31 de gener 2020

Health services research as a data science

Health Services Evaluation
Health Services Information: Key Concepts and Considerations in Building Episodes of Care from
Administrative Data
Assessing health systems

The provision of relevant, accurate, and timely performance information can play a pivotal role in ensuring the health system is able to deliver effective and efficient health services. Through its capacity to secure accountability in the health system, to determine appropriate treatment paths for patients, and to plan for future service patterns and structures, information can be used to identify and implement potential improvements in service delivery

30 de gener 2020

AI in clinical decision making

International evaluation of an AI system for breast cancer screening

Artificial intelligence is capable of surpassing human experts in breast cancer prediction. You can check it in Nature:
 To assess its performance in the clinical setting, we curated a large representative dataset from the UK and a large enriched dataset from the USA. We show an absolute reduction of 5.7% and 1.2% (USA and UK) in false positives and 9.4% and 2.7% in false negatives. We provide evidence of the ability of the system to generalize from the UK to the USA. In an independent study of six radiologists, the AI system outperformed all of the human readers: the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC-ROC) for the AI system was greater than the AUC-ROC for the average radiologist by an absolute margin of 11.5%. 
If AI outperforms radiologists, than there is no argument to delay its implementation.
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23 de gener 2020

How to distort priority setting?

Biases distorting priority setting

Why priority setting in health care has so poor outcomes while relevant systems are well developed and readily available? You just have to read this article to understand it.
It starts to identify some rational and structural explanations for the discrepancy between theoretical efforts and practical outcomes in priority setting. However, even if these issues are addressed, practical priority setting may still not obtain its goals. This is because a wide range of irrational effects is hampering priority setting: biases.

Table 1. Overview of various biases and potential implications for priority setting and at which level they may be most prominent.
BiasPotential ImplicationsLevel
Identifiability and Singularity effectUndermining principlesMicro
Rejection DislikeHamper disinvestmentMicro, meso
Failure Embarrassment effectOveruseMicro (primarily)
Prominence Effect (Opportunity Cost Neglect)Non-warranted useAll
Status Quo BiasOveruse, UnderuseAll
Endowment EffectOveruse, UnderuseMicro (primarily)
Loss AversionHamper disinvestmentAll
Aversion to Risk / AmbiguityOveruseMicro, meso
Availability HeuristicsOveruseMicro, meso
Sacred Values and Taboo trade-offsUndermining principlesAll
Progress biasOveruseAll
Adoption AddictionOveruseMicro, macro
Complexity biasUndermining principles, overuseMicro, meso, macro
Extension biasOveruseAll
Asymmetry of risks and benefitsOveruseMicro (primarily)
Positive cognitive feedback loopsUndermining principles, overuseMicro, meso, macro
Prestige biasUndermining principles, overuseMicro (primarily)
Imperative of ActionUndermining principles, overuseMicro (primarily)
Technology Placebo EffectUndermining principles, overuseMicro (primarily)
Imperative of KnowledgeOveruseMicro
Competency EffectOveruseMicro
Multiple ReplacementsOveruseMicro
White ElephantsOverinvestmentMicro
Boys and Toys EffectUnwarranted useMicro

17 de gener 2020

Episode based payment systems (2)

Value-based provider payment: towards a theoretically preferred design

The details of a payment system methodology are clearly described in this article. I was not surprised to confirm that the proposals we made two decades ago were in the same direction: two-part payment, fix and variable. Unfortunately nowadays we have a retrofuture system that nobody knows exactly how incentives really work. Of course, this is the first best for a discretionary behaviour by a resource allocator. This is a clear step in the wrong direction that started a decade ago. Without proper incentives, efficiency suffers, and to be clear this means less efficient healthcare for the patients. Unfortunately again, nobody cares about it.
The main contribution of this paper is twofold. Inspired by the societal debate on what
stakeholders in health care should ideally strive for, as well as by existing definitions of value, we first described and further specified the concept of value, facilitating the specification of requirements in the design of VBP. We conclude that, in this respect, value is ideally conceptualised as a multifaceted concept, comprising not only high quality of care at the lowest possible costs but also efficient cooperation, innovation and health promotion. Second, starting from these value dimensions, we derived various design features of a theoretically preferred VBP model. We conclude that in order to stimulate value in a broad sense, the payment should consist of two main components that must be carefully designed. The first component is a risk-adjusted global base payment with risk-sharing elements paid to a multidisciplinary provider group for the provision of (virtually) the full continuum of care to a certain population. The second
component is a relatively low-powered variable payment that explicitly rewards aspects of value that can be adequately measured.
The time to fix the current mess has arrived.

