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Failing health systems — Our impact

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The ACA and jobs

February 2014 – Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at Harvard School of Public Health, talks about the potential effects of the Affordable Care Act on employment. (Conversations in Public Health, 5:01) Please click the play icon above to play this podcast…

The uninsured and Medicaid

August 2013 -- HSPH Professor Katherine Baicker discusses the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, a unique study that evaluates the impact of covering the uninsured with Medicaid. (Conversations on Public Health podcast series, 5:25) Please click the play icon above to play this…

Young adults report better health following Affordable Care Act

According to a new survey, young adults are reporting better health since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which allowed them to be covered on their parents’ plans through age 26. The study, co-authored by Kao-Ping Chua, a health…

Restoring trust at the VA

In the wake of revelations about veterans’ long wait times for hospital and clinic medical appointments, compounded by a cover-up, the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system should rethink aspects of its management and sharpen its focus on providing quality, timely care,…

Obamacare report card: Incomplete, but promising

Much of the media coverage and dialogue surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been, unsurprisingly, polarizing. Opponents have focused on the negative (the bumpy rollout of the federal health insurance marketplace, healthcare.gov), supporters on the positive (the 8 million enrollments through…

ACA waiver could be a ‘game-changer’

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a “treasure chest of [health] policy innovations,” writes HSPH’s John McDonough in an article for the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law (JHPPL). These innovations are largely unknown, overlooked by greater attention to other aspects of…

Construction workers struggle with pain, stress from injuries

October 28, 2013 – Construction workers are frequently stressed about work-related injuries and pain and often fail to seek help, putting themselves at risk for more injuries and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and even suicide, according to a new study…

Prevention in public health: What works?

May 21, 2014 — No other industry of the size and complexity of the U.S. health care system operates with so little understanding of the results of its investments, Dean Julio Frenk told an audience gathered May 15, 2014 at Harvard School…

Bringing fairness to health care access

May 27, 2014 -- Outside the gates of her Mexico City high school, Thalia Porteny would always see kids begging for food. “It made me feel uneasy and frustrated,” said Porteny. “I knew I’d had amazing opportunities given to me, and I…

The provocative pragmatist

[ Spring 2014 ] With a mixture of research, persuasion, and social media moxie, Ashish Jha seeks to drive health care improvements Several years ago, Ashish Jha got the call that middle-aged children dread. His mother was on the phone from New Jersey. His…

The hidden health costs of the Great Recession

What is the total price tag for the Great Recession? Almost five years after the official end of the worst downturn since the Great Depression, there is still no clear answer. What we do know is this: A full accounting must reflect…

Leaders share universal health care experiences

A natural disaster or a significant shift in a nation’s political leanings are among the forces that can spur countries to adopt universal health care (UHC), according to a panel of experts convened by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to discuss…

Significant decline in deaths after Massachusetts’ health reform

Findings offer insights into population-level health effects that could occur under Affordable Care Act For immediate release: Monday, May 5, 2014 Boston, MA — In the first four years after Massachusetts instituted comprehensive health reform in 2006, mortality in the state decreased…

Impact of ACA on health plan cancellations

Despite the public outcry when as many as 4.7 million people were estimated to have received cancellation notices about their private, non-employment-based health insurance plans last fall when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was launched, this market was already characterized by a…

‘Big data’ driving scientific revolution

Raw data on everything from genes to purchasing behaviors can now be collected, stored, and crunched at rates unimaginable just a few years ago. But mining this potential goldmine for scientific research can be a daunting task. Researchers from Harvard School of…

Fixing a broken health care system

February 2014 -- Ashish Jha, professor of health policy at Harvard School of Public Health, shares his thoughts on what he refers to as "probably the most dangerous place in the world for a human being—an American hospital. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/campaign/

For Medicare patients, being ‘under observation’ can be costly

Medicare patients can incur unexpected out-of-pocket medical bills if they are classified as “under observation” rather than “inpatient” at a hospital, according to Ashish Jha, professor of health policy at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). This is particularly true for those…

Cutting health costs

Benjamin Sommers, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Economics, discusses the necessity of cutting health costs and slowing the rate of health cost growth in the U.S. September 28, 2010 (5:35) Please click the player icon above to play this podcast in…

Racial and ethnic inequalities

John McDonough, director of the Center for Public Health Leadership, discusses his recent op-ed in the The Baltimore Sun that said repealing last year's health care reform law would damage the potential to address the longstanding racial and ethnic health inequalities in the U.S. Please click…

Working the system

[ Fall 2012 ] As director of the second-largest health department in Washington State, Anthony Chen, MPH ’06, tackles all the issues—from infections to inequities—that shape people’s health. The elderly Taiwanese man had been Anthony Chen’s patient for years. When the patient…

