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Jeffrey Brenner On GrantWatch: The Future For Population Health


February 21st, 2014

In a recent GrantWatch Blog post, Jeffrey Brenner raises the question, “What if Thomas Edison had to write grant proposals to invent the light bulb?” Brenner is a MacArthur fellow, medical director of the Urban Health Institute, and executive director and founder of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

Brenner uses the Edison analogy to look at current grant funding and population health.

Since 1945 the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a federal government agency that funds medical research, has spent $547 billion dollars to cure disease and push the frontiers of medical knowledge. This spending has been supplemented by funding from private foundations. Sadly, despite all of this spending we have little understanding of how to deliver better care at lower cost to every American. At best, in the field of population health, we have a few light bulbs that stay lit for an hour or two, but we lack even basic knowledge to drive this field forward.

With 85 million baby boomers in the midst of retiring and a health care system that consumes 18 percent of our economy, it is not a small problem. We do not understand the fundamental drivers of health care utilization; the basic rules for designing and implementing effective interventions; the best ways to use data to plan, implement, manage, and evaluate interventions; nor how to train staff to run and lead these interventions. Why the lack of progress?

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Health Beyond Health Care: RWJF Commission Issues New Report


January 15th, 2014

Much of the political debate over health reform has focused on the important questions of affordable health insurance coverage and access to medical care. However, medical care is far from the most important factor influencing health, a fact that is at the core of a newly released report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build A Healthier America.

The Commission was initially formed in 2008 and issued 2009 recommendations concerning influences on health such as nutrition, physician activity, and tobacco use. The new report, “Time To Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities,” also focuses on socioeconomic factors; specifically, it recommends increased investments in early childhood development, including universal access to quality early childhood development programs for low-income children under age 5; efforts to promote healthier neighborhoods through collaboration among the health, community development, and finance sectors; and a new orientation for health care providers toward nonmedical determinants of health and working with nonmedical professionals. The report provides examples of successful initiatives in each of these areas.

Most people think about health and health care together, said Mark McClellan of the Brookings Institution, who co-chaired the Commission with Brookings colleague Alice Rivlin, in a webcast marking the report’s release.  But “when you start looking at the evidence, looking at what’s working on the ground to actually have a meaningful impact on the health of people,” you realize that “you can’t get there just by putting more resources into health care.”

The new report signals a renewed emphasis for RWJF on addressing the broad universe of factors beyond health care that affect health. “Over the next year, our foundation is really going to invest in what we’re talking about as a culture of health — that is, how do we come together across sectors to make America healthier,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the foundation.. This post will briefly touch on the report’s recommendations, with more discussion to follow in the coming days via a guest post on Health Affairs Blog and our sister publication, GrantWatch Blog.

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Young Leader Award Winners Announced As RWJF Celebrates Fortieth Anniversary


October 25th, 2012

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on GrantWatch Blog, Health Affairs Blog’s sister blog.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, New Jersey, announced the ten winners of an award for young people with “strong potential for future leadership,” who are age forty or younger and are being recognized “for their exceptional contributions to improving the health of the nation,” according to an October 25 press release. Each winner will receive $40,000; these awards will be presented tomorrow.

This is a one-time awards program and ties in with the RWJF’s fortieth anniversary. As the foundation looked to the past to reflect on its accomplishments as it celebrates its anniversary, it “also wanted to look to the future,” to young leaders, born during the foundation’s existence, who have already achieved early successes and have the potential to improve health and health care in the United States, the RWJF’s president and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, explained in the release.

Here are just a few fun facts about the award winners. These men and women hail from various regions of the United States; six of the ten hold medical degrees, three of the ten have Ph.D. degrees, and one out of the total group has a law degree. As for professional affiliations, one winner runs a nonprofit coalition of faith congregations, based in St. Paul, Minnesota; several are assistant professors. Go here to read the press release with the full list of winners and short descriptions of their work affiliations. You can also view pictures of the winners.

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CHCF’s Mark Smith on Converging Market and Public Health Interests


February 5th, 2010

In an interview in the February issue of Health Affairs, California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) President and CEO Mark Smith reflects on successes and failures in areas where market interest and public interest converge in health care. Smith told Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer: The policy world has built enrollment barriers for people in an incremental […]

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REFORM: 10 Recommendations For Improving Health Care After Katrina


August 31st, 2007

A new report, released August 29 by Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) and funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation, offers ten recommendations for improving how frail and elderly people are cared for during major disasters, such as hurricanes, so as to prevent needless deaths. LuMarie Polivka-West, in an introductory letter to the report–Caring for Vulnerable Elders […]

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BLOG: Global Health Featured On Google.org Blog


July 5th, 2007

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, has just this week launched a blog that will focus on its areas of concern: global public health, climate change, and economic development and poverty.

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GRANTWATCH: Childhood Obesity On The Agenda


April 26th, 2007

The latest edition of Health Affairs’ GrantWatch [free access], highlights the new announcement by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that “it will commit at least $500 million over the next five years” to work on the problem of childhood obesity. Its “goal is to reverse” the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by […]

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