Jordi Sàbat

16 de gener 2020

Episode based payment systems

Unraveling the Complexity in the Design and Implementation of Bundled Payments: A Scoping Review of Key Elements From a Payer’s Perspective

After per case based payment systems (DRGs) everybody was waiting for a comprehensive system to measure health services activities. And instead of focusing on episodes, what happened is that bundling was the new frame. Unfortunately, after all these years bundling has not provided the answer because the scope of measurement is related to several diseases and it is not holistic.
When everybody was asking for an alternative to fee-for service, the answer was in my opinion "patient focused episodes of care", but the US government decided otherwise and protected the interests of those that leverage fee-for-service.
Therefore, now it is the time to fix this mistake and take the right  road. In this article you'll find some issues to consider when you have to design a payment system. It still talks about bundling, forget it, substitute it by episodes and it will be fine.

Our framework provides a structured overview of the principal, literature‐based elements of the design and implementation of bundled payment contracts from a payer's perspective. We identified 53 elements that involve all procurement phases and relate to actors on all levels of the health care system. A better understanding of these elements can help payers and other actors devise a strategic approach and reduce the complexity of implementing these contracts. Compared with traditional FFS models, bundled payment contracts introduce an alternative set of financial incentives that affect the entire health care system, involve almost all aspects of governance within organizations, and demand a different type of collaboration among organizations. This is what makes the design and implementation of bundled payment contracts complex and is why they should not be strategically approached by payers as merely the adoption of a new contracting model but, rather, as part of a broader transformation to a more sustainable value‐based health care system, based less on short‐term transactional negotiations and more on long‐term collaborative relationships between payers and providers.

09 de gener 2020

All you need to know about molecular diagnostics

Molecular Diagnostics Fundamentals, Methods, and Clinical Applications

Current advances in health sciences are available at the same time that diagnostic technology and knowledge provide new tools. This book is specially relevant because it summarises all the current state of the art on molecular diagnostics. Therefore a good suggestion for those who want to practice precision medicine.

Table of contents:
I. Fundamentals of Molecular Biology: An Overview
1. Nucleic Acids and Proteins
2. Gene Expression and Epigenetics
II. Common Techniques in Molecular Biology
3. Nucleic Acid Extraction Methods
4. Resolution and Detection of Nucleic Acids
5. Analysis and Characterization of Nucleic Acids and Proteins
6. Nucleic Acid Amplification
7. Chromosomal Structure and Chromosomal Mutations
8. Gene Mutations
9. DNA Sequencing
III. Techniques in the Clinical Laboratory
10. DNA Polymorphisms and Human Identification
11. Detection and Identification of Microorganisms
12. Molecular Detection of Inherited Diseases
13. Molecular Oncology
14. DNA-Based Tissue Typing
15. Quality Assurance and Quality Control in the Molecular Laboratory
A. Study Questions Answers
B. Answers to Case Studies

08 de gener 2020

Tough days ahead for health policy

Sistema Nacional de Salud: retos y tareas pendientes tras la Gran Recesión

The issue of Revista ICE, a must read for the new health minister:


Innovación tecnológica y financiación de prestaciones

La colaboración público-privada en sanidad: hasta dónde y cómo delimitar sus fronteras

Reformas pendientes en la organización de la actividad sanitaria

La atención especilizada del Sistema Nacional de Salud durante la Gran Recesión. Gasto, utilización y variabilidad en el periodo 2004-2015

Atención a la dependencia y cuidados sanitarios: obligados a entenderse

Mirando más allá de los servicios de atención sanitaria: el papel de la salud pública

