Using the results of the 1993 Medical Library Association (MLA) Hospital Libraries Section survey of hospital-based end-user search services, this article describes how end-user search services can become an impetus for an expanded information management and technology role for the hospital librarian. An end-user services implementation plan is presented that focuses on software, hardware, finances, policies, staff allocations and responsibilities, educational program design, and program evaluation. Possibilities for extending end-user search services into information technology and informatics, specialized end-user search systems, and Internet access are described. Future opportunities are identified for expanding the hospital librarian's role in the face of changing health care management, advances in information technology, and increasing end-user expectations.
Objective: The role of two solo medical librarians in supporting Medicaid programs by functioning as information specialists at regional and state levels is examined.
Setting: A solo librarian for the Massachusetts Medicaid (MassHealth) program and a solo librarian for the New England States Consortium Systems Organization (NESCSO) functioned as information specialists in context to support Medicaid policy development and clinical, administrative, and program staff for state Medicaid programs.
Brief Description: The librarian for MassHealth initially focused on acquiring library materials and providing research support on culturally competent health care and outreach, as part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care Standards. The NESCSO librarian focused on state Medicaid system issues surrounding the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The research focus expanded for both the librarians, shaping their roles to more directly support clinical and administrative policy development. Of note, the availability and dissemination of information to policy leaders facilitated efforts to reduce health disparities. In Massachusetts, this led to a state legislative special commission to eliminate health disparities, which released a report in November 2005. On a regional level, the NESCSO librarian provided opportunities for states in New England to share ideas and Medicaid program information. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare are working with NESCSO to explore the potential for using the NESCSO model for collaboration for other regions of the United States.
Results/Outcomes: With the increased attention on evidence-based health care and reduction of health disparities, medical librarians are called on to support a variety of health care information needs. Nationally, state Medicaid programs are being called on to provide coverage and make complex medical decisions regarding the delivery of benefits. Increasing numbers of beneficiaries and shrinking Medicaid budgets demand effective and proactive decision making to provide quality care and to accomplish the missions of state Medicaid programs. In this environment, the opportunities for information professionals to provide value and knowledge management are increasing.
Objectives: The authors sought to identify opportunities for partnership between the communities of public health workers and health sciences librarians.
Methods: The authors review competencies in public health and health sciences librarianship. They highlight previously identified public health informatics competencies and the Medical Library Association's essential areas of knowledge. Based on points of correspondence between the two domains, the authors identify specific opportunities for partnership.
Results: The points of correspondence between public health and health sciences librarianship are reflected in several past projects involving both communities. These previous collaborations and the services provided by health sciences librarians at many public health organizations suggest that some health sciences librarians may be considered full members of the public health workforce. Opportunities remain for productive collaboration between public health workers and health sciences librarians.
Conclusions: Drawing on historical and contemporary experience, this paper presents an initial framework for forming collaborations between health sciences librarians and members of the public health workforce. This framework may stimulate thinking about how to form additional partnerships between members of these two communities.
Policy and finance barriers reduce access to preconception care and, reportedly, limit professional practice changes that would improve the availability of needed services. Millions of women of childbearing age (15–44) lack adequate health coverage (i.e., uninsured or underinsured), and others live in medically underserved areas. Service delivery fragmentation and lack of professional guidelines are additional barriers. This paper reviews barriers and opportunities for financing preconception care, based on a review and analysis of state and federal policies. We describe states’ experiences with and opportunities to improve health coverage, through public programs such as Medicaid, Medicaid waivers, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The potential role of Title V and of community health centers in providing primary and preventive care to women also is discussed. In these and other public health and health coverage programs, opportunities exist to finance preconception care for low-income women. Three major policy directions are discussed. To increase access to preconception care among women of childbearing age, the federal and state governments have opportunities to: (1) improve health care coverage, (2) increase the supply of publicly subsidized health clinics, and (3) direct delivery of preconception screening and interventions in the context of public health programs.
