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Reduced use of laboratory testing prevents the analyses of pathogenic isolates needed for disease tracking, testing of new pathogens, and determining the levels of susceptibility to antimicrobial agents. Franks P, Fiscella K. Numerous studies, starting with the RAND Health Insurance Experiment, show that copayments also reduce the use of preventive and primary care services by the poor, although not by higher-income groups Solanki et al. The rapid development and widespread implementation of an extensive set of standards for technology and information exchange among providers, governmental public health agencies, and individuals are critical. Embedded in these demographic changes is a dramatic increase in the prevalence of chronic conditions. IOM Institute of Medicine. Disparities in Health Care.


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Fragmentation of health plans along socioeconomic lines engenders different clinical cultures, with different practice norms Bloche, The committee encourages the health care system and policy makers in the public and private sectors to give careful consideration to the interventions that are identified in Unequal Treatment IOM, b and aimed at eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care see Box 5—8. Americans now live longer. A child born today can expect to live more than 75 years, and advances in medicine have also extended the life spans of earlier generations.

As detailed in Chapter 1 , the result is that individuals over age 65 constitute an increasingly large proportion of the U. Embedded in these demographic changes is a dramatic increase in the prevalence of chronic conditions.

Chronic conditions, defined as illnesses that last longer than 3 months and that are not self-limiting, affect nearly half of the U. An estimated million Americans have one or more chronic conditions, and that number is estimated to reach million by Pew Environmental Health Commission, Nearly half of those with a chronic illness have more than one such condition IOM, a.

Additionally, disabling chronic conditions affect all age groups, but about two-thirds are found in individuals over age With the projected growth in the number of people over age 65 increasing from 13 percent of the. Strengthen the stability of patient—provider relationships in publicly funded health plans. Increase the proportion of underrepresented U. Apply the same managed care protections to publicly funded health maintenance organization HMO enrollees that apply to private HMO enrollees.

Promote the consistency and equity of care through the use of evidence-based guidelines. Structure payment systems to ensure an adequate supply of services to minority patients and limit provider incentives that may promote disparities.

Enhance patient—provider communications and trust by providing financial incentives for practices that reduce barriers and encourage evidence-based practice.

Integrate cross-cultural education into the training of all current and future health care professionals. The current health care system does not meet the challenge of providing clinically appropriate and cost-effective care for the chronically ill. Wagner and colleagues identified five elements required to improve outcomes for chronically ill patients:.

Reorganization of practices to meet the needs of patients who require more time, a broad array of resources, and closer follow-up. The health care delivery system as it exists today cannot deliver those elements. Recent surveys have found that less than half of U. Delivery of high-quality care to chronically ill patients is especially challenging in a decentralized and fragmented system, characterized by small practices AMA, Smaller practices have great difficulty in organizing the array of services and support needed to efficiently manage chronic disease.

The result is poor disease management and a high level of wasted resources. As the proportion of old and very old increases, the system-wide impact in terms of cost and increased disability may well overwhelm the human and financial resources available to care for chronically ill patients. The resources of the health care delivery system are not balanced well enough to provide patient-centered care, to address the complex health care demands of an aging population, to absorb normal spikes in demand for urgent care, and to manage a large-scale emergency such as that posed by a terrorist attack.

The relentless focus on controlling costs over the past decade has squeezed a great deal of excess capacity out of the health care system, particularly the hospital system. It has also reduced the time that physicians spend with patients and the quality of the clinical encounter. At the same time, the design of insurance plans in both the public and the private sectors does not support the integrated disease management protocols needed to treat chronic disease or the data gathering and analysis needed for both disease management and population-level health.

The committee took special note of certain shortages of health care professionals, because these shortages are having a significant adverse effect on the quality of health care. However, the focus on these two health care professional shortage areas does not suggest the absence of problems in other fields.

Acute shortages of primary care physicians exist in many geographic areas, in certain medical specialties, and in disciplines such as pharmacy and dentistry, to name two. In addition, a growing consensus suggests that major reforms are needed in the education and training of all health professionals. To deliver the type of health care envisioned in Crossing the Quality Chasm IOM, b , health care professionals must be trained to work in teams, to utilize information technology effectively, and to develop the competencies necessary to deliver care to an increasingly diverse population.

Health professions education is not currently organized to produce these results. In , 9 percent of physicians and Among physicians, about 3 percent are African American, 2. The severe underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in the health professions affects access to care for minority populations, the quality of care they receive, and the level of confidence that minority patients have in the health care system.

