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1.  Implementing the 2009 Institute of Medicine recommendations on resident physician work hours, supervision, and safety 
Long working hours and sleep deprivation have been a facet of physician training in the US since the advent of the modern residency system. However, the scientific evidence linking fatigue with deficits in human performance, accidents and errors in industries from aeronautics to medicine, nuclear power, and transportation has mounted over the last 40 years. This evidence has also spawned regulations to help ensure public safety across safety-sensitive industries, with the notable exception of medicine.
In late 2007, at the behest of the US Congress, the Institute of Medicine embarked on a year-long examination of the scientific evidence linking resident physician sleep deprivation with clinical performance deficits and medical errors. The Institute of Medicine’s report, entitled “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety”, published in January 2009, recommended new limits on resident physician work hours and workload, increased supervision, a heightened focus on resident physician safety, training in structured handovers and quality improvement, more rigorous external oversight of work hours and other aspects of residency training, and the identification of expanded funding sources necessary to implement the recommended reforms successfully and protect the public and resident physicians themselves from preventable harm.
Given that resident physicians comprise almost a quarter of all physicians who work in hospitals, and that taxpayers, through Medicare and Medicaid, fund graduate medical education, the public has a deep investment in physician training. Patients expect to receive safe, high-quality care in the nation’s teaching hospitals. Because it is their safety that is at issue, their voices should be central in policy decisions affecting patient safety. It is likewise important to integrate the perspectives of resident physicians, policy makers, and other constituencies in designing new policies. However, since its release, discussion of the Institute of Medicine report has been largely confined to the medical education community, led by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
To begin gathering these perspectives and developing a plan to implement safer work hours for resident physicians, a conference entitled “Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety: What will it take to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations?” was held at Harvard Medical School on June 17–18, 2010. This White Paper is a product of a diverse group of 26 representative stakeholders bringing relevant new information and innovative practices to bear on a critical patient safety problem. Given that our conference included experts from across disciplines with diverse perspectives and interests, not every recommendation was endorsed by each invited conference participant. However, every recommendation made here was endorsed by the majority of the group, and many were endorsed unanimously. Conference members participated in the process, reviewed the final product, and provided input before publication. Participants provided their individual perspectives, which do not necessarily represent the formal views of any organization.
In September 2010 the ACGME issued new rules to go into effect on July 1, 2011. Unfortunately, they stop considerably short of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations and those endorsed by this conference. In particular, the ACGME only applied the limitation of 16 hours to first-year resident physicans. Thus, it is clear that policymakers, hospital administrators, and residency program directors who wish to implement safer health care systems must go far beyond what the ACGME will require. We hope this White Paper will serve as a guide and provide encouragement for that effort.
Resident physician workload and supervision
By the end of training, a resident physician should be able to practice independently. Yet much of resident physicians’ time is dominated by tasks with little educational value. The caseload can be so great that inadequate reflective time is left for learning based on clinical experiences. In addition, supervision is often vaguely defined and discontinuous. Medical malpractice data indicate that resident physicians are frequently named in lawsuits, most often for lack of supervision. The recommendations are: The ACGME should adjust resident physicians workload requirements to optimize educational value. Resident physicians as well as faculty should be involved in work redesign that eliminates nonessential and noneducational activity from resident physician dutiesMechanisms should be developed for identifying in real time when a resident physician’s workload is excessive, and processes developed to activate additional providersTeamwork should be actively encouraged in delivery of patient care. Historically, much of medical training has focused on individual knowledge, skills, and responsibility. As health care delivery has become more complex, it will be essential to train resident and attending physicians in effective teamwork that emphasizes collective responsibility for patient care and recognizes the signs, both individual and systemic, of a schedule and working conditions that are too demanding to be safeHospitals should embrace the opportunities that resident physician training redesign offers. Hospitals should recognize and act on the potential benefits of work redesign, eg, increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved quality of care, and resident physician and attending job satisfactionAttending physicians should supervise all hospital admissions. Resident physicians should directly discuss all admissions with attending physicians. Attending physicians should be both cognizant of and have input into the care patients are to receive upon admission to the hospitalInhouse supervision should be required for all critical care services, including emergency rooms, intensive care units, and trauma services. Resident physicians should not be left unsupervised to care for critically ill patients. In settings in which the acuity is high, physicians who have completed residency should provide direct supervision for resident physicians. Supervising physicians should always be physically in the hospital for supervision of resident physicians who care for critically ill patientsThe ACGME should explicitly define “good” supervision by specialty and by year of training. Explicit requirements for intensity and level of training for supervision of specific clinical scenarios should be providedCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should use graduate medical education funding to provide incentives to programs with proven, effective levels of supervision. Although this action would require federal legislation, reimbursement rules would help to ensure that hospitals pay attention to the importance of good supervision and require it from their training programs
Resident physician work hours
Although the IOM “Sleep, supervision and safety” report provides a comprehensive review and discussion of all aspects of graduate medical education training, the report’s focal point is its recommendations regarding the hours that resident physicians are currently required to work. A considerable body of scientific evidence, much of it cited by the Institute of Medicine report, describes deteriorating performance in fatigued humans, as well as specific studies on resident physician fatigue and preventable medical errors.
The question before this conference was what work redesign and cultural changes are needed to reform work hours as recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s evidence-based report? Extensive scientific data demonstrate that shifts exceeding 12–16 hours without sleep are unsafe. Several principles should be followed in efforts to reduce consecutive hours below this level and achieve safer work schedules. The recommendations are: Limit resident physician work hours to 12–16 hour maximum shiftsA minimum of 10 hours off duty should be scheduled between shiftsResident physician input into work redesign should be actively solicitedSchedules should be designed that adhere to principles of sleep and circadian science; this includes careful consideration of the effects of multiple consecutive night shifts, and provision of adequate time off after night work, as specified in the IOM reportResident physicians should not be scheduled up to the maximum permissible limits; emergencies frequently occur that require resident physicians to stay longer than their scheduled shifts, and this should be anticipated in scheduling resident physicians’ work shiftsHospitals should anticipate the need for iterative improvement as new schedules are initiated; be prepared to learn from the initial phase-in, and change the plan as neededAs resident physician work hours are redesigned, attending physicians should also be considered; a potential consequence of resident physician work hour reduction and increased supervisory requirements may be an increase in work for attending physicians; this should be carefully monitored, and adjustments to attending physician work schedules made as needed to prevent unsafe work hours or working conditions for this group“Home call” should be brought under the overall limits of working hours; work load and hours should be monitored in each residency program to ensure that resident physicians and fellows on home call are getting sufficient sleepMedicare funding for graduate medical education in each hospital should be linked with adherence to the Institute of Medicine limits on resident physician work hours
Moonlighting by resident physicians
The Institute of Medicine report recommended including external as well as internal moonlighting in working hour limits. The recommendation is: All moonlighting work hours should be included in the ACGME working hour limits and actively monitored. Hospitals should formalize a moonlighting policy and establish systems for actively monitoring resident physician moonlighting
Safety of resident physicians
The “Sleep, supervision and safety” report also addresses fatigue-related harm done to resident physicians themselves. The report focuses on two main sources of physical injury to resident physicians impaired by fatigue, ie, needle-stick exposure to blood-borne pathogens and motor vehicle crashes. Providing safe transportation home for resident physicians is a logistical and financial challenge for hospitals. Educating physicians at all levels on the dangers of fatigue is clearly required to change driving behavior so that safe hospital-funded transport home is used effectively. Fatigue-related injury prevention (including not driving while drowsy) should be taught in medical school and during residency, and reinforced with attending physicians; hospitals and residency programs must be informed that resident physicians’ ability to judge their own level of impairment is impaired when they are sleep deprived; hence, leaving decisions about the capacity to drive to impaired resident physicians is not recommendedHospitals should provide transportation to all resident physicians who report feeling too tired to drive safely; in addition, although consecutive work should not exceed 16 hours, hospitals should provide transportation for all resident physicians who, because of unforeseen reasons or emergencies, work for longer than consecutive 24 hours; transportation under these circumstances should be automatically provided to house staff, and should not rely on self-identification or request
Training in effective handovers and quality improvement
Handover practice for resident physicians, attendings, and other health care providers has long been identified as a weak link in patient safety throughout health care settings. Policies to improve handovers of care must be tailored to fit the appropriate clinical scenario, recognizing that information overload can also be a problem. At the heart of improving handovers is the organizational effort to improve quality, an effort in which resident physicians have typically been insufficiently engaged. The recommendations are: Hospitals should train attending and resident physicians in effective handovers of careHospitals should create uniform processes for handovers that are tailored to meet each clinical setting; all handovers should be done verbally and face-to-face, but should also utilize written toolsWhen possible, hospitals should integrate hand-over tools into their electronic medical records (EMR) systems; these systems should be standardized to the extent possible across residency programs in a hospital, but may be tailored to the needs of specific programs and services; federal government should help subsidize adoption of electronic medical records by hospitals to improve signoutWhen feasible, handovers should be a team effort including nurses, patients, and familiesHospitals should include residents in their quality improvement and patient safety efforts; the ACGME should specify in their core competency requirements that resident physicians work on quality improvement projects; likewise, the Joint Commission should require that resident physicians be included in quality improvement and patient safety programs at teaching hospitals; hospital administrators and residency program directors should create opportunities for resident physicians to become involved in ongoing quality improvement projects and root cause analysis teams; feedback on successful quality improvement interventions should be shared with resident physicians and broadly disseminatedQuality improvement/patient safety concepts should be integral to the medical school curriculum; medical school deans should elevate the topics of patient safety, quality improvement, and teamwork; these concepts should be integrated throughout the medical school curriculum and reinforced throughout residency; mastery of these concepts by medical students should be tested on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) stepsFederal government should support involvement of resident physicians in quality improvement efforts; initiatives to improve quality by including resident physicians in quality improvement projects should be financially supported by the Department of Health and Human Services
Monitoring and oversight of the ACGME
While the ACGME is a key stakeholder in residency training, external voices are essential to ensure that public interests are heard in the development and monitoring of standards. Consequently, the Institute of Medicine report recommended external oversight and monitoring through the Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The recommendations are: Make comprehensive fatigue management a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal; fatigue is a safety concern not only for resident physicians, but also for nurses, attending physicians, and other health care workers; the Joint Commission should seek to ensure that all health care workers, not just resident physicians, are working as safely as possibleFederal government, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, should encourage development of comprehensive fatigue management programs which all health systems would eventually be required to implementMake ACGME compliance with working hours a “ condition of participation” for reimbursement of direct and indirect graduate medical education costs; financial incentives will greatly increase the adoption of and compliance with ACGME standards
Future financial support for implementation
The Institute of Medicine’s report estimates that $1.7 billion (in 2008 dollars) would be needed to implement its recommendations. Twenty-five percent of that amount ($376 million) will be required just to bring hospitals into compliance with the existing 2003 ACGME rules. Downstream savings to the health care system could potentially result from safer care, but these benefits typically do not accrue to hospitals and residency programs, who have been asked historically to bear the burden of residency reform costs. The recommendations are: The Institute of Medicine should convene a panel of stakeholders, including private and public funders of health care and graduate medical education, to lay down the concrete steps necessary to identify and allocate the resources needed to implement the recommendations contained in the IOM “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety” report. Conference participants suggested several approaches to engage public and private support for this initiativeEfforts to find additional funding to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations should focus more broadly on patient safety and health care delivery reform; policy efforts focused narrowly upon resident physician work hours are less likely to succeed than broad patient safety initiatives that include residency redesign as a key componentHospitals should view the Institute of Medicine recommendations as an opportunity to begin resident physician work redesign projects as the core of a business model that embraces safety and ultimately saves resourcesBoth the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take the Institute of Medicine recommendations into consideration when promulgating rules for innovation grantsThe National Health Care Workforce Commission should consider the Institute of Medicine recommendations when analyzing the nation’s physician workforce needs
Recommendations for future research
Conference participants concurred that convening the stakeholders and agreeing on a research agenda was key. Some observed that some sectors within the medical education community have been reluctant to act on the data. Several logical funders for future research were identified. But above all agencies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the only stakeholder that funds graduate medical education upstream and will reap savings downstream if preventable medical errors are reduced as a result of reform of resident physician work hours.
PMCID: PMC3630963  PMID: 23616719
resident; hospital; working hours; safety
2.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
3.  Enabling Community Through Social Media 
Social network analysis provides a perspective and method for inquiring into the structures that comprise online groups and communities. Traces from interaction via social media provide the opportunity for understanding how a community is formed and maintained online.
The paper aims to demonstrate how social network analysis provides a vocabulary and set of techniques for examining interaction patterns via social media. Using the case of the #hcsmca online discussion forum, this paper highlights what has been and can be gained by approaching online community from a social network perspective, as well as providing an inside look at the structure of the #hcsmca community.
Social network analysis was used to examine structures in a 1-month sample of Twitter messages with the hashtag #hcsmca (3871 tweets, 486 unique posters), which is the tag associated with the social media–supported group Health Care Social Media Canada. Network connections were considered present if the individual was mentioned, replied to, or had a post retweeted.
Network analyses revealed patterns of interaction that characterized the community as comprising one component, with a set of core participants prominent in the network due to their connections with others. Analysis showed the social media health content providers were the most influential group based on in-degree centrality. However, there was no preferential attachment among people in the same professional group, indicating that the formation of connections among community members was not constrained by professional status.
Network analysis and visualizations provide techniques and a vocabulary for understanding online interaction, as well as insights that can help in understanding what, and who, comprises and sustains a network, and whether community emerges from a network of online interactions.
PMCID: PMC3842435  PMID: 24176835
online community; online social networks; information and communication technology; social media; Twitter
4.  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
5.  Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men Who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e452.
Street-based heroin injectors represent an especially vulnerable population group subject to negative health outcomes and social stigma. Effective clinical treatment and public health intervention for this population requires an understanding of their cultural environment and experiences. Social science theory and methods offer tools to understand the reasons for economic and ethnic disparities that cause individual suffering and stress at the institutional level.
Methods and Findings
We used a cross-methodological approach that incorporated quantitative, clinical, and ethnographic data collected by two contemporaneous long-term San Francisco studies, one epidemiological and one ethnographic, to explore the impact of ethnicity on street-based heroin-injecting men 45 years of age or older who were self-identified as either African American or white. We triangulated our ethnographic findings by statistically examining 14 relevant epidemiological variables stratified by median age and ethnicity. We observed significant differences in social practices between self-identified African Americans and whites in our ethnographic social network sample with respect to patterns of (1) drug consumption; (2) income generation; (3) social and institutional relationships; and (4) personal health and hygiene. African Americans and whites tended to experience different structural relationships to their shared condition of addiction and poverty. Specifically, this generation of San Francisco injectors grew up as the children of poor rural to urban immigrants in an era (the late 1960s through 1970s) when industrial jobs disappeared and heroin became fashionable. This was also when violent segregated inner city youth gangs proliferated and the federal government initiated its “War on Drugs.” African Americans had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families. Most of the whites were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime. These historical-structural conditions generated distinct presentations of self. Whites styled themselves as outcasts, defeated by addiction. They professed to be injecting heroin to stave off “dopesickness” rather than to seek pleasure. African Americans, in contrast, cast their physical addiction as an oppositional pursuit of autonomy and pleasure. They considered themselves to be professional outlaws and rejected any appearance of abjection. Many, but not all, of these ethnographic findings were corroborated by our epidemiological data, highlighting the variability of behaviors within ethnic categories.
