A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Health Care Quality

March Madness -- Fasten Seat Belts

Busy, busy month ahead with some huge decisions looming – not least of which is the Connector Board Meeting on 3/20 where they are supposed to decide on standards for “minimally creditable coverage” and affordability parameters to determine who gets penalized for non-coverage under the Individual Mandate. Fasten your seat belts – this ride may get bumpy. Patient Safety Awareness Week: March 4-10, 2007 The National Patient Safety Foundation designates this week to raise awareness about safety. HCFA is taking part with a legislative briefing. If you want to raise awareness or organize an event... Read more »

In-Store Clinics: Good or Bad?

This week's New England Journal of Medicine has a balanced and smartly-written analysis of the the new brand of in-store primary care clinics sprouting all over the place. Maybe they disrupt primary care relationships, diminish continuity of care, and degrade the patient/physician relationship. And maybe they are a "disruptive technology" that efficiently sorts basic and complex primary care needs, diverting low-complexity care to more efficient sites of care. What's worse -- getting run-of-the-mill care in a Wal-Mart clinic or in a hospital emergency room? Worth considering. Click here... Read more »

ucomparehealthcare.com -- Part 2

See our February 10 posting on ucomparehealthcare.com We got a vigorous and much appreciated set of comments. Mark Donnelly, the developer of this unique site, has written a lengthy response to all the comments and criticisms -- see response #14. My sense is he addresses all criticisms openly and fully, especially the privacy and security concerns. Noteworthy -- except for comments made by AnnS, none of the comments deal with the actual content of the site -- namely a robust set of quality and cost data on hospitals and nursing homes, all based on federal data from the Agency for... Read more »

Quality/Cost Council Seeking Cost Control Ideas

The Quality and Cost Council established under Chapter 58 Health Reform is seeking ideas on ways to control rising health care costs in Massachusetts. Deadline is 2/28 -- details below: One of the Cost Subcommittee’s goals is to establish statewide cost containment goals and work with the quality subcommittee to develop quality improvement goals that are intended to lower or contain the growth in health care costs. We would like to request your assistance in developing these goals for the Commonwealth. The purpose of this letter is to allow the broadest possible involvement of the health... Read more »

Paul Levy's at It Again

Paul Levy's at it again (see his blog today) -- raising uncomfortable questions and challenging his own industry as well as payers to step up to the plate to be open, transparent, and accountable on real life, real time quality measures. BIDMC got it rate of central line infections in January down to z-e-r-o. We love it. Read more »

Tufts Health Plan to Limit Obesity Surgery

Jeff Krasner in today's Globe gives a good account of Tufts Health Plan's decision to limit patient access to gastric bypass and stomach stapling procedures. We have no expertise in this arena and makes comments with a dose of humility and invite you to let us know your reacs to Tufts' decision. There's an issue here, though, beyond obesity surgery. Several comments in the article are worth noting: Dr. Scott Shikora , chief of bariatric surgery at Tufts-New England Medical Center, said the company should leave decisions about medical procedures to doctors. "The biggest issue with Tufts is... Read more »

ucomparehealthcare.com: Check It Out and Tell Us What You Think

We've become familiar with a relatively new info source on hospital/physician/nursing home quality and costs called: ucomparehealthcare.com. It's a free source of unbiased quality information about health care providers, produced in a straightforward and understandable way. The physician data is quite limited, while the hospital, nursing home, and other provider information seem pretty robust. The site was created by Mark Donnelly. Mark has a public health background; he's based in Framingham where this national website is located. He's set up this new service with his own dough. He's... Read more »

Quality/Cost Council Advisory Committee Meeting Notes

The Advisory Committee to the MA Quality and Cost Council met for the second time yesterday. After introductions (this was HHS Sect. JudyAnn Bigby’s first advisory committee meeting), each Council subcommittee gave a report. The Cost Subcommittee reviewed a Request for Information letter sent to all advisory committee members asking for input on ways to contain health costs and ideas about useful cost info to provide on a public website. The Quality subcommittee is learning more about quality improvement efforts now underway in MA (at its most recent meeting, DPH described its new hospital... Read more »

Milestone: MassHealth Dental Begins Contract with Third Party Administrator

For years now, advocates have been pressing state officials to contract out the running of the MassHealth Dental Program to a Third Party Administrator (TPA). The reasons include the longstanding antipathy of dentists to the administration of the program, and the ability of a TPA to run the program in a way that will improve functioning and participation. Yesterday -- February 1 -- it happened. The MassHealth Dental TPA began as planned on February 1, 2007. Doral Dental USA, one of the nation's largest multistate-administrators of government dental benefits, now serving more than 7... Read more »

Options for Controlling Rising Health Costs -- from Commonwealth Fund

Click here for access to a new Commonwealth Fund report on options for controlling rising health care costs. Lots of good directions and ideas -- good fodder for the Quality and Cost Council, we hope. Here's the exec. summary: Read more »


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