Adjusted morbidity groups: a new population morbidity classifier

2 Feb
Foto Emili Vela
Emili Vela

At present, chronic pathologies have become a challenge for health systems in developed countries. The majority of sick people that use health services have multiple morbidity and this increases with age. The presence of multiple morbidity is associated with a greater use of resources for care (both health and social) and a lower quality of life.

In this context, it is necessary to measure multiple morbidity to be able to determine its impact. There are two large sets of measurements of multiple morbidity: on the one hand, a simple count of the diseases (usually chronic) of each person and, on the other, indexes which indicate the burden of an individual’s diseases based on the ranking of pathologies giving each one a differential weighting drawn from clinical criteria provided by groups of experts and/or statistical analysis based on mortality or the utilisation of health services.

The Adjusted Morbidity Groups (AMG) are encompassed in this last group, the only one of these tools developed in Europe on the basis of a public health system, universal in nature and eminently free.

Los grupos de morbilidad ajustados

The characteristics and functioning of the AMG can be found in this article. In a nutshell, we can say that the AMG have been validated statistically, by analysing their explanatory and predictive capacity. In this validation, the AMG have shown better results than other tools in the majority of indicators studied, including those relative to social and health care.

Concordancia y utilidad sistema estratificación

They have also been validated clinically by primary care doctors, both in Catalonia and in the Community of Madrid. The main results of these validations are that the AMG show a good classification of the patient in terms of risk, that this good classification increases with the complexity of the patient, the preference of clinicians for this tool with respect to other tools to classify morbidity and finally, that it is a useful tool for assigning a level of intervention in accordance with the needs of patients.

From 2012, the AMG were developed in the framework of an agreement of collaboration between CatSalut and Catalan Health Institute. Subsequently, they have been implemented at a national level in 13 autonomous communities thanks to an agreement reached between CatSalut and the Ministry of Health, Social and Equality Services. As a result of the implementations done during 2015, 38 million people of the Spanish population have been classified. The final goal of this agreement is to jointly develop a tool to stratify the population and which could be applicable to the entire National Health System by means of adapting the AMG.

Proposals enhanced health risk

Similarly, the AMG are being used in several European projects concerning the stratification and integration of health and social care.

In summary, we can assert that the AMG are a new classifier of morbidity which shows comparable results -at the very least- to those provided by other classifiers on the market. On the other hand, having been developed using the information from our health system (universal and eminently free), it can not only be adapted to new requirements or strategies of our organisations, but also to other health systems as well as to specific areas or populations. Evidence of this last point is that at the moment, together with the Master Plan of Mental Health and Addictions of the Health Department, a specific classifier is being developed for patients with mental health and addiction problems.

Post written by David Monterde (Oficina d’Estadística. Sistemes d’Informació. Institut Català de la Salut), Emili Vela (Àrea d’Atenció Sanitària. Servei Català de la Salut) and Montse Clèries (Àrea d’Atenció Sanitària. Servei Català de la Salut).

Wishing you all a Joyous Festive Season from the AQuAS blog

29 Dec
nadal-2016-marta-millaret
Marta Millaret

From the blog AQUAS we hope you are having a good festive season and would like to thank you for reading and following us.

We publish weekly in Catalan, Spanish and English on subjects related to the projects that are being carried out at AQuAS and we also publish contributions from guest authors. The editorial line of the blog includes a focus on assessment from different points of view and areas of the health system.

Along these lines, we have dealt with healthcare and quality results presented by the different agents who make up the healthcare system, the whole range of observatories of the Catalan Health System (including that which deals with the effects of the economic crisis on the health of the population and innovation), qualitative research, integrated care, the assessment of mHealth, inequalities in health, patient involvement, doctor-patient communication, shared decisions, patient and citizen preferences, variations in medical practice, the prevention of low-value clinical practices, the impact of research, information and communications technology, data analysis in research, tools for the visualisation of data, innovation and health management, the gender perspective in science, statistical issues, clinical safety with electronic prescriptions, chronicity (not forgetting chronicity in children), the effects of air pollution in health and current topics.

blog-aquas

The most read articles in 2016 have been:

However, we have published many more texts, 51 posts to be precise, without counting this one, with the aim of sharing knowledge and generating a space for reflection, open and useful for everyone.

Thank you very much, a joyous festive season and see you in the new year!

