The Commonwealth Fund Connection

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

Purchasing High Performance
The Commonwealth Fund and the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) recently launched a quarterly newsletter designed for employers and others seeking value in health care. Every issue of Purchasing High Performance will bring you innovative purchasing strategies, benefit design ideas, and news you can use to make the most of your health care dollars. To sign up, log in to or register for My Commonwealth Fund.
Should Health Care Come with a Warranty?
Warranties are commonly available for many consumer products. But could they possibly work in health care as well? In a new Commonwealth Fund–supported study published online by Health Affairs, Francois de Brantes and colleagues argue that warranties could improve the care delivered to patients while giving medical providers the opportunity to improve their profit margins.
Front and Center: Ensuring That Health Reform Puts People First

This Commonwealth Fund report uses the "Path" health reform framework developed by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System to detail how such reform will affect different groups of Americans, including the uninsured and underinsured, people working in small businesses, and people who buy their insurance in the individual market. A video of a June 11 event cosponsored by The Commonwealth Fund and Consumers Union features speakers Neera Tanden, senior policy advisor for the Department of Health and Human Services, Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, Jim Guest, president and CEO of Consumers Union, Sara Collins, assistant vice president at The Commonwealth Fund, and three Americans coping with inadequate health insurance and high health care costs.

Reducing Rehospitalizations: New Initiative Addresses Readmissions as a Community Problem

Being discharged from the hospital is something most patients eagerly anticipate, but many patients find themselves back in the hospital far too soon. In the latest episode of New Directions in Health Care: The Commonwealth Fund Podcast, producer Emily Schifrin highlights a new Commonwealth Fund–supported initiative administered by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement called State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalization, or STAAR. STAAR is a multi-state, multi-stakeholder collaborative that aims to reduce rehospitalization rates by 30 percent.

Two 2010–11 International Health Policy Fellowships Open to Applicants

The Australian-American Health Policy Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for outstanding, mid-career U.S. professionals—academics, government officials, clinical leaders, decision-makers in managed care and other private health care organizations, and journalists—to spend up to 10 months in Australia conducting research and working with leading Australian health policy experts on issues relevant to both countries. The deadline for receipt of applications is August 15, 2009.

The Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy are an opportunity for mid-career professionals from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom to spend up to 12 months in the United States conducting a policy-oriented research study, working with leading U.S. health policy experts, and gaining in-depth knowledge of not only the U.S. health care system but also the health system in the fellows' home countries. The deadline for receipt of applications is September 15, 2009.

Requirements to Advance Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-Centered Care for the Hospital Accreditation Program
The Joint Commission, with funding from The Commonwealth Fund, is developing accreditation requirements for hospitals to advance effective communication, cultural competence, and patient-centered care. Under the direction of Paul Schyve, M.D., and Amy Wilson-Stronks, M.P.P., this 18-month project will increase national attention to cultural competence, highlight its intersection with patient-centered care, and improve the safety and quality of care for all patients. You can provide feedback on the value of the proposed requirements on the Joint Commission Web site at http://www.jointcommission.org/Standards/FieldReviews/field_ecccpc.htm.
New Improvement Resources on WhyNotTheBest.org

Read new case studies of high-performance health care organizations on WhyNotTheBest.org, a Commonwealth Fund health care quality improvement resource offering easily accessible, comparative information on health care performance. The new case studies are: The Valley Hospital: Leaders Set the Tone for Patient Service and Satisfaction; The New York City Health and Hospital Corporation: Transforming a Public Safety Net Delivery System to Achieve Higher Performance; and Parkwest Medical Center: Focusing on Patient and Staff Satisfaction.

Karen Davis on What's Missing from Health Reform

When asked by the National Journal Expert Blog on Health Care about what kind of last-minute advice she would give Congress on health reform, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis emphasized several principles: more attention to options for financing reform; the need for a process that replaces today's chaotic and administratively costly price negotiations between private insurers and health care providers; and approaches to medical liability reform that show the greatest promise for lowering health care costs while simultaneously ensuring that all patients receive the safest care possible.