Finance; Policy; Maternal health; Infant health; Preconception; Medicaid; Title V; Family planning
Primary care reform in Ontario, Canada, included the initiation of a blended capitation model in 2001–2002 and an enhanced fee-for-service model in 2003. Both models involve patient rostering, incentives for preventive care and requirements for after-hours care. We evaluated practice characteristics and patterns of care under both models.
Using administrative data, we identified physicians belonging to either the capitation or the enhanced fee-for-service group throughout the period from Sept. 1, 2005, to Aug. 31, 2006, and their enrolled patients. Practices were stratified by location (urban v. rural). We compared the groups in terms of practice characteristics and patterns of care, including comprehensiveness of care, continuity of care, after-hours care, visits to the emergency department and uptake of new patients.
Patients in the capitation and enhanced fee-for-service practices had similar demographic characteristics. Patients in capitation practices had lower morbidity and comorbidity indices. Comprehensiveness and continuity of care were similar between the 2 groups. Compared with patients in enhanced fee-for-service practices, those in capitation practices had less after-hours care (adjusted rate ratio [RR] 0.68, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.61–0.75) and more visits to emergency departments (adjusted RR 1.20, 95% CI 1.15–1.25). Overall, physicians in the capitation group enrolled fewer new patients than did physicians in the enhanced fee-for-service group (37.0 v. 52.0 per physician); the same was true of new graduates (60.3 v. 72.1 per physician).
Physicians enrolled in the capitation model had different practice characteristics than those in the enhanced fee-for-service model. These characteristics appeared to be pre-existing and not due to enrolment in a new model. Although the capitation model provides an alternative to fee-for-service practice, its characteristics should be the focus of future policy development and research.
It has been argued that quality improvements that result from user charges reduce their negative impact on utilization especially of the poor. In Uganda, because there was no concrete evidence for improvements in quality of care following the introduction of user charges, the government abolished user fees in all public health units on 1st March 2001. This gave us the opportunity to prospectively study how different aspects of quality of care change, as a country changes its health financing options from user charges to free services, in a developing country setting. The outcome of the study may then provide insights into policy actions to maintain quality of care following removal of user fees.
A population cohort and representative health facilities were studied longitudinally over 3 years after the abolition of user fees. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to obtain data. Parameters evaluated in relation to quality of care included availability of drugs and supplies and; health worker variables.
Different quality variables assessed showed that interventions that were put in place were able to maintain, or improve the technical quality of services. There were significant increases in utilization of services, average drug quantities and stock out days improved, and communities reported health workers to be hardworking, good and dedicated to their work to mention but a few. Communities were more appreciative of the services, though expectations were lower. However, health workers felt they were not adequately motivated given the increased workload.
The levels of technical quality of care attained in a system with user fees can be maintained, or even improved without the fees through adoption of basic, sustainable system modifications that are within the reach of developing countries. However, a trade-off between residual perceptions of reduced service quality, and the welfare gains from removal of user fees should guide such a policy change.
The medical libraries of Vietnam maintain high profiles within their institutions and are recognized by health care professionals and administrators as an important part of the health care system. Despite the multitude of problems in providing even a minimal level of medical library services, librarians, clinicians, and researchers nevertheless are determined that enhanced services be made available. Currently, services can be described as basic and unsophisticated, yet viable and surprisingly well organized. The lack of hard western currency required to buy materials and the lack of library technology will be major obstacles to improving information services. Vietnam, like many developing nations, is about to enter a period of technological upheaval, which ultimately will result in a transition from the traditional library limited by walls to a national resource that will rely increasingly on electronic access to international knowledge networks. Technology such as CD-ROM, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), and satellite telecommunication networks such as Internet can provide the technical backbone to provide access to remote and widely distributed electronic databases to support the information needs of the health care community. Over the long term, access to such databases likely will be cost-effective, in contrast to the assuredly astronomical cost of building a comparable domestic print collection. The advent of new, low-cost electronic technologies probably will revolutionize health care information services in developing nations. However, for the immediate future, the medical libraries of Vietnam will require ongoing sustained support from the international community, so that minimal levels of resources will be available to support the information needs of the health care community. It is remarkable, and a credit to the determination of Vietnam's librarians that, in a country with a legacy of war, economic deprivation, and international isolation, they have somehow managed to provide a sound basic level of information services for health care professionals.
