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1.  Does the Accountable Care Act aim to promote quality, health, and control costs or has it missed the mark? Comment on “Health system reform in the United States” 
McDonough’s perspective on healthcare reform in the US provides a clear, coherent analysis of the mix of access and delivery reforms in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare. As noted by McDonough, this major reform bill is designed to expand access for health coverage that includes both prevention and treatment benefits among uninsured Americans. Additionally, this legislation includes several financial strategies (e.g. incentives and penalties) to improve care coordination and quality in the hospital and outpatient settings while also reducing healthcare spending and costs. This commentary is intended to discuss this mix of access and delivery reform in terms of its potential to achieve the Triple Aim: population health, quality, and costs. Final remarks will include the role of the US federal government to reform the American private health industry together with that of an informed consume
PMCID: PMC3952545  PMID: 24639986
US Healthcare Reform; Obamacare; Affordable Care Act (ACA); Healthcare Exchanges; Triple Aim
2.  Reforming the NHS reforms. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1994;308(6932):848-849.
Rather than improving efficiency, the reforms imposed on the NHS have increased bureaucracy, reduced patient choice, limited the range of core services, and led to inequity of treatment. In this paper I examine how the medical profession might help to solve these problems. Priorities must be set for health care since no government can afford all the possibilities offered by medical science. It is essential to forge a consensus of patients, carers, professionals, the public, and government if a system of priorities is to be equitable and just. We also need to be able to measure quality of outcome in health care. This requires consensus on what is the desired outcome and the development of appropriate guidelines, audit, and performance review. This is primarily a task for the health professions supported by management and by adequate investment. Basically, the government must reinstate the three traditional values of the NHS--equity, consensus, and regard for representative professional advice.
PMCID: PMC2540039  PMID: 8167497
3.  Oral Health Care Reform in Finland – aiming to reduce inequity in care provision 
BMC Oral Health  2008;8:3.
In Finland, dental services are provided by a public (PDS) and a private sector. In the past, children, young adults and special needs groups were entitled to care and treatment from the public dental services (PDS). A major reform in 2001 – 2002 opened the PDS and extended subsidies for private dental services to all adults. It aimed to increase equity by improving adults' access to oral health care and reducing cost barriers. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of the reform on the utilization of publicly funded and private dental services, numbers and distribution of personnel and costs in 2000 and in 2004, before and after the oral health care reform. An evaluation was made of how the health political goals of the reform: integrating oral health care into general health care, improving adults' access to care and lowering cost barriers had been fulfilled during the study period.
National registers were used as data sources for the study. Use of dental services, personnel resources and costs in 2000 (before the reform) and in 2004 (after the reform) were compared.
In 2000, when access to publicly subsidised dental services was restricted to those born in 1956 or later, every third adult used the PDS or subsidised private services. By 2004, when subsidies had been extended to the whole adult population, this increased to almost every second adult. The PDS reported having seen 118 076 more adult patients in 2004 than in 2000. The private sector had the same number of patients but 542 656 of them had not previously been entitled to partial reimbursement of fees.
The use of both public and subsidised private services increased most in big cities and urban municipalities where access to the PDS had been poor and the number of private practitioners was high. The PDS employed more dentists (6.5%) and the number of private practitioners fell by 6.9%. The total dental care expenditure (PDS plus private) increased by 21% during the study period. Private patients who had previously not been entitled to reimbursements seemed to gain most from the reform.
The results of this study indicate that implementation of a substantial reform, that changes the traditionally defined tasks of the public and private sectors in an established oral health care provision system, proceeds slowly, is expensive and probably requires more stringent steering than was the case in Finland 2001 – 2004. However, the equity and fairness of the oral health care provision system improved and access to services and cost-sharing improved slightly.
PMCID: PMC2268684  PMID: 18226197
4.  Working on reform. How workers' compensation medical care is affected by health care reform. 
Public Health Reports  1996;111(1):12-25.
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?
PMCID: PMC1381735  PMID: 8610187
5.  Getting the Foundations Right: Alberta's Approach to Healthcare Reform 
Healthcare Policy  2011;6(3):22-27.
Alberta's abolition of its health regions and the creation of Alberta Health Services in 2008 has integrated previously disparate providers of healthcare services. The long-term benefits of this “second-wave” approach to health systems structuring include lower administrative costs, greater equity of access, improved intraprovincial learning and economies of scale. Some benefits have begun to be realized but, as with any merger, performance should be judged over a multi-year time frame.
PMCID: PMC3082384  PMID: 22294988
6.  Healthcare Reform and the Next Generation: United States Medical Student Attitudes toward the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e23557.
Over one year after passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), legislators, healthcare experts, physicians, and the general public continue to debate the implications of the law and its repeal. The PPACA will have a significant impact on future physicians, yet medical student perspectives on the legislation have not been well documented.
