Feb 8, 2016, 9:15 AM, Posted by
A year since RWJF committed $500 million toward reversing childhood obesity, early signs of progress show us that cross-sector partnerships and access to healthier options are key steps to ensure all children have opportunities to grow up at a healthy weight.
One year ago, I traveled to New York City to announce that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation would commit $500 million toward the goal of helping all children grow up at a healthy weight by 2025, bringing our total investment on this issue to more than $1 billion.
The gym at West Side High was packed and brimming with excitement on announcement day. We cheered early signs of progress in places like Philadelphia, New York City and rural North Carolina, but all of us knew the job wasn’t done. Even in places reporting good news, progress usually wasn’t reaching low income families and communities of color equitably. Everyone agreed we had to push harder, both to accelerate the pace of progress and ensure that its benefits reached all our children.
Now it’s one year later, and I’m pleased to report that the optimism we felt proved justified.
Nationally, research shows that school lunches have improved, and both students and parents support the healthy changes. Physical education is now due for a major upgrade, thanks to new funding sources in the just-passed education law that replaced “No Child Left Behind.”
The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s NHANES study confirm that we are on the right track. Obesity rates are down five percentage points among our youngest children and are holding steady among other age groups.
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Feb 27, 2015, 4:23 PM, Posted by
Andy Hyman was a warrior for a healthier, more equitable America.
He dedicated his life and career to social justice and progress for the most vulnerable people among us. As a government official, advocate, and philanthropic leader, Andy was tenacious in his pursuit of a singular vision: that everyone in America would have the coverage necessary to access high quality health care—physical, behavioral, or both.
And what incredible success he had.
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Dec 12, 2014, 1:34 PM, Posted by
More and more health care costs are shifted to consumers. So why, asks RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, can’t we easily discover and compare health care costs and quality?
Here’s how the subject came up. Recently, Lavizzo-Mourey underwent cataract surgery at an outpatient center in Philadelphia. No matter whom she talked to—and she was shunted from one person to the next—she could not learn the all-in cost of the procedure.
Lavizzo-Mourey finally did manage to find out the cost of her surgery: $2,000, including co-pays and deductible. But the whole episode, she says, is illustrative of a larger problem.
Writing in a recent blog post on the professional social networking site LinkedIn, Lavizzo-Mourey asks: “Could there be a clearer example of the lack of transparency in the U.S. health care system?”
To get the information we need, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding a set of studies to help us better understand how greater price transparency influences consumer and provider decisions. “And in March,” Lavizzo-Mourey adds, “we will host a summit on transparency that will attempt to come up with more answers."
Along those lines, RWJF last year issued a challenge to developers to devise consumer-friendly tools to parse the abundant hospital price data released by Medicare. The winner? Consumer Reports, for the Consumer Reports Hospital Adviser: Hip & Knee, a personalized app for health care consumers seeking the best hospital for hip or knee replacement surgery.
You can help us move the cost and quality needle forward. Do you know of any other price/quality apps or tools? Let us know.
Jul 30, 2014, 3:25 PM, Posted by
By “broken,” we mean medical equipment or processes that could use a little improvement—and sometimes a lot of improvement. And by “they,” we mean nurses who harness the power of their own creativity, often using whatever material they have on hand—and sometimes taking inventiveness to a whole new level.
They call them MakerNurses, eager participants in the emerging “maker” movement. One MakerNurse, Roxana Reyna, RN, of Corpus Christi, was honored at the White House Maker Faire for her innovative wound-care techniques in caring for infants born with their organs outside of their bellies, sparing them immediate surgery.
RWJF supports such nurse-inventors through the Little Devices @ MIT initiative’s MakerNurse program, because they hold the potential to make health care more effective and affordable.
It’s a sound investment with even larger possibilities, said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, writing in the professional social networking site LinkedIn.
“The “maker” movement has the potential to empower all kinds of people to devise the solutions that make possible a Culture of Health—not just nurses, but caregivers, patients, and family members, all creating and sharing devices and ideas that improve health.”
Read Lavizzo-Mourey’s blog post on LinkedIn
Jul 11, 2014, 12:04 PM, Posted by
Just about everybody experiences stress, to a greater or lesser degree. The bad news: Too many of us fall into the "greater" category.
All of that stress has consequences not just for our mental health, but for our overall wellbeing, says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, writing in the professional social networking site LinkedIn.
Lavizzo-Mourey cites the results of a recent NPR/RWJF/Harvard School of Public Health poll, which shows:
- One in four said they experienced a great deal of stress in the previous month.
- Almost half reported a major stressful event or experience within the past year.
- Seventy-four percent said stress affected their health.
- Forty-three percent said that a health concern is a leading cause of their stress.
- Eighty percent of people in poor health reported that their health problems raised their level of stress.
If we are to make progress in building a Culture of Health, we need to acknowledge the deleterious role of stress in Americans' lives and health—and everybody needs to be at the table.