Bringing quantitative and qualitative methodologies and perspectives into a collaborative dialog among cross-disciplinary researchers highlights the fact that clinical practice must go beyond simple racial or cultural categories. A clinical social science approach provides insights into how sociocultural processes are mediated by historically rooted and institutionally enforced power relations. Recognizing the logical underpinnings of ethnically specific behavioral patterns of street-based injectors is the foundation for cultural competence and for successful clinical relationships. It reduces the risk of suboptimal medical care for an exceptionally vulnerable and challenging patient population. Social science approaches can also help explain larger-scale patterns of health disparities; inform new approaches to structural and institutional-level public health initiatives; and enable clinicians to take more leadership in changing public policies that have negative health consequences.
Bourgois and colleagues found that the African American and white men in their study had a different pattern of drug use and risk behaviors, adopted different strategies for survival, and had different personal histories.
Editors' Summary
There are stark differences in the health of different ethnic groups in America. For example, the life expectancy for white men is 75.4 years, but it is only 69.2 years for African-American men. The reasons behind these disparities are unclear, though there are several possible explanations. Perhaps, for example, different ethnic groups are treated differently by health professionals (with some groups receiving poorer quality health care). Or maybe the health disparities are due to differences across ethnic groups in income level (we know that richer people are healthier). These disparities are likely to persist unless we gain a better understanding of how they arise.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to study the health of a very vulnerable community of people: heroin users living on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health status of this community is extremely poor, and its members are highly stigmatized—including by health professionals themselves. The researchers wanted to know whether African American men and white men who live on the streets have a different pattern of drug use, whether they adopt varying strategies for survival, and whether they have different personal histories. Knowledge of such differences would help the health community to provide more tailored and culturally appropriate interventions. Physicians, nurses, and social workers often treat street-based drug users, especially in emergency rooms and free clinics. These health professionals regularly report that their interactions with street-based drug users are frustrating and confrontational. The researchers hoped that their study would help these professionals to have a better understanding of the cultural backgrounds and motivations of their drug-using patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Over the course of six years, the researchers directly observed about 70 men living on the streets who injected heroin as they went about their usual lives (this type of research is called “participant observation”). The researchers specifically looked to see whether there were differences between the white and African American men. All the men gave their consent to be studied in this way and to be photographed. The researchers also studied a database of interviews with almost 7,000 injection drug users conducted over five years, drawing out the data on differences between white and African men. The researchers found that the white men were more likely to supplement their heroin use with inexpensive fortified wine, while African American men were more likely to supplement heroin with crack. Most of the white men were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime, and these men tended to consider themselves as destitute outcasts. African American men had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families, and these men tended to consider themselves as professional outlaws. The white men persevered less in attempting to find a vein in which to inject heroin, and so were more likely to inject the drug directly under the skin—this meant that they were more likely to suffer from skin abscesses. The white men generated most of their income from panhandling (begging for money), while the African American men generated most of their income through petty crime and/or through offering services such as washing car windows at gas stations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Among street-based heroin users, there are important differences between white men and African American men in the type of drugs used, the method of drug use, their social backgrounds, the way in which they identify themselves, and the health risks that they take. By understanding these differences, health professionals should be better placed to provide tailored and appropriate care when these men present to clinics and emergency rooms. As the researchers say, “understanding of different ethnic populations of drug injectors may reduce difficult clinical interactions and resultant physician frustration while improving patient access and adherence to care.” One limitation of this study is that the researchers studied one specific community in one particular area of the US—so we should not assume that their findings would apply to street-based heroin users elsewhere.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a web page on HIV prevention among injection drug users
The World Health Organization has collected documents on reducing the risk of HIV in injection drug users and on harm reduction approaches
The International Harm Reduction Association has information relevant to a global audience on reducing drug-related harm among individuals and communities
US-focused information on harm reduction is available via the websites of the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Chicago Recovery Alliance
Canada-focused information can be found at the Street Works Web site
The Harm Reduction Journal publishes open-access articles
The CDC has a web page on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities
The Drug Policy Alliance has a web page on drug policy in the United States
PMCID: PMC1621100  PMID: 17076569
6.  The Patient–Doctor Relationship and Online Social Networks: Results of a National Survey 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2011;26(10):1168-1174.
The use of online social networks (OSNs) among physicians and physicians-in-training, the extent of patient–doctor interactions within OSNs, and attitudes among these groups toward use of OSNs is not well described.
To quantify the use of OSNs, patient interactions within OSNs, and attitudes toward OSNs among medical students (MS), resident physicians (RP), and practicing physicians (PP) in the United States.
A random, stratified mail survey was sent to 1004 MS, 1004 RP, and 1004 PP between February and May 2010.
Percentage of respondents reporting OSN use, the nature and frequency of use; percentage of respondents reporting friend requests by patients or patients’ family members, frequency of these requests, and whether or not they were accepted; attitudes toward physician use of OSNs and online patient interactions.
The overall response rate was 16.0% (19.8% MS, 14.3% RP, 14.1% PP). 93.5% of MS, 79.4% of RP, and 41.6% of PP reported usage of OSNs. PP were more likely to report having visited the profile of a patient or patient’s family member (MS 2.3%, RP 3.9%, PP 15.5%), and were more likely to have received friend requests from patients or their family members (MS 1.2%, RP 7.8%, PP 34.5%). A majority did not think it ethically acceptable to interact with patients within OSNs for either social (68.3%) or patient-care (68.0%) reasons. Almost half of respondents (48.7%) were pessimistic about the potential for OSNs to improve patient–doctor communication, and a majority (79%) expressed concerns about maintaining patient confidentiality.
Personal OSN use among physicians and physicians-in-training mirrors that of the general population. Patient–doctor interactions take place within OSNs, and are more typically initiated by patients than by physicians or physicians-in-training. A majority of respondents view these online interactions as ethically problematic.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-011-1761-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3181288  PMID: 21706268
doctor–patient relations; computer communication networks; professionalism; Internet; bioethics
7.  COM7/386: ArztPartner AG: three steps strategy to a healthcare information network 
ArztPartner strives to create a network of the providers and receivers of medical care in Germany. This network will use the innovative technologies of cyberspace to increase the quality and speed of interaction between all participants of the healthcare system. Important components of this network will be virtual communities for patients, online discussion forums for physicians and possibilities of online interaction between the two groups. In the long run, this platform will be a basis for providing medical care on-line. The three-step-strategy:
Establishing a sophisticated physician search system for patients: Building on the current search routine of ArztPartner (, ArztPartner will significantly upgrade its search options with more intuitive user-interfaces.
Bringing the ArztPartner physician- and clinics network on-line and upgrading the general physician database: Currently ArztPartner is putting the key information concerning the physicians and clinics in its quality survey network in the internet. At the same time we are providing all physicians and clinics in Germany with the opportunity to present their profile in our online network.
Building virtual communities for specific diagnoses, creating online discussion spaces for physicians and encouraging interactions between the two groups: ArztPartner will establish virtual communities for the most common diseases, thus helping consumers to get convenient access to specific information sources and exchange information with fellow patients.
At the same time, we will provide the medical providers in our network with possibilities to exchange information with each other and to access relevant content. In the long run, we hope to connect consumers, physicians and clinics, thus creating a platform for effective medical information exchange through the whole process of medical care. The presentation will show the current status of these efforts as well as the specific questions associated with this strategy.
PMCID: PMC1761725
Internet platform; Networks; Quality; Search Engines; Healthcare Management
8.  Online Professional Networks for Physicians: Risk Management 
The rapidly developing array of online physician-only communities represents a potential extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to physicians. These online communities provide physicians with a new range of controls over the information they process, but use of this social media technology carries some risk.
The purpose of this review was to help physicians manage the risks of online professional networking and discuss the potential benefits that may come with such networks. This article explores the risks and benefits of physicians engaging in online professional networking with peers and provides suggestions on risk management.
Through an Internet search and literature review, we scrutinized available case law, federal regulatory code, and guidelines of conduct from professional organizations and consultants. We reviewed the site as a case example because it is currently the only online social network exclusively for orthopaedic surgeons.
Existing case law suggests potential liability for orthopaedic surgeons who engage with patients on openly accessible social network platforms. Current society guidelines in both the United States and Britain provide sensible rules that may mitigate such risks. However, the overall lack of a strong body of legal opinions, government regulations as well as practical experience for most surgeons limit the suitability of such platforms. Closed platforms that are restricted to validated orthopaedic surgeons may limit these downside risks and hence allow surgeons to collaborate with one another both as clinicians and practice owners.
Educating surgeons about the pros and cons of participating in these networking platforms is helping them more astutely manage risks and optimize benefits. This evolving online environment of professional interaction is one of few precedents, but the application of risk management strategies that physicians use in daily practice carries over into the online community. This participation should foster ongoing dialogue as new guidelines emerge. This will allow today’s orthopaedic surgeon to feel more comfortable with online professional networks and better understand how to make an informed decision regarding their proper use.
PMCID: PMC3314765  PMID: 22125249
Medicine & Public Health; Conservative Orthopedics; Orthopedics; Sports Medicine; Surgery; Surgical Orthopedics; Medicine/Public Health, general
9.  Proceedings of the 8th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation 
Chambers, David | Simpson, Lisa | Hill-Briggs, Felicia | Neta, Gila | Vinson, Cynthia | Chambers, David | Beidas, Rinad | Marcus, Steven | Aarons, Gregory | Hoagwood, Kimberly | Schoenwald, Sonja | Evans, Arthur | Hurford, Matthew | Rubin, Ronnie | Hadley, Trevor | Barg, Frances | Walsh, Lucia | Adams, Danielle | Mandell, David | Martin, Lindsey | Mignogna, Joseph | Mott, Juliette | Hundt, Natalie | Kauth, Michael | Kunik, Mark | Naik, Aanand | Cully, Jeffrey | McGuire, Alan | White, Dominique | Bartholomew, Tom | McGrew, John | Luther, Lauren | Rollins, Angie | Salyers, Michelle | Cooper, Brittany | Funaiole, Angie | Richards, Julie | Lee, Amy | Lapham, Gwen | Caldeiro, Ryan | Lozano, Paula | Gildred, Tory | Achtmeyer, Carol | Ludman, Evette | Addis, Megan | Marx, Larry | Bradley, Katharine | VanDeinse, Tonya | Wilson, Amy Blank | Stacey, Burgin | Powell, Byron | Bunger, Alicia | Cuddeback, Gary | Barnett, Miya | Stadnick, Nicole | Brookman-Frazee, Lauren | Lau, Anna | Dorsey, Shannon | Pullmann, Michael | Mitchell, Shannon | Schwartz, Robert | Kirk, Arethusa | Dusek, Kristi | Oros, Marla | Hosler, Colleen | Gryczynski, Jan | Barbosa, Carolina | Dunlap, Laura | Lounsbury, David | O’Grady, Kevin | Brown, Barry | Damschroder, Laura | Waltz, Thomas | Powell, Byron | Ritchie, Mona | Waltz, Thomas | Atkins, David | Imel, Zac E. | Xiao, Bo | Can, Doğan | Georgiou, Panayiotis | Narayanan, Shrikanth | Berkel, Cady | Gallo, Carlos | Sandler, Irwin | Brown, C. Hendricks | Wolchik, Sharlene | Mauricio, Anne Marie | Gallo, Carlos | Brown, C. Hendricks | Mehrotra, Sanjay | Chandurkar, Dharmendra | Bora, Siddhartha | Das, Arup | Tripathi, Anand | Saggurti, Niranjan | Raj, Anita | Hughes, Eric | Jacobs, Brian | Kirkendall, Eric | Loeb, Danielle | Trinkley, Katy | Yang, Michael | Sprowell, Andrew | Nease, Donald | Lyon, Aaron | Lewis, Cara | Boyd, Meredith | Melvin, Abigail | Nicodimos, Semret | Liu, Freda | Jungbluth, Nathanial | Lyon, Aaron | Lewis, Cara | Boyd, Meredith | Melvin, Abigail | Nicodimos, Semret | Liu, Freda | Jungbluth, Nathanial | Flynn, Allen | Landis-Lewis, Zach | Sales, Anne | Baloh, Jure | Ward, Marcia | Zhu, Xi | Bennett, Ian | Unutzer, Jurgen | Mao, Johnny | Proctor, Enola | Vredevoogd, Mindy | Chan, Ya-Fen | Williams, Nathaniel | Green, Phillip | Bernstein, Steven | Rosner, June-Marie | DeWitt, Michelle | Tetrault, Jeanette | Dziura, James | Hsiao, Allen | Sussman, Scott | O’Connor, Patrick | Toll, Benjamin | Jones, Michael | Gassaway, Julie | Tobin, Jonathan | Zatzick, Douglas | Bradbury, Angela R. | Patrick-Miller, Linda | Egleston, Brian | Olopade, Olufunmilayo I. | Hall, Michael J. | Daly, Mary B. | Fleisher, Linda | Grana, Generosa | Ganschow, Pamela | Fetzer, Dominique | Brandt, Amanda | Farengo-Clark, Dana | Forman, Andrea | Gaber, Rikki S. | Gulden, Cassandra | Horte, Janice | Long, Jessica | Chambers, Rachelle Lorenz | Lucas, Terra | Madaan, Shreshtha | Mattie, Kristin | McKenna, Danielle | Montgomery, Susan | Nielsen, Sarah | Powers, Jacquelyn | Rainey, Kim | Rybak, Christina | Savage, Michelle | Seelaus, Christina | Stoll, Jessica | Stopfer, Jill | Yao, Shirley | Domchek, Susan | Hahn, Erin | Munoz-Plaza, Corrine | Wang, Jianjin | Delgadillo, Jazmine Garcia | Mittman, Brian | Gould, Michael | Liang, Shuting (Lily) | Kegler, Michelle C. | Cotter, Megan | Phillips, Emily | Hermstad, April | Morton, Rentonia | Beasley, Derrick | Martinez, Jeremy | Riehman, Kara | Gustafson, David | Marsch, Lisa | Mares, Louise | Quanbeck, Andrew | McTavish, Fiona | McDowell, Helene | Brown, Randall | Thomas, Chantelle | Glass, Joseph | Isham, Joseph | Shah, Dhavan | Liebschutz, Jane | Lasser, Karen | Watkins, Katherine | Ober, Allison | Hunter, Sarah | Lamp, Karen | Ewing, Brett | Iwelunmor, Juliet | Gyamfi, Joyce | Blackstone, Sarah | Quakyi, Nana Kofi | Plange-Rhule, Jacob | Ogedegbe, Gbenga | Kumar, Pritika | Van Devanter, Nancy | Nguyen, Nam | Nguyen, Linh | Nguyen, Trang | Phuong, Nguyet | Shelley, Donna | Rudge, Sian | Langlois, Etienne | Tricco, Andrea | Ball, Sherry | Lambert-Kerzner, Anne | Sulc, Christine | Simmons, Carol | Shell-Boyd, Jeneen | Oestreich, Taryn | O’Connor, Ashley | Neely, Emily | McCreight, Marina | Labebue, Amy | DiFiore, Doreen | Brostow, Diana | Ho, P. Michael | Aron, David | Harvey, Jillian | McHugh, Megan | Scanlon, Dennis | Lee, Rebecca | Soltero, Erica | Parker, Nathan | McNeill, Lorna | Ledoux, Tracey | McIsaac, Jessie-Lee | MacLeod, Kate | Ata, Nicole | Jarvis, Sherry | Kirk, Sara | Purtle, Jonathan | Dodson, Elizabeth | Brownson, Ross | Mittman, Brian | Curran, Geoffrey | Curran, Geoffrey | Pyne, Jeffrey | Aarons, Gregory | Ehrhart, Mark | Torres, Elisa | Miech, Edward | Miech, Edward | Stevens, Kathleen | Hamilton, Alison | Cohen, Deborah | Padgett, Deborah | Morshed, Alexandra | Patel, Rupa | Prusaczyk, Beth | Aron, David C. | Gupta, Divya | Ball, Sherry | Hand, Rosa | Abram, Jenica | Wolfram, Taylor | Hastings, Molly | Moreland-Russell, Sarah | Tabak, Rachel | Ramsey, Alex | Baumann, Ana | Kryzer, Emily | Montgomery, Katherine | Lewis, Ericka | Padek, Margaret | Powell, Byron | Brownson, Ross | Mamaril, Cezar Brian | Mays, Glen | Branham, Keith | Timsina, Lava | Mays, Glen | Hogg, Rachel | Fagan, Abigail | Shapiro, Valerie | Brown, Eric | Haggerty, Kevin | Hawkins, David | Oesterle, Sabrina | Hawkins, David | Catalano, Richard | McKay, Virginia | Dolcini, M. Margaret | Hoffer, Lee | Moin, Tannaz | Li, Jinnan | Duru, O. Kenrik | Ettner, Susan | Turk, Norman | Chan, Charles | Keckhafer, Abigail | Luchs, Robert | Ho, Sam | Mangione, Carol | Selby, Peter | Zawertailo, Laurie | Minian, Nadia | Balliunas, Dolly | Dragonetti, Rosa | Hussain, Sarwar | Lecce, Julia | Chinman, Matthew | Acosta, Joie | Ebener, Patricia | Malone, Patrick S. | Slaughter, Mary | Freedman, Darcy | Flocke, Susan | Lee, Eunlye | Matlack, Kristen | Trapl, Erika | Ohri-Vachaspati, Punam | Taggart, Morgan | Borawski, Elaine | Parrish, Amanda | Harris, Jeffrey | Kohn, Marlana | Hammerback, Kristen | McMillan, Becca | Hannon, Peggy | Swindle, Taren | Curran, Geoffrey | Whiteside-Mansell, Leanne | Ward, Wendy | Holt, Cheryl | Santos, Sheri Lou | Tagai, Erin | Scheirer, Mary Ann | Carter, Roxanne | Bowie, Janice | Haider, Muhiuddin | Slade, Jimmie | Wang, Min Qi | Masica, Andrew | Ogola, Gerald | Berryman, Candice | Richter, Kathleen | Shelton, Rachel | Jandorf, Lina | Erwin, Deborah | Truong, Khoa | Javier, Joyce R. | Coffey, Dean | Schrager, Sheree M. | Palinkas, Lawrence | Miranda, Jeanne | Johnson, Veda | Hutcherson, Valerie | Ellis, Ruth | Kharmats, Anna | Marshall-King, Sandra | LaPradd, Monica | Fonseca-Becker, Fannie | Kepka, Deanna | Bodson, Julia | Warner, Echo | Fowler, Brynn | Shenkman, Elizabeth | Hogan, William | Odedina, Folakami | De Leon, Jessica | Hooper, Monica | Carrasquillo, Olveen | Reams, Renee | Hurt, Myra | Smith, Steven | Szapocznik, Jose | Nelson, David | Mandal, Prabir | Teufel, James
Implementation Science : IS  2016;11(Suppl 2):100.