To evaluate medical students' understanding of and attitudes toward healthcare reform and the PPACA including issues of quality, access and cost.
Design, Setting, and Participants
An anonymous electronic survey was sent to medical students at 10 medical schools (total of 6982 students) between October–December 2010, with 1232 students responding and a response rate of 18%.
Main Outcome Measures
Medical students' views and attitudes regarding the PPACA and related topics, measured with Likert scale and open response items.
Of medical students surveyed, 94.8% agreed that the existing United States healthcare system needs to be reformed, 31.4% believed the PPACA will improve healthcare quality, while 20.9% disagreed and almost half (47.7%) were unsure if quality will be improved. Two thirds (67.6%) believed that the PPACA will increase access, 6.5% disagreed and the remaining 25.9% were unsure. With regard to containing healthcare costs, 45.4% of participants indicated that they are unsure if the provisions of the PPACA will do so. Overall, 80.1% of respondents indicated that they support the PPACA, and 78.3% also indicated that they did not feel that reform efforts had gone far enough. A majority of respondents (58.8%) opposed repeal of the PPACA, while 15.0% supported repeal, and 26.1% were undecided.
The overwhelming majority of medical students recognized healthcare reform is needed and expressed support for the PPACA but echoed concerns about whether it will address issues of quality or cost containment.
PMCID: PMC3172206  PMID: 21931604
7.  University researchers propose major reforms to cut health care costs. 
Canada could slash public-health expenditures by 15% with no reduction in Canadians' health status by substituting less costly types of delivery and forms of treatment in more appropriate settings, says the recently released report of the Queen's-University of Ottawa Project on Cost-effectiveness of the Canadian Health Care System. Sustainable Health Care for Canada concludes that the system could be made more efficient by reducing the number of acute-care beds and cutting patients' length of stay in hospital. It also suggests substituting continuing care for acute care and relying less on institutionalization of the elderly and more on alternatives such as residential or community care. The report also suggests that as Canada experiments with decentralization, it may be time to look at other regulatory models for health care, including the mixed-market approach.
PMCID: PMC1337544  PMID: 7828108
8.  Impact of a Prescription Copayment Increase on Lipid Lowering Medication Adherence in Veterans 
Circulation  2009;119(3):390-397.
In February 2002, the VA increased copayments from $2 to $7 per 30-day drug supply of each medication for many veterans. We examined the impact of the copayment increase on lipid lowering medication adherence.
Methods and Results
Quasi-experimental study using electronic records of 5,604 veterans receiving care at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center from November, 1999 to April, 2004. The “All Copayment” group included veterans subject to copayments for all drugs with no annual cap. Veterans subject to copayments for drugs only if indicated for a non-service connected condition with an annual cap of $840 for out-of-pocket costs comprised the “Some Copayment” group. Veterans who remained copayment exempt formed a natural control group (“No copayment” group). Patients were identified as “adherent” if the proportion of days covered (PDC) with lipid-lowering medications was >= 80%. Patients were identified as having a “continuous gap” if they had at least one continuous episode with no lipid lowering medications for >= 90 days. A difference-indifference approach comparing changes in lipid lowering medication adherence during the 24 months pre- and post- copayment increase among veterans subject to the copayment change versus those who were not.
Adherence declined in all three groups after the copayment increase. However, the percent of patients who were adherent (PDC>=80%) declined significantly more in the all copayment (-19.2%) and some copayment (-19.3%) groups relative to the exempt group (-11.9%). The incidence of a continuous gap increased significantly at twice the rate in both copayment groups (+24.6% all copayment group and 24.1% some copayment group) than the exempt group (+11.7%). Compared to the exempt group, the odds of having a continuous gap in the post- relative to the pre-period were significantly higher in both the all copayment group (OR 3.04 95% CI 2.29-4.03) and the some copayment group (OR 1.85 95% CI 1.43-2.40). Similar results were seen in subgroups of high CHD risk patients, high medication users, and elderly veterans.
The copayment increase adversely impacted lipid lowering medication adherence among veterans including those at high CHD risk.
