The Commonwealth Fund Connection

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

Coming Soon: Scorecard on Local Health System Performance

On Wednesday, March 14, look out for the release of the first scorecard measuring how 306 local areas in the U.S. are doing on key indicators of health system performance, such as rates of insurance coverage, delivery of preventive care, and potentially preventable deaths before age 75. Accompanying the Local Scorecard report, from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, will be an interactive map enabling you to explore performance variation and compare communities across the nation. And you can join the conversation about the Local Scorecard on Twitter using the hash tag #localhealth.

Recommendations to Strengthen Safety-Net Hospitals Under Health Reform

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System offers a series of recommendations to shore up safety-net hospitals and make sure that they can continue to provide high-quality care to low-income, vulnerable patients. According to the report, anticipated reductions under the Affordable Care Act in Medicaid and Medicare payments to hospitals that serve a disproportionately large share of poor and uninsured patients, as well as expected changes in funding streams due to an influx of Medicaid patients, pose challenges to these institutions. The report suggests strategies that would better target public dollars to these hospitals to sustain them, as well as to stimulate and reward high performance.

What It Takes for Practices to Become Medical Homes

In a new report, researchers lay out the changes that most medical practices will need to make to become patient-centered medical homes. While major primary care professional associations have advanced principles to guide the transformation to a medical home, the report details specific approaches to getting there. For example, the authors discuss the key role of empanelment—the linking of each patient or family with a specific provider—in facilitating continuity in care and enabling clinicians to monitor their patients. They also emphasize the importance of patient registries and other information systems in identifying gaps in care for patients before they visit, and decision support systems in helping clinicians make evidence-based choices.

Making Provider Report Cards Consumer Friendly

For this study, Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers reached out to experts and stakeholders involved in efforts to publicly report information on the performance of health care providers. Both groups agree that significant changes are needed to make the current reporting efforts more consumer friendly, including the introduction of personalized, tailored information and improvements in data collection, measurement, and presentation.

Offering Affordable Coverage Options to Small Employers

A recent Commonwealth Fund webinar provided key insights for state leaders working to design health insurance exchanges for small businesses. Now in a new blog post, The Commonwealth Fund's Tracy Garber, Sara R. Collins, and Ruth Robertson capture highlights from the presentations and Q&A, which drew from a collection of Health Affairs articles focused on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

Quality Matters

The February/March issue looks at community health partnerships that bring clinicians together with civic groups, social service providers, educational leaders, and others to improve population health. It includes an interview with the leader of one such effort in Shelby County, Tenn.

International Health News Briefing

The March issue includes news summaries on changes to the U.K. health reform bill, the passage of private health insurance rebate reform in Australia, plans to improve care coordination in Ontario, Canada, and more.

Defining and Measuring "Person-Centered" Care in Assisted Living

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in the process of identifying person-centered attributes and indicators to help shape and assess the effectiveness of its Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) programs. To inform this process, the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living, a nonprofit collaborative of 11 national organizations, has published recommendations for person-centered HCBS attributes and assisted living indicators. The project was undertaken with Commonwealth Fund support.