Table of contents
A1 Introduction to the 8th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation: Optimizing Personal and Population Health
David Chambers, Lisa Simpson
D1 Discussion forum: Population health D&I research
Felicia Hill-Briggs
D2 Discussion forum: Global health D&I research
Gila Neta, Cynthia Vinson
D3 Discussion forum: Precision medicine and D&I research
David Chambers
S1 Predictors of community therapists’ use of therapy techniques in a large public mental health system
Rinad Beidas, Steven Marcus, Gregory Aarons, Kimberly Hoagwood, Sonja Schoenwald, Arthur Evans, Matthew Hurford, Ronnie Rubin, Trevor Hadley, Frances Barg, Lucia Walsh, Danielle Adams, David Mandell
S2 Implementing brief cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in primary care: Clinicians' experiences from the field
Lindsey Martin, Joseph Mignogna, Juliette Mott, Natalie Hundt, Michael Kauth, Mark Kunik, Aanand Naik, Jeffrey Cully
S3 Clinician competence: Natural variation, factors affecting, and effect on patient outcomes
Alan McGuire, Dominique White, Tom Bartholomew, John McGrew, Lauren Luther, Angie Rollins, Michelle Salyers
S4 Exploring the multifaceted nature of sustainability in community-based prevention: A mixed-method approach
Brittany Cooper, Angie Funaiole
S5 Theory informed behavioral health integration in primary care: Mixed methods evaluation of the implementation of routine depression and alcohol screening and assessment
Julie Richards, Amy Lee, Gwen Lapham, Ryan Caldeiro, Paula Lozano, Tory Gildred, Carol Achtmeyer, Evette Ludman, Megan Addis, Larry Marx, Katharine Bradley
S6 Enhancing the evidence for specialty mental health probation through a hybrid efficacy and implementation study
Tonya VanDeinse, Amy Blank Wilson, Burgin Stacey, Byron Powell, Alicia Bunger, Gary Cuddeback
S7 Personalizing evidence-based child mental health care within a fiscally mandated policy reform
Miya Barnett, Nicole Stadnick, Lauren Brookman-Frazee, Anna Lau
S8 Leveraging an existing resource for technical assistance: Community-based supervisors in public mental health
Shannon Dorsey, Michael Pullmann
S9 SBIRT implementation for adolescents in urban federally qualified health centers: Implementation outcomes
Shannon Mitchell, Robert Schwartz, Arethusa Kirk, Kristi Dusek, Marla Oros, Colleen Hosler, Jan Gryczynski, Carolina Barbosa, Laura Dunlap, David Lounsbury, Kevin O'Grady, Barry Brown
S10 PANEL: Tailoring Implementation Strategies to Context - Expert recommendations for tailoring strategies to context
Laura Damschroder, Thomas Waltz, Byron Powell
S11 PANEL: Tailoring Implementation Strategies to Context - Extreme facilitation: Helping challenged healthcare settings implement complex programs
Mona Ritchie
S12 PANEL: Tailoring Implementation Strategies to Context - Using menu-based choice tasks to obtain expert recommendations for implementing three high-priority practices in the VA
Thomas Waltz
S13 PANEL: The Use of Technology to Improve Efficient Monitoring of Implementation of Evidence-based Programs - Siri, rate my therapist: Using technology to automate fidelity ratings of motivational interviewing
David Atkins, Zac E. Imel, Bo Xiao, Doğan Can, Panayiotis Georgiou, Shrikanth Narayanan
S14 PANEL: The Use of Technology to Improve Efficient Monitoring of Implementation of Evidence-based Programs - Identifying indicators of implementation quality for computer-based ratings
Cady Berkel, Carlos Gallo, Irwin Sandler, C. Hendricks Brown, Sharlene Wolchik, Anne Marie Mauricio
S15 PANEL: The Use of Technology to Improve Efficient Monitoring of Implementation of Evidence-based Programs - Improving implementation of behavioral interventions by monitoring emotion in spoken speech
Carlos Gallo, C. Hendricks Brown, Sanjay Mehrotra
S16 Scorecards and dashboards to assure data quality of health management information system (HMIS) using R
Dharmendra Chandurkar, Siddhartha Bora, Arup Das, Anand Tripathi, Niranjan Saggurti, Anita Raj
S17 A big data approach for discovering and implementing patient safety insights
Eric Hughes, Brian Jacobs, Eric Kirkendall
S18 Improving the efficacy of a depression registry for use in a collaborative care model
Danielle Loeb, Katy Trinkley, Michael Yang, Andrew Sprowell, Donald Nease
S19 Measurement feedback systems as a strategy to support implementation of measurement-based care in behavioral health
Aaron Lyon, Cara Lewis, Meredith Boyd, Abigail Melvin, Semret Nicodimos, Freda Liu, Nathanial Jungbluth
S20 PANEL: Implementation Science and Learning Health Systems: Intersections and Commonalities - Common loop assay: Methods of supporting learning collaboratives
Allen Flynn
S21 PANEL: Implementation Science and Learning Health Systems: Intersections and Commonalities - Innovating audit and feedback using message tailoring models for learning health systems
Zach Landis-Lewis
S22 PANEL: Implementation Science and Learning Health Systems: Intersections and Commonalities - Implementation science and learning health systems: Connecting the dots
Anne Sales
S23 Facilitation activities of Critical Access Hospitals during TeamSTEPPS implementation
Jure Baloh, Marcia Ward, Xi Zhu
S24 Organizational and social context of federally qualified health centers and variation in maternal depression outcomes
Ian Bennett, Jurgen Unutzer, Johnny Mao, Enola Proctor, Mindy Vredevoogd, Ya-Fen Chan, Nathaniel Williams, Phillip Green
S25 Decision support to enhance treatment of hospitalized smokers: A randomized trial
Steven Bernstein, June-Marie Rosner, Michelle DeWitt, Jeanette Tetrault, James Dziura, Allen Hsiao, Scott Sussman, Patrick O’Connor, Benjamin Toll
S26 PANEL: Developing Sustainable Strategies for the Implementation of Patient-Centered Care across Diverse US Healthcare Systems - A patient-centered approach to successful community transition after catastrophic injury
Michael Jones, Julie Gassaway
S27 PANEL: Developing Sustainable Strategies for the Implementation of Patient-Centered Care across Diverse US Healthcare Systems - Conducting PCOR to integrate mental health and cancer screening services in primary care
Jonathan Tobin
S28 PANEL: Developing Sustainable Strategies for the Implementation of Patient-Centered Care across Diverse US Healthcare Systems - A comparative effectiveness trial of optimal patient-centered care for US trauma care systems
Douglas Zatzick
S29 Preferences for in-person communication among patients in a multi-center randomized study of in-person versus telephone communication of genetic test results for cancer susceptibility
Angela R Bradbury, Linda Patrick-Miller, Brian Egleston, Olufunmilayo I Olopade, Michael J Hall, Mary B Daly, Linda Fleisher, Generosa Grana, Pamela Ganschow, Dominique Fetzer, Amanda Brandt, Dana Farengo-Clark, Andrea Forman, Rikki S Gaber, Cassandra Gulden, Janice Horte, Jessica Long, Rachelle Lorenz Chambers, Terra Lucas, Shreshtha Madaan, Kristin Mattie, Danielle McKenna, Susan Montgomery, Sarah Nielsen, Jacquelyn Powers, Kim Rainey, Christina Rybak, Michelle Savage, Christina Seelaus, Jessica Stoll, Jill Stopfer, Shirley Yao and Susan Domchek
S30 Working towards de-implementation: A mixed methods study in breast cancer surveillance care
Erin Hahn, Corrine Munoz-Plaza, Jianjin Wang, Jazmine Garcia Delgadillo, Brian Mittman Michael Gould
S31Integrating evidence-based practices for increasing cancer screenings in safety-net primary care systems: A multiple case study using the consolidated framework for implementation research
Shuting (Lily) Liang, Michelle C. Kegler, Megan Cotter, Emily Phillips, April Hermstad, Rentonia Morton, Derrick Beasley, Jeremy Martinez, Kara Riehman
S32 Observations from implementing an mHealth intervention in an FQHC
David Gustafson, Lisa Marsch, Louise Mares, Andrew Quanbeck, Fiona McTavish, Helene McDowell, Randall Brown, Chantelle Thomas, Joseph Glass, Joseph Isham, Dhavan Shah
S33 A multicomponent intervention to improve primary care provider adherence to chronic opioid therapy guidelines and reduce opioid misuse: A cluster randomized controlled trial protocol
Jane Liebschutz, Karen Lasser
S34 Implementing collaborative care for substance use disorders in primary care: Preliminary findings from the summit study
Katherine Watkins, Allison Ober, Sarah Hunter, Karen Lamp, Brett Ewing
S35 Sustaining a task-shifting strategy for blood pressure control in Ghana: A stakeholder analysis
Juliet Iwelunmor, Joyce Gyamfi, Sarah Blackstone, Nana Kofi Quakyi, Jacob Plange-Rhule, Gbenga Ogedegbe
S36 Contextual adaptation of the consolidated framework for implementation research (CFIR) in a tobacco cessation study in Vietnam
Pritika Kumar, Nancy Van Devanter, Nam Nguyen, Linh Nguyen, Trang Nguyen, Nguyet Phuong, Donna Shelley
S37 Evidence check: A knowledge brokering approach to systematic reviews for policy
Sian Rudge
S38 Using Evidence Synthesis to Strengthen Complex Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Etienne Langlois
S39 Does it matter: timeliness or accuracy of results? The choice of rapid reviews or systematic reviews to inform decision-making
Andrea Tricco
S40 Evaluation of the veterans choice program using lean six sigma at a VA medical center to identify benefits and overcome obstacles
Sherry Ball, Anne Lambert-Kerzner, Christine Sulc, Carol Simmons, Jeneen Shell-Boyd, Taryn Oestreich, Ashley O'Connor, Emily Neely, Marina McCreight, Amy Labebue, Doreen DiFiore, Diana Brostow, P. Michael Ho, David Aron
S41 The influence of local context on multi-stakeholder alliance quality improvement activities: A multiple case study
Jillian Harvey, Megan McHugh, Dennis Scanlon
S42 Increasing physical activity in early care and education: Sustainability via active garden education (SAGE)
Rebecca Lee, Erica Soltero, Nathan Parker, Lorna McNeill, Tracey Ledoux
S43 Marking a decade of policy implementation: The successes and continuing challenges of a provincial school food and nutrition policy in Canada
Jessie-Lee McIsaac, Kate MacLeod, Nicole Ata, Sherry Jarvis, Sara Kirk
S44 Use of research evidence among state legislators who prioritize mental health and substance abuse issues
Jonathan Purtle, Elizabeth Dodson, Ross Brownson
S45 PANEL: Effectiveness-Implementation Hybrid Designs: Clarifications, Refinements, and Additional Guidance Based on a Systematic Review and Reports from the Field - Hybrid type 1 designs
Brian Mittman, Geoffrey Curran
S46 PANEL: Effectiveness-Implementation Hybrid Designs: Clarifications, Refinements, and Additional Guidance Based on a Systematic Review and Reports from the Field - Hybrid type 2 designs
Geoffrey Curran
S47 PANEL: Effectiveness-Implementation Hybrid Designs: Clarifications, Refinements, and Additional Guidance Based on a Systematic Review and Reports from the Field - Hybrid type 3 designs
Jeffrey Pyne
S48 Linking team level implementation leadership and implementation climate to individual level attitudes, behaviors, and implementation outcomes
Gregory Aarons, Mark Ehrhart, Elisa Torres
S49 Pinpointing the specific elements of local context that matter most to implementation outcomes: Findings from qualitative comparative analysis in the RE-inspire study of VA acute stroke care
Edward Miech
S50 The GO score: A new context-sensitive instrument to measure group organization level for providing and improving care
Edward Miech
S51 A research network approach for boosting implementation and improvement
Kathleen Stevens, I.S.R.N. Steering Council
S52 PANEL: Qualitative methods in D&I Research: Value, rigor and challenge - The value of qualitative methods in implementation research
Alison Hamilton
S53 PANEL: Qualitative methods in D&I Research: Value, rigor and challenge - Learning evaluation: The role of qualitative methods in dissemination and implementation research
Deborah Cohen
S54 PANEL: Qualitative methods in D&I Research: Value, rigor and challenge - Qualitative methods in D&I research
Deborah Padgett
S55 PANEL: Maps & models: The promise of network science for clinical D&I - Hospital network of sharing patients with acute and chronic diseases in California
Alexandra Morshed
S56 PANEL: Maps & models: The promise of network science for clinical D&I - The use of social network analysis to identify dissemination targets and enhance D&I research study recruitment for pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP) among men who have sex with men
Rupa Patel
S57 PANEL: Maps & models: The promise of network science for clinical D&I - Network and organizational factors related to the adoption of patient navigation services among rural breast cancer care providers
Beth Prusaczyk
S58 A theory of de-implementation based on the theory of healthcare professionals’ behavior and intention (THPBI) and the becker model of unlearning
David C. Aron, Divya Gupta, Sherry Ball
S59 Observation of registered dietitian nutritionist-patient encounters by dietetic interns highlights low awareness and implementation of evidence-based nutrition practice guidelines
Rosa Hand, Jenica Abram, Taylor Wolfram
S60 Program sustainability action planning: Building capacity for program sustainability using the program sustainability assessment tool
Molly Hastings, Sarah Moreland-Russell
S61 A review of D&I study designs in published study protocols
Rachel Tabak, Alex Ramsey, Ana Baumann, Emily Kryzer, Katherine Montgomery, Ericka Lewis, Margaret Padek, Byron Powell, Ross Brownson
S62 PANEL: Geographic variation in the implementation of public health services: Economic, organizational, and network determinants - Model simulation techniques to estimate the cost of implementing foundational public health services
Cezar Brian Mamaril, Glen Mays, Keith Branham, Lava Timsina
S63 PANEL: Geographic variation in the implementation of public health services: Economic, organizational, and network determinants - Inter-organizational network effects on the implementation of public health services
Glen Mays, Rachel Hogg
S64 PANEL: Building capacity for implementation and dissemination of the communities that care prevention system at scale to promote evidence-based practices in behavioral health - Implementation fidelity, coalition functioning, and community prevention system transformation using communities that care
Abigail Fagan, Valerie Shapiro, Eric Brown
S65 PANEL: Building capacity for implementation and dissemination of the communities that care prevention system at scale to promote evidence-based practices in behavioral health - Expanding capacity for implementation of communities that care at scale using a web-based, video-assisted training system
Kevin Haggerty, David Hawkins
S66 PANEL: Building capacity for implementation and dissemination of the communities that care prevention system at scale to promote evidence-based practices in behavioral health - Effects of communities that care on reducing youth behavioral health problems
Sabrina Oesterle, David Hawkins, Richard Catalano
S68 When interventions end: the dynamics of intervention de-adoption and replacement
Virginia McKay, M. Margaret Dolcini, Lee Hoffer
S69 Results from next-d: can a disease specific health plan reduce incident diabetes development among a national sample of working-age adults with pre-diabetes?