A consistent body of research indicates that African-American and Hispanic physicians are more likely to provide services in minority and underserved communities and are more likely to treat patients who are poor, Medicaid eligible, and sicker IOM, c. Some studies indicate that, on average, minority physicians treat four to five times more minority patients than do white physicians, and studies of recent minority medical.

Although more research is needed to examine the impact of minority health care professionals on the level of access and quality of care, for some minority patients, having a minority physician results in better communication, greater patient satisfaction with care, and greater use of preventive services IOM, b. Although evidence has not established that increasing the numbers of minority physicians or improving cultural competence per se influences patient outcomes, existing research supports clear policies to increase the proportion of medical students drawn from minority groups.

RNs work in a variety of settings, ranging from governmental public health agency clinics to hospitals and nursing homes. The majority, however, work in hospitals, although the proportion dropped from 68 percent in to 59 percent in Spratley et al. Hospitals are facing shortages of RNs, in addition to shortages of pharmacists, laboratory technologists, and radiological technologists.

A recent national hospital survey AHA, b found that of , vacant positions, , were for RN positions. Hospital vacancy rates for RN positions averaged 11 percent across the country, ranging from about 10 percent to more than 20 percent in some states. Nationally, more than one in seven hospitals report a severe shortage of RNs, with more than 20 percent of RN positions vacant.

In general, hospitals in rural areas report the highest percentage of vacant positions. The current shortage of RNs, particularly for hospital practice, is a matter of national concern because nursing care is critical to the operation and quality of care in hospitals Aiken et al. In a study analyzing more than 5 million patient discharges from hospitals in 11 states, Needleman and colleagues consistently found that higher RN staffing levels were associated with a 3 to 12 percent reduction in indicators—including lower rates of urinary tract infections, pneumonia, shock, and upper gastrointestinal bleeding and shorter lengths of stay—that reflect better inpatient care.

The shortage of hospital-based nurses reflects several factors, including the aging of the population, declining nursing school enrollment numbers Sherer, , the aging of the nursing workforce the average age increased from Furthermore, nurses have available other professional opportunities, and women, who once formed the bulk of the nursing workforce, now have alternate career prospects.

These trends do not appear to be a temporary, cyclical phenomenon. The aging of the population means an increase in the. Although some of this increase is to be expected because of the overall aging of the U. An aging workforce may have implications for patient care if older RNs have less ability to perform certain physical tasks HRSA, The shortage of RNs poses a serious threat to the health care delivery system, and to hospitals in particular.

Hospitals contribute in various ways to assuring the health of the public, particularly by providing acute care services, educating health professionals, serving as a site for research, organizing community health promotion and disease prevention activities, and acting as safety-net providers. However, hospitals play a uniquely important role by serving as the primary source of emergency and highly specialized care such as that in intensive care units ICUs and centers for cardiac care and burn treatment.

Recent changes in the structure of the hospital industry, the reimbursement of hospitals by public- and private-sector insurance programs, and nursing shortages have raised questions about the ability of hospitals to carry out these roles. During the s, the spread of managed care practices contributed to reductions in overall hospital admissions, in the length of hospital stays, and in emergency department visits.

As a result of decreasing demand for hospital services and a changing financial environment, hospitals in many parts of the country reduced the number of patient beds, eliminated certain services, or even closed McManus, The American Hospital Association AHA, a reports that from to , the number of emergency departments in the nation decreased by 8. Over the same period, medical and surgical bed capacities were reduced by Although these reductions may have improved the efficiencies of hospitals, they have important implications for the capacity of the health care system to respond to public health emergencies.

According to the American Hospital Association a , the demand for emergency department care increased by 15 percent between and In a random survey of emergency department directors in and , 91 percent of the respondents reported overcrowding problems Derlet et al. The overcrowding was severe, resulting in delays in testing and treatment that compromised patient outcomes. The emergency departments of hospitals in many areas of New York City routinely operated at percent capacity Brewster et al.

Patients regularly spent significant portions of their admission on gurneys in a hallway. One consequence of this crowding is the periodic closure of emergency departments and the diversion of ambulances to other facilities. Ambulance diversions have been found to impede access to emergency services in metropolitan areas in at least 22 states U. House of Representatives, ; at least 75 million Americans are estimated to reside in areas affected by ambulance diversions.

Looking at 12 communities, Brewster and colleagues found that on average in , two hospitals in Boston closed their emergency departments each day and the Cleveland Clinic emergency departments were closed to patients arriving by ambulance for an average of nearly 12 hours a day. The increase in demand for emergency care is attributed to several factors Brewster et al. In particular, managed care rules have changed to allow increased coverage of care provided in emergency departments.