Post written by Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret), blog AQuAS editor.

nadal-2016-aquas-bicicleta

 

Is it possible to combine active and healthy ageing with innovation?

22 Dec
toni-dedeu
Toni Dedéu

The European Innovation Partnership on Active & Healthy Ageing (EIPonAHA) is an initiative of the European Commission to deal strategically with the social challenges associated to active and healthy ageing, to make good practices in innovation more visible and to facilitate exchanges between regions, all of which promote interregional cooperation and the value of excellence.

What is its aim? To improve the health and quality of life of Europeans, especially of people older than 65, and to give support to the sustainability and efficiency of health and social care systems in the long term as well as to enhance the competitiveness of EU industry through expansion in new markets.

The reflection on how health systems interact with an ageing population and care in chronicity has been been one of the main lines followed in the AQuAS blog during 2016; they are subjects that affect our society and, precisely because of this, are part of the Health agenda.

In this context, having links to European projects is fundamental, where networking, collaborative projects and assessment are absolutely essential.

eiponaha

This is the underlying idea of the Reference Sites awards which assess regional European health ecosystems based on four axes:

  1. Political, organisational, technological and financial willingness for an innovative approach to active and healthy ageing
  2. The capacity to share knowledge and resources for innovation
  3. Contributiing to European cooperation and transferability of own practices
  4. Providing evidence of positive impact

The status of “Reference Site” is awarded to systems, alliances and ecosystems in health which comprise different players at a regional European level (government authorities, hospitals and care organisations, the health industry, SMEs and start-ups, research and innovation organisations and civil society) which have invested in developing and implementing innovative-based approaches to active and healthy ageing. These practices must be carried out with a comprehensive approach and vision and proof of the impact of their results must be provided.

Four stars is the highest distinction awarded by EIP on AHA and this is the score obtained by Catalonia as a leading health ecosystem and a reference for institutions and European organisations in the area of innovation in active and healthy ageing. These factors encourage the internationalisation and visibility of the Catalan health system and at the same time increase the possibilities for creating initiatives and forming consortiums for collaborative work with other European regions.

Being self-critical of the  different health systems is as important as the knowledge and recognition of one’s own strengths and values. Sharing this is a way of acknowledging the involvement and work done by many professionals. We do not work in isolation; as a whole, this work has involved and involves AQuAS, the Fundació TicSalut, the HUBc (Health University of the Barcelona Campus), the ICS  (Catalan Health Institut),  the IDIAP Jordi Gol (Institute for Research in Primary Care), the Pere Mata Institute, the IRB Lleida (Biomedical Research Institution of Lleida), the VHIR (Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca), the Consorci Sanitari del Garraf  and the Institut Guttmann.

Last 7 December in Brussels, on behalf of the Department of Health, I received the award for the Catalonia Reference Site group given by the European Commission. It is relevant because this fact defines Catalonia as one of the most dynamic and leading European regions in number and quality of initiatives, investment and results in generating and implementing innovative solutions to resolving problems in care and health to elderly people, chronic patients and other groups of risk patients.

The fact that Catalonia has obtained this distinction from the European Commission has a very clear meaning: Catalonia is recognised as one of the leading European regions regarding active and healthy ageing and innovation.

On we go.

Post written by Toni Dedéu (@Toni_Dedeu), Managing Director of AQuAS.

Elderly person with stroke: integrated care from the acute phase to the return home

9 Dec
marco-inzitari
Marco Inzitari

Stroke has a high incidence, a growing prevalence and is the pathology with the second highest impact in the world in terms of disability among adults. Despite important advances in acute stroke management, which have led to a progressive decrease in acute stroke deaths, in terms of residual disability, stroke continues to have an extremely high impact on survivors, their families, their caregivers and on society in general.

Evidence shows that the approach to patients throughout the process of care in stroke, from the acute phase to the rehabilitation phase, needs to be multidisciplinary since patients have multiple health care and social needs which require a strong coordination between the different levels of healthcare. However, the tendency is still to organise conferences and congresses focused on only one speciality or level of healthcare.

On the other hand, and in self-criticism, even though stroke is one of the main reasons for using intermediate or long-term healthcare services, this sector almost never takes part in the decision making process of stroke care organisation. Neither does it do much research in stroke and in general, tends to put little thought into improving knowledge in treatments or in innovating the organisation of services compared to, for example, other conditions such as thighbone fractures.