Health reforms in Bulgaria have introduced major changes to the financing, delivery and regulation of health care. As in many other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, these included introducing general practice, establishing a health insurance system, reorganizing hospital services, and setting up new payment mechanisms for providers, including patient co-payments. Our study explored perceptions of regulatory barriers to equity in Bulgarian child health services.
50 qualitative in-depth interviews with users, providers and policy-makers concerned with child health services in Bulgaria, conducted in two villages, one town of 70,000 inhabitants, and the capital Sofia.
The participants in our study reported a variety of regulatory barriers which undermined the principles of equity and, as far as the health insurance system is concerned, solidarity. These included non-participation in the compulsory health insurance system, informal payments, and charging user fees to exempted patients. The participants also reported seemingly unnecessary treatments in the growing private sector. These regulatory failures were associated with the fast pace of reforms, lack of consultation, inadequate public financing of the health system, a perceived "commercialization" of medicine, and weak enforcement of legislation. A recurrent theme from the interviews was the need for better information about patient rights and services covered by the health insurance system.
Regulatory barriers to equity and compliance in daily practice deserve more attention from policy-makers when embarking on health reforms. New financing sources and an increasing role of the private sector need to be accompanied by an appropriate and enforceable regulatory framework to control the behavior of health care providers and ensure equity in access to health services.
Elderly veterans who visit our Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center primary care clinic often mention they are enrolled in HMOs. Approximately 20% of patients hospitalized at our facility report health insurance coverage. Of 1,000 hospitalizations during a 6-month period in which veterans reported insurance coverage, 337 involved elderly veterans. Of these 337 hospitalizations, 218 (65%) were for 174 veterans who stated they were enrolled in a Medicare-financed HMO. The VA’s Medical Care Cost Recovery Program deemed only 46 (21%) of the hospitalizations billable and received reimbursement for 20 (9%). Thus, the VA is providing costly services already paid for by the Health Care Financing Administration under prepaid capitation contracts, and recovers minimal reimbursement from the HMOs.
veterans; elderly; Medicare; HMOs; health care financing
The Medical Education Task Force of the Task Force on Vital Pathways for Hospital Librarians reviewed current and future roles of health sciences librarians in medical education at the graduate and undergraduate levels and worked with national organizations to integrate library services, education, and staff into the requirements for training medical students and residents.
Standards for medical education accreditation programs were studied, and a literature search was conducted on the topic of the role of the health sciences librarian in medical education.
Expectations for library and information services in current standards were documented, and a draft standard prepared. A comprehensive bibliography on the role of the health sciences librarian in medical education was completed, and an analysis of the services provided by health sciences librarians was created.
An essential role and responsibility of the health sciences librarian will be to provide the health care professional with the skills needed to access, manage, and use library and information resources effectively. Validation and recognition of the health sciences librarian's contributions to medical education by accrediting agencies will be critical. The opportunity lies in health sciences librarians embracing the diverse roles that can be served in this vital activity, regardless of accrediting agency mandates.
The medical component of workers' compensation programs-now costing over $24 billion annually-and the rest of the nation's medical care system are linked. They share the same patients and providers. They provide similar benefits and services. And they struggle over who should pay for what. Clearly, health care reform and restructuring will have a major impact on the operation and expenditures of the workers' compensation system. For a brief period, during the 1994 national health care reform debate, these two systems were part of the same federal policy development and legislative process. With comprehensive health care reform no longer on the horizon, states now are tackling both workers' compensation and medical system reforms on their own. This paper reviews the major issues federal and state policy makers face as they consider reforms affecting the relationship between workers' compensation and traditional health insurance. What is the relationship of the workers' compensation cost crisis to that in general health care? What strategies are being considered by states involved in reforming the medical component of workers compensation? What are the major policy implications of these strategies?
