All Posts By

Melissa Ostroff

Wharton-Sirius Radio Previews Issues From Upcoming LDI 50th Anniversary Symposium

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The Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal to eliminate or scale back the Affordable Care Act’s “bundled payment” programs seems counter to early research findings that document the cost savings and improved outcomes achieved by those new payment models, according to University of Pennsylvania health services researcher Amol Navathe. Navathe, MD, PhD, was one of three Penn faculty members appearing on the Wharton/Sirius “Business of Health Care” radio show to discuss their own areas of research as a prelude to the upcoming two-day Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics 50th Anniversary “Shaping the Future of Health Care” Symposium. That event…

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STAT: End-of-life decisions can be difficult. This doctor thinks ‘nudges’ can help

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For tax payments, “nudges” have helped municipalities increase revenues and decrease collection-related costs. For energy consumption, “nudges” have helped homeowners save money and utilities preserve capacity. But in health care, the technique has been slower to catch on. First described by the pioneering economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (who is also a legal scholar), a “nudge” is a way of framing a set of choices to essentially steer people toward a particular option without shutting out other options. Dr. Scott Halpern, a critical care physician at University of Pennsylvania who studies the ethics and effectiveness of nudges in health…

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Philadelphia Inquirer: Can a $55 water bottle prevent kidney stones? Penn and CHOP aim to find out.

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Armed with a big federal grant, Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are teaming up to prevent kidney stones, an excruciatingly painful condition that is increasing in both adults and children. Along with three other institutions, they’ll be part of a clinical trial testing whether a $55 “smart” water bottle that sends data on how much users drink to a phone app, plus financial incentives, can keep people of all ages who’ve had one kidney stone from getting another one. “The goal of this grant is to look at kidney stones as a disease that can occur over a…

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Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. families appear to embrace tougher school vaccination rules

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It took many an email, copious notices snail-mailed home, and robo-calls aplenty, not to mention some thinly veiled threats of turning away unvaccinated kids from school. But education and health officials around Pennsylvania say that, for the most part, families appear to be rising to the challenge of earlier, stricter deadlines for getting students immunized. “At this time, school districts and school nurses are doing a great job of coordinating with parents and asking for resources when needed,” said state health department spokeswoman April Hutcheson. No new immunization numbers have been tallied yet, but officials say the rules seem to be…

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Celebrating LDI’s 50th Anniversary

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Origins of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics With a gift from Leonard and Sophie Davis, the University of Pennsylvania established the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) in 1967, two years after Congress enacted Medicare. It was created to fill fundamental gaps in the evidence base that could inform policies critical to the financing and management of the nation’s increasingly costly and complex health care system. Today, LDI is considered one of the world’s leading university-based programs of its kind. LDI and its senior fellows are among the pioneers in interdisciplinary health services research and have helped guide…

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The 50-state Laboratory: How Can Behavioral Science Bolster Vaccination Policy?

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Vaccinating kids saves a lot of lives and a lot of dollars. High rates of vaccine coverage assure community protection (“herd immunity”), and in the United States we achieve this by requiring children to be fully vaccinated by the time they start school. Taken together, these requirements are often called the “immunization schedule.” We’ve mandated school-entry immunization for so long that it at times seems like a given, but many other countries don’t have similar mandates. They suffer from lower vaccine coverage and more disease. But what happens when parents in the U.S. don’t want their children to be vaccinated? All 50 states have…

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New York Times: NYC calorie rule scrutinized in courts of law, and science

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As a court fight simmers over New York City’s pioneering requirement for calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, scientists say the jury’s still out on whether giving people the numbers spurs them to eat healthier. CHIBE’s Christina Roberto says, “It’s unreasonable to say, ‘If this one policy doesn’t reduce obesity, it’s a failure,’ because the chances any one policy will do that are incredibly small.” Read more in the New York Times.

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Undark: Putting Digital Health Monitoring Tools to the Test

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PHYSICIANS CALL IT the 5,000-hour problem. If you have a common chronic condition such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, the expert in charge of your health for almost all of your 5,000 waking hours annually is — you. And, frankly, you won’t always make the best choices. “The behavior changes that are necessary to address chronic disease are much more in your hands than in the doctor’s,” points out Stacey Chang, executive director of the Design Institute for Health at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas. “To cede that control to the doctor sometimes is actually counterproductive.” With that in mind,…

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Psychology Today: Are Simple Behavioral Interventions Cost Effective?

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Psychology Today: “These analyses suggest that simple behavioral interventions should remain a part of the way governments and organizations try to affect people’s behavior. They often involve simple interventions that give a lot of bang for the buck. That said, it is also worth doing some testing of the effectiveness of these interventions. At times they can lead to unintended consequences.”

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