Tannaz Moin, Jinnan Li, O. Kenrik Duru, Susan Ettner, Norman Turk, Charles Chan, Abigail Keckhafer, Robert Luchs, Sam Ho, Carol Mangione
S70 Implementing smoking cessation interventions in primary care settings (STOP): using the interactive systems framework
Peter Selby, Laurie Zawertailo, Nadia Minian, Dolly Balliunas, Rosa Dragonetti, Sarwar Hussain, Julia Lecce
S71 Testing the Getting To Outcomes implementation support intervention in prevention-oriented, community-based settings
Matthew Chinman, Joie Acosta, Patricia Ebener, Patrick S Malone, Mary Slaughter
S72 Examining the reach of a multi-component farmers’ market implementation approach among low-income consumers in an urban context
Darcy Freedman, Susan Flocke, Eunlye Lee, Kristen Matlack, Erika Trapl, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, Morgan Taggart, Elaine Borawski
S73 Increasing implementation of evidence-based health promotion practices at large workplaces: The CEOs Challenge
Amanda Parrish, Jeffrey Harris, Marlana Kohn, Kristen Hammerback, Becca McMillan, Peggy Hannon
S74 A qualitative assessment of barriers to nutrition promotion and obesity prevention in childcare
Taren Swindle, Geoffrey Curran, Leanne Whiteside-Mansell, Wendy Ward
S75 Documenting institutionalization of a health communication intervention in African American churches
Cheryl Holt, Sheri Lou Santos, Erin Tagai, Mary Ann Scheirer, Roxanne Carter, Janice Bowie, Muhiuddin Haider, Jimmie Slade, Min Qi Wang
S76 Reduction in hospital utilization by underserved patients through use of a community-medical home
Andrew Masica, Gerald Ogola, Candice Berryman, Kathleen Richter
S77 Sustainability of evidence-based lay health advisor programs in African American communities: A mixed methods investigation of the National Witness Project
Rachel Shelton, Lina Jandorf, Deborah Erwin
S78 Predicting the long-term uninsured population and analyzing their gaps in physical access to healthcare in South Carolina
Khoa Truong
S79 Using an evidence-based parenting intervention in churches to prevent behavioral problems among Filipino youth: A randomized pilot study
Joyce R. Javier, Dean Coffey, Sheree M. Schrager, Lawrence Palinkas, Jeanne Miranda
S80 Sustainability of elementary school-based health centers in three health-disparate southern communities
Veda Johnson, Valerie Hutcherson, Ruth Ellis
S81 Childhood obesity prevention partnership in Louisville: creative opportunities to engage families in a multifaceted approach to obesity prevention
Anna Kharmats, Sandra Marshall-King, Monica LaPradd, Fannie Fonseca-Becker
S82 Improvements in cervical cancer prevention found after implementation of evidence-based Latina prevention care management program
Deanna Kepka, Julia Bodson, Echo Warner, Brynn Fowler
S83 The OneFlorida data trust: Achieving health equity through research & training capacity building
Elizabeth Shenkman, William Hogan, Folakami Odedina, Jessica De Leon, Monica Hooper, Olveen Carrasquillo, Renee Reams, Myra Hurt, Steven Smith, Jose Szapocznik, David Nelson, Prabir Mandal
S84 Disseminating and sustaining medical-legal partnerships: Shared value and social return on investment
James Teufel
PMCID: PMC4977475  PMID: 27490260
10.  Interaction Patterns of Nurturant Support Exchanged in Online Health Social Networking 
Expressing emotion in online support communities is an important aspect of enabling e-patients to connect with each other and expand their social resources. Indirectly it increases the amount of support for coping with health issues. Exploring the supportive interaction patterns in online health social networking would help us better understand how technology features impacts user behavior in this context.
To build on previous research that identified different types of social support in online support communities by delving into patterns of supportive behavior across multiple computer-mediated communication formats. Each format combines different architectural elements, affecting the resulting social spaces. Our research question compared communication across different formats of text-based computer-mediated communication provided on the health social networking environment.
We identified messages with nurturant support (emotional, esteem, and network) across three different computer-mediated communication formats (forums, journals, and notes) of an online support community for alcoholism using content analysis. Our sample consisted of 493 forum messages, 423 journal messages, and 1180 notes.
Nurturant support types occurred frequently among messages offering support (forum comments: 276/412 messages, 67.0%; journal posts: 65/88 messages, 74%; journal comments: 275/335 messages, 82.1%; and notes: 1002/1180 messages, 84.92%), but less often among messages requesting support. Of all the nurturing supports, emotional (ie, encouragement) appeared most frequently, with network and esteem support appearing in patterns of varying combinations. Members of the Alcoholism Community appeared to adapt some traditional face-to-face forms of support to their needs in becoming sober, such as provision of encouragement, understanding, and empathy to one another.
The computer-mediated communication format may have the greatest influence on the supportive interactions because of characteristics such as audience reach and access. Other factors include perception of community versus personal space or purpose of communication. These results lead to a need for further research.
PMCID: PMC3799482  PMID: 22555303
Social support; social media; alcoholism
11.  Towards ethical guidelines for dealing with unsolicited patient emails and giving teleadvice in the absence of a pre-existing patient-physician relationship — systematic review and expert survey 
Many health information providers on the Internet and doctors with email accounts are confronted with the phenomenon of receiving unsolicited emails from patients asking for medical advice. Also, a growing number of websites offer "ask-the-doctor" services, where patients can ask questions to health professionals via email or other means of telecommunication. It is unclear whether these types of interactions constitute medical practice, and whether physicians have the ethical obligation to respond to unsolicited patient emails.
To improve the quality of online communication between patients and health professionals (physicians, experts) in the absence of a pre-existing patient-physician relationship or face-to-face communication, by preparing a set of guiding ethical principles applicable to this kind of interaction.
Systematic review of the literature, professional, and ethical codes; and consultation with experts.
Two different types of patient-physician encounters have to be distinguished. "Traditional" clinical encounters or telemedicine applications are called "Type B" interactions here (Bona fide relationship). In comparison, online interactions lack many of the characteristics of bona fide interactions; most notably there is no pre-existing relationship and the information available to the physician is limited if, for example, a physician responds to the email of a patient who he has never seen before. I call these "Type A" consultations (Absence of pre-existing patient-physician relationship). While guidelines for Type B interactions on the Internet exist (Kane, 1998), this is not the case for Type A interactions. The following principles are suggested: Physicians responding to patients' requests on the Internet should act within the limitations of telecommunication services and keep the global nature of the Internet in mind; not every aspect of medicine requires face-to-face communication; requests for help, including unsolicited patient questions, should not be ignored, but dealt with in some appropriate manner; informed consent requires fair and honest labeling; health professionals and information providers must maintain confidentiality; health professionals should define internal procedures and perform quality control measures.
Different media are appropriate at each point on the continuum between dispensing general health information and handling patient problems that would require the practice of medicine to solve. For example, email is a sufficiently capable medium for giving out general health information, while diagnosis and treatment usually requires at least advanced telemedical technology. Patients have to be educated that it is unethical to diagnose and treat over the Internet in the absence of a pre-existing patient-physician relationship, and if the interaction is limited to a single email. More research is needed to establish more evidence regarding situations in which teleadvice is beneficial and efficient.
PMCID: PMC1761847  PMID: 11720920
Internet; Ethics; Quality of Health Care; Referral and Consultation; Remote Consultation; Physician-Patient Relations; Professional-Patient Relations; Medical History Taking; Teleadvice; Electronic Mail; Chat; Newsgroup
12.  Task Shifting for Scale-up of HIV Care: Evaluation of Nurse-Centered Antiretroviral Treatment at Rural Health Centers in Rwanda 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000163.
Fabienne Shumbusho and colleagues evaluate a task-shifting model of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment prescribing in rural primary health centers in Rwanda and find that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
The shortage of human resources for health, and in particular physicians, is one of the major barriers to achieve universal access to HIV care and treatment. In September 2005, a pilot program of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment (ART) prescription was launched in three rural primary health centers in Rwanda. We retrospectively evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of this task-shifting model using descriptive data.
Methods and Findings
Medical records of 1,076 patients enrolled in HIV care and treatment services from September 2005 to March 2008 were reviewed to assess: (i) compliance with national guidelines for ART eligibility and prescription, and patient monitoring and (ii) key outcomes, such as retention, body weight, and CD4 cell count change at 6, 12, 18, and 24 mo after ART initiation. Of these, no ineligible patients were started on ART and only one patient received an inappropriate ART prescription. Of the 435 patients who initiated ART, the vast majority had adherence and side effects assessed at each clinic visit (89% and 84%, respectively). By March 2008, 390 (90%) patients were alive on ART, 29 (7%) had died, one (<1%) was lost to follow-up, and none had stopped treatment. Patient retention was about 92% by 12 mo and 91% by 24 mo. Depending on initial stage of disease, mean CD4 cell count increased between 97 and 128 cells/µl in the first 6 mo after treatment initiation and between 79 and 129 cells/µl from 6 to 24 mo of treatment. Mean weight increased significantly in the first 6 mo, between 1.8 and 4.3 kg, with no significant increases from 6 to 24 mo.
Patient outcomes in our pilot program compared favorably with other ART cohorts in sub-Saharan Africa and with those from a recent evaluation of the national ART program in Rwanda. These findings suggest that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a serious health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. The virus attacks white blood cells that protect against infection, most commonly a type of white blood cell called CD4. When a person has been infected with HIV for a long time, the number of CD4 cells they have goes down, resulting in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), in which the person's immune system no longer functions effectively.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the disease into four stages as it progresses, according to symptoms including weight loss and so-called opportunistic infections. These are known as clinical stage I, II, III, or IV but were revised and renamed 1, 2, 3, and 4 in September 2005. HIV infection and AIDS cannot be cured but they can be managed with antiretroviral treatment (ART). The WHO currently recommends that ART is begun when the CD4 count falls below 350.
Rwanda is a country situated in the central Africa with a population of around 9 million inhabitants; over 3% of the rural population and 7% of the urban population are infected with HIV. In 2007, the WHO estimated that 220,000 Rwandan children had lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Why Was This Study Done?
The WHO estimates that 9.7 million people with HIV in low- to middle-income countries need ART but at the end of 2007, only 30% of these, including in Rwanda, had access to treatment. In many low-income countries a major factor in this is a lack of doctors. Rwanda, for example, has one doctor per 50,000 inhabitants and one nurse per 3,900 inhabitants.
This situation has led the WHO to recommend “task shifting,” i.e., that the task of prescribing ART should be shifted from doctors to nurses so that more patients can be treated. This type of reorganization is well studied in high-income countries, but the researchers wanted to help develop a system for treating AIDS that would be effective and timely in a predominantly rural, low-income setting such as Rwanda.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In conjunction with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the researchers developed and piloted a task-shifting program, in which one nurse in each of three rural Rwandan primary health centers (PHCs) was trained to examine HIV patients and prescribe ART in simple cases. Nurses had to complete more than 50 consultations observed by the doctor before being permitted to consult patients independently. More complex cases were referred to a doctor. The authors developed standard checklists, instructions, and evaluation forms to guide nurses and the doctors who supervised them once a week.
The authors evaluated the pilot program by reviewing the records of 1,076 patients who enrolled on it between September 2005 and March 2008. They looked to see whether the nurses had followed guidelines and monitored the patients correctly. They also considered health outcomes for the patients, such as their death rate, their body weight, their CD4 cell count, and whether they maintained contact with caregivers.
They found that by March 2008, 451 patients had been eligible for ART. 435 received treatment and none of the patients were prescribed ART when they should not have been. Only one prescription did not follow national guidelines.
At every visit, nurses were supposed to assess whether patients were taking their drugs and to monitor side effects. They did this and maintained records correctly for the vast majority of the 435 patients who were prescribed ART. 390 patients (over 90%) of the 435 prescribed receiving ART continued to take it and maintain contact with the pilot PHC's program. 29 patients died. Only one was lost to follow up and the others transferred to another ART site. The majority gained weight in the first six months and their CD4 cell counts rose. Outcomes, including death rate, were similar to those treated on the (doctor-led) Rwandan national ART program and other sub-Saharan African national (doctor-led) programs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The study suggests that nurses are able to prescribe ART safely and effectively in a rural sub-Saharan setting, given sufficient training, mentoring, and support. Nurse-led prescribing of ART could mean that timely, appropriate treatment reaches many more HIV patients. It would reduce the burden of HIV care for doctors, freeing their time for other duties, and the study is already being used by the Rwandan Ministry of Health as a basis for plans to adopt a task-shifting strategy for the national ART program.
The study does have some limitations. The pilot program was funded and designed as a health project to deliver ART in rural areas, rather than a research project to compare nurse-led and doctor-led ART programs. There was no group of equivalent patients treated by doctors rather than nurses for direct comparison, although the authors did compare outcomes with those achieved nationally for doctor-led ART. The most promising sites, nurses, and patients were selected for the pilot and careful monitoring may have been an additional motivation for the nurses and doctors taking part. Health professionals in a scaled-up program may not be as committed as those in the pilot, who were carefully monitored. In addition, the nature of the pilot, which lasted for under three years and recruited new patients throughout, meant that patients were followed up for relatively short periods.