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) developed a model training program to prepare current and future health sciences librarians for roles that are integrated into the diverse fabric of the health care professions. As a complement to the traditional and theoretical aspects of a librarian's education, this mixture of supplemental coursework and intensive practical training emphasizes active management of information, problem-solving skills, learning in context, and direct participation in research, while providing the opportunity for advanced academic pursuits. The practical training will take place under the auspices of an established Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems (IAIMS) library that is fully integrated with the Health Center Information Management Unit and Academic Biomedical Informatics Unit. During the planning phase, investigators are analyzing the model's aims and requirements, concentrating on (a) refining the current understanding of the roles health sciences librarians occupy; (b) developing educational strategies that prepare librarians to fulfill expanded roles; and (c) planning for an evaluation process that will support iterative revision and refinement of the model.
The government of Morocco approved two reforms in 2005 to expand health insurance coverage. The first is a payroll-based mandatory health insurance plan for public-and formal private–sector employees to extend coverage from the current 16 percent of the population to 30 percent. The second creates a publicly financed fund to cover services for the poor. Both reforms aim to improve access to high-quality care and reduce disparities in access and financing between income groups and between rural and urban dwellers. In this paper we analyze these reforms: the pre-reform debate, benefits covered, financing, administration, and oversight. We also examine prospects and future challenges for implementing the reforms.
Equitable financing is a key objective of health care systems. Its importance is evidenced in policy documents, policy statements, the work of health economists and policy analysts. The conventional categorisations of finance sources for health care are taxation, social health insurance, private health insurance and out-of-pocket payments. There are nonetheless increasing variations in the finance sources used to fund health care. An understanding of the equity implications would help policy makers in achieving equitable financing.
The primary purpose of this paper was to comprehensively assess the equity of health care financing in Malaysia, which represents a new country context for the quantitative techniques used. The paper evaluated each of the five financing sources (direct taxes, indirect taxes, contributions to Employee Provident Fund and Social Security Organization, private insurance and out-of-pocket payments) independently, and subsequently by combined the financing sources to evaluate the whole financing system.
Cross-sectional analyses were performed on the Household Expenditure Survey Malaysia 1998/99, using Stata statistical software package. In order to assess inequality, progressivity of each finance sources and the whole financing system was measured by Kakwani's progressivity index.
Results showed that Malaysia's predominantly tax-financed system was slightly progressive with a Kakwani's progressivity index of 0.186. The net progressive effect was produced by four progressive finance sources (in the decreasing order of direct taxes, private insurance premiums, out-of-pocket payments, contributions to EPF and SOCSO) and a regressive finance source (indirect taxes).
Malaysia's two tier health system, of a heavily subsidised public sector and a user charged private sector, has produced a progressive health financing system. The case of Malaysia exemplifies that policy makers can gain an in depth understanding of the equity impact, in order to help shape health financing strategies for the nation.
To examine service cost and access for persons with severe mental illness under Medicaid mental health capitation payment in Colorado. Capitation contracts were made with two organizational models: community mental health centers (CMHCs) that manage and deliver services (direct capitation [DC]) and joint ventures between CMHCs and a for-profit managed care firm (managed behavioral health organization, [MBHO]) and compared to fee for service (F.F.S.).
Data Sources/Study Setting
Both primary and secondary data were collected for the year prior to the new financing policy and the following two years (1995–1998).
A stratified random sample of 522 severely mentally ill subjects was selected from comparable geographic areas within the capitated and FFS regions of Colorado. Major variables include service cost, utilization, and access (probability of service use) derived from secondary claims data, subject reported access collected at six-month intervals, and baseline outcomes (symptoms, functioning, and quality of life).
In comparison to the FFS area, cost per person was reduced in the capitated areas in each of the two years following implementation. By the end of year two, cost per person was reduced by two-thirds in the MBHO areas and by one-fifth in the DC areas. Reductions in access were found for both capitated areas, although reductions in utilization for those receiving service were found only in the MBHO model.
Medicaid mental health capitation in Colorado resulted in cost reducing service changes for persons with severe mental illness. Assessment of outcome change is necessary to identify cost effectiveness.
