May 15th, 2013
Here are some recent foundation blog posts that caught my eye. The subjects are varied, so there is something for everybody to read!
Environmental Health; Disaster Planning
On April 29 Lauren Linville, a communications associate with the Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN), wrote on its Giving Insight blog about lessons learned during Hurricane Sandy. In “Six Months Later,” Linville relays comments from groups out in the field about challenges, opportunities, and best practices; the comments were made during calls hosted by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. Read about the challenges of mold in homes and worries about toxic chemicals in storm water. With hurricane season starting in June, the advice for foundations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on when and what to fund is timely.
Adrian Sieff, an assistant director at the Health Foundation (London, England), writes about “Shared Decision Making: Whose Life Is It Anyway?” In this April 10 post, he notes, “It is part of the clinical culture to fix.” However, he inquires, “What if we taught healthcare professionals that their job is to find out what matters to the patient, to find a solution together that works for the patient and to support them to make it happen?” He includes interesting examples of decisions and links to reports from the Health Foundation as well as the UK-based King’s Fund.
Health Policy and Sequestration
The Colorado Health Foundation’s Health Relay blog published an April 25 post by its editorial manager, Bob Mook, called “Policy Speakout: Sequestration and Health in Colorado.” As he points out, “For most people, life as they know it seems to be carrying on” in spite of the “massive sequestration” cuts that became effective on March 1. However, many economists warn that these arbitrary cuts “will hurt the economy.” He lists health-related examples, such as 2 percent reductions in Medicare payments to health professionals and cuts in funding for community health centers. Although the focus of his post is Colorado, I found his concise explanations helpful. The general information about what is being cut and what is being spared seems to be applicable to other states. (The numbers of people and dollar figures will vary, of course. See this White House map I found.) As an example of what is being spared, Mook notes that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is exempt from sequestration cuts.
Global Health: Women and Children
In “New Report: Are Health Interventions Reaching Women and Children in the Developing World?” two staffers at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation discuss a new PLOS Medicine report released at the National Press Club in Washington. In their May 7 post on the foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog, Mariam Claeson and Wendy Prosser describe the report as ”assessments of current methods for measuring” interventions’ success in covering their target population. The report also offers proposals to improve those methods. Over the past decade, the authors say, child mortality has dramatically declined, but many kids under age five are still dying each year; effective interventions that could prevent those deaths are not reaching everyone who needs them. Both Bill and Melinda Gates have stated the importance of measurement. Bloggers Claeson and Prosser note that “high-quality household surveys” are important in monitoring “progress toward national and international health goals,” and information from such surveys helps “identify pockets of underserved populations” and “effective strategies to reach them.”
Medicare and Hospital Readmissions
On May 7 Chris Langston of the John A. Hartford Foundation wrote “Attack on Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Penalty Program Is Off-Base,” a thoughtful post on the foundation’s Health AGEnda blog. Langston continues the debate about readmissions policies by responding to the major points of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece (pay-per-view only) by Steve Soumerai and Ross Koppel. Langston comments, “The unfortunate truth is that I have heard with my own ears from hospital administrators that ‘yes,’ they do know they could and should reduce readmissions, but until the perverse incentive to make more money on more readmissions is gone, they won’t stop.” He continues, “I’ve heard even more of our geriatrician friends describe how programs and models of care that improve the health of older adults and reduce admissions and readmissions, are, in fact, discontinued because they were effective.” Now that is certainly discouraging news to hear!
The Hartford Foundation is funding Eric Coleman of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine (who is an expert on how better care transitions can reduce readmissions) “to provide training in his Care Transitions Program,” Langston says. Read a GrantWatch Blog post on Eric Coleman, who is also a recent John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” awardee.
Older Adults and Medications
I just wanted to put in a short plug for another post on the Hartford Foundation’s blog, Marcus Escobedo’s “Medications and Older Adults: Can We Grasp Complexity When Even the Simple Eludes Us?” As someone who recently was managing the care of two elderly parents, I found this April 18 post informative. Escobedo, who is on Hartford’s staff, points out that many “potentially dangerous drugs” are still being prescribed to elders and reminds us of the “complexity in medication management” for this population, especially people with competing chronic conditions and drugs. He mentions some “bright geriatrician minds working on these issues” and calls for this work to continue. If you are a baby-boomer, read this post!
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