The authors also warn that they did not consider in this study the changes task shifting will make to doctors' roles and the skills required of both doctors and nurses. They recommend that task shifting should be implemented as part of a wider investment in health systems, human resources, training, adapted medical records, tools, and protocols.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
PLoS Medicine includes a page collecting together its recent articles on HIV infection and AIDS that includes research articles, perspectives, editorials, and policy forums provides news, views, and information about science, technology, and the developing world, including a section specific to HIV/AIDs
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a downloadable booklet Task Shifting to Tackle Health Worker Shortages
The WHO offers information on HIV and AIDS (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) as well as health information and fact sheets on individual countries, including on Rwanda
The UNAIDS/WHO working group on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Surveillance gathers and publishes data on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in individual countries, including on Rwanda
AIDS.ORG provides information to help prevent HIV infections and to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS. Factsheets on many aspects of HIV and AIDS are available. It is the official online publisher of AIDS Treatment News
PMCID: PMC2752160  PMID: 19823569
13.  Associations between Mode of HIV Testing and Consent, Confidentiality, and Referral: A Comparative Analysis in Four African Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001329.
A study carried out by Carla Obermeyer and colleagues examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether HIV testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing or provider-initiated testing.
Recommendations about scaling up HIV testing and counseling highlight the need to provide key services and to protect clients' rights, but it is unclear to what extent different modes of testing differ in this respect. This paper examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) or provider-initiated testing.
Methods and Findings
The MATCH (Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV) study was carried out in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda. Surveys were conducted at selected facilities. We defined eight outcome measures related to pre- and post-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfactory interactions with providers, and (for HIV-positive respondents) referral for care. These were compared across three types of facilities: integrated facilities, where testing is provided along with medical care; stand-alone VCT facilities; and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) facilities, where testing is part of PMTCT services. Tests of bivariate associations and modified Poisson regression were used to assess significance and estimate the unadjusted and adjusted associations between modes of testing and outcome measures. In total, 2,116 respondents tested in 2007 or later reported on their testing experience. High percentages of clients across countries and modes of testing reported receiving recommended services and being satisfied. In the unadjusted analyses, integrated testers were less likely to meet with a counselor before testing (83% compared with 95% of VCT testers; p<0.001), but those who had a pre-test meeting were more likely to have completed consent procedures (89% compared with 83% among VCT testers; p<0.001) and pre-test counseling (78% compared with 73% among VCT testers; p = 0.015). Both integrated and PMTCT testers were more likely to receive complete post-test counseling than were VCT testers (59% among both PMTCT and integrated testers compared with 36% among VCT testers; p<0.001). Adjusted analyses by country show few significant differences by mode of testing: only lower satisfaction among integrated testers in Burkina Faso and Uganda, and lower frequency of referral among PMTCT testers in Malawi. Adjusted analyses of pooled data across countries show a higher likelihood of pre-test meeting for those testing at VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.07–1.38) and higher satisfaction for stand-alone VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06–1.25), compared to integrated testing, but no other associations were statistically significant.
Overall, in this study most respondents reported favorable outcomes for consent, confidentiality, and referral. Provider-initiated ways of delivering testing and counseling do not appear to be associated with less favorable outcomes for clients than traditional, client-initiated VCT, suggesting that testing can be scaled up through multiple modes without detriment to clients' rights.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2007, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a joint guidance document on “provider-initiated” HIV testing and counseling. They noted that previous testing strategies that relied on “client-initiated” testing (also referred to as VCT, for voluntary counseling and testing) had failed to reach enough people, both in high-income and resource-constrained countries—in Africa, for example, at that time, just 12% of men and 10% of women had ever been tested. They argued that many opportunities to diagnose and counsel people that visit health facilities for other reasons are being missed, and that provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling can help expand access to HIV treatment, care, and support. They made it clear, however, that mandatory testing is not acceptable. All provider-initiated testing must therefore give individuals the option to not be tested. In addition, the guidelines stressed that all testing must continue to observe “the three Cs” (informed consent, counseling, and confidentiality) and be accompanied by an “enabling environment” including the availability of antiretroviral therapy, prevention and support services, and a supportive social, policy, and legal framework. A number of advocates have subsequently criticized the guidelines for failing to recognize that health-care services and staff in some countries do not always observe the three Cs. Critics have also questioned the appropriateness of the strategy for settings where antiretroviral therapy is not always available or where stigma and discrimination remain widespread.
Why Was This Study Done?
To inform the debate surrounding scale-up of HIV testing in general and provider-initiated testing in particular with data on “real-life” testing, researchers have since carried out a number of studies. One of them, called MATCH (for Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV), was designed to allow systematic comparisons across African countries of different ways of HIV testing. Its goal was to investigate the uptake of testing, to analyze differences in the experience of testing across countries and modes of testing, and to use the results to devise better strategies to increase knowledge of HIV status and referral to care. MATCH used different means to collect information, including surveys and interviews. People from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda participated. Some had undergone HIV testing, others had not. This study used a subset of the survey data collected for the MATCH study and asked whether there were systematic differences depending on the type of testing people had experienced.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The data the researchers used were from 2,116 people who had undergone testing in the two previous years at different facilities in the four countries. The different facilities were grouped into three “modes” of testing: VCT-only testing, integrated testing (which included hospitals and other medical facilities where provider-initiated and client-initiated testing were both available, along with other medical services), and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) testing at medical facilities offering services to pregnant women. Analyzing the survey responses, the researchers categorized them as related to eight different “outcomes”: pre-test meeting, pre-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfaction with the person-to-person interactions, post-test meeting to receive results, post-test counseling, and referral to care.
They found that across countries and different facilities, the majority of participants reported having received most of the testing-related services. More than 90% reported having a pre-test meeting, and around 80% were satisfied with the personal interactions, with the consent process, and with confidentiality. About 50% of participants reported receiving all post-test services, and 71% of those who had tested positive for HIV reported appropriate referral to care.
When they looked for differences between different modes of testing, the researchers found that while they existed, they did not consistently favor one mode over another. Some outcomes scored higher in VCT facilities, some in PMTCT facilities, and some in integrated facilities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
While there is room for improvement in HIV testing services (especially post-test services) across the countries and facilities included, the study did not reveal major problems with consent or confidentiality. The results also suggest that services at PMTCT and integrated facilities are not any worse than those at VCT-only sites. It seems therefore reasonable to continue expanding access to HIV testing and to include all facilities in the scale-up. That said, this is only one of a number of studies examining issues surrounding HIV testing, and decisions should be based on all available evidence. The results here are consistent with some of the other studies, but there are also reports that counseling might become neglected as testing is scaled up, and that offering testing routinely at every doctor's visit makes it seem mandatory even if there is the possibility to “opt out.” Other analyses of the MATCH study use in-depth interviews to understand in more detail the feelings, experiences, and attitudes of participants who have been tested as well as those who have not been tested. It will be important to see whether their results are consistent with the ones here, which are based on a survey of people who have been tested.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
WHO has published a toolkit for scaling up HIV testing and counseling services in resource-limited settings, as well as the report Service Delivery Approaches to HIV Testing and Counselling (HSC): A Strategic HTC Programme Framework
In response to reactions to the 2007 joint WHO/UNAIDS guidelines Guidance on Provider-Initiated HIV Testing and Counselling in Health Facilities, the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights issued a Statement and Recommendations on Scaling up HIV Testing and Counselling
The NAM/aidsmap website has a section on HIV testing policies and guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3479110  PMID: 23109914
14.  Internet-Based Device-Assisted Remote Monitoring of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices 
Executive Summary
The objective of this Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) report was to conduct a systematic review of the available published evidence on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted remote monitoring systems (RMSs) for therapeutic cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. The MAS evidence-based review was performed to support public financing decisions.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major cause of fatalities in developed countries. In the United States almost half a million people die of SCD annually, resulting in more deaths than stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. In Canada each year more than 40,000 people die from a cardiovascular related cause; approximately half of these deaths are attributable to SCD.
Most cases of SCD occur in the general population typically in those without a known history of heart disease. Most SCDs are caused by cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm caused by malfunctions of the heart’s electrical system. Up to half of patients with significant heart failure (HF) also have advanced conduction abnormalities.
Cardiac arrhythmias are managed by a variety of drugs, ablative procedures, and therapeutic CIEDs. The range of CIEDs includes pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. Bradycardia is the main indication for PMs and individuals at high risk for SCD are often treated by ICDs.
Heart failure (HF) is also a significant health problem and is the most frequent cause of hospitalization in those over 65 years of age. Patients with moderate to severe HF may also have cardiac arrhythmias, although the cause may be related more to heart pump or haemodynamic failure. The presence of HF, however, increases the risk of SCD five-fold, regardless of aetiology. Patients with HF who remain highly symptomatic despite optimal drug therapy are sometimes also treated with CRT devices.
With an increasing prevalence of age-related conditions such as chronic HF and the expanding indications for ICD therapy, the rate of ICD placement has been dramatically increasing. The appropriate indications for ICD placement, as well as the rate of ICD placement, are increasingly an issue. In the United States, after the introduction of expanded coverage of ICDs, a national ICD registry was created in 2005 to track these devices. A recent survey based on this national ICD registry reported that 22.5% (25,145) of patients had received a non-evidence based ICD and that these patients experienced significantly higher in-hospital mortality and post-procedural complications.
In addition to the increased ICD device placement and the upfront device costs, there is the need for lifelong follow-up or surveillance, placing a significant burden on patients and device clinics. In 2007, over 1.6 million CIEDs were implanted in Europe and the United States, which translates to over 5.5 million patient encounters per year if the recommended follow-up practices are considered. A safe and effective RMS could potentially improve the efficiency of long-term follow-up of patients and their CIEDs.
In addition to being therapeutic devices, CIEDs have extensive diagnostic abilities. All CIEDs can be interrogated and reprogrammed during an in-clinic visit using an inductive programming wand. Remote monitoring would allow patients to transmit information recorded in their devices from the comfort of their own homes. Currently most ICD devices also have the potential to be remotely monitored. Remote monitoring (RM) can be used to check system integrity, to alert on arrhythmic episodes, and to potentially replace in-clinic follow-ups and manage disease remotely. They do not currently have the capability of being reprogrammed remotely, although this feature is being tested in pilot settings.
Every RMS is specifically designed by a manufacturer for their cardiac implant devices. For Internet-based device-assisted RMSs, this customization includes details such as web application, multiplatform sensors, custom algorithms, programming information, and types and methods of alerting patients and/or physicians. The addition of peripherals for monitoring weight and pressure or communicating with patients through the onsite communicators also varies by manufacturer. Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs are intended to function as a surveillance system rather than an emergency system.
Health care providers therefore need to learn each application, and as more than one application may be used at one site, multiple applications may need to be reviewed for alarms. All RMSs deliver system integrity alerting; however, some systems seem to be better geared to fast arrhythmic alerting, whereas other systems appear to be more intended for remote follow-up or supplemental remote disease management. The different RMSs may therefore have different impacts on workflow organization because of their varying frequency of interrogation and methods of alerts. The integration of these proprietary RM web-based registry systems with hospital-based electronic health record systems has so far not been commonly implemented.
Currently there are 2 general types of RMSs: those that transmit device diagnostic information automatically and without patient assistance to secure Internet-based registry systems, and those that require patient assistance to transmit information. Both systems employ the use of preprogrammed alerts that are either transmitted automatically or at regular scheduled intervals to patients and/or physicians.
The current web applications, programming, and registry systems differ greatly between the manufacturers of transmitting cardiac devices. In Canada there are currently 4 manufacturers—Medtronic Inc., Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corp., and St Jude Medical Inc.—which have regulatory approval for remote transmitting CIEDs. Remote monitoring systems are proprietary to the manufacturer of the implant device. An RMS for one device will not work with another device, and the RMS may not work with all versions of the manufacturer’s devices.
All Internet-based device-assisted RMSs have common components. The implanted device is equipped with a micro-antenna that communicates with a small external device (at bedside or wearable) commonly known as the transmitter. Transmitters are able to interrogate programmed parameters and diagnostic data stored in the patients’ implant device. The information transfer to the communicator can occur at preset time intervals with the participation of the patient (waving a wand over the device) or it can be sent automatically (wirelessly) without their participation. The encrypted data are then uploaded to an Internet-based database on a secure central server. The data processing facilities at the central database, depending on the clinical urgency, can trigger an alert for the physician(s) that can be sent via email, fax, text message, or phone. The details are also posted on the secure website for viewing by the physician (or their delegate) at their convenience.
Research Questions
The research directions and specific research questions for this evidence review were as follows:
To identify the Internet-based device-assisted RMSs available for follow-up of patients with therapeutic CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To identify the potential risks, operational issues, or organizational issues related to Internet-based device-assisted RM for CIEDs.
To evaluate the safety, acceptability, and effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs compared to usual outpatient in-office monitoring strategies.
To evaluate the resource implications or budget impact of RMSs for CIEDs in Ontario, Canada.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The review included a systematic review of published scientific literature and consultations with experts and manufacturers of all 4 approved RMSs for CIEDs in Canada. Information on CIED cardiac implant clinics was also obtained from Provincial Programs, a division within the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a mandate for cardiac implant specialty care. Various administrative databases and registries were used to outline the current clinical follow-up burden of CIEDs in Ontario. The provincial population-based ICD database developed and maintained by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) was used to review the current follow-up practices with Ontario patients implanted with ICD devices.
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 21, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from 1950 to September 2010. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for additional relevant literature until December 31, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search.
Inclusion Criteria
published between 1950 and September 2010;
English language full-reports and human studies;
original reports including clinical evaluations of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, cost, measures of health care utilization, morbidity, mortality, quality of life or patient satisfaction;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, cohort and controlled clinical studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials;
reports not involving standardized outcome events;
clinical reports not involving Internet-based device assisted RM systems for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports involving studies testing or validating algorithms without RM;
studies with small samples (<10 subjects).
Outcomes of Interest
The outcomes of interest included: technical outcomes, emergency department visits, complications, major adverse events, symptoms, hospital admissions, clinic visits (scheduled and/or unscheduled), survival, morbidity (disease progression, stroke, etc.), patient satisfaction, and quality of life.
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence review was performed to review available evidence on Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs published until September 2010. The search identified 6 systematic reviews, 7 randomized controlled trials, and 19 reports for 16 cohort studies—3 of these being registry-based and 4 being multi-centered. The evidence is summarized in the 3 sections that follow.
1. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems of CIEDs for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Device Functioning
In total, 15 reports on 13 cohort studies involving investigations with 4 different RMSs for CIEDs in cardiology implant clinic groups were identified in the review. The 4 RMSs were: Care Link Network® (Medtronic Inc,, Minneapolis, MN, USA); Home Monitoring® (Biotronic, Berlin, Germany); House Call 11® (St Jude Medical Inc., St Pauls, MN, USA); and a manufacturer-independent RMS. Eight of these reports were with the Home Monitoring® RMS (12,949 patients), 3 were with the Care Link® RMS (167 patients), 1 was with the House Call 11® RMS (124 patients), and 1 was with a manufacturer-independent RMS (44 patients). All of the studies, except for 2 in the United States, (1 with Home Monitoring® and 1 with House Call 11®), were performed in European countries.
The RMSs in the studies were evaluated with different cardiac implant device populations: ICDs only (6 studies), ICD and CRT devices (3 studies), PM and ICD and CRT devices (4 studies), and PMs only (2 studies). The patient populations were predominately male (range, 52%–87%) in all studies, with mean ages ranging from 58 to 76 years. One study population was unique in that RMSs were evaluated for ICDs implanted solely for primary prevention in young patients (mean age, 44 years) with Brugada syndrome, which carries an inherited increased genetic risk for sudden heart attack in young adults.