Managed care; capitation; mental health
It is now about 15 years since the introduction of the market into health care in China. This produced fundamental changes in the way that health care is financed and resulted in the disappearance of universal free basic health care. Responsibility for provision of health services has been devolved to the provincial and county governments, and healthcare providers have been given considerable financial independence. A fee for service system has been introduced, and several different payment mechanisms are now in operation. The new financing and pricing structures are responsible for greater inequity of access to services and more inefficient use of resources. These problems are widely acknowledged, and a range of solutions is being developed and tested. Since the introduction of the reforms the measurable health status of the population has not declined, probably as a result of overall improved socioeconomic conditions and a continued emphasis on prevention.
As new directions and priorities emerge in health care, nursing informatics leaders must prepare to guide the profession appropriately. To use an analogy, where a road bends or changes directions, guideposts indicate how drivers can stay on course. The AMIA Nursing Informatics Working Group (NIWG) produced this white paper as the product of a meeting convened: 1) to describe anticipated nationwide changes in demographics, health care quality, and health care informatics; 2) to assess the potential impact of genomic medicine and of new threats to society; 3) to align AMIA NIWG resources with emerging priorities; and 4) to identify guideposts in the form of an agenda to keep the NIWG on course in light of new opportunities. The anticipated societal changes provide opportunities for nursing informatics. Resources described below within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Committee for Health and Vital Statistics (NCVHS) can help to align AMIA NIWG with emerging priorities. The guideposts consist of priority areas for action in informatics, nursing education, and research. Nursing informatics professionals will collaborate as full participants in local, national, and international efforts related to the guideposts in order to make significant contributions that empower patients and providers for safer health care.
California's drastic Medi-Cal reforms have created great difficulties in health care for the poor. Patients' clinical problems seldom are apparent in descriptions of changes in public insurance programs. Rapidly escalating costs of Medi-Cal led to irresistible pressures for reform, especially from the business community. The new Medi-Cal regulations provide for prospective contracts with hospitals for inpatient services, the transfer of “Medically Indigent Adults” to the responsibility of county governments and various other straightforward funding cutbacks. Confusion, disruption of services and adverse health outcomes have accompanied the Medi-Cal reforms.
This contribution considers entitlements and benefits in the Hungarian health care system. After a brief introduction to the organizational structure of the system the decision-making processes are discussed in detail, including the most important actors, types and pieces of legislation, formal structures, decision-making criteria, and outputs in terms of benefit catalogues. Within the two main public financing systems (social insurance and tax-funded services) there are four types of regulatory regimes: (a) traditional political decision making, (b) price negotiations, (c) updating of classification systems for payment purposes, and (d) the procedure for the inclusion of registered medicines in the scope of the social health insurance system. As an example we discuss the benefit regulations and benefit catalogues in the category of services of curative care (HC.1) of the OECD classification of health services.
Health benefit plans; Hungary; Health services; Health priorities; National health programs
Do consumers find the care provided by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and that provided in the fee-for-service (FFS) system equally acceptable? To address this question, we randomly assigned 1,537 people ages 17 to 61 either to FFS insurance plans that allowed choice of physicians or to a well-established HMO. We also studied 486 people who had already selected the HMO (control group). Those who had chosen the HMO were as satisfied overall with medical care providers and services as their FFS counterparts. The typical person assigned to the HMO, however, was significantly less satisfied overall relative to FFS participants. Attitudes toward specific features of care favored both FFS and HMO, depending on the feature rated. Four differences (length of appointment waits, parking arrangements, availability of hospitals, and continuity of care) favored FFS; two (length of office waits, costs of care) favored the HMO. HMO versus FFS differences in ratings of access to care and availability of resources mirror differences in the organizational features of these two systems that are generally considered responsible for the significantly lower medical expenditures at HMOs. Regardless of their origin, less favorable attitudes toward interpersonal and technical quality of care in the HMO have marked consequences: dissatisfaction and disenrollment.
In the transition from a planned economy to a market-oriented economy, China’s state funding for health care declined and traditional coverage plans collapsed, leaving China’s poor exposed to potentially ruinous health care costs. In reforming health care for the 21st century, equity in health care financing has become a major policy goal. To assess progress towards this goal, this paper examines the equity characteristics of health care financing in a province of northwestern China, comparing the equity performance between urban and rural areas at two different points in time.