Hospitals are in better compliance with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires emergency departments to treat patients without regard for their ability to pay.

The adequacy of hospital capacity cannot be assessed without considering the system inefficiencies that characterize current insurance and care delivery arrangements. These include the demands placed on hospital emergency and outpatient departments by the uninsured and those without access to a primary care provider.

The unique characteristic of primary care is the role it plays as a regular or usual source of care for patients and their families. Good primary care assures continuity for the patient across levels of care, comprehensiveness of services according to the level of health or illness, and better coordination of these services over time Starfield, Defining the right level of immediate and standby capacity for emergency and inpatient care depends in part on the adequacy and effectiveness of general outpatient and primary care.

For example, chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes often can be managed effectively on an outpatient basis, but if the conditions are poorly managed by patients or their health care providers, emergency or inpatient care may be necessary. Billings and colleagues demonstrated strong links between hospital admission rates for such conditions and the socioeconomic and insurance status of the population in an area. For example, admission rates for asthma were 6.

Differences in disease prevalence accounted for only a small portion of the differences in hospitalization rates among low- and high-income areas. Although Billings and colleagues did not draw conclusions about the causal pathways leading to these higher admission rates, it is likely that the contributing factors include those discussed in this chapter, such as a lack of insurance or a regular source of care and the assignment of Medicaid populations to lower-cost health plans.

Geographically, areas with higher primary care physician-to-population ratios experience lower total health care costs Welch et al. Additionally, there is evidence that primary care is associated with reduced disparities in health; areas of high income inequality that also had good primary care were less likely to report fair or poor self-rated health Starfield, The link between the availability of primary care and better health is also supported by international evidence, which shows that nations that value primary care are likely to have lower mortality rates all causes; all causes, premature; and cause specific , even when controlling for macro- and micro-level characteristics e.

Although Billings and colleagues focused on the preventable demands for hospital care among low-income and uninsured populations, Closing the Quality Chasm IOM, b makes clear that the misuse of services also characterizes disease management among insured chronically ill patients. In the early s, managed care became a common feature of the health care delivery system in the United States.

In theory, managed care offers the promise of a population-based approach that can emphasize regular preventive care and other services aimed at keeping a defined group as healthy as possible. These benefits are most easily achieved under a fully capitated, group practice model: For the patient, the model provides comprehensive care, an emphasis on prevention, and low out-of-pocket costs.

Kaiser Permanente Medical Group pioneered the model more than 50 years ago on the basis of early experiences providing health care programs for employees of Kaiser industrial. An important opportunity was lost when insurance companies, health plans and health providers, and the state and federal governments saw managed care primarily as a cost-containment mechanism rather than a population-based approach to delivering comprehensive and effective health care services.

Reimbursement rate reductions, restrictions on care and choice of physician, and other aspects of plan management disaffected millions of Americans from the basic concept of managed care. Furthermore, rapid turnover in enrollment, particularly in Medicaid managed care, ruined economic incentives for plans to view their enrollees as a long-term investment.

This loss of trust in the idea of managed care is also the loss of a great opportunity to improve quality and restrain costs. Loosely affiliated physician networks have no ability to identify their populations and develop programs specifically based on the epidemiology of the defined group. There is little ability to use data systems, shared protocols, or peer pressure to improve quality and reduce variations in health care practices.

Managed care is undergoing rapid changes, some of which are likely to further undermine its viability. Consumer demands for more choice and greater flexibility are weakening restrictions on access to providers and limitations on services. Physicians are proving more aggressive and successful in their negotiations with plans to decrease constraints, and to date, most employers have been willing to accept the higher costs that result.

Employer acceptance may change in the face of double-digit insurance premium increases. Predicting the next configuration of insurance and plan delivery systems is dangerous in a system undergoing such rapid transition. A number of major insurance plans have announced that they will begin to offer defined-contribution options.

Consumers will be expected to shop for their own care with a medical spending account coupled with catastrophic benefits for very large expenses. This could significantly undermine the current. Defined-contribution health care benefits are a new way for employers to provide health care coverage to their employees, while no longer acting as brokers between employees and insurance companies contracted to provide benefits.

An employer may choose from several different ways to put money into a health benefits account for each employee and offer the employee a menu of coverage options, with different funding levels and employee financial responsibility for each. However, such plans have yet to assume a significant role in the insurance market, and few employers offer them as an alternative. The development of enhanced information technology and its use in hospitals, individual provider practices, and other segments of the health care delivery system are essential for improving the quality of care.