Most of the cohort studies reported on the feasibility of RMSs in clinical settings with limited follow-up. In the short follow-up periods of the studies, the majority of the events were related to detection of medical events rather than system configuration or device abnormalities. The results of the studies are summarized below:
The interrogation of devices on the web platform, both for continuous and scheduled transmissions, was significantly quicker with remote follow-up, both for nurses and physicians.
In a case-control study focusing on a Brugada population–based registry with patients followed-up remotely, there were significantly fewer outpatient visits and greater detection of inappropriate shocks. One death occurred in the control group not followed remotely and post-mortem analysis indicated early signs of lead failure prior to the event.
Two studies examined the role of RMSs in following ICD leads under regulatory advisory in a European clinical setting and noted:
– Fewer inappropriate shocks were administered in the RM group.
– Urgent in-office interrogations and surgical revisions were performed within 12 days of remote alerts.
– No signs of lead fracture were detected at in-office follow-up; all were detected at remote follow-up.
Only 1 study reported evaluating quality of life in patients followed up remotely at 3 and 6 months; no values were reported.
Patient satisfaction was evaluated in 5 cohort studies, all in short term follow-up: 1 for the Home Monitoring® RMS, 3 for the Care Link® RMS, and 1 for the House Call 11® RMS.
– Patients reported receiving a sense of security from the transmitter, a good relationship with nurses and physicians, positive implications for their health, and satisfaction with RM and organization of services.
– Although patients reported that the system was easy to implement and required less than 10 minutes to transmit information, a variable proportion of patients (range, 9% 39%) reported that they needed the assistance of a caregiver for their transmission.
– The majority of patients would recommend RM to other ICD patients.
– Patients with hearing or other physical or mental conditions hindering the use of the system were excluded from studies, but the frequency of this was not reported.
Physician satisfaction was evaluated in 3 studies, all with the Care Link® RMS:
– Physicians reported an ease of use and high satisfaction with a generally short-term use of the RMS.
– Physicians reported being able to address the problems in unscheduled patient transmissions or physician initiated transmissions remotely, and were able to handle the majority of the troubleshooting calls remotely.
– Both nurses and physicians reported a high level of satisfaction with the web registry system.
2. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems in Heart Failure Patients for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Heart Failure Episodes
Remote follow-up of HF patients implanted with ICD or CRT devices, generally managed in specialized HF clinics, was evaluated in 3 cohort studies: 1 involved the Home Monitoring® RMS and 2 involved the Care Link® RMS. In these RMSs, in addition to the standard diagnostic features, the cardiac devices continuously assess other variables such as patient activity, mean heart rate, and heart rate variability. Intra-thoracic impedance, a proxy measure for lung fluid overload, was also measured in the Care Link® studies. The overall diagnostic performance of these measures cannot be evaluated, as the information was not reported for patients who did not experience intra-thoracic impedance threshold crossings or did not undergo interventions. The trial results involved descriptive information on transmissions and alerts in patients experiencing high morbidity and hospitalization in the short study periods.
3. Comparative Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems for CIEDs
Seven RCTs were identified evaluating RMSs for CIEDs: 2 were for PMs (1276 patients) and 5 were for ICD/CRT devices (3733 patients). Studies performed in the clinical setting in the United States involved both the Care Link® RMS and the Home Monitoring® RMS, whereas all studies performed in European countries involved only the Home Monitoring® RMS.
3A. Randomized Controlled Trials of Remote Monitoring Systems for Pacemakers
Two trials, both multicenter RCTs, were conducted in different countries with different RMSs and study objectives. The PREFER trial was a large trial (897 patients) performed in the United States examining the ability of Care Link®, an Internet-based remote PM interrogation system, to detect clinically actionable events (CAEs) sooner than the current in-office follow-up supplemented with transtelephonic monitoring transmissions, a limited form of remote device interrogation. The trial results are summarized below:
In the 375-day mean follow-up, 382 patients were identified with at least 1 CAE—111 patients in the control arm and 271 in the remote arm.
The event rate detected per patient for every type of CAE, except for loss of atrial capture, was higher in the remote arm than the control arm.
The median time to first detection of CAEs (4.9 vs. 6.3 months) was significantly shorter in the RMS group compared to the control group (P < 0.0001).
Additionally, only 2% (3/190) of the CAEs in the control arm were detected during a transtelephonic monitoring transmission (the rest were detected at in-office follow-ups), whereas 66% (446/676) of the CAEs were detected during remote interrogation.
The second study, the OEDIPE trial, was a smaller trial (379 patients) performed in France evaluating the ability of the Home Monitoring® RMS to shorten PM post-operative hospitalization while preserving the safety of conventional management of longer hospital stays.
Implementation and operationalization of the RMS was reported to be successful in 91% (346/379) of the patients and represented 8144 transmissions.
In the RM group 6.5% of patients failed to send messages (10 due to improper use of the transmitter, 2 with unmanageable stress). Of the 172 patients transmitting, 108 patients sent a total of 167 warnings during the trial, with a greater proportion of warnings being attributed to medical rather than technical causes.
Forty percent had no warning message transmission and among these, 6 patients experienced a major adverse event and 1 patient experienced a non-major adverse event. Of the 6 patients having a major adverse event, 5 contacted their physician.
The mean medical reaction time was faster in the RM group (6.5 ± 7.6 days vs. 11.4 ± 11.6 days).
The mean duration of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) for the RM group than the control group (3.2 ± 3.2 days vs. 4.8 ± 3.7 days).
Quality of life estimates by the SF-36 questionnaire were similar for the 2 groups at 1-month follow-up.
3B. Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Remote Monitoring Systems for ICD or CRT Devices
The 5 studies evaluating the impact of RMSs with ICD/CRT devices were conducted in the United States and in European countries and involved 2 RMSs—Care Link® and Home Monitoring ®. The objectives of the trials varied and 3 of the trials were smaller pilot investigations.
The first of the smaller studies (151 patients) evaluated patient satisfaction, achievement of patient outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the Care Link® RMS compared to quarterly in-office device interrogations with 1-year follow-up.
Individual outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly different between the study groups.
Except for a significantly higher detection of atrial fibrillation in the RM group, data on ICD detection and therapy were similar in the study groups.
Health-related quality of life evaluated by the EuroQoL at 6-month or 12-month follow-up was not different between study groups.
Patients were more satisfied with their ICD care in the clinic follow-up group than in the remote follow-up group at 6-month follow-up, but were equally satisfied at 12- month follow-up.
The second small pilot trial (20 patients) examined the impact of RM follow-up with the House Call 11® system on work schedules and cost savings in patients randomized to 2 study arms varying in the degree of remote follow-up.
The total time including device interrogation, transmission time, data analysis, and physician time required was significantly shorter for the RM follow-up group.
The in-clinic waiting time was eliminated for patients in the RM follow-up group.
The physician talk time was significantly reduced in the RM follow-up group (P < 0.05).
The time for the actual device interrogation did not differ in the study groups.
The third small trial (115 patients) examined the impact of RM with the Home Monitoring® system compared to scheduled trimonthly in-clinic visits on the number of unplanned visits, total costs, health-related quality of life (SF-36), and overall mortality.
There was a 63.2% reduction in in-office visits in the RM group.
Hospitalizations or overall mortality (values not stated) were not significantly different between the study groups.
Patient-induced visits were higher in the RM group than the in-clinic follow-up group.
The TRUST Trial
The TRUST trial was a large multicenter RCT conducted at 102 centers in the United States involving the Home Monitoring® RMS for ICD devices for 1450 patients. The primary objectives of the trial were to determine if remote follow-up could be safely substituted for in-office clinic follow-up (3 in-office visits replaced) and still enable earlier physician detection of clinically actionable events.
Adherence to the protocol follow-up schedule was significantly higher in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (93.5% vs. 88.7%, P < 0.001).
Actionability of trimonthly scheduled checks was low (6.6%) in both study groups. Overall, actionable causes were reprogramming (76.2%), medication changes (24.8%), and lead/system revisions (4%), and these were not different between the 2 study groups.
The overall mean number of in-clinic and hospital visits was significantly lower in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (2.1 per patient-year vs. 3.8 per patient-year, P < 0.001), representing a 45% visit reduction at 12 months.
The median time from onset of first arrhythmia to physician evaluation was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group than in the in-office follow-up group for all arrhythmias (1 day vs. 35.5 days).
The median time to detect clinically asymptomatic arrhythmia events—atrial fibrillation (AF), ventricular fibrillation (VF), ventricular tachycardia (VT), and supra-ventricular tachycardia (SVT)—was also significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group compared to the in-office follow-up group (1 day vs. 41.5 days) and was significantly quicker for each of the clinical arrhythmia events—AF (5.5 days vs. 40 days), VT (1 day vs. 28 days), VF (1 day vs. 36 days), and SVT (2 days vs. 39 days).
System-related problems occurred infrequently in both groups—in 1.5% of patients (14/908) in the RM group and in 0.7% of patients (3/432) in the in-office follow-up group.
The overall adverse event rate over 12 months was not significantly different between the 2 groups and individual adverse events were also not significantly different between the RM group and the in-office follow-up group: death (3.4% vs. 4.9%), stroke (0.3% vs. 1.2%), and surgical intervention (6.6% vs. 4.9%), respectively.
The 12-month cumulative survival was 96.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 95.5%–97.6%) in the RM group and 94.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 91.8%–96.6%) in the in-office follow-up group, and was not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = 0.174).
The CONNECT trial, another major multicenter RCT, involved the Care Link® RMS for ICD/CRT devices in a15-month follow-up study of 1,997 patients at 133 sites in the United States. The primary objective of the trial was to determine whether automatically transmitted physician alerts decreased the time from the occurrence of clinically relevant events to medical decisions. The trial results are summarized below:
Of the 575 clinical alerts sent in the study, 246 did not trigger an automatic physician alert. Transmission failures were related to technical issues such as the alert not being programmed or not being reset, and/or a variety of patient factors such as not being at home and the monitor not being plugged in or set up.
The overall mean time from the clinically relevant event to the clinical decision was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) by 17.4 days in the remote follow-up group (4.6 days for 172 patients) than the in-office follow-up group (22 days for 145 patients).
– The median time to a clinical decision was shorter in the remote follow-up group than in the in-office follow-up group for an AT/AF burden greater than or equal to 12 hours (3 days vs. 24 days) and a fast VF rate greater than or equal to 120 beats per minute (4 days vs. 23 days).
Although infrequent, similar low numbers of events involving low battery and VF detection/therapy turned off were noted in both groups. More alerts, however, were noted for out-of-range lead impedance in the RM group (18 vs. 6 patients), and the time to detect these critical events was significantly shorter in the RM group (same day vs. 17 days).
Total in-office clinic visits were reduced by 38% from 6.27 visits per patient-year in the in-office follow-up group to 3.29 visits per patient-year in the remote follow-up group.
Health care utilization visits (N = 6,227) that included cardiovascular-related hospitalization, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly higher in the remote follow-up group.
The overall mean length of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P = 0.002) for those in the remote follow-up group (3.3 days vs. 4.0 days) and was shorter both for patients with ICD (3.0 days vs. 3.6 days) and CRT (3.8 days vs. 4.7 days) implants.
The mortality rate between the study arms was not significantly different between the follow-up groups for the ICDs (P = 0.31) or the CRT devices with defribillator (P = 0.46).
There is limited clinical trial information on the effectiveness of RMSs for PMs. However, for RMSs for ICD devices, multiple cohort studies and 2 large multicenter RCTs demonstrated feasibility and significant reductions in in-office clinic follow-ups with RMSs in the first year post implantation. The detection rates of clinically significant events (and asymptomatic events) were higher, and the time to a clinical decision for these events was significantly shorter, in the remote follow-up groups than in the in-office follow-up groups. The earlier detection of clinical events in the remote follow-up groups, however, was not associated with lower morbidity or mortality rates in the 1-year follow-up. The substitution of almost all the first year in-office clinic follow-ups with RM was also not associated with an increased health care utilization such as emergency department visits or hospitalizations.
The follow-up in the trials was generally short-term, up to 1 year, and was a more limited assessment of potential longer term device/lead integrity complications or issues. None of the studies compared the different RMSs, particularly the different RMSs involving patient-scheduled transmissions or automatic transmissions. Patients’ acceptance of and satisfaction with RM were reported to be high, but the impact of RM on patients’ health-related quality of life, particularly the psychological aspects, was not evaluated thoroughly. Patients who are not technologically competent, having hearing or other physical/mental impairments, were identified as potentially disadvantaged with remote surveillance. Cohort studies consistently identified subgroups of patients who preferred in-office follow-up. The evaluation of costs and workflow impact to the health care system were evaluated in European or American clinical settings, and only in a limited way.
Internet-based device-assisted RMSs involve a new approach to monitoring patients, their disease progression, and their CIEDs. Remote monitoring also has the potential to improve the current postmarket surveillance systems of evolving CIEDs and their ongoing hardware and software modifications. At this point, however, there is insufficient information to evaluate the overall impact to the health care system, although the time saving and convenience to patients and physicians associated with a substitution of in-office follow-up by RM is more certain. The broader issues surrounding infrastructure, impacts on existing clinical care systems, and regulatory concerns need to be considered for the implementation of Internet-based RMSs in jurisdictions involving different clinical practices.
PMCID: PMC3377571  PMID: 23074419
15.  What Influences Patient Participation in an Online Forum for Weight Loss Surgery? A Qualitative Case Study 
Many patients who undergo weight loss (bariatric) surgery seek information and social support in online discussion forums, but the vast amount of available information raises concerns about the impact of such information. A secure online discussion forum was developed and offered to bariatric surgery patients. The forum was moderated and allowed contact with peers and health care professionals.
The purposes of this study were to explore how individuals undergoing bariatric surgery used the moderated discussion forum and to better understand what influenced their participation in the forum.
The study was designed as an explorative case study. We conducted participant observation of the discussion forum over a time period of approximately six months. For further insight, we carried out in-depth semistructured interviews with seven patients who had access to the forum. We analyzed the material inductively, using content and thematic analysis.
The patients used the forum as an arena in which to interact with peers and providers, as well as to provide and achieve informational and social support. The analysis suggests that there are three major themes that influenced participation in the online discussion forum: (1) the participant’s motivation to seek information, advice, and guidance, (2) the need for social support and networking among peers, and (3) concerns regarding self-disclosure.
The findings of this study imply that a moderated discussion forum for bariatric surgery patients has potential for use in a therapeutic context. The discussion forum fulfilled the informational and support needs of the bariatric surgery patients and was particularly useful for those who excluded themselves from the traditional program and experienced barriers to expressing their own needs. Even though our findings imply that the patients benefitted from using the forum regardless of their active or passive participation, restraining factors, such as considerations regarding self-disclosure, must be further investigated to prevent certain users from being precluded from participation.
PMCID: PMC3936279  PMID: 24509408
obesity; eHealth; bariatric surgery; online forum; communication; social support
16.  Are physicians’ attitudes of respect accurately perceived by patients and associated with more positive communication behaviors?✩ 
Patient education and counseling  2006;62(3):347-354.
To explore the domain of physician-reported respect for individual patients by investigating the following questions: How variable is physician-reported respect for patients? What patient characteristics are associated with greater physician-reported respect? Do patients accurately perceive levels of physician respect? Are there specific communication behaviors associated with physician-reported respect for patients?
We audiotaped 215 patient–physician encounters with 30 different physicians in primary care. After each encounter, the physician rated the level of respect that s/he had for that patient using the following item: “Compared to other patients, I have a great deal of respect for this patient” on a five-point scale between strongly agree and strongly disagree. Patients completed a post-visit questionnaire that included a parallel respect item: “This doctor has a great deal of respect for me.”
