Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Mapping the Quality of Care From Hospitals and Doctors

The Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Melbourn...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 28 June 2011 Wall Street blog item by Katherine Hobson

How’s the diabetes treatment in Wisconsin? Or the access to after-hours medical care in California?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has rolled out a new online directory** of 224 health-care quality reports that compare local physicians and hospitals.

The idea is that consumers can get localized, quantitative information on measures such as how often patients in a certain medical practice receive their recommended screening tests or how long mothers typically spend in a given hospital after a cesarean section. The specific measures will vary by report.

Note the emphasis on “quantitative.” These reports, 197 of which cover specific states, all use performance data based on nationally recognized standards on quality and cost. All are freely available. The more subjective picture offered by sites such as RateMDs.com or Yelp aren’t on the map….

…The reports mainly focus on quality; the cost of health-care services is tougher to measure, says Painter. For example, are you looking for the price that would be charged to a patient, the cost breakdown of certain elements of care or something else? Some reports do include cost data; we’ve written separately about sites that tackle the cost issue…

**For example, go to  Comparing Health Care Quality: A National Directory to compare hospital data in Ohio

  • Click on the state of Ohio in the interactive map, then click on View these (Ohio) resources
  • Click on View Report to the left of  the Ohio Department of Health (one higher in the list)
  • Use the options to select counties, hospitals, locations to find out information about one or more hospitals

You can also select one or more quality measures for one or more hospitals (as infection prevention, heart failure, knee
surgery)

Related Resources (from the Comparing section of  the Tulane University Health Management LibGuide***)


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A more general resource for health information and much, much more
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LibGuides are free topic specific guides to Web sites and books by library specialists.

Currently  one can “Search and explore 168,085 guides by 32,658 librarians at 2269 libraries worldwide!”

Library types include academic, public, and K-12.
Have a topic or subject in mind? There is most likely a related library guide in the LibGuide collection.Related articles

Related Articles (for Mapping the Quality of Care from Hospitals and Docs)

June 29, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, health care, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Community oncology: Ensuring the best standards of care

Community oncology: Ensuring the best standards of care

 

 

European Society for Medical Oncology

From the February 21, 2011 Eureka news alert

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a devastating experience. Still under the shock of the bad news, patients must make many choices including who to turn to for advice and treatment, with the possibility to choose among a comprehensive cancer center, a university hospital or a community oncology hospital.

“When my oncologist informed me about my blood results, and told me the diagnosis (Plasmocytoma), I was disoriented. As a patient I was looking for detailed answers to my many questions and I wanted time,” explains Inge from Germany. “My doctor at the community oncology center explained everything to me: type of cancer, life expectancy, different treatments available and so on. To make it short, he helped me to understand what was going on with me. I was given a phone number to call at any time. The constant support of the whole team was essential to my recovery.”

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) recently created a new working group dedicated to Community Oncologists. The group aims to represent professionals working outside academic institutions or comprehensive cancer centers, who treat patients with a wide range of tumors and whose practice needs and access to resources are very specific.

Dr Robert Eckert from Internistische Gemeinschaftspraxis und Onkologische Schwerpunktpraxis in Wendlingen, Germany, who chairs the ESMO Community Oncology Working Group, explains that the first step will be to conduct surveys in as many European countries as possible in order to identify the special needs of Community Oncologists. “This will be a challenging task because the situation varies greatly across Europe. So far, we have been able to show for a number of countries that Community Oncologists are interested in practice-oriented tools, primarily in guidelines and score calculators. They need to be able to access reliable, up-to-date information quickly at the point of care in their practice, which reflects their challenge of treating a wide spectrum of malignant diseases.”

Once common needs are established, the Working Group will collaborate closely with the ESMO Leadership to develop educational activities and products, in order to meet Community Oncologists’ needs.

Dr Michalis Karamouzis, from St Savvas, Anticancer Oncologic Hospital in Athens, Greece and also a member of the new working group, explains some of the challenges of a young community oncologist: “According to my experience in Greece, Community Oncologists are doing very challenging work as they see most of the patients, not only those involved in clinical trials, but patients with all sorts of tumors, frequently with difficult tumors, patients with bad performance status, all sorts of complicated cases, including those who need supportive or palliative care.”

The way in which the treatment of cancer patients is organized –and patients’ preferences– also varies largely among European countries.

In Italy, Dr Sergio Crispino, Chair of the Italian Association of Hospital Oncology Chiefs (Collegio Italiano dei Primari Oncologi Medici Ospedalieri – CIPOMO) explains that “Many patients are treated in non-academic units. At present, in Italy, general hospitals contribute substantially to clinical research and have very advanced standards and treatments.”