PMCID: PMC2753258  PMID: 19139387
9.  e-Health, m-Health and healthier social media reform: the big scale view 
In the upcoming decade, digital platforms will be the backbone of a strategic revolution in the way medical services are provided, affecting both healthcare providers and patients. Digital-based patient-centered healthcare services allow patients to actively participate in managing their own care, in times of health as well as illness, using personally tailored interactive tools. Such empowerment is expected to increase patients’ willingness to adopt actions and lifestyles that promote health as well as improve follow-up and compliance with treatment in cases of chronic illness. Clalit Health Services (CHS) is the largest HMO in Israel and second largest world-wide. Through its 14 hospitals, 1300 primary and specialized clinics, and 650 pharmacies, CHS provides comprehensive medical care to the majority of Israel’s population (above 4 million members). CHS e-Health wing focuses on deepening patient involvement in managing health, through personalized digital interactive tools. Currently, CHS e-Health wing provides e-health services for 1.56 million unique patients monthly with 2.4 million interactions every month (August 2011). Successful implementation of e-Health solutions is not a sum of technology, innovation and health; rather it’s the expertise of tailoring knowledge and leadership capabilities in multidisciplinary areas: clinical, ethical, psychological, legal, comprehension of patient and medical team engagement etc. The Google Health case excellently demonstrates this point. On the other hand, our success with CHS is a demonstration that e-Health can be enrolled effectively and fast with huge benefits for both patients and medical teams, and with a robust business model.
CHS e-Health core components
They include:
1. The personal health record layer (what the patient can see) presents patients with their own medical history as well as the medical history of their preadult children, including diagnoses, allergies, vaccinations, laboratory results with interpretations in layman’s terms, medications with clear, straightforward explanations regarding dosing instructions, important side effects, contraindications, such as lactation etc., and other important medical information. All personal e-Health services require identification and authorization.
2. The personal knowledge layer (what the patient should know) presents patients with personally tailored recommendations for preventative medicine and health promotion. For example, diabetic patients are push notified regarding their yearly eye exam. The various health recommendations include: occult blood testing, mammography, lipid profile etc. Each recommendation contains textual, visual and interactive content components in order to promote engagement and motivate the patient to actually change his health behaviour.
3. The personal health services layer (what the patient can do) enables patients to schedule clinic visits, order chronic prescriptions, e-consult their physician via secured e-mail, set SMS medication reminders, e-consult a pharmacist regarding personal medications. Consultants’ answers are sent securely to the patients’ personal mobile device.
On December 2009 CHS launched secured, web based, synchronous medical consultation via video conference. Currently 11,780 e-visits are performed monthly (May 2011). The medical encounter includes e-prescription and referral capabilities which are biometrically signed by the physician. On December 2010 CHS launched a unique mobile health platform, which is one of the most comprehensive personal m-Health applications world-wide. An essential advantage of mobile devices is their potential to bridge the digital divide. Currently, CHS m-Health platform is used by more than 45,000 unique users, with 75,000 laboratory results views/month, 1100 m-consultations/month and 9000 physician visit scheduling/month.
4. The Bio-Sensing layer (what physiological data the patient can populate) includes diagnostic means that allow remote physical examination, bio-sensors that broadcast various physiological measurements, and smart homecare devices, such as e-Pill boxes that gives seniors, patients and their caregivers the ability to stay at home and live life to its fullest. Monitored data is automatically transmitted to the patient’s Personal Health Record and to relevant medical personnel.
The monitoring layer is embedded in the chronic disease management platform, and in the interactive health promotion and wellness platform. It includes tailoring of consumer-oriented medical devices and service provided by various professional personnel—physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and more.
5. The Social layer (what the patient can share). Social media networks triggered an essential change at the humanity ‘genome’ level, yet to be further defined in the upcoming years. Social media has huge potential in promoting health as it combines fun, simple yet extraordinary user experience, and bio-social-feedback. There are two major challenges in leveraging health care through social networks:
a. Our personal health information is the cornerstone for personalizing healthier lifestyle, disease management and preventative medicine. We naturally see our personal health data as a super-private territory. So, how do we bring the power of our private health information, currently locked within our Personal Health Record, into social media networks without offending basic privacy issues?
b. Disease management and preventive medicine are currently neither considered ‘cool’ nor ‘fun’ or ‘potentially highly viral’ activities; yet, health is a major issue of everybody’s life. It seems like we are missing a crucial element with a huge potential in health behavioural change—the Fun Theory. Social media platforms comprehends user experience tools that potentially could break current misconception, and engage people in the daily task of taking better care of themselves.
CHS e-Health innovation team characterized several break-through applications in this unexplored territory within social media networks, fusing personal health and social media platforms without offending privacy. One of the most crucial issues regarding adoption of e-health and m-health platforms is change management. Being a ‘hot’ innovative ‘gadget’ is far from sufficient for changing health behaviours at the individual and population levels.
CHS health behaviour change management methodology includes 4 core elements:
1. Engaging two completely different populations: patients, and medical teams. e-Health applications must present true added value for both medical teams and patients, engaging them through understanding and assimilating “what’s really in it for me”. Medical teams are further subdivided into physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative personnel—each with their own driving incentive. Resistance to change is an obstacle in many fields but it is particularly true in the conservative health industry. To successfully manage a large scale persuasive process, we treat intra-organizational human resources as “Change Agents”. Harnessing the persuasive power of ~40,000 employees requires engaging them as the primary target group. Successful recruitment has the potential of converting each patient-medical team interaction into an exposure opportunity to the new era of participatory medicine via e-health and m-health channels.
