Transparency -- or its absence -- continues to fascinate health care analysts and health care economists.  A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine addresses the effects of public reporting of hospital mortality rates on outcomes.  Its senior author, Dr. Ashish Jha, offered his perspective on the study results and on the topic. According to the study investigators, mandatory public reporting of hospital mortality is not improving outcomes.  The result of their analysis surprised them ...

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Get a group of health policy experts together and you’ll find one area of near universal agreement: We need more transparency in health care. The notion behind transparency is straightforward; greater availability of data on provider performance helps consumers make better choices and motivates providers to improve. And there is some evidence to suggest it works.  In New York State, after cardiac surgery reporting went into effect, some ...

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I joined physicians nationwide last year in cheering when Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Not only did it eliminate the congressional budgetary fiction known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, it also promised to simplify and improve Medicare’s costly and complex programs that purport to measure the quality of care we provide to our patients. Unfortunately, as we review the draft implementing rule, ...

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I’ve had the chance to present the changes being brought by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) to audiences of hundreds of physicians -- at ACP’s Leadership Day on Capitol Hill, ACP’s Board of Governors and Board of Regents meetings, several educational sessions and a news briefing at the College’s Internal Medicine 2016 Scientific Meeting, and to the California Medical Association’s Leadership Academy.  I’ve also had chats with ...

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As an American medical student doing an elective in Thailand, I was initially troubled when I saw how Thai patients were treated. I'm not speaking of the way Thai physicians apply medical science, mind you -- they rely on UpToDate and sundry U.S. guidelines just as we do -- but that was mostly where the similarities ended. Morning rounds with the team of residents (sans attending, but apparently there was one ...

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Sooner or later, you will need the ER. I don’t care how healthy you are, how much you hate going to the hospital for care, how much you distrust doctors or modern medicine, how rich you are, or how deep in the woods you live, the odds are almost 100 percent that in your lifetime you will end up in the ER. You may get lucky, and find yourself ...

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I recently took care of a woman in her 50s that came to our emergency department (ED) complaining of chest pain. The pain had started shortly before arriving in the ED but within minutes, we performed a battery of tests, treated her pain, and gave her an aspirin. Still concerned about heart disease being the cause of her pain, I observed her overnight in our EDs observation unit and completed ...

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I am a scientist and a medical economist. I have been privileged to work beside doctors in both their caregiving role and their research role for 20 years. I have seen their challenges and tried to build products and services to help.  I have deep respect for the challenge of medicine and the committed practitioners. When I left graduate school in 1988, it was the beginning of the movement from fee ...

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Twenty years of experience and research reveal two indispensable truths about hospitals and health care organizations that can no longer be ignored: Those institutions neglecting the basic fundamentals of patient care risk jeopardizing the quality and safety of care they provide. Nothing can have a greater short and long-term impact on the cost of delivering health care services than nurses. The central role of the nurse in patient care For more than 60 years, ...

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary has many definitions for the term system, but the most straightforward, and arguably the most applicable to our health care conversation is “a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.” The common wisdom is that our health care system is broken, and hence, our government is vigorously attempting to fix it for us through legislation, reformation, and transformation. We usually work ourselves into ...

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