Happiness & health

[ Winter 2011] The biology of emotion—and what it may teach us about helping people to live longer Could a sunny outlook mean fewer colds and less heart disease? Do hope and curiosity somehow protect against hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory tract infections? Do…

Case-based learning

[ Spring 2009 ] Innovative course prepares students to cope with complexity Imagine yourself as a candidate for the master's degree in public health at Harvard. Your task: Acquire the skills and leadership traits to solve complex public health issues. Your timeline: Nine or…

Hitting the lottery

[ Winter 2012 ] Oregon's experiment with Medicaid gives an HSPH economist a rare chance to analyze effects of extended coverage. Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics In March 2008, a colleague burst into the office of HSPH…

Society is his patient

[ Spring 2009 ] Julio Frenk's arrival in January as the seventh Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) was, in a sense, a homecoming. It was in 1953 that his father, a research fellow at Boston's Children's Hospital, was doing experiments…

A launchpad for leaders

[ Fall 2011 ] When Roy Wade was a medical resident at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, one patient in the pediatric clinic he was working in really stuck with him: a 16-year-old girl with a deeply troubled history of depression and…

Reining in Health Costs

The making of reformer Sarah Iselin By the latest estimates, only 2.6 percent of Massachusetts residents lack health insurance, the lowest rate of any U.S. state. "It's amazing," says Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) alumna Sarah Iselin, who has been part of the…

Electronic health records

[ Fall 2008 ] Electronic health records could make care safer and save money. So why aren't more doctors and hospitals using them? Boston internist "Dr. Sean James" greets patient "Sara Hill" in an examination room, then sits down at a computer and calls…

Working the (health) system

[Fall 2013 Centennial issue] A standard medical test that could have been done for a tenth of the cost. A doctor’s momentary lapse in attention that led to grievous injury—or even death. An upside-down health care bureaucracy that makes poor patients pay…

The art of getting things done

[ Spring/Summer 2012 ] On January 19, 2011, HSPH professor William Hsiao walked onto the podium in the well of the Vermont State House. Before him sat both chambers of the state legislature. Above him stood hundreds of onlookers in the observation…

Teaching leadership to leaders

[ Fall 2011 ] The National Preparedness Leadership Initiative teaches seasoned professionals how to handle unprecedented disasters. At  the World Trade Center on 9/11, the New York Fire Department set up a command center at the bottom of World Trade Center One.…

Public health and the U.S. economy

[ Fall 2012 ] How the next U.S. president can stack the deck in favor of people’s health and wealth in 2013 With the November 2012 elections on the horizon, Americans surveyed in national polls consistently rank the economy as their number…

Saving lives in the heat of battle

[ Fall 2011 ] Christian Benjamin, MD, MPH ’96 and Michael McCarten, DO, MPH ’99  are delivering evidence-based military medicine in Afghanistan Medics roll a badly wounded U.S. soldier into the military hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He has lost both legs to…

A women and health agenda: It's time

[ Spring/Summer 2010 ] by Julio Frenk, Dean, Harvard School of Public Health In today’s global health agenda, women’s experiences—from birth to death and in all their diversity—deserve to occupy center stage. Why? Because at the most basic level, we are talking about sheer survival.…

From patient to public health leader

[ Spring/Summer 2010 ] Indian Health Services Director Yvette Roubideaux is on a quest to improve American Indian health. As a child in Rapid City, South Dakota, Yvette Roubideaux, MD, MPH’97, used to fill her bag with books whenever she went to the doctor.…

Why IS health care reform so elusive?

[ Fall 2011 ] Interview with John McDonough John McDonough, HSPH professor of the practice of public health, was a senior adviser on the U.S. Senate committee responsible for developing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care reform…

Training China's public health leaders

AGENTS OF CHANGE Participants in the China Senior Health Executive Training Program (including Ge LiJun, deputy director general of the Ministry of Health's Department of International Cooperation, above left) were eager to share their views on the United States health care system through…

A cure for health professional education

[ Spring/Summer 2011 ] The training of doctors and other health care professionals must change dramatically to meet 21st-century medical and public health needs, according to a report issued in November 2010 in the Lancet. The conclusion came from an international commission of…

The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

[ Winter 2011] School sets stage for global conversation with state-of-the-art webcasts. In November 2010, the School presented a preview of The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health, featuring high-definition, broadcast-quality webcasts on key public health issues. From a new state-of-the-art studio, each…

Navigating health on the information superhighway

[Fall 2009] Researcher removes roadblocks for people with limited income and literacy With debate over unequal access to health care raging in the U.S., one place where the racial and economic divide in health is greatest is getting scant attention: the Internet.…

Can cost-effective health care = better health care?

