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International journal of health services [journal]
- Community-oriented primary care (COPC) in Barcelona, Spain: an urban COPC experience. [Journal Article, Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):383-98.
Community-oriented primary care (COPC) integrates comprehensive primary care with community health. Although it has had limited application in the United States, this model has been widely promoted among urban family physicians in Barcelona, Spain. This article describes the current status of COPC in four community clinics in Barcelona. Data were derived from a site visit that included direct observation and interviews with professionals involved in community health. The interviews explored how COPC has been implemented in each of the four primary care centers. We found that the degree to which COPC is practiced is quite varied and that it often coexists with other community health programs. A number of obstacles, including lack of support and funding from the government and lack of motivation and participation among health professionals, make practicing COPC in Barcelona a challenge. Despite these obstacles, COPC is flourishing in Barcelona. This experience may offer guidance for COPC implementation in the United States and other countries.
- When constitutional justice has the last word on health care: the case of Chile. [Journal Article]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):373-81.
The Chilean health care system is in crisis. Since the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court that declared the risk rating (actuarial insurance) of private health insurers unconstitutional, all of the social actors related to health care have tried to agree on a legislative reform that would overcome the existing highly segmented and inequitable system, which is a legacy of Pinochet's dictatorship. Here we demonstrate how the social and political demands for legislative reform in the health care sector have been supported by the decisions of the courts. To achieve its goals of reducing equity gaps in health and ending the judicialization of health care (claims for protection represent almost 70% of total resources of the courts), the National Congress of Chile is trying to create a new national health insurance system that guarantees the right to a minimum level of health care. Part of this effort involves obtaining the constitutional approval of the courts. In Chile, justice has the final word on health care.
- Beyond accreditation: a multi-track quality-enhancing strategy for primary health care in low- and middle-income countries. [Journal Article]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):355-72.
Many define an equitable health care system as one that provides logistical and financial access to "quality" care to the population. Realizing that fact, many low- and middle-income countries started investing in enhancing the quality of care in their health care systems, recently in primary health care. Unfortunately, in many instance, these investments have been exclusively focused on accreditation due to available guidelines and existing accrediting structures. A multi-track quality-enhancing strategy (MTQES) is proposed that includes, in addition to promoting resource-sensitive accreditation, other quality initiatives such as clinical guidelines, performance indicators, benchmarking activities, annual quality-enhancing projects, and annual quality summit/meeting. These complementary approaches are presented to synergistically enhance a continuous quality improvement culture in the primary health care sector, taking into consideration limited resources available, especially in low- and middle-income countries. In addition, an implementation framework depicting MTQES in three-phase interlinked packages is presented; each matches existing resources and quality infrastructure. Health care policymakers and managers need to think about accreditation as a beginning rather than an end to their quest for quality. Improvements in the structure of a health delivery organization or in the processes of care have little value if they do not translate to reduced disparities in access to "quality" care, and not merely access to care.
- Management commitments and primary care: another lesson from Costa Rica for the world? [Journal Article]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):337-53.
Maintained dedication to primary care has fostered a public health delivery system with exceptional outcomes in Costa Rica. For more than a decade, management commitments have been part of Costa Rican health reform. We assessed the effect of the Costa Rican management commitments on access and quality of care and on compliance with their intended objectives. We constructed seven hypotheses on opinions of primary care providers. Through a mixed qualitative and quantitative approach, we tested these hypotheses and interpreted the research findings. Management commitments consume an excessive proportion of consultation time, inflate recordkeeping, reduce comprehensiveness in primary care consultations, and induce a disproportionate consumption of hospital emergency services. Their formulation relies on norms in need of optimization, their control on unreliable sources. They also affect professionalism. In Costa Rica, management commitments negatively affect access and quality of care and pose a threat to the public service delivery system. The failures of this pay-for-performance-like initiative in an otherwise well-performing health system cast doubts on the appropriateness of pay-for-performance for health systems strengthening in less advanced environments.
- The role of international NGOs in health systems strengthening: the case of timor-leste. [Journal Article]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):323-35.
Achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for health will require that programs supporting health in developing countries focus on strengthening national health care systems. However, the dominant neoliberal model of development mandates reduced public spending on health and other social services, often resulting in increased funding for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) at the expense of support for government systems. East Timor, later Timor-Leste, is an example of a post-crisis country where international NGO efforts were initially critical to providing relief efforts to a traumatized population. Those groups were not prepared to help develop and support a standardized Timorese national health plan, however, and the cost of their support was unsustainable in the long term. In response, local authorities designed and implemented a post-crisis NGO phase-over plan that addressed risks to service disruption and monitored the process. Since then, some NGOs have worked collaboratively with the Ministry of Health to support specific efforts and initiatives under a framework provided by the ministry. Timor-Leste has shown that ministries of health can facilitate an effective transition of NGO support from crisis to development if they are allowed to plan and manage the process.
