Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label quality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quality. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Salve Lucrum: The Existential Threat of Greed in US Health Care

Berwick DM.
JAMA. 2023;329(8):629–630.
doi:10.1001/jama.2023.0846

Here is an excerpt:

Particularly costly has been profiteering among insurance companies participating in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program. Originally intended to give Medicare beneficiaries the choice of access to well-managed care at lower cost, MA has mushroomed into a massive program, now about to cover more than 50% of all Medicare beneficiaries and costing far more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare ever has. By gaming Medicare risk codes and the ways in which comparative “benchmarks” are set for expected costs, MA plans have become by far the most profitable branches of large insurance companies. According to some health services research, MA will cost Medicare over $600 billion more in the next 8 years than would have been the case if the same enrollees had remained in traditional Medicare. Opinions differ about whether MA enrollees experience better care and outcomes than those in traditional Medicare, but the weight of evidence is that they do not.

Hospital pricing games are also widespread. Hospitals claim large operating losses, especially in the COVID pandemic period, but large systems sit on balance sheets with tens of billions of dollars in the bank or invested. Hospital prices for the top 37 infused cancer drugs averaged 86.2% higher per unit than in physician offices. A patient was billed $73 800 at the University of Chicago for 2 injections of Lupron depot, a treatment for prostate cancer, a drug available in the UK for $260 a dose. To drive up their own revenues, many hospitals serving wealthy populations take advantage of a federal subsidy program originally intended to reduce drug costs for people with low income.

Recent New York Times investigations have reported on nonprofit hospitals’ reducing and closing services in poor areas while opening new ones in wealthy suburbs and on their use of collection agencies for pursuing payment from patients with low income. The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission reported in 2022 that hospital prices and revenues increased during a decade at almost 4 times the rate of inflation.

Windfall profits also appear in salaries and benefits for many health care executives. Of the 10 highest paid among all corporate executives in the US in 2020, 3 were from Oak Street Health, and salary and benefits included, reportedly, $568 million for the chief executive officer (CEO). Executives in large hospital systems commonly have salaries and benefits of several million dollars a year. Some academic medical centers’ boards allow their CEO to serve for 6-figure stipends and multimillion-dollar stock options on outside company boards, including ones that supply products and services to the medical center.


My summary and warnings are here:

Greed is not good, especially in healthcare. This article outlines the concerning issue of greed pervading the US healthcare system. It argues that prioritizing profit over patient well-being has become widespread, impacting everything from drug companies to hospitals. The author contends that this greed is detrimental to both patients and the healthcare system as a whole. To address this, the article proposes solutions like fostering greater transparency and accountability, along with reevaluating how healthcare is financed.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

How Does Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Inform Health Care Decisions?

David D. Kim & Anirban Basu
AMA J Ethics. 2021;23(8):E639-647. 
doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2021.639.

Abstract

Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) provides a formal assessment of trade-offs involving benefits, harms, and costs inherent in alternative options. CEA has been increasingly used to inform public and private organizations’ reimbursement decisions, benefit designs, and price negotiations worldwide. Despite the lack of centralized efforts to promote CEA in the United States, the demand for CEA is growing. This article briefly reviews the history of CEA in the United States, highlights advances in practice guidelines, and discusses CEA’s ethical challenges. It also offers a way forward to inform health care decisions.

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Ethical Considerations

There have been a few criticisms on ethical grounds of CEA’s use for decision making. These include (1) controversies associated with the use of QALYs, (2) distributive justice, and (3) incomplete valuation. We discuss each of them in detail here. However, it is worth pointing out that cost-effectiveness evidence is only one of many factors considered in resource allocation decisions. We have found that none of the international HTA bodies bases its decisions solely on cost-effectiveness evidence. Therefore, much of CEA’s criticisms, fair or not, can be addressed through deliberative processes.

QALYs. The lower health utility, or health-related quality of life, assigned to patients with worse health (because of more severe disease, disability, age, and so on) raises distributional issues in using QALYs for resource allocation decisions. For example, because patients with disabilities have a lower overall health utility weight, any extension of their lives by reducing the health burden from one disease “would not generate as many QALYs as a similar extension of life for otherwise healthy people.” This distributional limitation arises because of the multiplicative nature of QALYs, which are a product of life-years and health utility weight. Consequently, the National Council on Disability has strongly denounced the use of QALYs.

