Health Wonk Review #26 – the one year blogiversary edition

February 22nd, 2007 by Julie Ferguson

raising a toast
Yay us! One year ago this week, Health Wonk Review launched to much ballyhoo and fanfare, thanks to Joe Paduda, our fearless leader and his partner in crime, Matthew Holt. The stated purpose was to be a biweekly compendium of the best of the health policy blogs. In our first few issues, there was some scuttlebutt about the name as everyone tried to figure out whether wonk was a flattering or unflattering epithet. All in all, I’ve felt honored to find myself in such smart company, and feel we have achieved a measure of success in carving out a niche community. Whether participant or reader, please share in our virtual toast. Those feeling particularly nostalgic can take a stroll through archives.
Wonkers react to the Edwards health-care plan
Leif Wellington Haase of The Century Foundation offers two cheers for the Edwards’ health care plan, applauding Edwards for for being the first presidential candidate to move from calling for universal health insurance coverage in principle to laying out in some detail how his proposal might work. Leif weighs in on his the plan’s pros and cons. And at Health Affairs, senior editor Sarah Dine analyzes Edward’s health reform plan in the context of the return of “community rating.” She writes: “The return of community rating offers an opportunity for a reinvigorated debate both on the philosophical issues of social contract versus individual risk and on what is the best business model for health insurance.”
You’ve got mail – Jason Shafrin of Healthcare Economist analyzes a recent letter from 10 senators to President Bush. The letter asks President Bush to reform health care on six facets.
Mental health parity – The Feds are looking to add another mental health benefits mandate. Mike Feehan at InsureBlog questions whether it’s worth the extra cost, or even worth the bother.
Trimming the fat – In his post Farewell to Fatso, David Williams of Health Business Blog points us to two articles in the Boston Globe about recent cost-cutting decisions by the Tufts Health Plan to trim 10% of its staff and to restrict obesity surgeries.
Wal-Mart and SEIU: Who drank the Kool-Aid? – With all the ooh-ing and aah-ing about Wal-Mart lying down with the SEIU and reaching some sort of agreement about how to make affordable health care coverage available to all, David Harlow over at HealthBlawg goes out on a limb and asks: Who drank the Kool-Aid?
The off-label poster child – Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters posts about the off-label use of Actiq, a narcotic intended to be used for cancer pain relief. Joe wonders why only about 10% of the Actiq users have cancer and why the drug has such high usage by workers comp patients.
The threat of pseudoevidence-based medicine – Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal posts about a landmark article by Wally Smith in which he coined the term “pseudoevidence-based medicine,” referring to clinical practice based on evidence that was deliberately manipulated, falsified, or suppressed. Smith sees pseudoevidence-based medicine as a major threat to ethical clinical practice, and Roy is in agreement. Roy notes that the link to the article is in his post, but that if anyone has trouble accessing it could contact him.
Tech alert: daylight savings time may cause hiccups – Shahid N. Shah, The Healthcare IT Guy blogs about the upcoming Daylight Savings Time (DST) change from April to March and how it might cause some important hiccups in healthcare transactions unless computer software is updated to understand the new start/stop times for DST. It’s a must-read because without upgrading to the new DST rules many medical devices, billing systems, lab systems, and clinical systems may give incorrect results or stop working in a networked environment.
Promising technology advance – Tim Gee at Medical Connectivity Consulting blogs about a new application from Philips Medical Systems. Monitors provide a lot of data, but are of little value (and potentially unsafe) if the data generated is not carefully evaluated. Philips has released software that continuously evaluates patient monitor data looking to match patient data with symptoms of sepsis. Tim sees this as a ground breaking application that could result in many similar features from competitors.
New media demands corporate transparency – Dmitriy Kruglyak of Trusted.MD posts about how Kaiser declined the opportunity to share a panel with critics at the Healthcare Blogging Summit, a fact which has come to the notice of the East Bay Business Times, which covered the matter and interviewed Dmitriy. By ignoring the story, Dmitriy thinks that Kaiser flunked the early test of communicating through the new media since the story won’t go away – blogs and social media have a way of making news percolate indefinitely.
Case law – subcontractor exposure – Rita Schwab of MSSPNexus directs our attention to a case in Florida where a hospital was found liable for the negligence of a contracted perfusionist. The hospital argued that it should not be held liable for the acts of a subcontractor – but the courts saw things differently.
Vaccine controversy – H.S. Ayoub of BioHealth Investor has been covering the controversy over the anti-HPV vaccine in Texas. In his first post, he notes the strange bedfellows of Planned Parenthood and Republican Governor Rick Perry both favoring mandatory vaccination. In his second post, he discusses how Merck was pressured to halt its lobbying for the vaccine.
Pandemic preparations – here at Workers’ Comp Insider, we’ve noted that since the Avian flu outbreak in Great Britain, many U.S. public health authorities are urging employers to prepare for a potential flu pandemic. OSHA, the CDC, and the Department of Labor have all recently issued guidance for employers about pandemic planning and response.
Illustration: thanks to The Virtual Corkscrew Museum