2. Implementation waves: every group of digital health products that are released at the same time are seen as one project. Each implementation wave leverages the focus of the organization and target populations to a defined time span. There are three major and three minor implementation waves a year.
3. Change-Support Arrow: a structured infrastructure for every implementation wave. The sub-stages in this strategy include:
Cross organizational mapping and identification of early adopters and stakeholders relevant to the implementation wave
Mapping positive or negative perceptions and designing specific marketing approaches for the distinct target groups
Intra and extra organizational marketing
Conducting intensive training and presentation sessions for groups of implementers
Running conflict-prevention activities, such as advanced tackling of potential union resistance
Training change-agents with resistance-management behavioural techniques, focused intervention for specific incidents and for key opinion leaders
Extensive presence in the clinics during the launch period, etc.
The entire process is monitored and managed continuously by a review team.
4. Closing Phase: each wave is analyzed and a “lessons-learned” session concludes the changes required in the modus operandi of the e-health project team.
PMCID: PMC3571141
e-Health; mobile health; personal health record; online visit; patient empowerment; knowledge prescription
10.  School-Based Health Centers in an Era of Health Care Reform: Building on History 
School-based health centers (SBHCs) provide a variety of health care services to youth in a convenient and accessible environment. Over the past 40 years, the growth of SBHCs evolved from various public health needs to the development of a specific collaborative model of care that is sensitive to the unique needs of children and youth, as well as to vulnerable populations facing significant barriers to access. The SBHC model of health care comprises of on-school site health care delivery by an interdisciplinary team of health professionals, which can include primary care and mental health clinicians. Research has demonstrated the SBHCs’ impacts on delivering preventive care, such as immunizations; managing chronic illnesses, such as asthma, obesity, and mental health conditions; providing reproductive health services for adolescents; and even improving youths’ academic performance. Although evaluation of the SBHC model of care has been complicated, results have thus far demonstrated increased access to care, improved health and education outcomes, and high levels of satisfaction. Despite their proven success, SBHCs have consistently faced challenges in securing adequate funding for operations and developing effective financial systems for billing and reimbursement. Implementation of health care reform (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [P.L. 111-148]) will profoundly affect the health care access and outcomes of children and youth, particularly vulnerable populations. The inclusion of funding for SBHCs in this legislation is momentous, as there continues to be increased demand and limited funding for affordable services. To better understand how this model of care has and could further help promote the health of our nation’s youth, a review is presented of the history and growth of SBHCs and the literature demonstrating their impacts. It may not be feasible for SBHCs to be established in every school campus in the country. However, the lessons learned from the synergy of the health and school settings have major implications for the delivery of care for all providers concerned with improving the health and well-being of children and adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3770486  PMID: 22677513
11.  Analysis of government investment in primary healthcare institutions to promote equity during the three-year health reform program in China 
The World Health Report 2000 stated that increased public financing for healthcare was an integral part of the efforts to achieve equity of access. In 2009, the Chinese government launched a three-year health reform program to achieve equity of access. Through this reform program, the government intended to increase its investment in primary healthcare institutions (PHIs). However, reports about the outcome and the improvement of the equity of access have yet to be presented.
Stratified sampling was employed in this research. The samples used for the study comprised 34 community health service centers (CHSCs) and 92 township hospitals (THs) from six provinces of China. Collected data, which were publicly available, consisted of the total revenue, financial revenue, and the number of people for the periods covering January 2010 to September 2010 and January 2011 to September 2011. Revenue information for 2009 and 2010 was obtained from China’s Health Statistics Yearbook.
By using indicators such as government investment, government finance proportion and per capita revenue, t-tests for paired and independent samples were used to analyze the changes in government investment.
Government invest large amount of money to the primary healthcare institutions. Government finance proportion in 2008 was 18.2%. This percentage increased to 38.84% in 2011, indicating statistical significance (p = 0.000) between 2010 and 2011. The per capita financial input was 20.92 yuan in 2010 and 31.10 yuan in 2011. Compared with the figures from 2008 to 2010, the gap in different health sectors narrowed in 2011, and differences emerged. The government finance proportion in CHSCs revenue was 6.9% higher than that of THs, while the per capita revenue of CHSCs was higher. In 2011, the highest and lowest government finance proportions were 48.80% (Shaanxi) and 19.36% (Shandong), respectively. In that same year, the per capita revenue of Shaanxi (40.69 Yuan) was higher than that of Liaoning (28.79 Yuan). Comparing the 2011 figures with those from 2008 to 2010, the gap in 2011 clearly narrowed.
