Do Hospitals Designated as Centers of Excellence Have Better Outcomes?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sameed Khatana, MDFellow, Cardiovascular Medicine, Perleman School of MedicineAssociate Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health EconomicsUniversity of Pennsylvania

Dr. Khatana

Sameed Khatana, MD
Fellow, Cardiovascular Medicine, Perleman School of Medicine
Associate Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
University of Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There has been a growing use of quality metrics and indices in the US healthcare system. Much attention has been paid to quality measurement programs used by public payors, however, the use of such programs by commercial payors is much less studied. “Centers of excellence” are one type of quality designation program that is growing in use by commercial payors where certain hospitals are determined to be “high quality” for a certain disease state or procedure based on meeting certain criteria. For some people, this is even impacting the choice of providers and hospitals they can use by payors.

We evaluated centers of excellence programs from three large commercial payors, Aetna, Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, targeted at cardiovascular diseases and interventions and examined publicly reported outcomes for all hospitals performing percutaneous coronary interventions (cardiac stenting) in New York State. 

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Amyloid and Tau Biomarkers Help Distinguish Alzheimer’s from Other Forms of Mild Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lauren McCollum, MDCognitive and Behavioral Neurology FellowPenn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology DivisionLauren McCollum, MD

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Fellow
Penn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology Division

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a heterogenous condition, with considerable variability in cognitive symptoms and progression rates.

One major reason for this heterogeneity is “mixed pathology,” – i.e., both AD- and non-AD pathology. Examples of non-AD pathology include cerebrovascular disease (CVD), Lewy Bodies, and TDP-43. Pathologically, Alzheimer’s Disease is defined by characteristic amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which can be assessed for in living patients with CSF- or PET-based biomarkers for amyloid and tau, respectively. Classically, amyloid deposition begins years or even decades before pathologic tau accumulation, which is in turn associated with brain atrophy and cognitive decline.

The recently developed NIA-AA “ATN” research framework allows for the classification of individuals with regard to 3 binary biomarkers: Amyloid (A), Tau (T), and Neurodegeneration (N). An individual’s ATN biomarker status indicates where along the “Alzheimer’s Disease continuum” they lie. Additionally, some ATN statuses are on the “typical AD” continuum, while others are not. Research has shown that 15-30% of cognitively normal older adults have elevated amyloid. It stands to reason that some portion of cognitively impaired individuals with elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration have something other than AD driving their neuronal injury. Within the context of the ATN research framework, this subset of people is the A+T-N+ group (i.e., people who have elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration, but are tau-negative), as amyloid alone (that is, amyloid without tau) is not thought to cause significant cognitive impairment or brain atrophy. Our hypothesis was that, compared to A+T+N+ (a set of typical-AD biomarkers), A+T-N+ have cognitive and neuroimaging profiles that deviate from a typical Alzheimer’s Disease pattern – i.e., with less memory loss and less atrophy in AD-signature regions – and may have biomarkers suggestive of alternate non-AD pathologies [e.g., white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), a marker of CVD].

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Some with Elevated Alzheimer’s Biomarkers Interested in Aid-in-Dying Information

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emily Largent, PhD, JD, RNAssistant Professor, Medical Ethics and Health PolicyPerelman School of MedicineLeonard Davis Institute of Health EconomicsUniversity of Pennsylvania

Dr. Largent

Emily Largent, PhD, JD, RN
Assistant ProfessorMedical Ethics and Health Policy
Perelman School of Medicine
Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
University of Pennsylvania 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response:  Public support for aid in dying in the United States is rapidly growing.  As a result, we’re now seeing debates about whether to expand access to aid-in-dying to new populations – such as people with Alzheimer’s disease – who wouldn’t be eligible under current laws.

With those debates in mind, we asked currently healthy people who recently learned about their risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia (i.e., due to the presence of amyloid, an Alzheimer’s disease biomarker) whether they would be interested in aid-in-dying.

Our findings suggest that about 20% of individuals with elevated amyloid may be interested in aid-in-dying if they become cognitively impaired.  

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Patients’ Trust in Medical Profession Declined After Open Payments

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Genevieve Kanter, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Health Management and Policy Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Genevieve Kanter


Genevieve P. Kanter, PhD

Assistant Professor (Research) of Medicine
Medical Ethics and Health Policy
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA  19104-6021

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

 

Response: Physicians frequently have financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical device firms, but only recently has information on these financial ties been made available to the public. The Open Payments program, created by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, has made this industry payments information available through a public website since 2014.

Because transparent institutions are believed to engender greater public trust, public disclosure of industry payments could increase public trust in the medical profession, which may have been weakened by physicians’ relationships with industry. On the other hand, Open Payments may have decreased public trust because of the focus of media reporting on physicians receiving the largest sums of money.

We sought to investigate how Open Payments and the public disclosure of industry payments affected public trust in physicians and in the medical profession. We compared changes in trust among patients who lived in states where payments information had, by state statute, previously been made available, to changes in trust among patients who lived in states where this information became newly available through Open Payments.

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Genes Linked to Alcohol Use Disorder Identified

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Henry R. Kranzler, MDProfessor of PsychiatryPerelman School of MedicineUniversity of Pennsylvania

Dr. Kranzler

Henry R. Kranzler, MD
Professor of Psychiatry
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are moderately heritable traits.  To date, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have not examined these traits in the same sample, which limits an assessment of the extent to which genetic variation is unique to one or the other or shared.

This GWAS examined a large sample (nearly 275,000 individuals) from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP) for whom data on both alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder diagnoses were available from an electronic health record.  We identified 18 genetic variants that were significantly associated with either alcohol consumption, AUD, or both. Five of the variants were associated with both traits, eight with consumption only, and five with alcohol use disorder only.  Continue reading

Not All Skilled Nursing Patients Seen Promptly By Physicians After Transfer From Hospital

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kira L. Ryskina  MD MSAssistant Professor Of MedicineDivision of General Internal MedicinePerelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Ryskina

Kira L. Ryskina  MD MS
Assistant Professor Of Medicine
Division of General Internal Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine,
University of Pennsylvania 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Post-acute care in skilled nursing facilities (SNF or sometimes called subacute rehab) is a very common discharge destination after a hospital stay. Patients discharged to these facilities represent more clinically complex and high-need patients than patients discharged home.

We wanted to understand how soon after discharge from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility are patients seen by a physician. We found that first visits by a physician or advanced practitioner (a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) for initial medical assessment occurred within four days of SNF admission in 71.5 percent of the stays. However, there was considerable variation in days to first visit at the regional, facility, and patient levels.

One in five initial physician visits occurred more than 4 days after admission to skilled nursing facilities.  In 10.4 percent of stays there was no physician or advanced practitioner visit. Much of the variability in visit timing had to do with SNF characteristics and geography compared to patient clinical or demographic characteristics. Patients who did not receive a physician visit had nearly double the rates of readmissions or deaths compared to patients who were seen.  Continue reading