This is why the Parc Sanitari Pere Virgili organised a monothematic symposium on 27 October, two days before the World Stroke Day. It focused on the treatment and management of stroke in elderly people from a different perspective: we traced the trajectory from the “needle” of the thrombolysis in the acute phase, passing through rehabilitative care and “reablement” in the post-acute phase, to the transition back to home life, describing the care given to patients especially, but not forgetting the attention caregivers need.

jornada-ictus-pere-virgili

The presentations reflected and reinforced the need for a multidisciplinary approach in all phases of stroke. As an added value, in all cases the speakers not only combined recommendations derived from literature with their own practical healthcare experience but also provided data from their own research or innovation projects, in many cases with data published recently.

Among the speakers there was a varied representation from very different disciplines which included neurologists, geriatricians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, a health economist and the representative of the stroke patients association who chaired a roundtable.

Some of the items that were highlighted most strongly during the symposium were:

  1. The large amount of increasingly more accurate data available on all phases of stroke management. In Catalonia, this data is being provided by the Results Centre, which encourages transparency and allows for benchmarking thereby facilitating a reduction in variability and the sharing of best practices.
  2. Despite improvements in the treatment of acute stroke patients using mechanical thrombectomy together with systemic thrombolysis, 40% of patients are left with a considerable disability as a consequence of stroke. This “glass half-full” should therefore encourage more to be done in terms of acute stroke management, and also in post-acute care which is still vital.
  3. In acute care, age should not be a discriminating factor. This is in line with the concept that chronological age does not correspond necessarily to biological age and that two elderly people of the same age can have a totally different “functional potential” (a concept which in practice in the field of geriatrics is understood as meaning more or less “frail”).
  4. Advances have not only been made in acute care but also in the field of primary and secondary preventive care. Accordingly, the development, the approval of and the use of NOACs (new oral anticoagulants) have been a determining factor since they offer an alternative for those patients where traditional anticoagulants are not a therapeutic option.
  5. The rehabilitation prognosis is multifactorial. A recent proposal stemming from a multi-centre Catalan study led by our hospital and published recently, is based on a simple algorithm which incorporates the social factor (presence of the caregiver) together with the severity of the stroke (using the NIHSS score), functional status (according to the Barthel index) and cognitive function (a result of the Rancho Los Amigos scale). This allows patients to be classified in three levels of rehabilitation complexity, but who might evolve differently, with different needs for intervention, both in the rehabilitation process and regarding their return home.
  6. Integrated interventions in geriatric rehabilitation can be home-based for certain patients as an alternative to a hospital admission. This model, deeply rooted in England and which has proven to be beneficial, is producing good results in our context in different pathologies including stroke. Innovative formulas such as “Comprehensive Home-based Hospitalisation” have, in our context, come about from the alliance between home-based geriatric care teams (doctor, nurse and social worker) and those of home-based rehabilitation (rehabilitation doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist).
  7. In terms of physiotherapy, treatments should be more standardised and their efficacy demonstrated. During the symposium, interesting evidence was presented on the control of the trunk and its importance throughout the rehabilitation process in stroke.
  8. Dysphagia is a very prevalent risk condition in patients who have suffered a stroke. Different proposals of scales for assessment at the bedside were shown which can be applied by nurses, reserving the speech therapist’s intervention for the most complex cases which require a more specialised assessment.
  9. In rehabilitation, the support from the ICT (“telerehabilitation” which patients can receive following the instructions and programme configuration of the physiotherapist) allows treatments to be extended in time and intensity along with face-to-face treatment.
  10. Working with caregivers is important. Apart from guiding them within the system, the availability of support groups for exchanging personal experiences, for a social worker, for example, could have an impact on the adaptation of the caregiver to the new situation. To this effect, an innovative experience was developed in our centre with a high degree of acceptance by patients and their families.
  11. Continuity in the recovery process is key and the integration of health and social services guarantees an added value. The pilot “Return Programme” in the city of Barcelona, the result of the alliance between the Catalan Health Service and the City Council of Barcelona was presented. It allows for the direct activation of social services, from acute care and long-term care hospitals so that patients can receive the necessary aid when they return home and thus avoid unnecessary and dangerous delays.