Alternatives to QALYs have been proposed. The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review has started using the equal value of life-years gained metric, a modified version of the equal value of life (EVL) metric, to supplement QALYs. In EVL calculations, any life-year gained is valued at a weight of 1 QALY, irrespective of individuals’ health status during the extra year. EVL, however, “has had limited traction among academics and decision-making bodies” because it undervalues interventions that extend life-years by the same amount as other interventions but that substantially improve quality of life. More recently, a health-years-in-total metric was proposed to overcome the limitations of both QALYs and EVL, but more work is needed to fully understand its theoretical foundations.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The corporate responsibility facade is finally starting to crumble

Alison Taylor
Yahoo Finance
Originally posted 4 March 20

Here is an excerpt:

Any claim to be a responsible corporation is predicated on addressing these abuses of power. But most companies are instead clinging with remarkable persistence to the fa├žades they’ve built to deflect attention. Compliance officers focus on pleasing regulators, even though there is limited evidence that their recommendations reduce wrongdoing. Corporate sustainability practitioners drown their messages in an alphabet soup of acronyms, initiatives, and alienating jargon about “empowered communities” and “engaged stakeholders,” when both functions are still considered peripheral to corporate strategy.

When reading a corporation’s sustainability report and then comparing it to its risk disclosures—or worse, its media coverage—we might as well be reading about entirely distinct companies. Investors focused on sustainability speak of “materiality” principles, meant to sharpen our focus on the most relevant environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues for each industry. But when an issue is “material” enough to threaten core operating models, companies routinely ignore, evade, and equivocate.

Coca-Cola’s most recent annual sustainability report acknowledges its most pressing issue is “obesity concerns and category perceptions.” Accordingly, it highlights its lower-sugar product lines and references responsible marketing. But it continues its vigorous lobbying against soda taxes, and of course continues to make products with known links to obesity and other health problems. Facebook’s sustainability disclosures focus on efforts to fight climate change and improve labor rights in its supply chain, but make no reference to the mental-health impacts of social media or to its role in peddling disinformation and undermining democracy. Johnson and Johnson flags “product quality and safety” as its highest priority issue without mentioning that it is a defendant in criminal litigation over distribution of opioids. UBS touts its sustainability targets but not its ongoing financing of fossil-fuel projects.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Tyranny of Time: How Long Does Effective Therapy Really Take?

Jonathan Shedler & Enrico Gnaulati
Psychotherapy Networker
Originally posted March/April 20

Here is an excerpt:

Like the Consumer Reports study, this study also found a dose–response relation between therapy sessions and improvement. In this case, the longer therapy continued, the more clients achieved clinically significant change. So just how much therapy did it take? It took 21 sessions, or about six months of weekly therapy, for 50 percent of clients to see clinically significant change. It took more than 40 sessions, almost a year of weekly therapy, for 75 percent to see clinically significant change.

Information from the surveys of clients and therapists turned out to be pretty spot on. Three independent data sources converge on similar time frames. Every client is different, and no one can predict how much therapy is enough for a specific person, but on average, clinically meaningful change begins around the six-month mark and grows from there. And while some people will get what they need with less therapy, others will need a good deal more.

This is consistent with what clinical theorists have been telling us for the better part of a century. It should come as no surprise. Nothing of deep and lasting value is cheap or easy, and changing oneself and the course of one’s life may be most valuable of all.

Consider what it takes to master any new and complex skill, say learning a language, playing a musical instrument, learning to ski, or becoming adept at carpentry. With six months of practice, you might attain beginner- or novice-level proficiency, maybe. If someone promised to make you an expert in six months, you’d suspect they were selling snake oil. Meaningful personal development takes time and effort. Why would psychotherapy be any different?

The info is here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Association Between Physician Depressive Symptoms and Medical Errors

Pereira-Lima K, Mata DA, & others
JAMA Netw Open. 2019; 2(11):e1916097

Abstract

Importance  Depression is highly prevalent among physicians and has been associated with increased risk of medical errors. However, questions regarding the magnitude and temporal direction of these associations remain open in recent literature.

Objective  To provide summary relative risk (RR) estimates for the associations between physician depressive symptoms and medical errors.

Conclusions and Relevance  Results of this study suggest that physicians with a positive screening for depressive symptoms are at higher risk for medical errors. Further research is needed to evaluate whether interventions to reduce physician depressive symptoms could play a role in mitigating medical errors and thus improving physician well-being and patient care.