In the three-year health reform program, the Chinese government increased its investment to PHIs gradually and significantly. Thus promote equity to access and universal coverage. However, the increase in government investment stemmed from political desire and from the lack of institutionalization of practice and experience. Hence, a mode of financial allocation must be formulated to promote consistency in government input after the three-year health reform program.
PMCID: PMC3614483  PMID: 23530658
12.  The political economy of healthcare reform in China: negotiating public and private 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:448.
China’s healthcare system is experiencing significant growth from expanded government-backed insurance, greater public-sector spending on hospitals, and the introduction of private insurance and for-profit clinics. An incremental reform process has sought to develop market incentives for medical innovation and liberalize physician compensation and hospital finance while continuing to keep basic care affordable to a large population that pays for many components of care out-of-pocket. Additional changes presently under consideration by policymakers are likely to further restructure insurance and the delivery of care and will alter competitive dynamics in major healthcare industries, notably pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and diagnostic testing. This article describes the institutional history of China’s healthcare system and identifies dilemmas emerging as the country negotiates divisions between public and private in healthcare. Building on this analysis, the article considers opportunities for public-private partnerships and greater systems integration to reconcile otherwise incommensurable approaches to rewarding innovation and improving access. The article concludes with observations on the public function of health insurance and its significance to further development of China’s healthcare system.
PMCID: PMC3776089  PMID: 24052932
China; Healthcare reform; Clinical trials; Electronic medical records; Insurance; Pharmaceuticals
13.  Primary Care Reform: Can Quebec's Family Medicine Group Model Benefit from the Experience of Ontario's Family Health Teams? 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(2):e122-e135.
Canadian politicians, decision-makers, clinicians and researchers have come to agree that reforming primary care services is a key strategy for improving healthcare system performance. However, it is only more recently that real transformative initiatives have been undertaken in different Canadian provinces. One model that offers promise for improving primary care service delivery is the family medicine group (FMG) model developed in Quebec. A FMG is a group of physicians working closely with nurses in the provision of services to enrolled patients on a non-geographic basis. The objectives of this paper are to analyze the FMG's potential as a lever for improving healthcare system performance and to discuss how it could be improved. First, we briefly review the history of primary care in Quebec. Then we present the FMG model in relation to the four key healthcare system functions identified by the World Health Organization: (a) funding, (b) generating human and technological resources, (c) providing services to individuals and communities and (d) governance. Next, we discuss possible ways of advancing primary care reform, looking particularly at the family health team (FHT) model implemented in the province of Ontario. We conclude with recommendations to inspire other initiatives aimed at transforming primary care.
PMCID: PMC3287954  PMID: 23115575
14.  Developing an ‘integrated health system’: the reform of health and social services in Quebec 
The Quebec health care system, founded in 1970 as a public, single payer, state run system had by 2004 reached a turning point. Rising costs, working in silos, difficulty accessing physicians, increased waiting time for diagnostic imaging and surgical intervention led policy makers and politicians to propose a new model for the organisation and delivery of care.
Based on populational responsibility and the clear distinction between a community primary care and specialised services a new model was proposed to develop integrated health networks. The 7.2 million population of Quebec was divided into 95 territories. 95 Health and social service centres were created by merging a community hospital, rehab centre, long-term care centres, home care and primary care services into a single institution with a new CEO and board of directors. These new networks received the mandate to manage the health and well being of their population, to manage the utilisation of services by their population and to manage all primary care services on their territory.
The implementation of a chronic care model, the development of primary care multidisciplinary teams, empowering the population and performance management, are the key elements of Montreal's vision in implementing the Reform.
After three years of operation the results are promising.
PMCID: PMC2430285
chronic care model; integrated health care networks; Canada
15.  Few Insurance-Based Differences in Upper Extremity Elective Surgery Rates After Healthcare Reform 
Before the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, there were documented insurance-based disparities in access to orthopaedic surgeons and care of orthopaedic conditions. While Massachusetts passed healthcare reform in 2007 with many similar provisions, it is unknown whether the disparities were present during the period of the law’s enactment.
We asked whether differences in rates of surgery between patients with novel government-subsidized healthcare plans and other forms of insurance, and between uninsured and insured patients, were similar after institution of the Massachusetts reform laws.
We identified 7577 patients diagnosed with upper extremity injuries between January 1, 2007 and October 1, 2010. From an institutional administrative database, we extracted demographics, insurance status, and plan of care. Insurance categories included government-subsidized healthcare plan (Commonwealth Care), private insurance, workers compensation, military-related (TriCare), Medicare, Medicaid (MassHealth), non-Commonwealth Care, and other insured and uninsured. After adjusting for age, gender, and diagnosis, we compared the proportions of patients who underwent elective surgery.
