The Commonwealth Fund Connection

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

  • February 5, 2010 Issue
New Report on National Health Expenditures Underscores Need for Comprehensive Health Care Reform
Yesterday, researchers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that U.S. health spending reached $2.5 trillion in 2009, and that health care's share of the economy grew 1.1 percentage points to 17.3 percent—the largest one-year increase since the federal government began keeping track in 1960. In a written statement, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said that these findings underscore the need for comprehensive health care reform that will help rein in the unsustainable spending growth that is placing an increasing burden on American families, businesses, and state and local governments.
Health Care Leader Action Guide to Reduce Avoidable Readmissions
Avoidable hospital readmissions are under close scrutiny by policymakers, providing hospitals with added impetus to reduce costs and increase quality of care. A new guide produced by the Health Research & Educational Trust, with support from The Commonwealth Fund and John A. Hartford Foundation, provides a quick, simple resource for hospital leaders to get started on developing an action plan to reduce readmissions.
Rebuilding Primary Care in New Orleans
After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had "an unprecedented opportunity to redefine its health system." The newest episode of New Directions in Health Care: The Commonwealth Fund Podcast looks at the network of safety-net clinics that was created following the disaster, and how many of these clinics have become medical homes that provide coordinated, accessible, and affordable primary care.
Health Insurance Exchanges: House or Senate Style?
Watch an e-Forum Slide Show of a Jan. 8, 2010, Alliance for Health Reform/Commonwealth Fund briefing in Washington, D.C., featuring presentations by Tim Jost of the Washington and Lee University Law School, Jon Kingsdale of the Massachusetts Connector Authority, and Philip Vogel of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. The Commonwealth Fund's Sara Collins and the Alliance's Ed Howard moderated.
New Process-of-Care Case Study
Visit to read a new case study about Western Baptist Hospital, one of the nation’s top-performing hospitals on "core" process-of-care measures for pneumonia care. The hospital has achieved its results, the authors say, by relying on performance improvement teams, led by physician champions, and by building systematic process improvements into staff routines.
Improving Pediatric Preventive Care
In this commentary in Academic Pediatrics, Commonwealth Fund vice president Edward L. Schor, M.D., contends that pediatricians rarely have sufficient time or enough specific information about children's development and families' circumstances to offer highly targeted, individualized care during preventive visits.
Development of a New Patient-Based Measure of Pediatric Ambulatory Care
The National Quality Forum has noted that questions about developmental and preventive care would improve the Consumer Assessments of Healthcare Providers and Systems pediatric survey. To fill this gap, Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers developed and tested new questions and survey protocols to assess the preventive and developmental care provided by pediatricians.
CARE Vital Signs Supports Patient-Centered, Collaborative Care
In this Commonwealth Fund–supported study, John Wasson, M.D., of Dartmouth Medical School, promotes the adoption of the CARE Vital Signs tool to improve patient care while streamlining office processes and staff deployment.
Improving Chronic Illness Care: A Longitudinal Cohort Analysis of Large Physician Organizations
Results from this Commonwealth Fund–supported survey published in Medical Care show that use of chronic disease management processes—mainly patient registries and support for patient self-management—increased 23 percent between 2000 and 2006.
Balanced Measures for Patient-Centered Care
The authors of a Commonwealth Fund–supported article published in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management propose ways to include meaningful patient measures at the point of care. They describe tools to elicit information from patients and guide improvement efforts.
Physician Effects on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Patients' Experiences of Primary Care
To what extent can racial and ethnic disparities be attributed to differences within physician practices or to differences between practices? Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers writing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that primary care patients treated at 27 California medical groups were generally clustered in practices with others of their own ethnicity—an indication that minority patients tended to receive treatment in low-performing practices.
Getting from Here to There in Payment Reform: Necessary Practices and Policies
Successful health reform hinges not only on improving coverage and access to care, but also on delivery system and payment reform, say The Commonwealth Fund's Stuart Guterman and Stephen C. Schoenbaum, M.D., in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management.
Nursing Homes as a Clinical Site for Training Geriatric Health Care Professionals
Developing explicit criteria to evaluate nursing home sites as training centers, as well as more clearly defining the roles of clinical staff and faculty, could strengthen nursing homes' capacity to serve as learning environments, say the authors of this Commonwealth Fund–supported study.
Disparities in Long-Term Care: Building Equity into Market-Based Reforms
Rather than "lifting all boats," some market-based policies may exacerbate disparities in the quality of long-term care, according to a Commonwealth Fund–supported study published in Medical Care Research and Review.
Research in Action: Using Positive Deviance to Improve Quality of Health Care
The authors of a Commonwealth Fund–supported article in Implementation Science propose that the principle of "positive deviance" can be used to identify effective health care improvement processes.
Hospital to Home Webinar
The Commonwealth Fund invites you to participate in a webinar sponsored by Hospital to Home: Excellence in Transitions (H2H), a new national quality improvement initiative to reduce unnecessary readmissions for cardiovascular patients. The New Jersey QIO (Healthcare Quality Strategies, Inc.) will host a webinar for the New Jersey Care Transitions Project Community on February 11 from 1–2 p.m., E.T.. To register, go to
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