31 d’octubre 2017

Voluntary health insurance: fulfilling expectations

Memòria entitats d'assegurança lliure 2015
Regulació de l'assegurança voluntària de salut

Let's take one country that has a mandatory social security system for the whole population, though its funding comes from taxes (?). If 25% of the population in this country voluntarily buy  duplicate coverage for the roughly the same benefits, what would you say?. The potential answer is that the public system is not fulfilling people expectations and has a big problem. Unfortunately, politicians don't recognise the situation. Imagine that in the capital more than one third of the population hold private insurance, you would say indeed that the problem is larger. This is the case of Barcelona.
Somebody should review the situation. Both public and private systems have their drawbacks. If public mandatory funding is not providing an efficient system, than a prescription is needed. If voluntary health insurance solves the unfulfilled expectations, then a close relationship should be established, and this is not an option by now.
I wrote a paper some time ago on the required new regulation for voluntary health insurance. My impression is that nobody read it. Maybe now it's the time.

PS. Right now 735.997 patients are waiting for a surgery, a visit or a diagnostic procedure.


14 d’octubre 2017

The end of marginal revolution

Richard Thaler was awarded with the Nobel Prize some days ago. If you follow this blog you'll know his works on behavioral economics and nudging. Since many years I've been interested in this perspective, though it has still more to deliver.
Today I would suggest you to read JM Colomer blog. He has written an excellent post on him and its impact on economic science. Selected statements:
Marginalist microeconomics held that we could understand collective outcomes by assuming that they derive from free interactions among homines economici.
A first big counter-revolution was the reintroduction of institutions in the basic analysis, especially since the 1980 and 1990s (including by Nobel laureates related to the social choice and public choice schools such as Kenneth Arrow, James Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Douglass North, Amartya Sen, Thomas Schelling, Leonid Hurwicz, Roger Myerson, political scientist Elinor Ostrom, Oliver Williamson, and others).
The second is the reintroduction of realistic observations about people’s motivations and behavior, including emotions. This has been based on psychology, on the background of huge progress in neuroscience (while pioneers include political scientist Herbert Simon and psychologist Daniel Kahneman). That Richard Thaler professes at the University of Chicago, once the temple of the neoclassical school, shows the depth of the change.
Now we know again that the three pillars of social analysis are, together with people’s calculated self-interested choices, emotions and institutions, as Hume and Smith masterfully had already established.
And this is the return to the roots of economics with a new toolkit.

Parov Stelar

11 d’octubre 2017

Understanding Generic Drug Markets

Comparing Generic Drug Markets in Europe and the United States: Prices, Volumes, and Spending

The development of generic drug markets depends widely on an active regulator. This is the main reason of differences in consumption among countries. A new article highlights these differences and allows to understand better such market.
Substituting generic medicines for more expensive brand-name versions is likely among the most cost-effective interventions in health care systems.
There remain large differences in the usage and prices of generics in Europe and the United States. The barriers to market entry for generic companies vary between countries, as do pricing and reimbursement policies. Beyond such features of the market,
there are differences in whether, and to what extent, patients and health care professionals perceive generic and branded medicines to be bioequivalent.

10 d’octubre 2017

Healthcare Quality Lessons

Caring for Quality in Health

An OECD report provides the lessons on caring for quality, quite general but of interest to dive into each one:
Lesson 1. High-performing health care systems offer primary care as a specialist service
that provides comprehensive care to patients with complex needs
Lesson 2. Patient-centred care requires more effective primary and secondary prevention
in primary care
Lesson 3. High-quality mental health care systems require strong health information systems
and mental health training in primary care
Lesson 4. New models of shared care are required to promote co-ordination across health
and social care systems
Lesson 5. A strong patient voice is a priority to keep health care systems focussed
on quality when financial pressures are acute
Lesson 6. Measuring what matters to people delivers the outcomes that patients expect
Lesson 7. Health literacy helps drive high-value care
Lesson 8. Continuous professional development and evolving practice maximise
the contribution of health professionals
Lesson 9. High-performing health care systems have strong information infrastructures
that are linked to quality-improvement tools
Lesson 10. Linking patient data is a pre-requisite for improving quality across pathways
of care
Lesson 11. External evaluation of health care organisation needs to be fed into continuous
quality-improvement cycles
Lesson 12. Improving patient safety requires greater effort to collect, analyse and learn
from adverse events 
It is like a check list, have you done your homework?

Searching for a book to read
Manel Castro

07 d’octubre 2017

Precision medicine initivatives around the world

Human genomics projects and precision medicine

Governments and research funders in developed world have decided to support precision medicine with different initiatives. Its scope and strenght it is quite diverse. It is good to know what's going on, and this is explained in an article in Nature. A data driven medicine is raising with next generation sequencing (NGS) tools:

The tremendous amount of data that NGS technologies are producing and the difficulties to manage and analyze such quantity of data require the implementation of powerful data centers for storage and analysis. Nevertheless, recent improvements in cloud computing allow managing and analyzing these huge data amounts remotely. With this goal in mind, the main internet companies have taken positions to compete in this area of NGS (data storage and analysis).
As three main examples, Google Genomics, Microsoft Genomics and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Genomics In The Cloud allow researchers to store, process, explore, and share large and complex data sets. The idea behind is to provide userfriendly tools to the researchers.
But finally it is no only for researchers, there will be one day that will be applied by clinicians. The whole article worths to be read.

Lita Cabellut. Barcelona exhibition

05 d’octubre 2017

Beyond precision medicine: high definition medicine

High-Definition Medicine

Some months ago I was posting on medicine as a data science. Now:
The foundation for a new era of data-driven medicine has been set by recent  technological advances that enable the assessment and management of human health at an unprecedented level of resolution—what we refer to as high-definition medicine. Our ability to assess human health in high definition is enabled, in part, by advances in DNA sequencing, physiological and environmental monitoring, advanced imaging, and behavioral tracking. Our ability to understand and act upon these observations at equally high precision is driven by advances in genome editing, celular reprogramming, tissue engineering, and information technologies, especially artificial intelligence.
This is what high definition medicine is about:
the dynamic assessment, management, and understanding of an individual’s health measured at (or near) its most basic units. It is the data-driven practice of medicine through the utilization of these highly detailed, longitudinal, and multi-parametric measures of the determinants of health to modify disease risk factors, detect disease processes early, drive precise and dynamically adjusted interventions, and determine preventative and therapeutic intervention efficacy from real-world outcomes
In this framework, precision medicine is only a small piece of the engine.

The article published in Cell by scholars from Scripps Translational Science Institute sheds light on the new perspectives of the practice of medicine, a milestone on the current knowledge of life sciences and its application.


Catalunya, 1 d'octubre de 2017 · .

03 d’octubre 2017

Bloody Sunday

Rafael Subirachs 41 years ago - Els segadors - Anthem (1640)