From the Discussion

Studies have recommended the addition of physician well-being to the Triple Aim of enhancing the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care. Results of the present study endorse the Quadruple Aim movement by demonstrating not only that medical errors are associated with physician health but also that physician depressive symptoms are associated with subsequent errors. Given that few physicians with depression seek treatment and that recent evidence has pointed to the lack of organizational interventions aimed at reducing physician depressive symptoms, our findings underscore the need for institutional policies to remove barriers to the delivery of evidence-based treatment to physicians with depression.

https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.16097

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Association Between Physician Burnout and Patient Safety, Professionalism, and Patient Satisfaction: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

Maria Panagioti, PhD; Keith Geraghty, PhD; Judith Johnson, PhD; et al
JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 4, 2018.
doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.3713

Abstract

Importance  Physician burnout has taken the form of an epidemic that may affect core domains of health care delivery, including patient safety, quality of care, and patient satisfaction. However, this evidence has not been systematically quantified.

Objective  To examine whether physician burnout is associated with an increased risk of patient safety incidents, suboptimal care outcomes due to low professionalism, and lower patient satisfaction.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, and CINAHL databases were searched until October 22, 2017, using combinations of the key terms physicians, burnout, and patient care. Detailed standardized searches with no language restriction were undertaken. The reference lists of eligible studies and other relevant systematic reviews were hand-searched.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two independent reviewers were involved. The main meta-analysis was followed by subgroup and sensitivity analyses. All analyses were performed using random-effects models. Formal tests for heterogeneity (I2) and publication bias were performed.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The core outcomes were the quantitative associations between burnout and patient safety, professionalism, and patient satisfaction reported as odds ratios (ORs) with their 95% CIs.

Results  Of the 5234 records identified, 47 studies on 42 473 physicians (25 059 [59.0%] men; median age, 38 years [range, 27-53 years]) were included in the meta-analysis. Physician burnout was associated with an increased risk of patient safety incidents (OR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.59-2.40), poorer quality of care due to low professionalism (OR, 2.31; 95% CI, 1.87-2.85), and reduced patient satisfaction (OR, 2.28; 95% CI, 1.42-3.68). The heterogeneity was high and the study quality was low to moderate. The links between burnout and low professionalism were larger in residents and early-career (≤5 years post residency) physicians compared with middle- and late-career physicians (Cohen Q = 7.27; P = .003). The reporting method of patient safety incidents and professionalism (physician-reported vs system-recorded) significantly influenced the main results (Cohen Q = 8.14; P = .007).

Conclusions and Relevance  This meta-analysis provides evidence that physician burnout may jeopardize patient care; reversal of this risk has to be viewed as a fundamental health care policy goal across the globe. Health care organizations are encouraged to invest in efforts to improve physician wellness, particularly for early-career physicians. The methods of recording patient care quality and safety outcomes require improvements to concisely capture the outcome of burnout on the performance of health care organizations.

The research is here.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Unwanted Events and Side Effects in Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Schermuly-Haupt, ML., Linden, M. & Rush, A.J.
Cognitive Therapy and Research
June 2018, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 219–229

Abstract

Side effects (SEs) are negative reactions to an appropriately delivered treatment, which must be discriminated from unwanted events (UEs) or consequences of inadequate treatment. One hundred CBT therapists were interviewed for UEs and SEs in one of their current outpatients. Therapists reported 372 UEs in 98 patients and SEs in 43 patients. Most frequent were "negative wellbeing/distress" (27% of patients), "worsening of symptoms" (9%), "strains in family relations" (6%); 21% of patients suffered from severe or very severe and 5% from persistent SEs. SEs are unavoidable and frequent also in well-delivered CBT. They include both symptoms and the impairment of social life. Knowledge about the side effect profile can improve early recognition of SEs, safeguard patients, and enhance therapy outcome.

The research is here.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Europe’s biggest research fund cracks down on ‘ethics dumping’

Linda Nordling
Nature.com
Originally posted July 3, 2018

Ethics dumping — doing research deemed unethical in a scientist’s home country in a foreign setting with laxer ethical rules — will be rooted out in research funded by the European Union, officials announced last week.

Applications to the EU’s €80-billion (US$93-billion) Horizon 2020 research fund will face fresh levels of scrutiny to make sure that research practices deemed unethical in Europe are not exported to other parts of the world. Wolfgang Burtscher, the European Commission’s deputy director-general for research, made the announcement at the European Parliament in Brussels on 29 June.

Burtscher said that a new code of conduct developed to curb ethics dumping will soon be applied to all EU-funded research projects. That means applicants will be referred to the code when they submit their proposals, and ethics committees will use the document when considering grant applications.

