The use of targets to improve the performance of health care providers: a discussion of government policy.
The aim of this discussion paper is to examine the advantages and drawbacks of employing targets, or performance indicators, to improve the performance of those delivering health care services. The paper is based on an examination of two target-setting policies initiated by Government: the 1992 Health of the Nation strategy and the 1990 General Practitioners' Contract. It is argued that the introduction of both the General Practitioners' Contract and the Health of the Nation have indeed been accompanied by improvements in performance, however, there are a number of problems with targets. They tend to focus on those things that are most easily measured, and they may foster complacency on the part of providers who have already achieved upper target limits, and defensiveness on the part of those performing badly. National targets may skew local priorities; they may also be unrealistic and unattainable for particular, less privileged population groups. They may serve to widen inequalities in health, and can exacerbate the 'inverse care law' by encouraging providers to direct their efforts at the more advantaged sections of society, where such efforts are more likely to pay off in terms of overall improvements in the target level achieved. Finally, the achievement of some targets will not necessarily result in better health outcomes. The paper concludes that a target-setting approach to improving the quality of care must be based on the use of appropriate indicators, and must take account of differences between more and less advantaged sections of society. (+info)
Cancer mortality by educational level in the city of Barcelona.
The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between educational level and mortality from cancer in the city of Barcelona. The data were derived from a record linkage between the Barcelona Mortality Registry and the Municipal Census. The relative risks (RR) of death and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) according to level of education were derived from Poisson regression models. For all malignancies, men in the lowest educational level had a RR of death of 1.21 (95% CI 1.13-1.29) compared with men with a university degree, whereas for women a significant decreasing in risk was observed (RR 0.81; 95% CI 0.74-0.90). Among men, significant negative trends of increasing risk according to level of education were present for cancer of the mouth and pharynx (RR 1.70 for lowest vs. highest level of education), oesophagus (RR 2.14), stomach (RR 1.99), larynx (RR 2.56) and lung (RR 1.35). Among women, cervical cancer was negatively related to education (RR 2.62), whereas a positive trend was present for cancers of the colon (RR 0.76), pancreas (RR 0.59), lung (RR 0.55) and breast (RR 0.65). The present study confirms for the first time, at an individual level, the existence of socioeconomic differences in mortality for several cancer sites in Barcelona, Spain. There is a need to implement health programmes and public health policies to reduce these inequities. (+info)
Making Medicaid managed care research relevant.
OBJECTIVE: To help researchers better understand Medicaid managed care and the kinds of research studies that will be both feasible and of value to policymakers and program staff. The article builds on our experience researching Medicaid managed care to provide insight for researchers who want to be policy relevant. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We draw four lessons from our work on Medicaid managed care in seven states. First, these are complex programs that differ substantially across states. Second, each program faces common challenges and issues. The need to address common design elements involving program eligibility, managed care and provider contracting, beneficiary enrollment, education, marketing, and administration and oversight provides a vehicle that researchers can use to help understand states and to provide them with relevant insight. Third, well-designed case studies can provide invaluable descriptive insights. Such case studies suggest that providing effective descriptions of state programs and experience, monitoring information on program performance and tradeoffs, and insight on implementation and design are all valuable products of such studies that have considerable potential to be converted into policy-actionable advice. And fourth, some questions demand impact studies but the structure of Medicaid managed care poses major barriers to such studies. CONCLUSIONS: Many challenges confront researchers seeking to develop policy-relevant research on managed care. Researchers need to confront these challenges in turn by developing second-best approaches that will provide timely insight into important questions in a relatively defensible and rigorous way in the face of many constraints. If researchers do not, others will, and researchers may find their contributions limited in important areas for policy debate. (+info)
Excess capacity: markets regulation, and values.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the conceptual bases for the conflicting views of excess capacity in healthcare markets and their application in the context of today's turbulent environment. STUDY SETTING: The policy and research literature of the past three decades. STUDY DESIGN: The theoretical perspectives of alternative economic schools of thought are used to support different policy positions with regard to excess capacity. Changes in these policy positions over time are linked to changes in the economic and political environment of the period. The social values implied by this history are articulated. DATA COLLECTION: Standard library search procedures are used to identify relevant literature. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Alternative policy views of excess capacity in healthcare markets rely on differing theoretical foundations. Changes in the context in which policy decisions are made over time affect the dominant theoretical framework and, therefore, the dominant policy view of excess capacity. CONCLUSIONS: In the 1990s, multiple perspectives of optimal capacity still exist. However, our evolving history suggests a set of persistent values that should guide future policy in this area. (+info)
Provider attitudes toward dispensing emergency contraception in Michigan's Title X programs.(5/4865)
he pill in Japan: will approval ever come?
Latino children's health and the family-community health promotion model.
A majority of Latino children in the US live in poverty. However, unlike other poor children, Latino children do not seem to have a consistent association between poverty and poor health. Instead, many poor Latino children have unexpectedly good health outcomes. This has been labeled an epidemiologic paradox. This paper proposes a new model of health, the family-community health promotion model, to account for this paradox. The family-community health promotion model emphasizes the family-community milieu of the child, in contrast to traditional models of health. In addition, the family-community model expands the outcome measures from physical health to functional health status, and underscores the contribution of cultural factors to functional health outcomes. In this paper, we applied the family-community health promotion model to four health outcomes: low birthweight, infant mortality, chronic and acute illness, and perceived health status. The implications of this model for research and policy are discussed. (+info)
Disease eradication and health systems development.
This article provides a framework for the design of future eradication programmes so that the greatest benefit accrues to health systems development from the implementation of such programmes. The framework focuses on weak and fragile health systems and assumes that eradication leads to the cessation of the intervention required to eradicate the disease. Five major components of health systems are identified and key elements which are of particular relevance to eradication initiatives are defined. The dearth of documentation which can provide "lessons learned" in this area is illustrated with a brief review of the literature. Opportunities and threats, which can be addressed during the design of eradication programmes, are described and a number of recommendations are outlined. It is emphasized that this framework pertains to eradication programmes but may be useful in attempts to coordinate vertical and horizontal disease control activities for maximum mutual benefits. (+info)