It’s time for GrantWatch Blog’s periodic scan of foundation blogs to see what the funders are talking about and following. Other topics highlighted below are cancer prevention, games used for health education, health professions education, nonprofit hospitals, and smoking.

Games for Health

“Gaming the Field,” Ben Sawyer (cofounder of DigitalMill and the Games for Health Project), on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) Pioneering Ideas blog, June 12. Sawyer looks back at how far the Games for Health Project has come since it was founded in 2004 and reflects on where it needs to go. The project’s work has to do with how video games and gaming technologies can be used to affect health and health care. An initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars produces the Games for Health Project, according to the project’s website.

This blog post was published just in time for the Games for Health Conference 2012, June 12-14, in Boston. The conference describes itself as three days “to discover, brainstorm, and debate how videogame[s] and videogames technologies can work to improve health [and] healthcare.” The RWJF is a major supporter of the project and the lead sponsor of the conference.

Global Health: Smoking

“Tobacco’s Deadly Legacy,” Amie Newman (a communications officer and editor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), on the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog, May 31. In this post published on World No Tobacco Day, Newman discusses the World Health Organization’s concern about tobacco industry interference—“the ways in which the industry stands in the way of ensuring policies are in place to protect the health of people around the world.” After summarizing the industry’s purported tactics, Newman reports that China is the world’s “largest tobacco-producing and -consuming country.” The Gates Foundation has worked hard in China on a “say no to forced smoking” awareness campaign, she adds. (The idea is that nonsmokers should not be forced to inhale second-hand smoke, a Gates spokesperson explained to GrantWatch Blog.) The foundation focuses its anti-smoking efforts on developing countries.

Health Care Costs

“What’s Working to Control Costs,” Karen Davis (president of the Commonwealth Fund), on Commonwealth Fund Blog, June 12. Davis maintains that “there is some evidence that health care spending growth is beginning to moderate in response to health reform initiatives.” She recommends that policy makers looking for savings in health care focus their efforts on “improving care for the sickest patients with multiple, high-cost conditions.” Also, Davis says that policy makers “should capitalize on lessons from the many promising public and private interventions already under way in order to slow health spending—and improve health care—as quickly as possible” and lists several examples. Davis’s post is based on her presentation yesterday at an Alliance for Health Reform/Commonwealth Fund briefing titled “Health Care Costs: What Can Be Done?” and held in Washington, D.C. (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation provided the webcast.)

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: Cancer

“Will Evidence on Prostate Cancer Screening Shape Clinical Practice?” Craig Pollack (an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University), on the RWJF’s Human Capital blog, June 6. Pollack, a former RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar, discusses results of a small, November 2011 survey of primary care providers concerning the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s draft recommendation discouraging routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. Read the post to see how providers affiliated with Johns Hopkins Community Physicians responded when asked whether that recommendation would change their clinical practice. (The task force released its final recommendation on PSA testing in May.)

Health Professions Education

“Two New Medical Schools: Let’s Not Waste This Opportunity,” Octavio N. Martinez Jr. (executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health), on Hogg Blog, June 6. Martinez discusses the decision by the University of Texas Board of Regents to support the development of two new medical schools for the large Lone Star State: one in the southern part and one in the central part. He is pleased with the decision but states that “it is imperative that we all ensure” that these two schools “are not developed for the status quo, but instead are exemplars of the medical schools of the future.” For example, Martinez says, tomorrow’s provider needs cultural and linguistic competency skills and policy skills. And physicians need more than clinical knowledge—they need to learn about public health and finance. Read the post for more of his views.


“A Strategy for Nonprofit Hospitals,” Mitch Nauffts (editorial director and publisher of the Foundation Center’s Philanthropy News Digest), on its PhilanTopic blog, May 16. Nauffts blogs about a 2012 Wilmington Trust report that suggested that donations from “high-net-worth families” are among the drivers of revenue growth, albeit modest, for not-for-profit hospitals. (In 2009, 70 percent of such families donated to health care organizations, according to Indiana University research.) Nauffts surmises that an increasing number of “not-for-profit hospitals and healthcare organizations are establishing standalone foundations to lead their development [fund-raising] efforts.” In its report, the Wilmington Trust, which is part of M & T Bank Corporation, says that, according to its small survey of health care organizations (such as hospitals), 70 percent of respondents had set up separate foundations.

Supreme Court Decision on Health Reform Law

“Open Letter to Grantees on Upcoming Supreme Court Decision,” Ned Calonge (president and chief executive officer of the Colorado Trust), in its CommunityConnections Blog, June 6. In response to questions from grantees, Calonge states that regardless of the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Colorado Trust “will maintain the commitment” that it made in 2007 “to support efforts aimed at achieving access to health [care] for all Coloradans.” Of course, if the high court repeals or diminishes the law, that could delay the foundation’s ability to achieve its goal. Read about the good things that have already occurred in Colorado, just in the early stages of implementation of the health reform law. Calonge notes that Colorado’s health insurance exchange is expected “to be up and running” in autumn 2013.