Diseño institucional y buen gobierno: avances y reformas pendientes

Crisis económica y salud: lecciones aprendidas y recomendaciones para el futuro

05 de gener 2020

The public option for population health improvement

Addressing Social Determinants to Improve Population Health
Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation’s Health
The Public Option How to Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality

This is what JAMA article says about population health
While health care organizations may not be equipped to address each of the root causes of their patients’ conditions, they need to broaden their perspective on how to address social determinants of health and use their expertise to influence initiatives on education, housing, employment, and other important health related social issues that take place beyond their immediate clinical purview.
"Need to broaden their perspective", this is the message for health care organizations according to the articoe. I'm not so sure about it. The message is not only for health care organizations, it is for public policies. This is much more difficult to address when there is not a public option for the whole population. A new book sheds light on this topic for the US policy.

PS. The Limits of Private Action: What the Past 40 Years Taught Us About the Perils of Unregulated Markets
PS. There Should Be a Public Option for Everything

04 de gener 2020

How altruistic behaviors reduce pain

Altruistic behaviors relieve physical pain

That's it. You'll find the details in PNAS article:
For centuries, scientists have pondered why people would incur personal costs to help others and the implications for the performers themselves. While most previous studies have suggested that those who perform altruistic actions receive direct or indirect benefits that could compensate for their cost in the future, we offer another take on how this could be understood. We examine how altruistic behaviors may influence the performers’ instant sensation in unpleasant situations, such as physical pain. We find consistent behavioral and neural evidence that in physically threatening situations acting altruistically can relieve painful feelings in human performers. These findings shed light on the psychological and biological mechanisms underlying human prosocial behavior and provide practical insights into pain management.

Parov Stelar 

02 de gener 2020

Fighting against techno-eugenics

A Chinese scientist who shocked the medical community last year when he said he had illegally created the world's first gene-edited babies has been sentenced to three years in prison by a court in southern China.
He Jiankui announced in November 2018 that he had used a powerful technique called CRISPR on a human embryo to edit the genes of twin girls. He said he modified a gene with the intention of protecting the girls against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many scientists expressed concerns about possible unintended side effects of the genetic changes that could be passed down to future generations.
Last fall, He also indicated there might be another pregnancy involving a gene-edited embryo. The court indicated that three genetically edited babies have been born.
The closed court in Shenzhen found He and two colleagues guilty of illegal medical practice by knowingly violating the country's regulations and ethical principles with their experiments, Xinhua news agency reported. It also ordered He to pay a fine of about $430,000.
Such unethical medical behavior is the worst news of 2019. And this article explained last June the reasons:
The link between CCR5 and HIV is fairly well studied. Disabling CCR5 removes the doorway HIV uses to enter and infect cells, but it does so only for some strains of HIV; there are others that don’t need CCR5. Further, the genetic sequence He’s edits produced does not match this well-studied variant of CCR5; in fact, it has never been observed in humans or animals. In other words, no one has any idea whether the variant with which Lulu and Nana are now living will affect HIV immunity or anything else.
That’s a key issue: Genes don’t do just one thing. Most illnesses and traits are influenced by dozens, hundreds, even thousands of DNA variations. Each of our roughly 20,000 genes is linked to many different aspects of our physiology and health. So what else does CCR5 do? A variant that provides protection against HIV also seems to increase susceptibility to a number of more common diseases, like flu and West Nile virus.
CCR5 has also been linked to brain function, which led to some sensational headlines and media speculation that the gene-edited babies might have enhanced brains. There are likely myriad other processes to which CCR5 contributes that we don’t know about yet. To that point: before the recent study, no one had researched whether the CCR5 mutation resulted in better or worse health over a person’s lifetime.
The CCR5 story illustrates a flaw in the logic that underlies gene editing. Efforts to change one gene to affect one illness in a future person ignore the fact that health is the result of infinitely complex interactions within and outside a person’s body. In most cases, the presence or absence of a particular genetic variant is not the sole determinant of a disease or condition.
And this article reminds us that, despite the appearance of agreement, ethical questions that have surrounded human germline editing for years have yet to be properly addressed.

Unnatural Selection: Season 1 | Main Trailer | Netflix