Better information technology can also support patients and family caregivers in crucial health decisions, strengthen both personal and population-based prevention efforts, and enhance participation in and coordination with public health activities. See Chapter 3 for a discussion of the information technology needs of the governmental public health infrastructure.

Crossing the Quality Chasm IOM, b formulated the case that information technology is critical to the redesign of the health care system to achieve a substantial improvement in the quality of care.

A strong clinical information infrastructure is a prerequisite to reengineering processes of care; coordinating patient care across providers, plans, and settings and over time; supporting the operation of multidisciplinary teams and the application of clinical support tools; and facilitating the use of performance and outcome measures for quality improvement and accountability.

From the provider perspective, better information systems and more extensive use of information technology could dramatically improve care by offering ready access to complete and accurate patient data and to a variety of information resources and tools—clinical guidelines, decision-support systems, digital prescription-writing programs, and public health data and alerts, for example—that can enhance the quality of clinical decision making.

Computer-based systems for the entry of physician orders have been found to have sizable benefits in enhancing patient safety Bates et al. Despite profound growth in clinical knowledge and medical technology, the health care delivery system has been relatively untouched by the revolution in information technology that has transformed other sectors of society and the economy. Many health care settings lack basic computer systems to provide clinical information or support clinical decision making.

Even where electronic medical record systems are being implemented, most of those systems remain proprietary products of individual institutions and health plans that are based on standards of specific vendors. The development and application of interoperable systems and secure information-sharing practices are essential to gain greater benefits from information technology.

At present, only a few institutions have had the. Those efforts illustrate both the costs involved in developing health information systems and some of the benefits that might be expected.

So far, however, adoption of even common and less costly information technologies has been limited. Only a small fraction of physicians offer e-mail interaction 13 percent, in a poll , a simple and convenient tool for efficient communication with their patients Harris Interactive, Some of the documented reasons for the low level of physician—patient e-mail communication include concerns about lack of reimbursement for this type of service and concerns about confidentiality and liability.

These legitimate issues are slowly being addressed in policy and practice, but there is a long way to go if this form of communication is to achieve its potential for improving interactions between patients and providers.

Enhanced information technology also promises to aid patients and the public in other ways. The Internet already offers a wealth of information and access to the most current evidence to help individuals maintain their own health and manage disease. In addition, support groups and interactive programs offer additional approaches to empower consumers.

Personalized systems for comprehensive home care may improve outcomes and reduce costs. Other efforts to build a personal health record PHR created or cocreated and controlled by the individual—and instantly available to support treatment in any setting—suggest that the PHR may provide a comprehensive, accurate, and continuous record to support health and health care across the life span Jones et al.

A sophisticated health information infrastructure is also important to support public health monitoring and disease surveillance activities. Systems and protocols for linking health care providers and governmental public health agencies are vital for detecting emerging health threats and supporting appropriate decisions by all parties.

The committee cautions, however, that systems dedicated to a single use, such as bioterrorism, will not be optimal; systems designed to be comprehensive and flexible will be of greater overall value.

Ultimately, such systems should also allow the. For information technology to transform the health sector as it has banking and other forms of commerce that depend on the accurate, secure exchange of large amounts of information, action must be taken at the national level to develop the National Health Information Infrastructure NHII NRC, The committee endorses the call by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics NCVHS for the nation to build a twenty-first century health support system—a comprehensive, knowledge-based system capable of providing information to all who need it to make sound decisions about health.

Such a system can help realize the public interest related to quality improvement in health care and to disease prevention and health promotion for the population as a whole.

The rapid development and widespread implementation of an extensive set of standards for technology and information exchange among providers, governmental public health agencies, and individuals are critical. To realize the full potential of the NHII, supportive changes in the social, economic, and legal infrastructures are also required.

Policies promoting the portability and continuity of personal health information are essential. Values, practices, relationships, laws, and investment and reimbursement policies must support the creation and use of data and information systems that are consistent with the vision for the NHII see Chapter 3 for an additional discussion and recommendation.

The activities and interests of the health care delivery system and the governmental public health agencies clearly overlap in certain areas, but there is relatively little collaboration between them. In addition, the authority of state health departments in quality monitoring, licensure, and rate setting can cause serious tensions between them and health care organizations. The committee discusses the extent of this separation and the particular need for better collaboration, especially in regard to assuring access to health care services, disease surveillance activities, and partnerships toward broader health promotion efforts.

