanghai (30%) was comparable to New York City (30%) and Paris (25%), but lower than London (42%). Shanghai’s establishment of the Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention and its upgrading of public health and health services are likely to have contributed to the large decrease in the number and rate of avoidable deaths, which suggests that investments in public health infrastructure and increasing access to health services in megacities – both in China and worldwide – can produce significant mortality declines. Future analysis in Shanghai should investigate inequalities in avoidable deaths and the extent to which these gains have benefitted the significant population of urban migrants who do not have permanent residency status.


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