The information is here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

First, do no harm: institutional betrayal and trust in health care organizations

Carly Parnitzke Smith
The Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
April, 2017; Volume 10; Pages 133-144

Purpose:

Patients’ trust in health care is increasingly recognized as important to quality care, yet questions remain about what types of health care experiences erode trust. The current study assessed the prevalence and impact of institutional betrayal on patients’ trust and engagement in health care.

Participants and methods:

Participants who had sought health care in the US in October 2013 were recruited from an online marketplace, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Participants (n = 707; 73% Caucasian; 56.8% female; 9.8% lesbian, gay, or bisexual; median age between 18 and 35 years) responded to survey questions about health care use, trust in health care providers and organizations, negative medical experiences, and institutional betrayal.

Results:

Institutional betrayal was reported by two-thirds of the participants and predicted disengagement from health care (r = 0.36, p < 0.001). Mediational models (tested using bootstrapping analyses) indicated a negative, nonzero pathway between institutional betrayal and trust in health care organizations (b = -0.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [-0.07, -0.02]), controlling for trust in physicians and hospitalization history. These negative effects were not buffered by trust in one’s own physician, but in fact patients who trusted their physician more reported lower trust in health care organizations following negative medical events (interaction b = -0.02, 95%CI = [-0.03, -0.01]).

Conclusion:

Clinical implications are discussed, concluding that institutional betrayal decreases patient trust and engagement in health care.

The article is here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Many Dislike Health Care System But Are Pleased With Their Own Care

By Alison Kodjak
NPR
Originally posted

The United States has the most advanced health care in the world. There are gleaming medical centers across the country where doctors cure cancers, transplant organs and bring people back from near death.

But a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that only one-third of Americans say the health care they receive is "excellent." Even fewer people are impressed with the system as a whole.

"When you're talking about health care, we have this amazing kind of schizophrenia about our system," says Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

The story is here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quality Attestation for Clinical Ethics Consultants: A Two-Step Model from the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

By Eric Kodish, Joseph J. Fins, and others
The Hastings Center Report
Originally published October 1, 2013

Abstract

Clinical ethics consultation is largely outside the scope of regulation and oversight, despite its importance. For decades, the bioethics community has been unable to reach a consensus on whether there should be accountability in this work, as there is for other clinical activities that influence the care of patients. The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, the primary society of bioethicists and scholars in the medical humanities and the organizational home for individuals who perform CEC in the United States, has initiated a two-step quality attestation process as a means to assess clinical ethics consultants and help identify individuals who are qualified to perform this role. This article describes the process.

The entire story is here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

N.Y. Malpractice Program May Offer Model For Medical Liability Cases

Kaiser Health News

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be complicated, expensive and emotionally wrenching for patients, doctors and hospital officials alike. Now a program pioneered by a Bronx judge that speeds up the resolution of these cases is expanding into other parts of New York.

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The Designated Jurist

At its core, the New York program, called judge-directed negotiation, is simple: When a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, a judge with expertise in medical matters becomes the point person for that case. He or she supervises the entire process and brings the parties together as often as necessary to discuss the case and help broker a settlement.

This is very different from what typically happens now: The pre-trial discovery phase, in which depositions are taken and other evidence is gathered, sometimes drags on for months or even years. A number of judges may be involved over that period, and with no one person pushing the parties toward resolution, serious settlement discussions generally don't happen until late in the process, often after a court date has been set.

A judge overseeing the entire case can make sure the parties don't dawdle over such things as procedural meetings to set up discovery dates. From the beginning, that designated jurist can delve into the case with an eye toward settlement, says Judge Douglas E. McKeon, an administrative judge in the Supreme Court of Bronx County, who pioneered this approach in 2002. He discovered that "if you created a process that people knew had the potential to get a case settled sooner rather than later for significant sums of money, they came in and they were ready to talk," he says.

The story can be found here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Does your office appearance matter?


From research.news.osu

People may judge the quality and qualifications of psychotherapists simply by what their offices look like, a new study suggests.

After only viewing photos of offices, study participants gave higher marks to psychotherapists whose offices were neat and orderly, decorated with soft touches like pillows and throw rugs, and which featured personal touches like diplomas and framed photos.

"People seem to agree on what the office of a good therapist would look like and, especially, what it wouldn't look like," said Jack Nasar, co-author of the study and professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University.

"Whether it is through cultural learning or something else, people think they can judge therapists just based on their office environment."

Nasar conducted the study with Ann Sloan Devlin, professor of psychology at Connecticut College.

Their study appears online in the Journal of Counseling Psychology and will appear in a future print edition.

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The entire press release can be found here.