In Italy the patient’s choice between a university hospital or a community setting would also depend on the region the patient lives in and the kind of cancer he has. “We cannot generalize. Patients are usually guided in their choice by family doctors,” explains Dr Crispino. “In the future, my personal view is that community oncology will grow because we are standardizing treatments so the quality of care will be similar in all centers. The development of oral drugs and gentler treatments will also contribute to this growth.”

The challenge today is to be able to provide quality care for patients from diagnosis until the end of treatment, be it in hospitals, hospices or at home. This can be done by adhering strictly to guidelines be they national, regional or international, ensuring efficiency and appropriateness of treatment.

“Also important for a community oncology center is to be able to work connected to a regional system and to participate in research, noted Dr Ulrich Stein from Hamburg, who has worked both in France and Germany.

“The important thing is that community oncologists should not work alone. They should be part of a network and participate in a common reflection and also work with others in clinical research. In France, community oncologists work closely with university hospitals or big cancer centers and are in contact with larger teams. National and international guidelines are followed and ensure that patients receive quality treatment.”

“Nowadays patients have access to a lot of information about cancer and about the quality of hospitals and clinics, thanks to the Internet. They will find out where the best centers are for their type of cancer. In France, for example, a patient may go to a big university hospital for surgery by a professor who specializes on a specific kind of tumor, then decide to go to a community oncology center for chemo and radiotherapy. Proximity may be an issue in some regions: some patients may want a community center closer to home, while others are willing to travel 80 km to be treated at a university center,” explains Dr Stein.

Dr Stein believes that ESMO’s new working group can help by making sure community oncologists are kept up to date with the latest treatments and by offering expert opinion on recent research. “By informing about what is going on in oncology, ESMO can help professionals learn from each other’s experiences in Europe and beyond.”

Dr Eckert also highlights the need for a real cross-border healthcare for Europe’s increasingly mobile population. “I have had to follow patients coming from other countries. In some cases the cooperation with cancer centers abroad was very easy, but in other places it was extremely difficult to access patients’ records.”

Dr Eckert concludes: “Our challenge is to form an enthusiastic group of doctors. We need to establish what the situation is in our countries and then work to answer the specific needs of our professionals. At the end of the day, the objective of the ESMO Community Oncology Working Group is to strive to ensure the best standard of care for all cancer patients, everywhere in Europe, inside and outside dedicated cancer centers.”

“It is essential that there’s a link between university hospitals and community oncology settings, between research and practice,” notes Rolf Stahel, Chair of the ESMO Educational Committee, ‘forefather’ of the Community Oncology working group. “This is the only way we can guarantee that the important results of research are brought as quickly as possible to cancer patients, which is the ultimate goal of all who work in the oncology community.”

 

 

 

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

High Readmission Rates May Not Mean Worse Hospital Care

HealthDay news image

High Readmission Rates May Not Mean Worse Hospital Care

Medicare plans to use data on returning patients as quality measure, but study questions validity.

Excerpt from news article:

“When patients are readmitted within 30 days of a hospital stay, it is generally considered a sign of poor quality care and wasteful spending on the hospital’s part.

But in a new analysis involving heart failure patients, Cleveland Clinic researchers challenge that conventional wisdom. Their calculations suggest that being readmitted to the hospital after an inpatient stay for heart failure may not be such a bad thing, after all.

Keeping more patients alive for a month in the first place means there are more patients eligible for readmission, they reason. They also suspect that assuring appropriate care for these patients, including any necessary procedures or surgery, may necessitate readmission to the hospital — which would drive up readmission rates.”

“The analysis is described in a letter signed by Gorodeski and his Cleveland Clinic colleagues Drs. Randall C. Starling and Eugene H. Blackstone. The letter appears in the July 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Looking for more information about Health Facilties?

The MedlinePlus Health Facilities Web page has links to overviews, health check tools, Hospital Compare, and guides to choosing health care facilities (under Directories).

July 18, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | | Leave a comment

Medicare Changes Could Shortchange Vulnerable Hospitals

The U.S. government’s plan to base Medicare payments to hospitals on certain quality-of-care measures could end up transferring funds away from hospitals in the nation’s poorest, underserved areas, an analysis published Tuesday suggests.

The news item may be found here.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

Violence on the Rise at U.S. Health Care Centers

“More and more violent crimes are occurring in America’s hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities, according to a new alert issued by the Joint Commission, an independent health care oversight group.

Since 2004, there have been “significant increases in reports of assault, rape and homicide, with the greatest number of reports in the last three years,” the group said in its “Sentinel Event Alert” released last week, the latest in a series of alerts on serious adverse events occurring in health care settings.”

Possible factors include increases in drug and alcohol abuse, lack of adequate care for psychiatric patients, and frustrations with a flawed health care system.

“The alert also spells out 13 specific steps that health care facilities should take to prevent violence..”

Click here for full news article.

June 19, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | 1 Comment

   

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