Audiotapes of the patient visits were analyzed using the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS) to characterize communication behaviors. Outcome variables included four physician communication behaviors: information-giving, rapport-building, global affect, and verbal dominance. A linear mixed effects modeling approach that accounts for clustering of patients within physicians was used to compare varying levels of physician-reported respect for patients with physician communication behaviors and patient perceptions of being respected.
Physician-reported respect varied across patients. Physicians strongly agreed that they had a great deal of respect for 73 patients (34%), agreed for 96 patients (45%) and were either neutral or disagreed for 46 patients (21%). Physicians reported higher levels of respect for older patients and for patients they knew well. The level of respect that physicians reported for individual patients was not significantly associated with that patient’s gender, race, education, or health status; was not associated with the physician’s gender, race, or number of years in practice; and was not associated with race concordance between patient and physician.
While 45% of patients overestimated physician respect, 38% reported respect precisely as rated by the physician, and 16% underestimated physician respect (r = 0.18, p = 0.007). Those who were the least respected by their physician were the least likely to perceive themselves as being highly respected; only 36% of the least respected patients compared to 59% and 61% of the highly and moderately respected patients perceived themselves to be highly respected (p = 0.012). Compared with the least-respected patients, physicians were more affectively positive with highly respected patients (p = 0.034) and provided more information to highly and moderately respected patients (p = 0.018).
Physicians’ ratings of respect vary across patients and are primarily associated with familiarity rather than sociodemographic characteristics. Patients are able to perceive when they are respected by their physicians, although when they are not accurate, they tend to overestimate physician respect. Physicians who are more respectful towards particular patients provide more information and express more positive affect in visits with those patients.
Practice implications
Physician respectful attitudes may be important to target in improving communication with patients.
PMCID: PMC3119350  PMID: 16859867
Respect; Patient–physician communication; Attitudes; Professionalism
17.  Medical Students' Exposure to and Attitudes about the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001037.
A systematic review of published studies reveals that undergraduate medical students may experience substantial exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, and that this contact may be associated with positive attitudes about marketing.
The relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has become a source of controversy. Physicians' attitudes towards the industry can form early in their careers, but little is known about this key stage of development.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review reported according to PRISMA guidelines to determine the frequency and nature of medical students' exposure to the drug industry, as well as students' attitudes concerning pharmaceutical policy issues. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and ERIC from the earliest available dates through May 2010, as well as bibliographies of selected studies. We sought original studies that reported quantitative or qualitative data about medical students' exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, their attitudes about marketing practices, relationships with industry, and related pharmaceutical policy issues. Studies were separated, where possible, into those that addressed preclinical versus clinical training, and were quality rated using a standard methodology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria. We found that 40%–100% of medical students reported interacting with the pharmaceutical industry. A substantial proportion of students (13%–69%) were reported as believing that gifts from industry influence prescribing. Eight studies reported a correlation between frequency of contact and favorable attitudes toward industry interactions. Students were more approving of gifts to physicians or medical students than to government officials. Certain attitudes appeared to change during medical school, though a time trend was not performed; for example, clinical students (53%–71%) were more likely than preclinical students (29%–62%) to report that promotional information helps educate about new drugs.
Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions. These results support future research into the association between exposure and attitudes, as well as any modifiable factors that contribute to attitudinal changes during medical education.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The complex relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has long been a subject of discussion among physicians and policymakers. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that physicians' interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence clinical decision making in a way that is not always in the best interests of individual patients, for example, encouraging the use of expensive treatments that have no therapeutic advantage over less costly alternatives. The pharmaceutical industry often uses physician education as a marketing tool, as in the case of Continuing Medical Education courses that are designed to drive prescribing practices.
One reason that physicians may be particularly susceptible to pharmaceutical industry marketing messages is that doctors' attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry may form early in their careers. The socialization effect of professional schooling is strong, and plays a lasting role in shaping views and behaviors.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, particularly in the US, some medical schools have limited students' and faculties' contact with industry, but some have argued that these restrictions are detrimental to students' education. Given the controversy over the pharmaceutical industry's role in undergraduate medical training, consolidating current knowledge in this area may be useful for setting priorities for changes to educational practices. In this study, the researchers systematically examined studies of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students and whether such interactions influenced students' views on related topics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive literature search using appropriate search terms for all relevant quantitative and qualitative studies published before June 2010. Using strict inclusion criteria, the researchers then selected 48 articles (from 1,603 abstracts) for full review and identified 32 eligible for analysis—giving a total of approximately 9,850 medical students studying at 76 medical schools or hospitals.
Most students had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry but contact increased in the clinical years, with up to 90% of all clinical students receiving some form of educational material. The highest level of exposure occurred in the US. In most studies, the majority of students in their clinical training years found it ethically permissible for medical students to accept gifts from drug manufacturers, while a smaller percentage of preclinical students reported such attitudes. Students justified their entitlement to gifts by citing financial hardship or by asserting that most other students accepted gifts. In addition, although most students believed that education from industry sources is biased, students variably reported that information obtained from industry sources was useful and a valuable part of their education.
Almost two-thirds of students reported that they were immune to bias induced by promotion, gifts, or interactions with sales representatives but also reported that fellow medical students or doctors are influenced by such encounters. Eight studies reported a relationship between exposure to the pharmaceutical industry and positive attitudes about industry interactions and marketing strategies (although not all included supportive statistical data). Finally, student opinions were split on whether physician–industry interactions should be regulated by medical schools or the government.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This analysis shows that students are frequently exposed to pharmaceutical marketing, even in the preclinical years, and that the extent of students' contact with industry is generally associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism towards any negative implications of interactions with industry. Therefore, strategies to educate students about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry should directly address widely held misconceptions about the effects of marketing and other biases that can emerge from industry interactions. But education alone may be insufficient. Institutional policies, such as rules regulating industry interactions, can play an important role in shaping students' attitudes, and interventions that decrease students' contact with industry and eliminate gifts may have a positive effect on building the skills that evidence-based medical practice requires. These changes can help cultivate strong professional values and instill in students a respect for scientific principles and critical evidence review that will later inform clinical decision-making and prescribing practices.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Further information about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on doctors and medical students can be found at the American Medical Students Association PharmFree campaign and PharmFree Scorecard, Medsin-UKs PharmAware campaign, the nonprofit organization Healthy Skepticism, and the Web site of No Free Lunch.
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
18.  What is needed to implement a computer-assisted health risk assessment tool? An exploratory concept mapping study 
Emerging eHealth tools could facilitate the delivery of comprehensive care in time-constrained clinical settings. One such tool is interactive computer-assisted health-risk assessments (HRA), which may improve provider-patient communication at the point of care, particularly for psychosocial health concerns, which remain under-detected in clinical encounters. The research team explored the perspectives of healthcare providers representing a variety of disciplines (physicians, nurses, social workers, allied staff) regarding the factors required for implementation of an interactive HRA on psychosocial health.
The research team employed a semi-qualitative participatory method known as Concept Mapping, which involved three distinct phases. First, in face-to-face and online brainstorming sessions, participants responded to an open-ended central question: “What factors should be in place within your clinical setting to support an effective computer-assisted screening tool for psychosocial risks?” The brainstormed items were consolidated by the research team. Then, in face-to-face and online sorting sessions, participants grouped the items thematically as ‘it made sense to them’. Participants also rated each item on a 5-point scale for its ‘importance’ and ‘action feasibility’ over the ensuing six month period. The sorted and rated data was analyzed using multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analyses which produced visual maps. In the third and final phase, the face-to-face Interpretation sessions, the concept maps were discussed and illuminated by participants collectively.
Overall, 54 providers participated (emergency care 48%; primary care 52%). Participants brainstormed 196 items thought to be necessary for the implementation of an interactive HRA emphasizing psychosocial health. These were consolidated by the research team into 85 items. After sorting and rating, cluster analysis revealed a concept map with a seven-cluster solution: 1) the HRA’s equitable availability; 2) the HRA’s ease of use and appropriateness; 3) the content of the HRA survey; 4) patient confidentiality and choice; 5) patient comfort through humanistic touch; 6) professional development, care and workload; and 7) clinical management protocol. Drawing insight from the theoretical lens of Sociotechnical theory, the seven clusters of factors required for HRA implementation could be read as belonging to three overarching aspects : Technical (cluster 1, 2 and 3), Social-Patient (cluster 4 and 5), and Social-Provider (cluster 6 and 7). Participants rated every one of the clusters as important, with mean scores from 4.0 to 4.5. Their scores for feasibility were somewhat lower, ranging from 3.4 to. 4.3. Comparing the scores for importance and feasibility, a significant difference was found for one cluster from each region (cluster 2, 5, 6). The cluster on professional development, care and workload was perceived as especially challenging in emergency department settings, and possible reasons were discussed in the interpretation sessions.
A number of intertwined multilevel factors emerged as important for the implementation of a computer-assisted, interactive HRA with a focus on psychosocial health. Future developments in this area could benefit from systems thinking and insights from theoretical perspectives, such as sociotechnical system theory for joint optimization and responsible autonomy, with emphasis on both the technical and social aspects of HRA implementation.
PMCID: PMC3577493  PMID: 23253913
Computer-assisted; Risk assessment; Psychosocial health; Decision-support; Qualitative; Canada; Underserved urban population
19.  The Development of Online Doctor Reviews in China: An Analysis of the Largest Online Doctor Review Website in China 
Since the time of Web 2.0, more and more consumers have used online doctor reviews to rate their doctors or to look for a doctor. This phenomenon has received health care researchers’ attention worldwide, and many studies have been conducted on online doctor reviews in the United States and Europe. But no study has yet been done in China. Also, in China, without a mature primary care physician recommendation system, more and more Chinese consumers seek online doctor reviews to look for a good doctor for their health care concerns.
This study sought to examine the online doctor review practice in China, including addressing the following questions: (1) How many doctors and specialty areas are available for online review? (2) How many online reviews are there on those doctors? (3) What specialty area doctors are more likely to be reviewed or receive more reviews? (4) Are those reviews positive or negative?
This study explores an empirical dataset from Good Doctor website,—the earliest and largest online doctor review and online health care community website in China—from 2006 to 2014, to examine the stated research questions by using descriptive statistics, binary logistic regression, and multivariate linear regression.
The dataset from the Good Doctor website contained 314,624 doctors across China and among them, 112,873 doctors received 731,543 quantitative reviews and 772,979 qualitative reviews as of April 11, 2014. On average, 37% of the doctors had been reviewed on the Good Doctor website. Gynecology-obstetrics-pediatrics doctors were most likely to be reviewed, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.497 (95% CI 1.461-1.535), and internal medicine doctors were less likely to be reviewed, with an OR of 0.94 (95% CI 0.921-0.960), relative to the combined small specialty areas. Both traditional Chinese medicine doctors and surgeons were more likely to be reviewed than the combined small specialty areas, with an OR of 1.483 (95% CI 1.442-1.525) and an OR of 1.366 (95% CI 1.337-1.395), respectively. Quantitatively, traditional Chinese medicine doctors (P<.001) and gynecology-obstetrics-pediatrics doctors (P<.001) received more reviews than the combined small specialty areas. But internal medicine doctors received fewer reviews than the combined small specialty areas (P<.001). Also, the majority of quantitative reviews were positive—about 88% were positive for the doctors' treatment effect measure and 91% were positive for the bedside manner measure. This was the case for the four major specialty areas, which had the most number of doctors—internal medicine, gynecology-obstetrics-pediatrics, surgery, and traditional Chinese medicine.
Like consumers in the United States and Europe, Chinese consumers have started to use online doctor reviews. Similar to previous research on other countries’ online doctor reviews, the online reviews in China covered almost every medical specialty, and most of the reviews were positive even though all of the reviewing procedures and the final available information were anonymous. The average number of reviews per rated doctor received in this dataset was 6, which was higher than that for doctors in the United States or Germany, probably because this dataset covered a longer time period than did the US or German dataset. But this number is still very small compared to any doctor’s real patient population, and it cannot represent the reality of that population. Also, since all the data used for analysis were from one single website, the data might be biased and might not be a representative national sample of China.
PMCID: PMC4526894  PMID: 26032933
online doctor reviews; China health system; quantitative review; qualitative review; patient empowerment; physician quality
20.  Insights Into the Impact of Online Physician Reviews on Patients’ Decision Making: Randomized Experiment 
Physician-rating websites combine public reporting with social networking and offer an attractive means by which users can provide feedback on their physician and obtain information about other patients’ satisfaction and experiences. However, research on how users evaluate information on these portals is still scarce and only little knowledge is available about the potential influence of physician reviews on a patient’s choice.
Starting from the perspective of prospective patients, this paper sets out to explore how certain characteristics of physician reviews affect the evaluation of the review and users’ attitudes toward the rated physician. We propose a model that relates review style and review number to constructs of review acceptance and check it with a Web-based experiment.
We employed a randomized 2x2 between-subject, factorial experiment manipulating the style of a physician review (factual vs emotional) and the number of reviews for a certain physician (low vs high) to test our hypotheses. A total of 168 participants were presented with a Web-based questionnaire containing a short description of a dentist search scenario and the manipulated reviews for a fictitious dental physician. To investigate the proposed hypotheses, we carried out moderated regression analyses and a moderated mediation analysis using the PROCESS macro 2.11 for SPSS version 22.
Our analyses indicated that a higher number of reviews resulted in a more positive attitude toward the rated physician. The results of the regression model for attitude toward the physician suggest a positive main effect of the number of reviews (mean [low] 3.73, standard error [SE] 0.13, mean [high] 4.15, SE 0.13). We also observed an interaction effect with the style of the review—if the physician received only a few reviews, fact-oriented reviews (mean 4.09, SE 0.19) induced a more favorable attitude toward the physician compared to emotional reviews (mean 3.44, SE 0.19), but there was no such effect when the physician received many reviews. Furthermore, we found that review style also affected the perceived expertise of the reviewer. Fact-oriented reviews (mean 3.90, SE 0.13) lead to a higher perception of reviewer expertise compared to emotional reviews (mean 3.19, SE 0.13). However, this did not transfer to the attitude toward the physician. A similar effect of review style and number on the perceived credibility of the review was observed. While no differences between emotional and factual style were found if the physician received many reviews, a low number of reviews received lead to a significant difference in the perceived credibility, indicating that emotional reviews were rated less positively (mean 3.52, SE 0.18) compared to fact-oriented reviews (mean 4.15, SE 0.17). Our analyses also showed that perceived credibility of the review fully mediated the observed interaction effect on attitude toward the physician.
Physician-rating websites are an interesting new source of information about the quality of health care from the patient’s perspective. This paper makes a unique contribution to an understudied area of research by providing some insights into how people evaluate online reviews of individual doctors. Information attributes, such as review style and review number, have an impact on the evaluation of the review and on the patient’s attitude toward the rated doctor. Further research is necessary to improve our understanding of the influence of such rating sites on the patient's choice of a physician.
PMCID: PMC4408377  PMID: 25862516
physician reviews; physician-rating website; physician choice making; patient experiences; word of mouth
21.  Validation of the Symptom Pattern Method for Analyzing Verbal Autopsy Data 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e327.
Cause of death data are a critical input to formulating good public health policy. In the absence of reliable vital registration data, information collected after death from household members, called verbal autopsy (VA), is commonly used to study causes of death. VA data are usually analyzed by physician-coded verbal autopsy (PCVA). PCVA is expensive and its comparability across regions is questionable. Nearly all validation studies of PCVA have allowed physicians access to information collected from the household members' recall of medical records or contact with health services, thus exaggerating accuracy of PCVA in communities where few deaths had any interaction with the health system. In this study we develop and validate a statistical strategy for analyzing VA data that overcomes the limitations of PCVA.
