A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Quality

Empowering Consumers Conference Part II Held in Worcester

Last week, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation held its second community conversation conference on “empowering healthcare consumers.” Click here  to read more about the conference and the featured speakers and to see information about the first conference held last spring in Boston. The bulk of the gathering involved a panel discussion on healthcare price and information transparency and, later, facilitated table discussions on health care choices.  Panelists included representatives from insurance carriers (Harvard Pilgrim, Fallon), purchasers (GIC), health care providers... Read more »

DPH Regulations Out on End-of-life and Palliative Care Information

At Wednesday’s Public Health Council meeting the Department of Public Health presented its draft regulations (PDF) for implementing Section 227 of Chapter 224. This section focuses on providing information to appropriate patients about palliative care and end-of-life care options. Read more »

Public Health Council Meets Tomorrow

The Public Health Council is meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 10/16) at the Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, 2nd floor. See the agenda here (pdf). Topics to be covered include draft regulations on information for patients about palliative care and end-of-life care options (required under Chapter 224) and final regulations relating to pediatric immunization and BMI reporting on school children. Meetings are open to the public.-Deb Wachenheim Read more »

Why Can't Copays and Deductibles Be Smart? Barrier-Free Care Bill Hearing Report

HCFA consumer testify before Public Health Committee 10-1-13 Read more »

SQAC Meets and Discusses Measure Set

The Statewide Quality Advisory Committee (SQAC) met this morning. The bulk of the meeting was focused on an evaluation of the 35 non-mandated measures approved in 2012 by the committee for inclusion in the Standard Quality Measure Set (SQMS). The Lewin Group was hired to evaluate the measures and determine if any of them that were seen as moderate recommendations should be moved to strong and vice-versa. Read more »

Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs)

Annual PFAC reports are due by October 1st: Report template now available. Access it by clicking here! Massachusetts law requires that each hospital’s PFAC make a report available to the public by October 1st. As in the past, Health Care For All (HCFA) is requesting a copy of your hospital's report and suggests that you use our template to assist you in collecting information. HCFA will be making individual reports available on its website so that PFACs are able to share data and lessons learned. Read more »

New Data Out on Hospital Personnel Flu Vaccinations

The MA Department of Public Health yesterday released its latest data on the rates of influenza vaccination among hospital personnel for the 2012/2013 flu season. Hospital personnel includes all staff (including per diem staff), students and volunteers. You can find the data on these DPH tables (pdf). The findings were presented and discussed yesterday at a meeting of DPH’s Healthcare-Associated Infections Technical Advisory Group (HAI TAG), on which HCFA has a seat.  The data include statewide aggregate numbers, numbers by region, hospital type, and size, and numbers for each hospital. The... Read more »

MITSS HOPE Award: Seeking Nominations

MITSS (Medically Induced Trauma Support Services) is seeking nominations for its annual HOPE Award (“Honoring Outstanding People Everywhere”). The nominees should be individuals or organizations who exemplify the mission of MITSS—supporting healing and restoring hope to patients, families and clinicians impacted by adverse medical events. Nominations are being accepted through this Friday, September 13. Get more information on the MITSS website. The winner will be announced at the MITSS annual dinner on November 14.-Deb Wachenheim Read more »

New Hospital Quality Data From DPH: Serious Reportable Events Down; Infections Data Mixed

Thanks to the reforms of Chapter 58 and Chapter 305, the Department of Public Health now conducts a regular review of efforts to control infection in Massachusetts hospitals. The department released its third annual report on the progress of hospitals in battling hospital-spread illness, and the overall message seems to be “slow but steady.” Read more »

Patient Awareness of Overuse Part of Solution

Giving a child with a bad cough or an adult with sinusitis an antibiotic, getting a CT scan or MRI for low back pain, having a Pap test done every year…these are all examples of tests or treatments that are over-used and about which patients should have conversations with their providers before they are done. We  all know that some tests and treatments, when done unnecessarily, can lead to further anxiety or harm. So how do we address this issue? Patients need to be educated, sure. But so do physicians and hospitals, who order the inappropriate tests and procedures. And because economic... Read more »


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