In the report To Err is Human (1999), the National Academy of Medicine called for national action to improve patient safety in hospitals. The report concluded that improving nurse work environments—assuring adequate nurse staffing and supporting nurses’ ability to care for patients—was critical to these efforts. Two decades later, have nurse work environments improved, and has that had a noticeable impact on patient safety? To find out, a research team led by LDI Senior Fellow Linda Aiken, PhD, RN surveyed more than 800,000 patients and 53,000 nurses in 535 hospitals in 2005, and again in 2016.
Although the “affordability” of health care is a common concern, the term is rarely defined.This joint Penn LDI and United States of Care issue brief considers affordability as an economic concept, as a kitchen-table budget issue for individuals and families, and as a threshold in current policy. It reviews a range of measures that capture the cost burden for individuals and families with different forms of coverage, in different financial circumstances, and with different health concerns.
Supply of Primary Care Providers and Appointment Availability for Philadelphia's Medicaid Population
This brief analyzes the supply of primary care providers serving the Medicaid population in Philadelphia, and the geographic variability of this measure across the city. It also examines important measures of access – appointment availability and wait time for an initial appointment – that highlight challenges faced by Medicaid patients.
A Comprehensive Measure of the Costs of Caring For a Parent: Differences According to Functional Status
Providing unpaid care for an older parent has costs that go well beyond a caregiver’s lost wages. A new estimate suggests that the median direct and indirect costs of caregiving are $180,000 over two years, about the same as full-time institutional care. This estimate accounts for lost earnings as well as non-tangible factors, such as lost leisure time and changes to the caregiver’s well-being. It suggests that informal care cost caregivers at least $277 billion in 2011, which is 20 percent higher than estimates that only consider lost wages.
A review of the evidence shows that bundled payments for surgical procedures can generate savings without adversely affecting patient outcomes. Less is known about the effect of bundled payments for chronic medical conditions, but early evidence suggests that cost and quality improvements may be small or non-existent. There is little evidence that bundles reduce access and equity, but continued monitoring is required.
In just five years, hepatitis C has changed from a difficult-to-treat chronic condition to one that is readily cured by a short course of medication. Medical breakthroughs have now created the possibility of eliminating the transmission of HCV, but also bring a new challenge for the health system—how to identify individuals carrying the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and how to pay for life-saving treatments. This Issue Brief reviews recent evidence on the cost-effectiveness of screening and treatment strategies, and makes the case for universal, one-time HCV screening for all US adults.
National Variation in Opioid Prescribing and Risk of Prolonged Use for Opioid-Naive Patients Treated in the Emergency Department for Ankle Sprains
Between 2011 and 2015, nearly one in four patients with ankle sprains were prescribed opioids in the emergency department. The overall prescribing rate declined during the study period, but varied significantly by state, ranging from 2.8% in North Dakota to 40% in Arkansas. Patients prescribed the largest amounts of opioid were nearly five times more likely to transition to continued use as those prescribed lesser amounts.
In a trial examining five approaches to smoking cessation among over 6,000 U.S. employees, financial incentives combined with free cessation aids were more effective at getting employees to stop smoking than free cessation aids alone. Specifically, the most effective intervention (free cessation aids plus $600 in redeemable funds) helped 2.9% of participants stop smoking through six months after their target quit date; this rate jumped to 12.7% among participants who actively engaged in the trial and were more motivated to quit. For employees with access to usual care (information and a free motivational text messaging service), offering free cessation aids or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) did not help them quit smoking.
Trends in P2Y12 Receptor Inhibitor Use and Adherence After Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, 2008-2016
Post-angioplasty, patient adherence to recommended antiplatelet therapy decreased when newer, more expensive drugs were introduced. From 2008-2016, as the use of newer agents increased, the proportion of patients not filling any antiplatelet prescription within 30 days of discharge increased from 6.4% to 19.1%. In the subsequent 12 months, the newer drugs were associated with higher patient costs and lower adherence to recommended therapy.
A survey of state legislators revealed clear partisan differences in Medicaid reform priorities and policy preferences that states are pursuing in Section 1115 waiver applications. While there was some agreement across parties on broad goals for the Medicaid program, such as reducing health care spending and increasing affordability of health care, there was little consensus on specific policy changes needed to meet these goals.
In this study of more than 43,000 home health episodes following a hospitalization, handoffs between skilled nursing providers—a marker of discontinuity of care—substantially increased hospital readmissions, and were more detrimental for sicker patients. The estimates imply that a single handoff increases the likelihood of 30-day hospital readmission by 16% and that one in four hospitalizations during home health care could be avoided if handoffs were eliminated.
Reducing preventable and unplanned emergency department visits and hospitalizations is a major challenge in cancer care. In this review of best practices and supporting evidence, the authors identified five strategies that health systems and cancer programs can use to reduce acute care: (1) identify patients at high risk of unplanned acute care; (2) enhance access and care coordination; (3) standardize clinical pathways for symptom management; (4) develop new sites for urgent cancer care, and; (5) use early palliative care.
Surgical patients age 65 and over with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) were more likely to die within 30 days of admission and to die after a complication than those without ADRD. Having better-educated nurses in the hospital improved the likelihood of good outcomes for all surgical patients, but had a much greater effect in individuals with ADRD. Specifically, a 10% increase in the proportion of nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or higher was associated with 10% lower odds of death and 10% lower odds of dying after a complication for surgical patients with ADRD.
Prior Authorization Requirements for Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9 Inhibitors Across US Private and Public Payers
A comprehensive review of prior authorization (PA) requirements for a new class of expensive cholesterol-lowering drugs known as proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors has found unusually complex and burdensome demands across public and private insurance plans in the United States. These findings raise concerns that current policies may create undue barriers to care even in medically appropriate patients, particularly since requirements were just as stringent for patients with a genetic condition that creates more clear-cut eligibility for PCSK9 inhibitor treatment.
In response to regulatory changes at the federal level, states that run their own marketplaces have taken steps to stabilize their individual markets. In this comparison of state-based and federally-facilitated marketplaces from 2016-2018, we find that SBMs had slower premium increases (43% vs. 75%), and fewer carrier exits, than FFMs. The total population participating in FFMs declined by 10%, while the enrolled population in SBMs remained largely stable, increasing by 2%. We find that the performance of the ACA marketplaces varies by state and appears to cluster around marketplace types.