The Commonwealth Fund Connection

The Commonwealth Fund Connection is a roundup of recent Fund publications, charts, multimedia, and other timely content. 

Differences in Control of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes by Race, Ethnicity, and Education

Obtaining Medicare coverage is associated with significant reductions in racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health disparities in adults with diabetes and heart disease, according to a new Commonwealth Fund-supported study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study, by J. Michael McWilliams, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at Harvard University, points to universal coverage as a possible means of reducing these types of health disparities in the general population.

Beyond Parity: Primary Care Physicians' Perspectives on Access to Mental Health Care
April 14, 2009 -- About two-thirds of U.S. primary care physicians reported that they could not get outpatient mental health services for their patients—a rate that was at least twice as high as for other services, according to a Commonwealth Fund–supported study published by Health Affairs.
State Strategies for Improving Care Coordination in Health Services for Young Children
April 22, 2009 -- This report from the National Academy for State Health Policy and The Commonwealth Fund highlights strategies states can use to improve care coordination and case management in the delivery of health services for young children, as well as strengthen linkages between primary care providers and other child and family service providers.
Organizational and Market Influences on Physician Performance on Patient Experience Measures

April 16, 2009 -- An analysis of the organizational and market factors that affect primary care physicians' performance on patient surveys found that physicians who work in larger groups, particularly integrated medical groups, performed better on several measures of patient experience.

Maximizing Quality and Value in Medicaid: Using Return on Investment Forecasting to Support Effective Policymaking
April 15, 2009 -- In this issue brief, researchers from the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) illustrate how return on investment (ROI) forecasting can help Medicaid programs allocate resources efficiently and identify ways to maximize value in health care purchasing. Among the tools highlighted in the brief is the ROI Forecasting Calculator for Quality Initiatives, a Web-based tool developed by CHCS.
Case Studies of Top-Performing Hospitals
April 13, 2009 -- New case studies of top-performing hospitals are now available. In Oklahoma Heart Hospital: Clinician Leaders Establish Culture of Quality, Sharon Silow-Carroll tells the story of how a for-profit hospital in Oklahoma City has been able to consistently achieve high performance on core process-of-care measures and high levels of patient satisfaction. In St. Mary's Health Center: Focus on Core Measures Improves Quality, Silow-Carroll examines the steps taken by St. Mary's leadership to bring about the hospital's striking improvements in four clinical areas—heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care.
Investing in Nursing Home Transformation: A Toolkit for States
April 21, 2009 -- The State Investment in Culture Change Toolkit, created by the Institute for the Future of Aging Services, the research arm of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, aims to help states play an active role in getting nursing homes to initiate or expand "culture change" efforts.
Implementing Change in Long-Term Care: A Practical Guide to Transformation
April 20, 2009 -- This manual for nursing home staff offers evidence-based recommendations on preparing a nursing home to take the first steps toward clinical and cultural changes, as well as methods to implement and sustain those changes.
Child Health Services: A Framework for States
April 21, 2009 -- The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut has released a report, A Framework for Child Health Services: Supporting Healthy Child Development and School Readiness of Connecticut's Children, that offers a strategic vision and a series of specific recommendations for strengthening and integrating children's health services into a comprehensive system of early childhood services.
International Lessons for Health Reform: The 2008 Commonwealth Fund International Symposium
April 17, 2009 -- Watch video highlights of the ministers' roundtable from The Commonwealth Fund's 2008 International Symposium, "Toward a High Performance Health Care System: Best Practices for Achieving Access to Care and Value for Money." Participants included Carolyn Clancy, Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; The Rt. Honorable Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Health, England; The Honorable Ab Klink, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, The Netherlands; The Honorable Thomas Zeltner, Secretary of State for Health, Switzerland; Franz Knieps, Director-General of Health Care, the Federal Republic of Germany; Stephen McKernan, Director-General of Health, Ministry of Health, New Zealand; Laurent Degos, Chair, Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS)/French National Authority for Health; Karen Dodds, Assistant Deputy Minister, Health Canada; and David Learmonth, Deputy Secretary, Department of Health and Ageing, Australia.
Upcoming Webcast on the Public Insurance Plan Option
The next webcast in the "Talking Health" series, presented by the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), The Commonwealth Fund, and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, will be held May 1 at 2:30 p.m., E.D.T. This episode will feature two health policy experts: Cathy Schoen, senior vice president for research and evaluation at The Commonwealth Fund, and Bruce M. Bullen, chief operating officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Two journalist experts, Noam Levey, a reporter in the Washington Bureau of the Los Angeles Times, and Ceci Connolly, a staff writer at the Washington Post, will provide their insights and suggestions for reporters covering what will be a major story in the coming months. To watch the webcast or to submit questions in advance, visit AHCJ’s Web site at http://www.healthjournalism.org/talkinghealth.php.