Within the public health system in the United States, collaboration between the health care sector and governmental public health agencies is. This reflects the divergence and separate development of two distinct sectors following the Second World War.

As disciplines and professional fields, medicine and public health evolved with minimal levels of interaction, and often without recognition of the lost opportunities to improve the health of individuals and the population.

The health care and governmental public health sectors are also very unequal in terms of their resources, prestige, and influence on public policy. The failure to collaborate characterizes not only the interactions between governmental public health agencies and the organizations and individuals involved in the financing and delivery of health care in the private sector but also financing within the federal government.

Even the congressional authorizing committees for these activities are separate. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a PHS agency, administers block grants to states to augment funding for mental health and substance abuse programs, neither of which is well supported under Medicaid.

Until recently, the Medicaid waiver program, administered by CMS on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, did not provide protection of reimbursement rates for clinics within the safety-net system. At the same time, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the PHS agency charged with funding federally qualified safety-net clinics for the poor, and the Indian Health Service were both seeking funds to support the increasing deficits of these clinics due to the growing number of uninsured individuals and the low rates of reimbursement for Medicaid clinics.

The operational separation of public health and health care financing programs mirrors the cultural differences that characterize medicine and public health. American fascination with technology, science, and medical interventions and a relatively poor understanding of the determinants of health see Chapter 2 or of the workings of the governmental public health agencies also contribute to the lower status, fewer resources, and limited influence of public health.

The committee views these status and resource differences as barriers to mutually respectful collaboration and to achieving the shared vision of healthy people in healthy communities. The committee also urges greater efforts on the part of the health care. Public health departments have always differed greatly in regard to the delivery of health care services, based on the availability of such services in the community and other reasons Moos and Miller, Some provide no personal health care services at all, whereas others provide some assortment of primary health care and safety-net services.

In general, however, there has been a decrease in the number of local governmental public health agencies involved in direct service provision. In a recent survey of public health agencies, primary care or direct medical care services were the least common services provided NACCHO, Despite this, 28 percent of local public health departments report that they are the sole safety-net providers in their communities Keane et al. During the s, Medicaid shifted from a fee-for-service program to a managed care model.

This change has been a challenge to the multiple roles of public health departments as community-based primary health care providers, safety-net providers, and providers of population-based or traditional public health services.

The challenge has been both financial and organizational. First, managed care plans reimburse safety-net providers less generously than fee-for-service Medicaid providers do under Medicaid, federally qualified health centers benefited from a federal requirement for full-cost reimbursement , and they impose administrative and service restrictions that result in reduced overall rates of compensation IOM, a.

In many states and localities, these changes have decreased the revenue available to public health departments and public clinics and hospitals. In many cases, funds were no longer available for population-based essential public health services or had to be diverted to the more visibly urgent need of keeping clinics and hospitals open CDC, The result of this interplay is that many governmental public health agencies have found themselves in a strained relationship with managed care organizations: Second, the shift of Medicaid services to a managed care environment led some public health departments to scale down or dismantle their infrastructure for the delivery of direct medical care.

The recent trend of the exit of managed care from the Medicaid market has left some people without a medical home and, in cases of. This problem may be most acute in rural areas, where public health departments are often the sole safety-net providers Johnson and Morris, One strategy to help lessen the negative impacts of changes in health care financing undertaken by some public health departments has been the development of formal relationships e.

Such arrangements have made possible some level of integration of health care and public health services, enhanced information exchange and continuity of care, and allowed public health departments to be reimbursed for the provision of some of the services that are covered by the benefits packages of managed care plans Martinez and Closter, At this time, governmental public health agencies are still called on to play a role in assurance broader than that which may be compatible with their other responsibilities to population health.

However, closer integration between these governmental public health agencies and the health care delivery system can help address the needs of the uninsured and underinsured. Denver Health, in Colorado, provides an intriguing example of a hybrid, integrated public—private health system Mays et al.

Denver Health is the local county and city public health authority, as well as a managed care organization and hospital service. Disease surveillance and reporting provide a classic exemplar of essential collaboration between the health care system and the governmental public health agencies. The latter rely on health care providers and laboratories to supply the data that are the basis for disease surveillance.

For instance, in the fall of , reports from physicians who diagnosed the first cases of anthrax were essential in recognizing and responding to the bioterrorism attack. States mandate the reporting of various infectious diseases e. Other types of public health surveillance activities,. Effective surveillance requires timely, accurate, and complete reports from health care providers.

