The Commonwealth Fund Connection

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

  • January 9, 2012 Issue
A Message from Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis on Health Reform's First Year

In this essay for the 2011 Annual Report, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis looks back over the foundation's efforts to explain the impact of health reform and support its implementation, and to lay the groundwork for future change.

"We at The Commonwealth Fund are committed to tracking progress in health reform, informing the policies required to align incentives with performance, and helping spread successful innovations and best practices," she writes. "We fully anticipate arriving at a turning point within the not-too-distant future when a half-century of rising uninsured is reversed, and when life expectancy in the U.S.—a nation that devotes so many resources to health care—no longer lags that of most other industrialized nations."

10 Most Popular Commonwealth Fund Publications of 2011

The first year of the Affordable Care Act rollout was a busy one in which a number of health insurance and delivery system regulations were released and new provisions took effect. An estimated 2.5 million young adults gained insurance coverage. Thirteen states passed legislation to create health insurance exchanges, or signed legislation signaling an intent to establish or study state exchanges. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation launched a host of initiatives that aim to reduce costs and improve health care quality. And more than 2.2 million Medicare Part D enrollees received prescription drug discounts. The Commonwealth Fund continued to track health system performance and health insurance premium trends, as well as conduct international comparisons and offer guidance on health reform implementation. Join us as we review the 10 most popular publications released in 2011, as well as the top 10 blog posts of the year.

Early Findings from Beacon Communities

new issue brief reports on early findings from the 17 Beacon communities around the nation, which are using federal funds to strengthen their health information technology capabilities to enhance care coordination, improve patient and population health, and reduce costs. The brief examines the various approaches being taken to evaluate the impact of health information technology, looking at the study designs, outcome measures, and data sources in use.

Multinational Comparisons of Health Systems Data, 2011

This updated chartbook uses data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to compare health care systems and performance across 13 industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Topics examined include spending, hospitals, physicians, pharmaceuticals, prevention, mortality, quality of care, and prices.

Commonwealth Fund Articles in the Literature

Recent Commonwealth Fund–supported articles in the peer-reviewed literature examine:

  • early experiences and shared challenges of recently formed accountable care organizations (New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 29, 2011); and
  • the effect of working in patient-centered medical homes on clinicians' morale, job satisfaction, and workload (Archives of Internal Medicine, Jan. 9, 2012).
Webinar on International Survey of Sicker Adults

Join a January 11 webinar, to be held at 11:30 am EST, on findings from the Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy Survey of Sicker Adults in Eleven Countries. Published in November, the survey, conducted in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., compared the experiences of sicker adults on financial barriers to care, access to care, care coordination, preventive care, and support for self-management. The webinar will examine the survey's key findings and international respondents from England, Switzerland, and the Netherlands will provide commentary. To register, go to:

To learn more about how industrialized nations are responding to shared challenges in their health care systems, watch highlights of the health ministers' roundtable discussion from The Commonwealth Fund's 14th International Symposium on Health Care Policy.

Webinar on ACO Formation

On January 19, join a Commonwealth Fund webinar on transitioning to an accountable care organization (ACO). This free 90-minute webinar, starting at 2pm EST, draws on a forthcoming series of Commonwealth Fund case studies of ACOs by Elliott Fisher, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Representatives from two of the leading ACO sites, Tucson Medical Center and Norton Healthcare, will comment on the role of executive and physician leadership in the transition to new models of care. Anne-Marie J. Audet, M.D., M.Sc., S.M., vice president for Health Care Quality and Efficiency at The Commonwealth Fund, will moderate. To register, go to

Quality Matters: Patient-Reported Outcome Measures

The latest issue of Quality Matters looks at the development and use of patient-reported outcome measures, and includes an interview with Eugene Nelson, D.Sc., M.P.H., director of the Population Health Measurement Program at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Remembering Margaret E. Mahoney, Former President of The Commonwealth Fund

Read a tribute to Margaret E. Mahoney, president of The Commonwealth Fund from 1980 to 1995. Mahoney passed away on December 22, 2011, after a long illness. She was the first woman to head a major U.S. philanthropic foundation, becoming president of The Commonwealth Fund in 1980. Prior to her leadership of The Commonwealth Fund, she was a senior executive of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and, prior to that, of the Carnegie Corporation. She played a key role in the transition of RWJF from a family foundation to one of the largest U.S. foundations in the 1970s, and revitalized the Fund, which was founded in 1918 and today has assets of $680 million.

2012–13 Harkness Fellowships Open to Applicants from Canada

Applications for the 2012–13 Harkness Fellowships remain open to individuals from Canada until February 14, 2012. The Commonwealth Fund's Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice provide a unique opportunity for mid-career professionals—academic researchers, government policymakers, clinicians, managers, and journalists—to spend up to 12 months in the United States conducting a policy-oriented research study. Note that the application process for Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom is now closed.

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