Archive for: March 2013

Patient-Centered: Good Health Care and Good Design

Apr 1, 2013, 6:00 AM, Posted by Beth Toner

Beth Toner

We’ve got design on our minds — from the design of health care’s physical environment to the design of the patient-provider interaction. We know all play a role in improving patient safety, the quality of care and even health outcomes.

To expand our understanding of design and to meet innovators who are putting their ideas into action, the Pioneer team has been sponsoring conferences, like the Mayo Clinic’s Transform, and attending others, like the GAIN—the AIGA Design for Social Value Conference or the Healthcare Experience Design conference, which I attended last week.

What is most intriguing to me about design — in realm of health care and more broadly — is how the ideas about how to do it right mirror our thinking about health care in general: it needs to be centered on the patient, both their needs and their unique experiences.

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Partnering with Freakonomics to Find Unconventional Approaches to Ending Childhood Obesity

Mar 27, 2013, 4:55 PM, Posted by Brian C. Quinn

Brian Quinn Brian Quinn, assistant vice president, Research and Evaluation

Solving intractable problems requires unconventional thinking. We recently partnered with some unconventional thinkers—the co-authors of Freakonomics—to convene a conversation on reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. We were interested in this collaboration because the experts at Freakonomics have a proven track record of thinking creatively and vigorously; they look at difficult problems through new lenses. 

The eclectic group of participants included:

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Building Big Data, One Swab at a Time

Mar 14, 2013, 2:00 PM, Posted by Nancy Barrand

Watch PBS NewsHour's feature, "Researchers Aim to Unlock Genetic Data Goldmine for Vital Medical Information," on the Kaiser biobank to learn more about how Catherine Schaefer, Neil Risch and 200,000 Kaiser members are accelerating the pace of medical research and bringing the future potential of genomics into the here and now.

When the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched the Pioneer Portfolio, my colleagues and I asked ourselves what fields might produce the greatest potential game-changers for health and health care. Genomics was at the top of the list. The human genome had been mapped and fantastic discoveries had begun to blossom, but a true era of personalized medicine still seemed too far off.

So we set out to do what Pioneer does best. We explored and learned. We networked.  We asked a lot of questions.  And we began to hunt down ideas.

On March 12, PBS NewsHour did a feature story on one of the big ideas that came out of that process: the world’s largest, deepest, and most diverse “biobank.” It presented a good opportunity to share the backstory. 

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Behavioral Economics CFP: Low-Value Care? Why Now?

Mar 6, 2013, 6:58 PM, Posted by Lori Melichar

Lori A. Melichar Lori Melichar

To help those who want to respond to our recent Call for Proposals, Applying Behavioral Economics to Perplexing Health and Health Care Challenges, I sat down with Drs. Kevin Volpp and David Asch, co-directors of the Foundation’s Behavioral Economics Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, to talk about low-value health care, why we are doing this CFP and what we are seeking from applicants.

Why are we doing this CFP now?

Kevin: There’s enormous concern about the growth in health care spending—both in the public and private sector. We can’t afford to keep increasing spending the way we have. But health care spending shouldn’t be defined as too high simply because it’s high. The question should be “How much value are we getting?” There is a widespread belief that there is too much health care that doesn’t provide value that’s commensurate with the costs—to individuals or to the government.

What’s particularly exciting is that, while health policy experts have acknowledged the problem of low-value health care for a long time, influential physician groups are becoming vocal about their belief that society would be better off — from both a quality and patient safety standpoint — if less of this care was provided. And they’re creating lists of health care services and procedures that they consider to be of low value that are available to the public.

Reducing use of low-value care is what’s going to be able to allow us to continue to fund high-value care for large portions of the American population.

What is low-value health care?

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Heritage Open mHealth Challenge: Searching for a Sum Greater Than Its Parts

Mar 4, 2013, 3:14 PM, Posted by Christine Nieves

Christine Nieves Christine Nieves

“Smart” phones are rapidly becoming ubiquitous; almost half of all American adults own one. Every one of those phones has the potential to be a health companion for its owner, providing reminders about pills to take or tips about healthier foods to eat. Phones can also collect valuable health data—such as the quality of the air we breathe or the number of steps we walk. For people with a chronic disease such as diabetes, a smart phone can track the kinds of meals that spike their blood sugar or the side effects of their medications; it can even relay that information back to a doctor, who can then help patients better manage their health.

To date, the major tool for harnessing the power of mobile technology has been the app. Just like there are apps for weather, news, or restaurant reviews, there are apps for health. They can do amazing things, from measuring and monitoring, to imaging and predicting. But, there aren’t just a handful of them—there are thousands! And, that’s where the Heritage Open mHealth Challenge comes in.

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