[Winter 2010] Cost-effectiveness research pinpoints best values for limited health care dollars—and the results may surprise you An interview with Harvard School of Public Health’s Milton Weinstein offers some revealing insights into how the U.S. health care system could save money by focusing on…

Medtronic grant supports global health education overhaul

[ Winter 2012 ] A new grant from the Medtronic Foundation will help support an ambitious effort by Harvard School of Public Health and several international partner institutions to transform health education for public health leaders, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals around…

China's leaders, HSPH experts unite in health reform effort

[ Spring 2009 ] At the height of China's SARS outbreak in the spring of 2003, with Beijing reporting hundreds of new cases a day, Yuanli Liu woke up at 3 a.m. in Boston to a ringing telephone. On the line was a senior Chinese government…

Two gifts support work on checklists and global health systems

[ Winter 2012 ] HSPH Associate Professor Atul Gawande’s research group recently received two generous gifts in support of the Health Systems Innovations Research Fund. Support from Mala Gaonkar, managing director of Lone Pine Capital LLC, and an anonymous donor will help Gawande and his colleagues…

Talking health care reform: A conversation with Meredith Rosenthal

[ Spring/Summer 2010 ] On March 21, 2010, the United States House of Representatives passed the biggest expansion of federal health care guarantees since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid more than four decades earlier. Soon after, the Review caught up with health economist Meredith B. Rosenthal to…

Strengthening health systems to address New Challenge Diseases (NCDs)

[ Fall 2011 ] Reframing a Public Health Acronym In September 2011, the United Nations General Assembly is holding a High-Level Meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). In the following essay, Felicia Marie Knaul, director of the Harvard Global…

ACA’s impact on jobs ignites debate

In the midst of a debate about Obamacare’s impact on the U.S. economy, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) faculty say that it’s important to focus not only on the potential economic impact of the health reform law but also on its…

Checklists in operating rooms improve performance during crises

Teams using checklists were 74 percent less likely to miss key life-saving steps in care during emergency situations than those working from memory alone. For immediate release: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 Boston, MA — In an airplane crisis—an engine failure, a fire—pilots pull…

Singapore’s health care system holds valuable lessons for U.S.

January 28, 2014 -- The United States could learn a thing or two from Singapore when it comes to providing quality health care at reasonable cost, according to biologist, entrepreneur, and author William Haseltine. Intrigued by the fact that the Southeast Asian…

Having Medicaid increases emergency room visits

Unique study on Oregon’s citizens sheds light on critical care in the U.S. For immediate release: January 2, 2014 Boston, MA -- Adults who are covered by Medicaid use emergency rooms 40 percent more than those in similar circumstances who do not…

Expanding access to clinical trial data responsibly

For immediate release: October 21, 2013 Boston, MA – A new report by researchers from Harvard University and others in a working group convened by the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center (MRCT) at Harvard proposes recommendations for addressing a problem that has vexed…

People lacking insurance not likely to migrate to obtain Medicaid coverage

States choosing Medicaid expansion shouldn’t expect costly influx of individuals from states not expanding coverage Other studies examine accountable care organizations and communication-and-resolution programs  For immediate release: Monday, January 6, 2014  Boston, MA — Amidst the patchwork nature of Medicaid expansion in…

Little lists, big impact

[ Winter 2013 ] If health care workers use simple checklists during critical moments of care such as surgery and childbirth, they can greatly reduce death and complications among their patients. In study after study, Atul Gawande, professor of health policy and management at…

Surgery an unmet need in global health

Public health professionals who work in the developing world have long focused on defeating infectious diseases, and recently have widened their focus to include chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But access to quality surgical care remains a large…

Strengthening African health systems

October 30, 2013 -- A group of current and former African finance ministers discussed ways to improve the management of public health systems at an early October roundtable convened by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the African Development Bank. Fifteen…

Impact of Medicaid on health of the poor

An HSPH study showing potential health benefits of states expanding Medicaid to more low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act, and possible serious negative consequences of not doing so, was cited in a New York Times editorial July 28, 2012. The piece,…

Building trust and collaboration in health care

November 14, 2011 -- Ten years ago, when David Shore first began offering a program for health care executives on how to lead their organizations through change, he asked participants a question: If the U.S. health care system is so good—with well-trained clinicians, access to…

Health care system can learn from restaurant chain

The nation’s health care system needs to learn to serve millions of Americans with consistent quality, reasonable cost, and decent service — much like popular chains like the Cheesecake Factory have learned to do in the restaurant world, Atul Gawande writes August…

HSPH to launch second public health course on edX

January 2, 2013 -- Harvard School of Public Health’s new online course, “Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research,” an introduction to biostatistics and epidemiology, has drawn 53,857 students from all over the world. The three-month course, which…

