A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Quality

Why We Need Incentives to Fix Quality

In a 12/12 post, we talked about the growing, new controversy regarding Pay for Performance incentives to encourage doctors and hospitals to provide higher quality care. Democrats such as Rep. Pete Stark, conservatives at the Heritage Foundation, and others take issue with new approach for a variety of reasons. Yesterday's New York Times has a good piece describing why these incentives can be helpful and why we should not just rely on physicians and hospitals to "heal thyself." Excerpt: Read more »

Cracks Showing in the "Pay For Performance" Consensus

For several years now, the idea of “Pay For Performance” (paying physicians and hospitals extra to provide better quality) has enjoyed great, positive buzz in health policy circles. The idea was enshrined in Chapter 58, the MA health reform law – requiring physicians and hospitals to meet new PFP standards to win MassHealth rate increases in FY 08 and 09. All major MA insurers now incorporate PFP in their provider contracts. In California, PFP has become ubiquitous. Last weekend, Congress officially got into the act. Before adjourning, legislators enacted changes to Medicare to give... Read more »

Surprising Results from New National Survey on Consumer Directed Health Plans

The Employee Benefits Research Institute and the Commonwealth Fund have released their second annual survey on Consumerism in Health Care, an online survey of 3,158 private insured adults 21-64. The study looks to find trends in the growth of "consumer directed health plans" (CDHPs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), and their impact on consumers. Looks pretty darn unimpressive to us. Hope the folks at the Connector pay attention: Read more »

Advisory Committee to Cost and Quality Council to Meet

The Advisory Committee to the Quality and Cost Council, which includes over 20 individuals representing a variety of organizations (including Health Care for All), will meet for the first time on Thursday, December 14, 1-3pm, One South Station, 5th floor, Hearing Room A. If you have not attended previous meetings of the Quality and Cost Council, this would be a good opportunity to learn about its work. Most of the advisory committee members have not been attending the Council meetings, so this meeting will most likely involve a good amount of overview. If you can’t make it to the meeting,... Read more »

NYT on Electronic Health Records

Today's NYT Business Section includes a first rate overview of the promises, potential, pitfalls, and politics behind electronic health records. Click here for a look. Massachusetts is way out front on this due to the Mass. eHealth Collaborative. In January, North Adams will be the first community in the nation where nearly all physicians practices and the local hospital are interconnected. This project is avoiding some of the concerns included in the article -- for example, all patients must sign consent forms before their records can be linked with other sites. But nothing is without... Read more »

DPH Starts a Panel on Infections

Under the health reform law -- Chapter 58 -- the MA Department of Public Health is required to establish a statewide infection prevention and control program. The DPH has created a Massachusetts Expert Panel on Healthcare Associated Infections to advise its work and the work of the JSI Research and Training Institute, contracted to coordinate the development of the infection program. The expert panel will meet monthly, with task group meetings in between the large group meetings. Read more »

Big Employers Move into Electronic Health Records

Today's Wall Street Journal has a fascinating piece on large employers (WalMart and Intel) moving to develop their own electronic health records for their workers -- click here (I think it's free). Next week, the companies will announce their collaboration on a records standard to kick-start the plan. Later, about 10 employers are expected to chip in $1.5 million each to construct a data warehouse to store and update the e-records. Once in place, the combination would allow consumers and insurers to evaluate price and performance data from millions of employees. Eliminating duplicate tests... Read more »

New Campaign Launched for Kids Mental Health

A new campaign launched today at the State House to promote major reform of the children's mental health system in the state. The focus will be passage of legislation in the 07-08 legislative session to improve the kids' mh system. Click here for access to the great policy report released today by the Mass. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Here are excerpts from State House News coverage of the event: Read more »

Children's Mental Health Campaign Launches Tomorrow

From State House News Service Advances: Read more »

Teens Leading The Way -- in the Globe

HCFA, the Public Policy Institute, and the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell collaborate on a great project called "Teens Leading the Way." We're training 23 high school students from all over Massachusetts in public policy advocacy, and they are promoting their own legislation to establish teen drop in centers. This past Saturday, one of the bright young leaders of this project, Hui Feng from Boston Latin School, published an op-ed in the Boston Globe on the project and their proposed legislation. A future leader for sure. Click here for the column. Read more »

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