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Newsletter Article


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

A System for Rapidly and Accurately Collecting Patients' Race and Ethnicity
D. W. Baker, K. A. Cameron, J. Feinglass et al. American Journal of Public Health, March 2006. Allowing patients to describe their race and ethnicity in their own words may provide more complete and accurate data.

Hearing the Patient's Voice?, Factors Affecting the Use of Patient Survey Data in Quality Improvement
E. Davies and P. D. Cleary. Quality & Safety in Health Care, December 2005. Patient survey data can be valuable in planning quality improvement initiatives, but only if physician practices, hospitals, and other providers understand how to use this information effectively.

Kaiser Permanente's Experience of Implementing an Electronic Medical Record: A Qualitative Study
J. T. Scott, T. G. Rundall, T. M. Vogt et al. BMJ, December 3, 2005. After conducting interviews with doctors, plan managers, and office staff implementing an electronic health record system, the authors report that the keys to success include a participatory selection process, flexibility regarding staff roles and responsibilities, and decisive leadership at critical stages.

Measuring Patients' Experiences with Individual Primary Care Physicians: Results of a Statewide Demonstration Project
D. G. Safran, M. Karp, K. Coltin et al. Journal of General Internal Medicine, January 2006. A major Massachusetts research study demonstrates the validity of patients' reports about the quality of individual doctors.

Quality of Care in For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Health Plans Enrolling Medicare Beneficiaries
E. C. Schneider, A. M. Zaslavsky, A. M. Epstein. American Journal of Medicine, December 2005. Harvard University researchers say Medicare beneficiaries in for-profit health plans received significantly lower quality care than those in not-for-profit plans. The study focused on breast cancer screening, diabetic eye exams, beta-blocker medication after heart attack, and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness.

Specialty Hospitals: A Problem or a Symptom?
S. Guterman. Health Affairs, January/February 2006. Two recent reports find that specialty hospitals seem to provide high quality care and popular amenities, but tend to treat more Medicare patients and fewer Medicaid and uninsured patients than community hospitals in the same markets. The Fund's Stuart Guterman says the findings raise larger issues about health care financing.

Patients' Attitudes Toward Health Care Providers Collecting Information About Their Race and Ethnicity
D. W. Baker, K. A. Cameron, Joseph Feinglass et al. Journal of General Internal Medicine, October 2005. Most patients can see the importance of collecting and tracking data on race and ethnicity, but many are uncomfortable disclosing their information to administrators or clerks. Having doctors and nurses collect the information can help ease patients' concerns.

Quality Matters: Public Reporting of Physician Group Quality Data
In the February issue of this roundup of news and opinion on quality measurement, information technology, quality improvement initiatives, and policy innovations, the editors focus on Massachusetts, where data on the quality of care provided by physician groups have just been released.

Coverage and Use of Prescription Drugs in Nursing Homes: Implications for the Medicare Modernization Act
B. Stuart, L. Simoni-Wastila, F. Baysac et al. Medical Care, March 2006. Among the groups most likely to be helped by the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit are nursing home residents. One-fifth of residents lacked any drug coverage in 2001, and most of them have low incomes.

Studying and Tracking Early Child Development from a Health Perspective: A Review of Available Data Sources
B. Brown, M. Zaslow, and M. Weitzman. February 2006. This Child Trends/Commonwealth Fund report reveals how national surveys on child development measure up in areas such as health, receipt of health care, and socioemotional and intellectual development.

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