"This is clearly an area where health care providers, communities, and employers can help," Lavizzo-Mourey writes.
Read Lavizzo-Mourey's blog post on LinkedIn
Jun 12, 2014, 1:44 PM, Posted by
When Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was a physician-in-training at a hospital in a disadvantaged area of Boston, she came to know a woman that she recalls now as "Patient Ruth."
Writing in the professional social networking site LinkedIn, Lavizzo-Mourey remembers Ruth vividly:
"Her feet were swollen, she wore flimsy house shoes, and raw leg ulcers made walking painful. She’d been to the hospital many times before, and we gave her the usual treatment—a few hours in a warm bed, some antibiotics, and a decent meal. The next morning she limped back to the same problems: No home, no job, lousy food, cast-off clothing, no family or friends to come to her aid. We were not equipped to protect her from the harshness of life outside the hospital, a life that was literally killing her."
If health care providers want to improve patients' wellbeing, Lavizzo-Mourey adds, "they must find a way to bridge the worlds in and out of the clinic."
Lavizzo-Mourey points to many splendid examples of projects and programs designed to address the social determinants of patient health—including Boston-based and RWJF-supported Health Leads, which prescribes basic resources for low-income patients—everything from food to job training.
Bridges between health and health care are "spreading across the nation," Lavizzo-Mourey writes, and she invites readers to suggest other examples, "so there will be no more Patient Ruths."
Read the blog post
Jun 5, 2014, 5:35 PM, Posted by
Health is a "multifaceted and interdependent issue," observes RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, in a June 5, 2014, post in the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog. To build a Culture of Health in America, she writes, we must "connect our actions to those of others, forming partnerships with a variety of organizations in all sectors—particularly in the corporate sector."
Lavizzo-Mourey outlines the rationale behind that transformative approach, and suggests that it is "time for new ways of thinking and acting that will encourage organizations of every kind to join the transformative scale movement."
Read the SSIR blog post
May 28, 2014, 10:19 AM, Posted by
Where you live can make a big difference in how long you live.
With an introduction by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown, RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, lends strength to that argument in a new entry in The Huffington Post.
Brown notes that people near the Friendship Heights station of Washington, D.C.'s Metro system live seven years longer than residents of the area surrounding the Tenleytown-AU station—just two stops away. Friendship Heights is in Maryland; Tenleytown-AU is in the District of Columbia. (View maps for Washington, D.C., and several other major cities and areas of the country.)
Lavizzo-Mourey picks up on that theme, elaborating on the findings and recommendations of the Foundation's recently issued County Health Rankings.
"Such socio-economic factors may seem like insurmountable obstacles to good health, but I believe we can use the County Health Rankings to help build a Culture of Health in every community," Lavizzo-Mourey writes. A report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America, she adds, also offers practical solutions to the problem, with 10 recommendations "for improving factors that lie far outside the clinic's door, such as early childhood education, adequate shelter, access to fresh produce, and the high levels of stress produced by living in poverty."
Read Lavizzo-Mourey's views in the Huffington Post
May 7, 2014, 4:38 PM, Posted by
We’re seeing signs of promise in the effort to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. Overall childhood obesity rates have leveled off—and they’ve even declined in some regions and among some age groups.
But it’s far too early to declare victory, writes RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, in a new post on the professional social networking site LinkedIn. The rate of obesity among U.S. teens, she notes, stands at a “shocking 21 percent, and Hispanic and African-American youth still have higher obesity rates than their white and Asian peers.”
To make more progress, Lavizzo-Mourey says, we need more people and organizations in the fight—particularly the business community.
So what more can be done? On Thursday, May 8, Lavizzo-Mourey and influential leaders from throughout the nation—including many from the business community—met to consider innovative approaches in a forum, “Closing the Gap in Childhood Obesity,” sponsored by RWJF and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, in collaboration with Grantmakers in Health. The forum focused on developing solutions to the inequities that exist in childhood health and childhood obesity.
Apr 17, 2014, 4:43 PM, Posted by
What does an episode of the Seinfeld show have in common with an RWJF national initiative?
In the first case, Seinfeld character Elaine Benes gets to see the notes written about her by her doctor. In the second, OpenNotes promotes exactly the same thing—patient access to the visit notes written by their doctors.
In Elaine’s case, that access was accidental. She took a quick look at her chart, only to see herself described as “difficult.” And merriment ensued.
Under the OpenNotes initiative, which started in 2010, Elaine would have been able to check out her doctor visit notes via a web-based portal. She wouldn’t have needed to sneak a peek. It’s unlikely she would have been described as “difficult.”
Numerous studies show that patients do want to see their records, and the evidence suggests that when they do, it leads to better health.
In a new post on the professional social networking site LinkedIn, RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, notes that the concept is catching on, and OpenNotes is leading the charge. “OpenNotes will lead not only to a more efficient health care system,” she writes, “but better health for all of us.”
Read Lavizzo-Mourey’s LinkedIn post