AHCJ webinar will address how payers, providers are implementing bundled payment

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

bundled-payment-webcastLate last month we wrote about criticism leveled at the federal government’s latest bundled payment proposal.

Since then, other experts have come forward to criticize not only the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CCJR) proposal announced last month, but also the Bundled Payments for Care Initiative (BPCI) program that began in April 2013. Both programs come from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

You can find detailed criticism of CCJR from Harold Miller, president of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, on the CHQPR’s blog, and from Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform, and Francois de Brantes, executive director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3), on the Health Affairs blog. For an explanation of how CMS can improve the BPCI program, see this HCI3 blog post from de Brantes. Continue reading

Exploring ‘preventable harm’ and making it accessible to readers

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Sarah Kliff

Sarah Kliff

Vox’s Sarah Kliff, who has an AHCJ Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance, is writing a series about fatal, preventable medical errors.

Not the inevitable tragic things that can happen to a patient – but the ones that we know how to avoid, the lives that should not be at risk.  Kliff spent several months on one story – actually a story and accompanying video and graphics – that combined insights about how hospitals think central line infections and a gripping narrative about the death of a 3-year-old girl.  You can find the story here.

Kliff wrote a “How I did It” essay for AHCJ that addresses a lot of the nuts and bolts of a vast project like this. She outlines how she reached out to patients/families, how she organized the voluminous – initially not searchable – medical records, how she found researchers who could elucidate things she did not fully understand in those records.

And she talks about the power of a good analogy to both organize a 5000-word narrative and give readers an accessible entry point to her work. Read about how she did it.

Does hospice use alone reflect quality end-of-life care?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Image by Steve Harwood via flickr.

Hospice use is a common indicator of quality end-of-life care. The timing of hospice enrollment is an important component of that care, and a recent study finds wide variations among states.

Researchers from Yale University compared 2011 hospice use data on a state-by-state basis of 660,000 Medicare patients during the last six months of their lives. They identified several key trends among states in the rates of very short or very long hospice stays (reflecting late or early enrollment) and of patients leaving hospice before their deaths. Continue reading

Look at how health quality measures have become a jungle

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org.

"Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Tower of Babel (Vienna) - Google Art Project - edited" by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) - Levels adjusted from File:Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg, originally from Google Art Project.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.Some experts view the burgeoning number of quality measures as health care's Tower of Babel.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Tower of Babel (Vienna) – Google Art Project – edited.” Licensed under Public Domain.Some experts view the burgeoning number of quality measures as health care’s Tower of Babel.

Quality measures are good, right? We all want our doctors and hospitals to follow best practices and be held to them.

It’s not so simple.

Put aside for the moment whether the measure is accurate – we don’t always know or agree on what the best thing is in health care (Exhibit A: mammograms).

There’s another quality problem.

There too many quality measures. Oodles and oodles of quality measures. Continue reading

Dementia training standards vary widely throughout U.S.

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: BBC Radio 4 via Flickr

Photo: BBC Radio 4 via Flickr

A new survey of state laws around dementia training reveals a patchwork of requirements and standards across settings, professional licensure and personnel. It found that existing laws and training are not keeping up with the growing needs of people who are cognitively impaired.

The survey and accompanying analyses looked at existing laws and gaps in training, as well as required curriculums in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

Greater transparency is resulting in fewer ‘positive’ findings in clinical trials

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

FreeImages.com/Cristian Bender

FreeImages.com/Cristian Bender

If it seems the newest studies are always reporting some new link – an association between two things or an increase or decrease in this, that or the other – it’s not your imagination.

Positive findings, those which find … “something,” tend to end up in journals more often. But a recent study in PLOS ONE suggests that this trend has decreased, thanks to a change in trial reporting standards around the year 2000. Continue reading

Gauging ‘success’ at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org.

lightbulbThe Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, created by the Affordable Care Act, is trying new ways of delivering health care and testing new incentives and payment models. Some ideas are likely, even expected, to fail. Others may lead to new ways of delivering higher quality care for less money.

CMMI also is supposed to help spread new ideas so they’ll take root in the real world. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has the authority to expand approaches that reduce spending – and halt those that do not. This is a more flexible approach than officials had with “demonstration projects” prior to the ACA.

The agency’s website is a goldmine of health care innovation. Read more about what CMMI is tasked with doing, how it will do it and how the success or failures of its projects will be determined in this new tip sheet.

Check out this primer on issues affecting health in rural areas

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

Transportation and other social determinants of health are covered in the Rural Assistance Center’s recently updated guide on the topic. Seen here is an older form of rural transportation from Fort Worth, Texas, where AHCJ recently held a workshop on rural health issues.

Photo: Susan HeaveyTransportation and other social determinants of health are covered in the Rural Assistance Center’s recently updated guide on the topic. Seen here is an older form of rural transportation from Fort Worth, Texas, where AHCJ recently held a workshop on rural health issues.

When I flew to Forth Worth, Texas, recently for AHCJ’s Rural Health Workshop, I should have read this first.

The Rural Assistance Center, a collaborative and federally-funded information portal on rural health and related services, offers a topic guide on the social determinants of health, specifically looking at social factors such as affordable transportation, access to food and the environment and their impact on people’s health.

The recently updated guide, “Social Determinants of Health for Rural People,” is a great primer for anyone starting to delve into how certain aspects of life for those living in less populated areas affect their well-being. Continue reading

Panel looks to Medicaid as possible housing partner to boost health

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

Is housing a prescription for better health for the poor? And, if so, who pays for it?

That was the question before a several experts this month at briefing on Capitol Hill. Hosted by the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonpartisan health policy group, the panel examined the role of Medicaid and housing, and how the joint federal-state program also could be used to provide more stable housing with the goal of boosting health. Continue reading

Looking at the ‘adventure’ philanthropy of dental professionals

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo courtesy of Bart Roach

Photo courtesy of Bart Roach

Sara Schilling of the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., recently caught up with a local dentist who channels his wanderlust into helping others.

His name is Bart Roach.

When Roach is not taking care of his own patients and pitching in at a local clinic for the poor, he is trekking to faraway places where children are suffering from untreated disease.

The walls of his office are decorated with images and souvenirs of his travels. The computer in his office is filled with the photographs, Schilling writes. Continue reading