In summary, much progress has been made in the treatment of stroke, especially in the acute phase, but innovation is also being carried out in the successive phases and the symposium showcased different experiences which have been implemented in our context. Drawing conclusions from the symposium, the take home messages are that a comprehensive view of the entire process is key, as well as an integrated and coordinated approach between the different levels of healthcare and social services. On the other hand, more research needs to be carried out especially in the post-acute and chronic phases resulting from the disease and this poses a challenge because of the difficulty in designing and implementing complex interventions where designs such as standard clinical trials are not the solution.

Post written by Marco Inzitari (@marcoinzi) and Laura Mónica Pérez, Parc Sanitari Pere Virgili, Barcelona.

Broadening perspectives in health service assessment

8 Sep
Vicky Serra-Sutton
Vicky Serra-Sutton, sociologist PhD

What lies behind a significant volume of hospital readmissions? What makes a service present a good healthcare praxis? What obstacles are there when changing to a healthcare model such as in major out-patient surgery which encourages patients to go home on the same day as their operation? Do managers and nursing staff have the same opinion about what efficiency is in an operating theatre? What is the perception of professionals of the possible benefits of people-centred attention?

Do we all see a dragon?

Drac

Reality is complex and therefore approaches are needed which facilitate the interpretation and understanding of that reality. With qualitative research, places can be reached otherwise unattainable when using other methodological aproximations. When answering questions like those we asked ourselves previously, a truly qualitative approach is required. We need to make the approach using an adequate and credible technique to validate the process of all those involved and  to ensure precision in results as is done in quantitative research but not forgetting that we need to be critical and independent in the analysis made.

We will briefly outline the evolution of the qualitative approaches in the context of the assessment of health services. A reflection on the usefulness of qualitative techniques  in the assessment of health services or medical technologies is not a new one and you can find a series on this subject in the British Medical Journal of 1995 and in the Health Technology Assessment report of 1998.

bmj-1995-eng

Health assessment agencies have given great importance to questions about the scientific evidence available when talking about the efficiency and safety of treatments and biomedical interventions of a clinical nature. Randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews are considered to be the reference standards for causal atributions of the benefits of an intervention for the improvement in the health status of patients.

Society has evolved and the needs of the system adapt to this. We formulate new questions related to the preferences and expectations of users facing treatment and how different professionals contribute to providing better results in patient health care. One must bear in mind that when assessing the benefits and results of attention given,  many factors come into play.

In this context, the paradigm of evidence based medicine and the supposed superiority of quantitative approaches and of some study designs above others, have created obstacles in the application of qualitative research. In this sense, the letter to the editors of the British Medical Journal signed by more than 70 researchers of reference for giving their support to qualitative research is clear proof of this remaining obstacle.

bmj-2016-eng

Questioning the efficacy of a medical drug cannot be answered using a qualitative approach but we can broaden the scope of questions that we pose ourselves.

For example, we can consider asking ourselves questions, among others, about the preferences of patients, the perception of the benefits of a medical drug, the expectations or opinion of professionals that prescribe it or the possible reasons for a low adherence of the medical drug.

Another scenario could be that of a patient with osteoarthritis who has undergone a knee replacement (arthroplasty) and who is being attended by several professionals such as the primary care doctor, the traumatologist surgeon, the anaesthetist, the nurse, the physiotherapist and other professionals if the patient has other comorbidities. That patient has certain preferences and expectations which need to be understood and then give the health care to cover those needs, which can go beyond the mere surgical procedure.

With qualitative research we develop a discourse, texts, opinions and perceptions of people, communities, with images, perspectives, ideologies and complexities. We must guarantee rigour and that the photograph and interpretation of reality that we make remain valid and coherent for the research group and the populaton or group of people that we are assessing.

The application of qualitative techniques has been on the rise using interviews, semi-structured questionnaires, field notes, focus or discussion groups to gather the opinion of different groups of professionals and users.

From my point of view, there are three examples which can be of great use to know the approach and the process in carrying out an assessment of services with a qualitative approach:

  1. Opinions, experiences and perceptions of citizens regarding waiting lists
  2. Job satisfaction or productivity, a study exploring the opinions of different professional profiles regarding the efficiency of operating theatres
  3. What opinion do professionals have of the benefits of an integrated attention in the United Kingdom?

Avoiding the classic metrics means being able to measure in an alternative or complementary way by combining different approaches be they qualitative or quantitative. I find the introduction to qualitative research we find in René Brown’s TED talk the power of vulnerability. This qualitative researcher recommends we measure that which is apparently unmeasurable and go more in depth into the complex phenomenon of vulnerabilty.