Of 7577 patients, 1685 (22%) underwent elective upper extremity surgery. The adjusted rates of surgery were similar across most insurance categories, with higher rates in the workers compensation and TriCare categories compared with Commonwealth Care. Uninsured patients were as likely to undergo surgery as insured patients.
In a population with near-universal health insurance, a government-run health insurance exchange, and novel, government-subsidized, managed care plans, we found few insurance-based differences in rates of elective upper extremity orthopaedic surgery in a cohort of patients after healthcare reform.
Level of Evidence
Level IV, economic and decision analysis. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC3369096  PMID: 22451335
16.  California's “Bridge to Reform”: Identifying Challenges and Defining Strategies for Providers and Policymakers Implementing the Affordable Care Act in Low-Income HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Settings 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90306.
In preparation for full Affordable Care Act implementation, California has instituted two healthcare initiatives that provide comprehensive coverage for previously uninsured or underinsured individuals. For many people living with HIV, this has required transition either from the HIV-specific coverage of the Ryan White program to the more comprehensive coverage provided by the county-run Low-Income Health Programs or from Medicaid fee-for-service to Medicaid managed care. Patient advocates have expressed concern that these transitions may present implementation challenges that will need to be addressed if ambitious HIV prevention and treatment goals are to be achieved.
30 semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted between October, 2012, and February, 2013, with policymakers and providers in 10 urban, suburban, and rural California counties. Interview topics included: continuity of patient care, capacity to handle payer source transitions, and preparations for healthcare reform implementation. Study team members reviewed interview transcripts to produce emergent themes, develop a codebook, build inter-rater reliability, and conduct analyses.
Respondents supported the goals of the ACA, but reported clinic and policy-level challenges to maintaining patient continuity of care during the payer source transitions. They also identified strategies for addressing these challenges. Areas of focus included: gaps in communication to reach patients and develop partnerships between providers and policymakers, perceived inadequacy in new provider networks for delivering quality HIV care, the potential for clinics to become financially insolvent due to lower reimbursement rates, and increased administrative burdens for clinic staff and patients.
California's new healthcare initiatives represent ambitious attempts to expand and improve health coverage for low-income individuals. The state's challenges in maintaining quality care and treatment for people living with HIV experiencing these transitions demonstrate the importance of setting effective policies in anticipation of full ACA implementation in 2014.
PMCID: PMC3943953  PMID: 24599337
17.  Health Reform: A Community Experience Using Design Research as a Guide 
Mayo Clinic Proceedings  2011;86(10):973-980.
Meaningful health reform in the United States must improve the health of the population while lowering costs. In an effort to provide a framework for doing so, the Institute of Health Care Improvement created the triple aim, which encompasses the goals of (1) improving individual health and experience with the health care system, (2) improving population health, and (3) decreasing the rate of per capita health care costs. Current reform efforts have focused on the development of Patient-Centered Medical Homes (an innovative team-based model of care that facilitates a partnership between the patient’s personal physician coordinating care throughout a patient’s lifetime to maximize health outcomes), but these relatively narrow efforts are focused on office practice and payment methods and are not generally oriented toward community needs. We sought to apply design research in assessing a community opportunity to apply the triple aim as a strategy to transform health care delivery. Mixed methodology provides greater insight into the unexpressed health needs of individuals and into the creation of delivery systems more likely to achieve the triple aim. In a small, midwestern town, a mixed methods approach was used to assess community health needs to facilitate design and implementation of care delivery systems. The research findings suggest that health system design concepts should focus on the creation of health, not health care; foster simplicity; create nurturing relationships; eliminate user fear; and contain costs. These observations can be helpful to health care professionals who are developing new methods of care delivery and policymakers and payers contemplating new payment systems to achieve the goals of the triple aim.
PMCID: PMC3184026  PMID: 21964174
18.  The establishment of a primary spine care practitioner and its benefits to health care reform in the United States 
It is widely recognized that the dramatic increase in health care costs in the United States has not led to a corresponding improvement in the health care experience of patients or the clinical outcomes of medical care. In no area of medicine is this more true than in the area of spine related disorders (SRDs). Costs of medical care for SRDs have skyrocketed in recent years. Despite this, there is no evidence of improvement in the quality of this care. In fact, disability related to SRDs is on the rise. We argue that one of the key solutions to this is for the health care system to have a group of practitioners who are trained to function as primary care practitioners for the spine. We explain the reasons we think a primary spine care practitioner would be beneficial to patients, the health care system and society, some of the obstacles that will need to be overcome in establishing a primary spine care specialty and the ways in which these obstacles can be overcome.