Methods and Findings
We propose and validate a method that combines the advantages of methods proposed by King and Lu, and Byass, which we term the symptom pattern (SP) method. The SP method uses two sources of VA data. First, it requires a dataset for which we know the true cause of death, but which need not be representative of the population of interest; this dataset might come from deaths that occur in a hospital. The SP method can then be applied to a second VA sample that is representative of the population of interest. From the hospital data we compute the properties of each symptom; that is, the probability of responding yes to each symptom, given the true cause of death. These symptom properties allow us first to estimate the population-level cause-specific mortality fractions (CSMFs), and to then use the CSMFs as an input in assigning a cause of death to each individual VA response. Finally, we use our individual cause-of-death assignments to refine our population-level CSMF estimates. The results from applying our method to data collected in China are promising. At the population level, SP estimates the CSMFs with 16% average relative error and 0.7% average absolute error, while PCVA results in 27% average relative error and 1.1% average absolute error. At the individual level, SP assigns the correct cause of death in 83% of the cases, while PCVA does so for 69% of the cases. We also compare the results of SP and PCVA when both methods have restricted access to the information from the medical record recall section of the VA instrument. At the population level, without medical record recall, the SP method estimates the CSMFs with 14% average relative error and 0.6% average absolute error, while PCVA results in 70% average relative error and 3.2% average absolute error. For individual estimates without medical record recall, SP assigns the correct cause of death in 78% of cases, while PCVA does so for 38% of cases.
Our results from the data collected in China suggest that the SP method outperforms PCVA, both at the population and especially at the individual level. Further study is needed on additional VA datasets in order to continue validation of the method, and to understand how the symptom properties vary as a function of culture, language, and other factors. Our results also suggest that PCVA relies heavily on household recall of medical records and related information, limiting its applicability in low-resource settings. SP does not require that additional information to adequately estimate causes of death.
Chris Murray and colleagues propose and, using data from China, validate a new strategy for analyzing verbal autopsy data that combines the advantages of previous methods.
Editors' Summary
All countries need to know the leading causes of death among their people. Only with accurate cause-of-death data can their public-health officials and medical professionals develop relevant health policies and programs and monitor how they affect the nation's health. In developed countries, vital registration systems record specific causes of death that have been certified by doctors for most deaths. But, in developing countries, vital registration systems are rarely anywhere near complete, a situation that is unlikely to change in the near future. An approach that is being used increasingly to get information on the patterns of death in poor countries is “verbal autopsy” (VA). Trained personnel interview household members about the symptoms the deceased had before his/her death, and the circumstances surrounding the death, using a standard form. These forms are then reviewed by a doctor, who assigns a cause of death from a list of codes called the International Classification of Diseases. This process is called physician-coded verbal autopsy (PCVA).
Why Was This Study Done?
PCVA is a costly, time-consuming way of analyzing VA data and may not be comparable across regions, because it relies on the views of local doctors about the likely causes of death. In addition, although several studies have suggested that PCVA is reasonably accurate, such studies have usually included information collected from household members about medical records or contacts with health services. In regions where there is little contact with health services, PCVA may be much more inaccurate. Ideally what is needed is a method for assigning causes of death from VA data that does not involve physician review. In this study, the researchers have developed a statistical method—the symptom pattern (SP) method—for analyzing VA data and asked whether it can overcome the limitations of PCVA.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The SP method uses VA data collected about a group of patients for whom the true cause of death is known to calculate the probability for each cause of death that a household member will answer yes when asked about various symptoms. These so-called “symptom properties” can be used to calculate population cause-specific mortality fractions (CSMFs—the proportion of the population that dies from each disease) from VA data and, using a type of statistical analysis called Bayesian statistics, can be used to assign causes of deaths to individuals. When used with data from a VA study done in China, the SP method estimated population CSMFs with an average relative error of 16% (this measure indicates how much the estimated and true CSMFs deviate), whereas PCVA estimated them with an average relative error of 27%. At the individual level, the SP method assigned the correct cause of death in 83% of cases; PCVA was right only 69% of the time. Removing the medical record recall section of the VA data had little effect on the accuracy with which the two methods estimated population CSMFs. However, whereas the SP method still assigned the correct cause of death in 78% of individual cases, the PVCA did so in only 38% of cases
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the SP method for analyzing VA data can outperform PCVA at both the population and the individual level. In particular, the SP method may be much better than PCVA at assigning the cause of death for individuals who have had little contact with health services before dying, a common situation in the poorest regions of world. The SP method needs to be validated using data from other parts of the world and also needs to be tested in multi-country validation studies to build up information about how culture and language affect the likelihood of specific symptoms being reported in VAs for each cause of death. Provided the SP method works as well in other countries as it apparently does in China, its adoption, together with improvements in how VA data are collected, has the potential to improve the accuracy of cause-of-death data in developing countries.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• An accompanying paper by Murray and colleagues describes an alternative approach to collecting accurate cause-of-death data in developing countries
• World Health Organization provides information on health statistics and health information systems, on the International Classification of Diseases, on the Health Metrics Network, a global collaboration focused on improving sources of vital statistics and cause-of-death data, and on verbal autopsy standards
• Grand Challenges in Global Health provides information on research into better ways for developing countries to measure their health status
PMCID: PMC2080648  PMID: 18031196
22.  The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media 
People with serious mental illness are increasingly turning to popular social media, including Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, to share their illness experiences or seek advice from others with similar health conditions. This emerging form of unsolicited communication among self-forming online communities of patients and individuals with diverse health concerns is referred to as peer-to-peer support. We offer a perspective on how online peer-to-peer connections among people with serious mental illness could advance efforts to promote mental and physical wellbeing in this group.
In this commentary, we take the perspective that when an individual with serious mental illness decides to connect with similar others online it represents a critical point in their illness experience. We propose a conceptual model to illustrate how online peer-to-peer connections may afford opportunities for individuals with serious mental illness to challenge stigma, increase consumer activation and access online interventions for mental and physical well-being.
People with serious mental illness report benefits from interacting with peers online from greater social connectedness, feelings of group belonging and by sharing personal stories and strategies for coping with day-to-day challenges of living with a mental illness. Within online communities, individuals with serious mental illness could challenge stigma through personal empowerment and providing hope. By learning from peers online, these individuals may gain insight about important health care decisions, which could promote mental health care seeking behaviours. These individuals could also access interventions for mental and physical wellbeing delivered through social media that could incorporate mutual support between peers, help promote treatment engagement and reach a wider demographic. Unforeseen risks may include exposure to misleading information, facing hostile or derogatory comments from others, or feeling more uncertain about one’s health condition. However, given the evidence to date, the benefits of online peer-to-peer support appear to outweigh the potential risks.
Future research must explore these opportunities to support and empower people with serious mental illness through online peer networks while carefully considering potential risks that may arise from online peer-to-peer interactions. Efforts will also need to address methodological challenges in the form of evaluating interventions delivered through social media and collecting objective mental and physical health outcome measures online. A key challenge will be to determine whether skills learned from peers in online networks translate into tangible and meaningful improvements in recovery, employment, or mental and physical wellbeing in the offline world.
PMCID: PMC4830464  PMID: 26744309
Internet; mental health; mental illness stigma; peer support; social network
23.  Social media and your practice: navigating the surgeon-patient relationship 
Utilization of social media both in the private and professional arenas has grown rapidly in the last decade. The rise of social media use within health care can be viewed as the Internet-based corollary of the patient-centered care movement, in which patient perspectives and values are central to the delivery of quality care. For orthopedic surgeons and their practices, general-purpose online social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are convenient platforms for marketing, providing patient education and generating referrals. Virtual health communities are used less frequently by orthopedic surgeons but provide forums for patient engagement and active surgeon-to-patient communication via blogs and ask-the-doctor platforms. This commentary reviews the current state of social media use in orthopedic practice, with particular emphasis on managing the extension of the surgeon-patient relationship online, including the unique practice risks social media poses, such as privacy concerns, potential liability, and time consumption.
PMCID: PMC5127956  PMID: 27766538
Social media; Twitter; Blogging; Physician-patient relations; Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; Marketing of health services; Medical practice management
24.  A Review of Features in Internet Consumer Health Decision-support Tools 
Over the past decade, health care consumers have begun to benefit from new Web-based communications tools to guide decision making on treatments and tests. Using today's online tools, consumers who have Internet connections can: watch and listen to videos of physicians; watch and hear the stories of other consumers who have faced the same decisions; join an online social support network; receive estimates of their own chances of experiencing various outcomes; and do it all at home.
To review currently-available Internet consumer health decision-support tools.
Five Web sites offering consumer health decision-support tools are analyzed for their use of 4 key Web-enabled features: the presentation of outcomes probability data tailored to the individual user; the use of videotaped patient interviews in the final product to convey the experiences of people who have faced similar diagnoses in the past; the ability to interact with others in a social support network; and the accessibility of the tool to any health care consumers with an Internet connection.
None of the 5 Web sites delivers all 4 target features to all Web users. The reasons for these variations in the use of key Web functionality — features that make the Web distinctive — are not immediately clear.
Consumers trying to make health care decisions may benefit from current Web-based decision-support tools. But, variations in Web developers' use of 4 key Web-enabled features leaves the online decision-support experience less than what it could be. Key research questions are identified that could help in the development of new hybrid patient decision-support tools.
PMCID: PMC1761935  PMID: 12554558
decision making; informatics; Internet; multimedia; social support; treatment outcome; prognosis
25.  Comparative Efficacy of Seven Psychotherapeutic Interventions for Patients with Depression: A Network Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001454.
Jürgen Barth and colleagues use network meta-analysis - a novel methodological approach - to reexamine the comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for adults with depression.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Previous meta-analyses comparing the efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions for depression were clouded by a limited number of within-study treatment comparisons. This study used network meta-analysis, a novel methodological approach that integrates direct and indirect evidence from randomised controlled studies, to re-examine the comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for adult depression.
Methods and Findings
We conducted systematic literature searches in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Embase up to November 2012, and identified additional studies through earlier meta-analyses and the references of included studies. We identified 198 studies, including 15,118 adult patients with depression, and coded moderator variables. Each of the seven psychotherapeutic interventions was superior to a waitlist control condition with moderate to large effects (range d = −0.62 to d = −0.92). Relative effects of different psychotherapeutic interventions on depressive symptoms were absent to small (range d = 0.01 to d = −0.30). Interpersonal therapy was significantly more effective than supportive therapy (d = −0.30, 95% credibility interval [CrI] [−0.54 to −0.05]). Moderator analysis showed that patient characteristics had no influence on treatment effects, but identified aspects of study quality and sample size as effect modifiers. Smaller effects were found in studies of at least moderate (Δd = 0.29 [−0.01 to 0.58]; p = 0.063) and large size (Δd = 0.33 [0.08 to 0.61]; p = 0.012) and those that had adequate outcome assessment (Δd = 0.38 [−0.06 to 0.87]; p = 0.100). Stepwise restriction of analyses by sample size showed robust effects for cognitive-behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy (all d>0.46) compared to waitlist. Empirical evidence from large studies was unavailable or limited for other psychotherapeutic interventions.
Overall our results are consistent with the notion that different psychotherapeutic interventions for depression have comparable benefits. However, the robustness of the evidence varies considerably between different psychotherapeutic treatments.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Depression is a very common condition. One in six people will experience depression at some time during their life. People who are depressed have recurrent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and might feel that life is no longer worth living. The condition can last for months and often includes physical symptoms such as headaches, sleeping problems, and weight gain or loss. Treatment of depression can include non-drug treatments (psychotherapy), antidepressant drugs, or a combination of the two. Especially for people with mild or intermediate depression, psychotherapy is often considered the preferred first option. Psychotherapy describes a range of different psychotherapies, and a number of established types of psychotherapies have all shown to work for at least some patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
While it is broadly accepted that psychotherapy can help people with depression, the question of which type of psychotherapy works best for most patients remains controversial. While many scientific studies have compared one psychotherapy with control conditions, there have been few studies that directly compared multiple treatments. Without such direct comparisons, it has been difficult to establish the respective merits of the different types of psychotherapy. Taking advantage of a recently developed method called “network meta-analysis,” the authors re-examine the evidence on seven different types of psychotherapy to see how well they have been shown to work and whether some work better than others.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers looked at seven different types of psychotherapy, which they defined as follows. “Interpersonal psychotherapy” is short and highly structured, using a manual to focus on interpersonal issues in depression. “Behavioral activation” raises the awareness of pleasant activities and seeks to increase positive interactions between the patient and his or her environment. “Cognitive behavioral therapy” focuses on a patient's current negative beliefs, evaluates how they affect current and future behavior, and attempts to restructure the beliefs and change the outlook. “Problem solving therapy” aims to define a patient's problems, propose multiple solutions for each problem, and then select, implement, and evaluate the best solution. “Psychodynamic therapy” focuses on past unresolved conflicts and relationships and the impact they have on a patient's current situation. In “social skills therapy,” patients are taught skills that help to build and maintain healthy relationships based on honesty and respect. “Supportive counseling” is a more general therapy that aims to get patients to talk about their experiences and emotions and to offer empathy without suggesting solutions or teaching new skills.
The researchers started with a systematic search of the medical literature for relevant studies. The search identified 198 articles that reported on such clinical trials. The trials included a total of 15,118 patients and compared one of the seven psychotherapies either with another one or with a common “control intervention”. In most cases, the control (no psychotherapy) was deferral of treatment by “wait-listing” patients or continuing “usual care.” With network meta-analysis they were able to summarize the results of all these trials in a meaningful way. They did this by integrating direct comparisons of several psychotherapies within the same trial (where those were available) with indirect comparisons across all trials (using no psychotherapy as a control intervention).
Based on the combined trial results, all seven psychotherapies tested were better than wait-listing or usual care, and the differences were moderate to large, meaning that the average person in the group that received therapy was better off than about half of the patients in the control group. When comparing the therapies with each other, the researchers saw small or no differences, meaning that none of them really stood out as much better or much worse than the others. They also found that the treatments worked equally well for different patient groups with depression (younger or older patients, or mothers who had depression after having given birth). Similarly, they saw no big differences when comparing individual with group therapy, or person-to-person with internet-based interactions between therapist and patient.
However, they did find that smaller and less rigorous studies generally found larger benefits of psychotherapies, and most of the studies included in the analysis were small. Only 36 of the studies had at least 50 patients who received the same treatment. When they restricted their analysis to those studies, the researchers still saw clear benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy, but not for the other four therapies.
What Do these Findings Mean?
Similar to earlier attempts to summarize and make sense of the many study results, this one finds benefits for all of the seven psychotherapies examined, and none of them stood as being much better than some or all others. The scientific support for being beneficial was stronger for some therapies, mostly because they had been tested more often and in larger studies.
Treatments with proven benefits still do not necessarily work for all patients, and which type of psychotherapy might work best for a particular patient likely depends on that individual. So overall this analysis suggests that patients with depression and their doctors should consider psychotherapies and explore which of the different types might be best suited for a particular patient.
The study also points to the need for further research. Whereas depression affects large numbers of people around the world, all of the trials identified were conducted in rich countries and Western societies. Trials in different settings are essential to inform treatment of patients worldwide. In addition, large high-quality studies should further explore the potential benefits of some of therapies for which less support currently exists. Where possible, future studies should compare psychotherapies with one another, because all of them have benefits, and it would not be ethical to withhold such beneficial treatment from patients.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression (in English and Spanish); information on psychotherapy includes information on its most common forms
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides detailed information about depression and includes personal stories about depression
The UK nonprofit Mind provides information on depression, including an explanation of the most common psychotherapies in the UK
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression (in English and Spanish)
The UK nonprofit has a unique database of personal and patient experiences on depression
PMCID: PMC3665892  PMID: 23723742

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