In the case of infectious diseases, if all systems work effectively, the necessary information regarding the diagnosis for a patient with a reportable disease is transmitted to the state or local public health department by a physician or laboratory.

For unusual or particularly serious conditions, public health officials offer guidance on treatment options and control measures and monitor the community for any additional reports of similar illness. For diseases like tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, public health agencies facilitate active tracking and prophylactic treatment of persons exposed to an infected individual.

Disease reporting requirements vary from state to state, although most states include diseases identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC as part of the National Notifiable Disease Reporting System. Disease reporting is not complete, however. For diseases under national surveillance, from 6 to 90 percent of cases are reported, depending on the disease Teutsch and Churchill, ; Thacker and Stroup, Incomplete reporting may reflect a lack of understanding by some health care providers of the role of the governmental public health agencies in infectious disease monitoring and control.

In some instances, physicians and laboratories may be unaware of the requirement to report the occurrence of a notifiable disease or may underestimate the importance of such a requirement. The difficulty of reporting in a busy practice is also a barrier. Notifiable disease reporting systems within public health departments with strong liaisons with the health care community are important in the detection and recognition of bioterrorism events.

However, this valuable tool has not been well supported and, as noted earlier, suffers from issues of lack of timeliness and incomplete reporting, as well as complex or unclear reporting procedures and limited feedback from governmental public health agencies on how data are used Baxter et al. Health care delivery systems may fear that the data will be used to measure performance, and concerns about patient confidentiality can also contribute to a reluctance to report some diagnoses.

New federal regulations regarding the confidentiality of medical records, required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act P. Health care providers may also reduce their use of laboratory tests to confirm a diagnosis. This may be because of cost concerns or insurance plan restrictions or simply professional judgment that the test is unnecessary for appropriate clinical care.

However, when fewer diagnostic tests are. Reduced use of laboratory testing prevents the analyses of pathogenic isolates needed for disease tracking, testing of new pathogens, and determining the levels of susceptibility to antimicrobial agents. Other changes in the health care delivery system also raise concerns about the infectious disease surveillance system. As patterns of health care delivery change, old reporting systems are undermined, but the opportunities offered by new types of care systems and technologies have not been realized.

For example, traditional patterns of reporting may be lost as health care delivery shifts from inpatient to outpatient settings. Hospital-based epidemiological reporting systems no longer capture many diagnoses now made and treated on an outpatient basis. This would not be a problem if health care systems used currently available information technologies, including electronic medical records and internal disease surveillance systems.

Better information systems that allow the rapid and continuous exchange of clinical information among health care providers and with public health agencies have the potential to improve disease surveillance as well as aid in clinical decision making while avoiding the use of unnecessary diagnostic tests. With such a system, a physician seeing an influx of patients with severe sore throats could use information on the current community prevalence of confirmed streptococcal pharyngitis and the antibiotic sensitivities of the cultured organisms to choose appropriate medications.

From a public health perspective, such a system would permit continuous analysis of data from a number of clinical sites, enabling rapid recognition and response to new disease patterns in the community see Chapter 3 for a discussion of syndrome surveillance. For example, toxic or infectious exposures could be tracked more easily if the characteristics of every patient encounter were integrated into one system and if everyone had unimpeded access to systems of care that could generate such data.

A CDC-funded project of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates a large multi-specialty group offers a glimpse of the benefits to be gained through collaboration between health care delivery systems and governmental public health agencies and specifically through the effective use of medical information systems Lazarus et al.

The Harvard Vanguard electronic medical system is queried each night for specific diagnoses assigned during the preceding day in the course of routine care. Diagnoses of interest are grouped into syndromes, and rates of new episodes are computed for all of eastern Massachusetts and each census tract. Expected numbers of new episodes are obtained from a generalized linear mixed model that uses data from to These expected numbers allow estimates of the probability of observing specific numbers of cases, either overall or in specific.

The value of this type of real-time monitoring of unusual disease outbreaks is obvious for early identification of bioterrorism attacks as well as for improvements in clinical care and population health. Reports of sentinel events have proved useful for the monitoring of many diseases, but such reports may be serendipitous and generated because of close clustering, unusual morbidity and mortality, novel clinical features, or the chance availability of medical expertise.

Sentinel networks that specifically link groups of participating health care providers or health care delivery systems to a central data-receiving and -processing center have been particularly helpful in monitoring specific infections or designated classes of infections. More recently, CDC has implemented a strategy directed to the identification of emerging infectious diseases in collaboration with many public health partners.

The Emerging Infections Program EIP is a collaboration among CDC, state public health departments, and other public health partners for the purpose of conducting population-based surveillance and research on infectious diseases.

