A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Quality

More Hospitals Going Organic

Check out this Associated Press article on hospitals across the nation changing their food operations to go totally organic. Patients and visitors like it so much, they come back for more after discharge. Some hospitals have created onsite farmers markets. Others have hired chefs and former restaurant employees to run their kitchens. "What we are trying to do is provide not just our patients, but everybody that eats here, with foods that are health promoting," said Nancy Gummer, director of nutrition services at Good Shepherd (Portland, Oregon). The hospital no longer needs to modify each... Read more »

Consumer Views on Patient Safety and Quality

Kaiser Family Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality surveyed 1,216 adults in the U.S. about quality of healthcare and patient safety. Some highlights: • 51% said they are dissatisfied with overall quality of health care and 41% are satisfied. • 36% have seen info in the past year comparing the quality of health plans, hospitals, or doctors, and about half (20% of the overall population) have used the info to make care decisions. • 60% said coordination of care among their health care professionals is a problem, and 26% say it is a major problem. • Many individuals... Read more »

Hope Springs Eternal -- Citizens Health Care Working Group Reports

Click here to get the executive summary of final report from the Citizens Health Care Working Group. The creation of the Group was authorized in 2003 by Congress in the Medicare Modernization Act. The Group has been working like crazy for 18 months to come up with consensus recommendations on reforming the US health care system. What's not to like? Nothing from what we see. Good process involving feedback from thousands of ordinary Americans. Solid recommendations for universal coverage, cost control, and quality improvement. Will it make a difference? Who the heck knows? They deserve... Read more »

Quality - Cost Council Meets on Organizational Matters

The Quality and Cost Council met on Wednesday, September 20, with a spare agenda devoted mainly to organizational issues. The first topic was dividing into subcommittees. Council chair EOHHS Secretary Tim Murphy sent a detailed memo to Council members proposing 4 subcommittees: health care quality, health care cost and data collection, public communications, and governance and administration. There was some discussion of the subcommittee breakdown. Charlie Baker asked what are the goals of each subcommittee, and Tim answered that each group’s first task would be to frame its own charter.... Read more »

US Health Care -- Mediocre at Best

In case you haven't seen it, the new Commonwealth Fund report on US health system performance, published by Health Affairs, is essential reading. Click here to see it. Here's the summary: The United States has many of the world’s best-equipped hospitals and most highly specialized physicians. At 16 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), U.S. health spending is double the median of industrialized countries and since 2000 has been growing more rapidly than before. Yet the United States is the only major industrialized country that fails to guarantee universal health insurance; coverage in... Read more »

e-Health in the Big Apple

Last week, HCFA’s E-Health Consumer Advocate, Lisa Fenichel, participated in a meeting, “Developing the Consumer Agenda for Health Information Technology,” sponsored by the United Hospital Fund, located in the Empire State Building. She and nine others, who are involved in health privacy, health information technology, and their intersection, spoke about the national scene, including legislative issues and governmental priorities, and state and regional HIT initiatives. Representatives from organizations in California, New York, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts (Lisa) compared their... Read more »

Health Plans Nationwide Save Money by Investing in Oral Health

In the new MA health reform law, the House and Senate agreed to restore coverage for dental services to 650,000 MassHealth adults. Gov. Romney vetoed the restoration and the House and Senate overrode the veto. Coverage was restored in early July. Keep that in mind when you read excerpts from this article in today's Wall Street Journal on how health plans across the nation are saving money by investing in good oral health. Read more »

Dept. of Good News: Vaccine Rates Up, Disparities Down, and MA Is #1!

Let's note the good news in today's paper, especially for Massachusetts. Today's Globe carries news of new data and a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that childhood vaccination rates across the nation have risen significantly (can't seem to find a link to the actual report). Further good news, one year's data show the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in childhood vaccination rates. And more, Massachusetts has the best, the very best rate of childhood immunization in America, clocking in at 91 percent. Damn, we're good! Vermont had the... Read more »

New Report on Health Literacy

New and compelling data on numbers of Americans who have difficulty understanding basic health information was released yesterday. Here's a summary from the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report: Read more »

Quality Matters: Harbingers for the Future

A few milestones this past week on health care quality. First, HCFA now has our first full time staffer, Deborah Wachenheim, working on quality. She's got a full plate, and one of her first missions is to develop a Massachusetts Consumer Health Quality Council to create a bonafide consumer voice on quality, medical errors, and patient safety. We're looking for regular consumers who want to understand this arena and work as consumer voices to make a real difference. Setting this up has been a passion of mine since arriving at HCFA in 2003. You can reach Deborah at dwachenheim@hcfama.org. Read more »

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