PMCID: PMC3154851  PMID: 21777444
Low Back Pain; Neck Pain; Health Care Reform; Primary Care; Health Policy
19.  Networks and social capital: a relational approach to primary healthcare reform 
Collaboration among health care providers and across systems is proposed as a strategy to improve health care delivery the world over. Over the past two decades, health care providers have been encouraged to work in partnership and build interdisciplinary teams. More recently, the notion of networks has entered this discourse but the lack of consensus and understanding about what is meant by adopting a network approach in health services limits its use. Also crucial to this discussion is the work of distinguishing the nature and extent of the impact of social relationships – generally referred to as social capital. In this paper, we review the rationale for collaboration in health care systems; provide an overview and synthesis of key concepts; dispel some common misconceptions of networks; and apply the theory to an example of primary healthcare network reform in Alberta (Canada). Our central thesis is that a relational approach to systems change, one based on a synthesis of network theory and social capital can provide the fodation for a multi-focal approach to primary healthcare reform. Action strategies are recommended to move from an awareness of 'networks' to fully translating knowledge from existing theory to guide planning and practice innovations. Decision-makers are encouraged to consider a multi-focal approach that effectively incorporates a network and social capital approach in planning and evaluating primary healthcare reform.
PMCID: PMC2048492  PMID: 17894868
20.  The quest for equity in Latin America: a comparative analysis of the health care reforms in Brazil and Colombia 
Brazil and Colombia have pursued extensive reforms of their health care systems in the last couple of decades. The purported goals of such reforms were to improve access, increase efficiency and reduce health inequities. Notwithstanding their common goals, each country sought a very different pathway to achieve them. While Brazil attempted to reestablish a greater level of State control through a public national health system, Colombia embraced market competition under an employer-based social insurance scheme. This work thus aims to shed some light onto why they pursued divergent strategies and what that has meant in terms of health outcomes.
A critical review of the literature concerning equity frameworks, as well as the health care reforms in Brazil and Colombia was conducted. Then, the shortfall inequality values of crude mortality rate, infant mortality rate, under-five mortality rate, and life expectancy for the period 1960-2005 were calculated for both countries. Subsequently, bivariate and multivariate linear regression analyses were performed and controlled for possibly confounding factors.
When controlling for the underlying historical time trend, both countries appear to have experienced a deceleration of the pace of improvements in the years following the reforms, for all the variables analyzed. In the case of Colombia, some of the previous gains in under-five mortality rate and crude mortality rate were, in fact, reversed.
Neither reform seems to have had a decisive positive impact on the health outcomes analyzed for the defined time period of this research. This, in turn, may be a consequence of both internal characteristics of the respective reforms and external factors beyond the direct control of health reformers. Among the internal characteristics: underfunding, unbridled decentralization and inequitable access to care seem to have been the main constraints. Conversely, international economic adversities, high levels of rural and urban violence, along with entrenched income inequalities seem to have accounted for the highest burden among external factors.
PMCID: PMC3317827  PMID: 22296659
Brazil; Colombia; health care reform; health care system; equity; health inequities; comparative analysis; health policy
21.  Understanding How Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Treatment Value, and Patient Characteristics Influence Treatment Choices 
The Oncologist  2010;15(6):566-576.
The study used a convenience sample of patients undergoing surveillance following curative treatment for localized cancer who completed a paper survey to estimate the maximum copayment patients are willing to pay for better treatment outcomes. Results suggest that patients may be less willing to pay high copayments for treatments with modest benefit. In addition, sociodemographic factors such as education and employment status were associated with willingness to pay.
Cost sharing, intended to control the “overuse” of health care resources, may also reduce use of necessary services. The influence of cost on the treatment choices of patients with life-threatening illness, such as cancer, is unknown.
A convenience sample of patients undergoing surveillance following curative treatment for localized cancer completed a paper survey that included three scenarios to elicit the maximum copayment they would be willing to pay for better treatment outcomes. Scenario A described a treatment for a curable cancer in terms of recurrence risk. Scenarios B and C described treatments for noncurable cancer in terms of the 2-year survival probability and median life expectancy.
The sample (n = 60) was 78% female, 83% aged <65 years, and 58% college graduates. Thirteen percent reported making financial sacrifices to pay for treatment. Patients were willing to pay higher copayments for more effective treatments (p < .05 for all three scenarios). In scenario B, patients who were employed demonstrated a greater willingness to pay (WTP) (odds ratio [OR], 12.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0–80.4), when controlling for efficacy. In scenario C, college graduates showed greater WTP (OR, 5.0; 95% CI, 1.2–20.9) and patients who reported previous financial sacrifices showed lower WTP (OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.04–0.6).