At present, nine states California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee act as a national resource for the surveillance, prevention, and control of emerging infectious diseases CDC, The EIP sites have performed investigations of meningococcal and streptococcal diseases and have established surveillance for unexplained deaths and severe illnesses as an attempt to identify diseases and infectious agents, known and unknown, that can lead to severe illness or death CDC, Academic health centers AHCs serve as a critical interface with governmental public health agencies in several ways.

First, as noted earlier, AHCs are an important part of the safety-net system in most urban areas. Second, they are the principal providers of specialized services and serve as regional referral centers for smaller towns or cities and rural areas.

Both in normal periods and especially when confronted with either natural disasters or terrorist events, the specialized care units are an essential resource for public health. Moreover, they are also primary loci for research and training. AHCs also have a unique and special set of values that they bring to health care that transcend the discrete functions they perform.

The environment in which AHCs operate has changed substantially over the past decade. At the same time, advances in information technology and the explosion of knowledge from biomedical research have enormous implications for the role of AHCs in the health care system and in population health.

Scientific and technological advances will permit clinical care to intervene early in a disease process by identifying and modifying personal risk. The burgeoning knowledge base will require different educational approaches to use the continuously expanding evidence base, with an emphasis on continuing education and lifetime learning. The ability of academic medicine to evolve into a broader mission will depend on changes in payment systems that may be difficult to achieve and on internal changes within AHCs that may be equally difficult.

Governmental public health agencies may also play an important role in preventive medicine and public health education. Health departments, for example, provide unique venues for the training of nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals in the basics of community-based health care and gain an understanding of population-level approaches to health improvement. In addition to the linkages between the health care delivery system and governmental public health agencies, health care providers also interface with other actors in the public health system, such as communities, the media, and businesses and employers.

Relationships between the health care sector—hospitals, community health centers, and other health care providers—and the community are not. Calleson and colleagues surveyed the executives and staff of eight AHCs around the country and found that community—campus partnerships can strengthen the traditional mission of AHCs.

The involvement of AHCs in the communities is also likely to increase in the coming years. The AHCs surveyed listed several factors that facilitated the development of relationships with communities and community organizations, including the request of the communities themselves and the growing population health orientation of the health care sector.

Furthermore, non-academic community health centers also frequently have close ties to their communities, collaborating to assess local health needs, providing needed services, and supporting community efforts with research expertise and technical assistance in planning and evaluation. Many hospitals participate in broad community-based efforts to achieve some of the conditions necessary for health, for instance, collaborating with community development corporations to contribute financial, human, and technical resources U.

Department of Housing and Urban Development, Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, for example, has partnered with a local nonprofit organization to develop low- and moderate-income housing and to establish a neighborhood kindergarten Seedco and N-PAC, Additionally, Montefiore Medical Center partners with local high schools to develop health care professions education programs intended to create new career options and improve the likelihood inner-city youth will stay in school Montefiore Medical Center, Hospitals are also employers, and in the case of two Lawndale, Illinois, hospitals, collaboration with the local development corporation and other neighborhood organizations in made affordable local housing available to employees, helping to facilitate community development University of Illinois, Many hospitals and health care systems have seen the value of going beyond the needs of the individuals who enter the health care system to engage in broader community health action, even within the constraints of.

The National Community Care Network Demonstration Program, sponsored by the Hospital Research and Education Trust HRET , reports on hospitals across the country that are supporting activities beyond the delivery of medical care to improve health status and quality of life in local communities. Some of the motivation comes from the increasing pressure on nonprofit hospitals to justify their tax-exempt status through the provision of services that benefit the community, largely the provision of charity care; yet, many are seeing that investments in community health improvement are greater in value than the provision of medical care for preventable diseases Barnett and Torres, For example, in , Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas noted that injury rates in the community were three times the national average and that trauma admissions had jumped 38 percent in one year 53 percent of that care is uncompensated.

Coalition members decided to tackle, in order, injuries caused by car accidents, violence, falls, and burns, through 11 initiatives involving more than 80 community organizations and agencies. Over a 2-week period, there was a 13 percent reduction in trauma admissions from car crashes due to a public awareness campaign and police initiative AHA, A finalist for the Foster G.

In a further example, the Crozer-Keystone Health System that serves Chester, Pennsylvania, was declared a distressed municipality by the state in Programs included attracting other businesses to Chester, setting up a business incubator building, and colocating multiple health and. Immunization rates have improved from 36 to 99 percent, and teen pregnancy is down to 31 per 1, from 44 per 1, Fifteen of 20 winners participated in a study, which included a self-assessment of changes since the time of the award and in-depth interviews with chief executive officers, trustees, and those leading the initiative.