Analysis of whether health care financing contributions were progressive according to income were made using the Kakwani index for each of the four health care financing channels of general taxes, public and private health insurance, and out-of-pocket payments. Two rounds of surveys were conducted, the first in 2003 (13,619 individuals in 3946 households) and the second in 2008 (12,973 individuals in 3958 households). Household socio-economic, health care payment, and utilization information were recorded in household interviews.
Low-income households have undertaken a larger share of the health care financing burden in recent years, reflected by negative Kakwani indices, which indicate a regressive system. We found that the indices for general taxation were −0.0024 (urban) and −0.0281 (rural) in 2002, and −0.0177 (urban) and −0.0097 (rural) in 2007. Public health insurance presented different financing distributions in urban and rural areas (urban: 0.0742 in 2002, 0.0661 in 2007; rural: –0.0615 in 2002,–0.1436 in 2007.). Out-of-pocket payments were progressive but not equitable. Public health insurance coverage has expanded but financing equity has decreased.
Health care financing policies in China need ongoing reform. Given the inequity of general consumption taxes, elimination of these would improve financing equity considerably. Optimizing benefit packages in public health insurance is as important as expanding coverage, both for health care financing and for utilization management as well. Although they are progressive, out-of-pocket payments are not equitable in China and have the effect of excluding the poor from health care as they cannot afford to pay for medical care and so withdraw from treatment.
Equity; Chinese health care reform; Financing; Kakwani index
Use of out-of-plan services in 1972 by Medicare members of the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York (HIP) is examined in terms of the demographic and enrollment characteristics of out-of-plan users, types of services received outside the plan, and the relationship of out-of-plan to in-plan use. Users of services outside the plan tended to be more seriously ill and more frequently hospitalized than those receiving all of their services within the plan. The costs to the SSA of providing medical care to HIP enrollees are compared with analogous costs for non-HIP beneficiaries, and the implications for the organization and financing of health services for the aged are discussed.
The use of primary and managed care is likely to increase under proposed federal health care reform. I review the definition of primary care and primary care physicians and show that this delivery model can affect access to medical care, the cost of treatment, and the quality of services. Because the use of primary care is often greater in managed care than in fee-for-service, I compare the two insurance systems to further understand the delivery of primary care. Research suggests that primary care can help meet the goal of providing accessible, cost-effective, and high-quality care, but that changes in medical education and marketplace incentives will be needed to encourage students and trained physicians to enter this field.
Recent reform in the National Health Service has moved general practice towards a more intense market and competition structure. Meanwhile in the United States of America there has been an attempt to modify the free enterprise approach to medical care towards a more socially responsive system. This discussion paper provides a family doctor's perspective of primary care and the maelstrom of health care reform in the USA. The cultural, economic and organizational issues underlying the need for reform are considered in turn, and the current situation with regard to health care provision, medical research, medical education and primary care are outlined. General practitioners in the United Kingdom would do well to pay attention to the effects of market reform occurring in general practice among their American counterparts.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of physician payment method on use of health care resources. DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of patient health care data collected for 3 years (1994 to 1996) from the Vital Statistics Department of the British Columbia Ministry of Health. Billing numbers identified physician payment method. SETTING: Salaried and fee-for-service primary care practices in the Capital Region District of Victoria, BC. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 582 patients in their last year of life: 106 were attended by salaried family physicians at a community health clinic; 476 were attended by fee-for-service practitioners. Groups were comparable in age, sex, and geographical location. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number and cost of specialist and diagnostic services and medications, number of days in hospital (acute and extended care), and main causes of death. RESULTS: None of the dependent measures showed any statistically significant differences based on comparisons between many variables for patients in the two groups. Costs of pharmaceutical, specialist, and diagnostic services were not significantly different for the two groups. There were three main causes of death, according to codes on death certificates: heart disease, malignant neoplasms, and cerebrovascular disease. CONCLUSION: Whether physicians were paid by salary or fee-for-service had no empirical effect on health care resource use.