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Newsletter Article


Recent Commonwealth Fund reports and Fund-supported studies in the professional literature

Medicare Physician Group Practices: Innovations in Quality and Efficiency. M. Trisolini, G. Pope, J. Kautter, and J. Aggarwal. December 2006. Medicare's first pay-for-performance initiative for physicians, the Physician Group Practice Demonstration, is showing promise, a new Fund report finds. Participating practices are responding to financial incentives for both quality improvement and cost containment.

Rethinking Well-Child Care in the United States: An International Comparison. A. A. Kuo, M. Inkelas, D. S. Lotstein et al. Pediatrics, October 2006. Researchers compared well-child care in 10 countries to find practices potentially transferable to the U.S. Among their key findings is that most countries use a team-based approach-dividing responsibilities among professionals like public health nurses or home visitors, depending on the kind of care needed.

Employers' Views on Incremental Measures to Expand Health Coverage. H. Whitmore, S. R. Collins, and J. R. Gabel. Health Affairs, November/December 2006. Employers say they should share in the cost of health insurance for employees, either by covering their own workers or by contributing to a fund to cover the uninsured.

The Cost of Privatization: Extra Payments to Medicare Advantage Plans-Updated and Revised. B. Biles, L. H. Nicolas, B. S. Cooper, E. Adrion, and S. Guterman. November 2006. Payments to private Medicare Advantage plans in 2005 averaged 12.4 percent more per enrollee compared to what it would have cost in the fee-for-service program. The authors say these extra payments could instead be used to close the prescription drug coverage gap or reduce premiums.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance's The State of Health Care Quality 2006. S. C. Schoenbaum and A. L. Holmgren. November 2006. The National Committee for Quality Assurance's 2006 report on the performance of U.S. health plans found improvement in clinical quality measures for plans that collect and report performance data. This Data Brief examines the implications of the NCQA report.

On the Front Lines of Care: Primary Care Doctors' Office Systems, Experiences, and Views in Seven Countries. C. Schoen, R. Osborn, P. Trang Huynh, M. Doty, J. Peugh, and K. Zapert. Health Affairs Web Exclusive, November 2, 2006. Primary care doctors in the U.S. are less likely than those in several other countries to offer patients access to care outside regular office hours or to have systems that alert doctors to potentially harmful drug interactions.

Quality Matters. The November/December issue of this Fund e-newsletter examines low health literacy and its effects on the safety and quality of care. It includes a case study of Iowa Health System's Health Literacy Collaborative.

Developing a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Information. G. Wilensky. Health Affairs Web Exclusive, November 7, 2006. Creating a center to compare the effectiveness of drug treatments and medical procedures could stem the rising tide of health care costs and help health plans, hospitals, and public health programs "spend smarter" on health care.

A High-Performing System for Well-Child Care: A Vision for the Future. D. Bergman, P. Plsek, and M. Saunders. October 2006. A report outlines a vision for a high-performing system of well-child care capable of meeting the needs and expectations of America's families.

The Evidence Base for Cultural and Linguistic Competency in Health Care. T. D. Goode, M. C. Dunne, and S. M. Bronheim. October 2006. Promising research indicates cultural and linguistic competence improves health outcomes and patient well-being. But more work is needed to establish a solid "business case" for providing such care.

Taking Cultural Competency from Theory to Action. E. Wu and M. Martinez. October 2006. Using case studies of organizations that have implemented cultural competency initiatives, the authors recommend ways to put cultural competency into practice.

Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. J. Betancourt. October 2006. Focusing on IOM principles for designing a high-quality health care system, the author identifies areas where cultural competence could be used to reduce disparities and achieve high performance health care.

The Role and Relationship of Cultural Competence and Patient-Centeredness in Health Care Quality. M. C. Beach, S. Saha, and L. A. Cooper. October 2006. This report considers the intersection of patient-centered care and cultural competency.

Cultural Competency and Quality of Care: Obtaining the Patient's Perspective. Q. Ngo-Metzger, J. Telfair, D. H. Sorkin et al. October 2006. Researchers identify the five domains of culturally competent care that can best be assessed through the patient's perspectives.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005: An Overview of Key Medicaid Provisions and Their Implications for Early Childhood Development Services. S. Rosenbaum and A. R. Markus. October 2006. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which grants states flexibility to modify their Medicaid programs, should be watched closely for its impact on access to early childhood development services, the authors say.

States in Action: A Quarterly Look at Innovations in Health Policy. The October issue of this Fund e-newsletter looks at how Washington State consumers have joined with health purchasers, payers, and providers to reform health care. Plus, West Virginia's Medicaid redesign, Rhode Island's health information exchange, and more.

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