Gawande talks health reform with NPR, Colbert Report

Atul Gawande, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at HSPH, spoke with Tom Ashbrook of NPR’s On Point about health care and health reform on January 4, 2011. Republicans in the House of Representatives are bringing forward a…

Technology crucial to give patients a "medical home"

September 20, 2011 -- HSPH Expert Outlines Key Ways to Improve Health Care Delivery Of the many problems facing health care in the United States, critics say one of the biggest is that patient care isn’t well coordinated. It’s easy, for example, for…

Experts lay out future of health IT at PHAT conference

May 5, 2011 -- Paper medical records—the 19th century tools still used by most 21st century medical providers—are a big part of what’s ailing the United States’ health care system, HSPH Assoc. Prof. Ashish Jha told an audience of representatives from academia, government, and industry…

Home visits offer window into mother, infant well-being

December 21, 2012 -- A visit to homes of disadvantaged mothers and at-risk newborns can provide a health care team with unique insights into how a family is faring—more than might be revealed at often rushed visits at a clinic or hospital.This…

New HSPH online edX course will reach worldwide audience

October 3, 2012 -- Quantitative Methods Course Teaches Building Blocks of Public Health Research It’s time for biostatistics and epidemiology class. The professor is discussing Scotsman James Lind, who, in the mid-1700s, conducted one of the first-ever clinical experiments. Lind studied the way…

Symposium explores cancer stem cells and tumor metabolism

November 16, 2012 -- An emerging area of science is looking at not just how low-dose radiation harms cells, but also how cells respond to deal with this stress—and how science might harness those same mechanisms to benefit human health. On October 26-27,…

With no insurance, ‘permanent’ patients linger in hospitals

Many thousands of patients in the U.S. who lack health insurance but who need long-term care wind up lingering in hospitals for many weeks, months, or even years because the current health care system doesn’t offer workable solutions for them. Speaking with…

Transforming Ethiopia's health care system from the ground up

August 29, 2012 -- There are currently more Ethiopian doctors working in Chicago than in Ethiopia, according to Keseteberhan Admassu, the country’s state minister of health. Speaking to an international group of experts assembled by Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) Department…

Patient safety experts call for shorter resident physician shifts

A group of physicians and patient safety experts, including HSPH’s Lucian Leape, adjunct professor of health policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management, have written a report that calls for shorter shifts and increased supervision for resident physicians. Starting July…

Rosenthal's promotion to Professor celebrated at HSPH Symposium

October 20, 2011 -- Health economics may not be the most glamorous specialty in public health, Dean for Academic Affairs [[David Hunter]] told an HSPH audience gathered to celebrate health economist Meredith B. Rosenthal’s promotion to full professor, but work such as Rosenthal’s that…

Medicaid expansion faces challenges as January 1 deadline looms

July 24, 2013 — With just months remaining before the January 1, 2014 rollout of changes to the  Medicaid program that will expand health care coverage to as many as 10-20 million Americans, substantial implementation challenges remain — namely, uncertainty regarding costs…

Predicting countries' likelihood of achieving universal health care

September 13, 2013 -- Countries that are wealthy, have less income inequality, and whose citizens have the highest educational levels are the most likely to develop universal health care systems, according to new research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The…

Two takes on the Oregon Medicaid study

In a study dubbed the “Oregon Health Insurance Experiment,” researchers compared clinical outcomes among two groups of adults in Oregon—half who were on Medicaid and half who weren’t. The newest findings from the study, published online May 2, 2013 in the New…

Hospital CEO pay not linked to quality of care

CEO compensation at nonprofit hospitals varies widely across the United States and is influenced by such factors as hospital size, setting, use of technology, and patient satisfaction — but not quality of care, according to a new study led by Harvard School…

HSPH considers adapting courses for target audiences on edX

With the rapid growth of edX—the virtual learning initiative launched by Harvard and MIT in May 2012—Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) professors are now discussing the possibility of modifying an edX course to target families in Boston, focusing on an issue…

HarvardX’s fall course lineup includes new HSPH offerings

Harvard is planning to offer a dozen new online courses in the 2013-14 school year through HarvardX—the University’s branch of the online education platform edX— including new courses taught by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) faculty. The new courses are: PH201x,…

Doctors, hospitals increasing use of electronic health records

Hospitals nearly tripled their use of electronic health records (EHR) systems between 2010 and 2012, according to a new study co-authored by [[Ashish Jha]] of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The authors found that 44% of hospitals report having at least…

Rising death rates at rural hospitals suggest need for improvements

Death rates are rising at rural hospitals that serve many poor and elderly people—and the reason may be their inability to provide the most up-to-date treatment, according to a new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study. Given this finding, HSPH researchers…