This pilot study suggests that patients may be less willing to pay high copayments for treatments with modest benefit. Even among this relatively young, affluent, and educated population, demographic variables were related to WTP. Larger studies in more diverse populations should be conducted to better understand how cost may influence treatment decisions and cancer treatment outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2892556  PMID: 20495218
22.  The UK's dysfunctional relationship with medical migrants: the Daniel Ubani case and reform of out-of-hours services 
In 2008, a patient died in the UK after being given an excessive dose of diamorphine by an overseas-trained doctor working in out-of-hours (OOH) primary care. This incident led to a debate on the recourse to international medical graduates and on the shortcomings of the OOH system. It is argued here that a historical reflection on the ways in which the NHS uses migrant labour can serve to reframe these discussions. The British Medical Association, the General Medical Council, and the House of Commons Health Committee have emphasised the need for more regulation of overseas graduates. Such arguments fit into a well-established pattern of dependency on and denigration of overseas graduates. They give insufficient weight to the multiple systemic failings identified in reports on OOH provision by the Department of Health and the Care Quality Commission. Medical migrants are often found in under-resourced and unpopular parts of healthcare systems, in the UK and elsewhere. Their presence provides an additional dimension to Julian Tudor Hart's inverse care law: the resources are fewer where the need is greatest, and the practitioner dealing with the consequences is more likely to be a migrant. The failings of the UK OOH system need to be understood in this context. Efforts to improve OOH care should be focused on controlling quality rather than the movement of doctors. A wider reflection on the nature of the roles that international medical graduates are asked to play in healthcare systems is also required.
PMCID: PMC3047316  PMID: 21375907
medical history 20th cent; medical history 21st cent; medical staff; migrants; out-of-hours medical care; primary health care
23.  What Residents Know About Health Care Reform and What We Should Teach Them 
We surveyed residents and fellows at the University of Louisville School of Medicine (N  =  600) to (1) explore their perceptions and knowledge of issues related to health care business and health care reforms, and (2) seek their input on what instructional content concerning health care business and health care reform they would like to receive and what instruction venue they would prefer. We will use the findings to make decisions about curriculum content and delivery.
All residents were invited to complete a 4-part, web-based survey that included questions on demographics, attitudes, and perceptions; a baseline-knowledge quiz about health care costs; and 2 open-ended questions about what they wanted to learn and how they preferred to be taught.
The survey response rate was 24%. Residents' agreement was stronger for statements relating to the role of physicians as “gatekeepers,” patient-centered care, and the value of learning to work as a team than it was for statements about the benefits of government intervention in health care. International medical graduates, when compared with US medical graduates, had statistically significant differences in perceptions (P ≤ .004) on 3 questions related to government impact on health care. There was a slight decrease in overall knowledge about health care cost issues by residents in later postgraduate years.
Residents are aware of gaps in their knowledge on business aspects of health care and health care reform. Their narrative responses identified coding and billing, legal issues, and comparative health systems as topics of interest, and the best venues for teaching included grand rounds and noon conferences. Residents indicated a preference for brief, highly focused, interactive sessions with knowledgeable guest speakers.
PMCID: PMC3184898  PMID: 22655136
24.  Evaluation of Health Care System Reform in Hubei Province, China 
This study established a set of indicators for and evaluated the effects of health care system reform in Hubei Province (China) from 2009 to 2011 with the purpose of providing guidance to policy-makers regarding health care system reform. The resulting indicators are based on the “Result Chain” logic model and include the following four domains: Inputs and Processes, Outputs, Outcomes and Impact. Health care system reform was evaluated using the weighted TOPSIS and weighted Rank Sum Ratio methods. Ultimately, the study established a set of indicators including four grade-1 indicators, 16 grade-2 indicators and 76 grade-3 indicators. The effects of the reforms increased year by year from 2009 to 2011 in Hubei Province. The health status of urban and rural populations and the accessibility, equity and quality of health services in Hubei Province were improved after the reforms. This sub-national case can be considered an example of a useful approach to the evaluation of the effects of health care system reform, one that could potentially be applied in other provinces or nationally.
PMCID: PMC3945597  PMID: 24566052
health care system reform; evaluation; indicators; China
25.  Behavioral Health and Health Care Reform Models: Patient-Centered Medical Home, Health Home, and Accountable Care Organization 
Discussions of health care delivery and payment reforms have largely been silent about how behavioral health could be incorporated into reform initiatives. This paper draws attention to four patient populations defined by the severity of their behavioral health conditions and insurance status. It discusses the potentials and limitations of three prominent models promoted by the Affordable Care Act to serve populations with behavioral health conditions: the Patient Centered Medical Home, the Health Home initiative within Medicaid, and the Accountable Care Organization. To incorporate behavioral health into health reform, policymakers and practitioners may consider embedding in the reform efforts explicit tools – accountability measures and payment designs – to improve access to and quality of care for patients with behavioral health needs.
PMCID: PMC3568195  PMID: 23188486
behavioral health; health care reform; patient-centered medical home; health home; accountable care organization

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