Although this survey serves only as an illustration of what may be possible, several elements appeared supportive of a sustained commitment to efforts at community health improvement.

Committing leadership at multiple levels through the top leadership to sustain changes;. Developing community partnerships to develop champions outside the organization;. Protecting funding and leadership of community health initiatives while integrating community health values into the culture of the parent organization;.

Building an evidence base through evaluation and ongoing measurement of community health indicators; and. Boufford has suggested a Community Health Improvement Strategy that identifies a number of steps that provider organizations can take in such community-based efforts see Box 5—9.

However, payment systems are critical to encourage and sustain these network initiatives, and current reimbursement policies in public and private insurance are not designed to support population-focused care in a noncapitated system.

The health care sector can also develop linkages with the media to help ensure the accuracy of health information, communicate risk, and facilitate the public understanding of health care. For example, health care organiza. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service is awarded by the American Hospital Association to recognize hospitals that have distinguished themselves through efforts to improve the health and well-being of everyone in their communities.

Assess health status and need, and adjust the volume and types of services provided to respond to the health needs of the community. Serve as an advocate in the community to increase healthy choices available to the population. For example, the popular prime time television show ER frequently serves as a platform for health information, with episodes exploring topics such as childhood immunizations, contraception, and violence Brodie et al.

Businesses and employers most commonly interface with the health care sector in purchasing and designing employee health benefits, with goals such as the inclusion of comprehensive preventive health care services. However, there are examples of wide-reaching business—health care linkages, such as the efforts to ensure quality of care and enhanced consumer choice undertaken by the Pacific Business Group on Health see Chapter 6.

Chapter 4 provides additional examples of fruitful community partnerships involving the health care sector. After a period of stability in the mids, health care costs are again rising because of several factors Heffler et al. Prescription drug spending, in particular, has increased sharply, and increased by This increase comes from the growth of the older population and the proportion of the overall population with chronic conditions, along with the introduction of new and more expensive drugs, many of which are used to treat chronic conditions.

In addition, spending for hospital services increased by 5. With the economic downturn in , the growth in health care spending creates added financial burdens for everyone, including individuals seeking care or insurance coverage, employers offering health insurance benefits, and governments at the federal, state, and local levels managing publicly funded insurance programs Fronstin, ; Trude et al.

Substantial increases in health insurance premiums are a clear indication of these economic stresses. States are experiencing serious pressures from growth in Medicaid spending, which increased by about 13 percent from to , following a With revenues increasing by only about 5 percent in the same period, Medicaid now accounts for more than 20 percent of total state spending NASBO, b. Providing coverage to the uninsured, improving coverage for certain types of care, strengthening the emergency response and surge capacity in the hospital sector, and investing in information systems that can improve the quality of individual care and population-based disease surveillance will all require significant new resources from the public and private sectors.

The committee is concerned that with the escalation of expenditures, going in large measure toward maintaining current services, it will be difficult to identify.

The committee recommends that bold, large-scale demonstrations be funded by the federal government and other major investors in health care to test radical new approaches to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of health care financing and delivery systems. The experiments should effectively link delivery systems with other components of the public health system and focus on improving population health while eliminating disparities.

The demonstrations should be supported by adequate resources to enable innovative ideas to be fairly tested. This chapter has outlined the main areas in which the health care delivery system and the governmental public health agencies interface.

These areas include the regulatory and quality monitoring functions performed by governmental agencies, disease surveillance and reporting by health care providers, and the provision of safety-net services. Although assurance is a core function of public health, governmental public health agencies often do more than assure that people can access health care services; public health departments may become providers of last resort in areas where no other services are available for low-income, uninsured populations and when managed care services to Medicaid and uninsured populations are discontinued.

These circumstances force public health departments to provide personal health care services instead of using their resources and population-level approaches to guide and support community efforts to change the conditions for health. Closer collaboration and integration between governmental public health agencies and the health care delivery system may enhance the capacities of both to improve population health and may support the efforts of other public health system actors.

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Accessed August 5, IOM Institute of Medicine. Nurse Staffing in Hospitals and Nursing Homes: Health Insurance and Access to Care. To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Insurance and Health Care. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Are you well-equipped to meet their needs? But when your patient needs it, the right equipment can make all the difference. Because the last thing you want is to figure out how to use a complicated piece of equipment.

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