- Big pharma and the problem of disease inflation. [Journal Article]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):307-22.
Over the course of the past decade, critics have increasingly called attention to the corrosive influence of the pharmaceutical industry on both biomedical research and the practice of medicine. Critics describe the industry's use of ghostwriting and other unethical techniques to expand their markets as evidence that medical science is all-too-frequently subordinated to the goals of corporate profit. While we do not dispute this perspective, we argue that it is imperative to also recognize that the goals of medical science and industry profit are now tightly wed to one another. As a result, medical science now operates to expand disease definitions, lower diagnostic thresholds, and otherwise advance the goals of corporate profit through the redefinition and expansion of what it means to be ill. We suggest that this process has led to a variety of ethical problems that are not fully captured by current critiques of ghostwriting and other troubling practices by the pharmaceutical industry. In our conclusion, we call for physicians, ethicists, and other concerned observers to embrace a more fundamental critique of the relationship between biomedical science and corporate profit.
- All part of the job? The contribution of the psychosocial and physical work environment to health inequalities in Europe and the European health divide. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):285-305.
This study is the first to examine the contribution of both psychosocial and physical risk factors to occupational inequalities in self-assessed health in Europe. Data from 27 countries were obtained from the 2010 European Working Conditions Survey for men and women aged 16 to 60 (n = 21,803). Multilevel logistic regression analyses (random intercept) were applied, estimating odds ratios of reporting less than good health. Analyses indicate that physical working conditions account for a substantial proportion of occupational inequalities in health in both Central/Eastern and Western Europe. Physical, rather than psychosocial, working conditions seem to have the largest effect on self-assessed health in manual classes. For example, controlling for physical working conditions reduced the inequalities in the prevalence of"less than good health" between the lowest (semi- and unskilled manual workers) and highest (higher controllers) occupational groups in Europe by almost 50 percent (Odds Ratio 1.87, 95% Confidence Interval 1.62-2.16 to 1.42, 1.23-1.65). Physical working conditions contribute substantially to health inequalities across "post-industrial" Europe, with women in manual occupations being particularly vulnerable, especially those living in Central/Eastern Europe. An increased political and academic focus on physical working conditions is needed to explain and potentially reduce occupational inequalities in health.
- To live and die in America: labor in the time of cholera and cancer. [Journal Article]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):273-84.
A popular explanation of the epidemiological transition is that the germs that caused infectious disease mortality were defeated by the "magic bullets" of mainstream medicine over the course of the 20th century, permitting the population to get old enough to get the chronic diseases of heart disease and cancer. This explanation is false. The most important causes of infectious disease were the political and economic structures that favored capital at the expense of labor so blatantly that it left a large portion of the working population virtually at death's door. This was remedied only when resistance by labor created a more livable workday, child labor laws, and a higher wage, resulting in improvements in nutrition and housing. Chronic disease increased as firms transformed the production process by introducing more mechanized and chemically intensive production processes. This has transformed our food, water, air, and work processes in unprecedented ways and created a historically unique chronic disease pattern.
- The fallacies in arguing that current high unemployment in Spain (27%) is a consequence of supposed labor market rigidities. [Journal Article]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):269-72.
This article refutes the argument that high unemployment in Spain is due to labor market rigidities, questioning the premises on which this theory is based. It then goes on to explain how those advancing this argument are the very same forces responsible for the macroeconomic decisions that are currently causing unemployment.
- Is the swiss health care system a model for the United States? [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Int J Health Serv 2014; 44(2):255-67.
Both supporters and critics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) have argued that it is similar to Switzerland's Federal Law on Health Insurance (LAMal), which currently governs Swiss health care, and have either praised or condemned the ACA on the basis of this alleged similarity. I challenge these observers on the grounds that they overlook critical problems with the Swiss model, such as its inequities in access, and critical differences between it and the ACA, such as the roots in, and continuing commitment to, social insurance of the Swiss model. Indeed, the daunting challenge of attempting to impose the tightly regulated model of operation of the Swiss model on mega-corporations like UnitedHealth, WellPoint, or Aetna is likely to trigger no less ferocious resistance than a fully public, single-payer system would. I also conclude that the ACA might unravel in ways unintended or even opposed by its designers and supporters, as employers, confronted with ever-rising costs, retreat from sponsoring insurance, and workers react in outrage as they confront the unaffordable underinsurance mandated by the ACA. A new political and ideological landscape may then ensue that finally ushers in a truly national health program.