We broaden perspectives by understanding the reality from within, by bearing in mind the multiple existing points of view to improve that which is disfunctional or by identifying better practices to spread them. We can measure what we want to measure. It will be necessary to adapt the approach to the context and audiences and to continue progressing to show with rigour and practice the usefulness of qualitative approaches.

We continue learning. This time, it has been at the Congrés Iberoamericà de Recerca Qualitativa en Salut (in Twitter #IICS2016) held in Barcelona, 5-7 September. The Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació Sanitàries de Catalunya (AQuAS) and the Agència de Salut Pública de Catalunya (ASPCAT) shared the stand to explain their experiences.

2016 Congreso Iberoamericano de Investigación Cualitativa en Salud
Santi Gómez Santos (AQuAS/ASPCAT), Dolors Rodríguez Arjona (ASPCAT), Mireia Espallargues (AQuAS), Vicky Serra-Sutton (AQuAS)

Post written by Vicky Serra-Sutton (@vserrasutton), sociologist PhD in AQuAS.

PRINCEP – The program for children’s chronic disease care wins an international award

7 Jul

PRINCEP is the acronym of the program from Sant Joan de Déu Children’s Hospital in Barcelona, launched in 2012 under the name of Integrated Response Platform for children with chronic diseases and high dependence.

The project PRINCEP offers comprehensive care to hundreds of boys and girls and since its establishment has received several awards. The latest has been the award for the best social and health integration experience, which the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) awarded during the 16th International Conference of Integrated Care (ICIC16).

This initiative is a part of the innovation community of the Observatory of Innovation in Healthcare management in Catalonia (OIGS) and is one of the 37 experiences certified by the AQuAS.

Projecte PRINCEP - equip
Project PRINCEP team in Sant Joan de Déu Children’s Hospital in Barcelona – Joaquín Gascón (nurse), Olga Valsells (agent of spiritual care), Esther Lasheras (social worker), Sílvia Ricart (pediatrician), Andrea Aldemira (pediatrician), Astrid Batlle (pediatrician). She is not in the picture but she is in the team Verónica Vélez (nurse).

 

Chronic disease and pediatrics?

When we speak of chronic disease, we usually think of adults and the elderly, but chronic disease is also a reality in the pediatric world. The scientific advances of the last decades have increased the survival of formerly lethal diseases and that has led to the appearance of a new phenomenon: children’s chronic disease.

Increasingly health systems allocate more of their efforts to chronic disease care, mainly because of the great economic impact this generates. Although various studies estimate that only 15% of pediatric patients have special health care needs and that less than 1% suffers from chronic diseases of high complexity, the estimated health expenditures for this small percentage are between 30% and 40%.

When you think of chronic disease patients it is not only thinking about the managing of their health. All chronic diseases represent a major impact on the patient’s surroundings. The families must come to terms with significant changes in their lives: how to relate within and outside of the family, the problems of family and work conciliation, the difficulties for a social life or the economic problems, all of this causing major emotional changes and a questioning of values.

In managing everything for the pediatric complex chronic patient, it is essential to understand that the social and family situation will have an inevitable influence on their clinical situation and therefore that it must be taken into account in the daily work.

How can we respond to the specific needs of a complex, pediatric chronic patient?

In 2012 the Sant Joan de Déu Children’s Hospital in Barcelona created the PRINCEP program, a multidisciplinary unit oriented to offering comprehensive bio-psycho-social care to pediatric patients with complex chronic diseases. Made up of pediatricians, nurses, a social worker and an agent of spiritual care, the unit seeks to optimize health resources and improve the quality of life of the patients and their families, fostering their participation in the therapeutic process, their responsibility and self-care.

Since its Constitution giving service to 20 patients, it currently serves more than 100 boys and girls with chronic diseases of high complexity that require frequent use of hospital resources, tracking for multiple specialties, and a need for technological support for their daily care or a high social vulnerability.

What does this innovative experience offer?

Our patients have a medical team and nursing reference, which knows and manages the case on a global basis, carries out scheduled or urgent check-ups according to the patient’s needs and which also serves as a reference during hospital stays. In addition, they have telematics care via telephone, accessible 24 hours a day in case of clinical emergencies, or by email.

Thus, a quick and effective response to questions or clinical decompensations can be given, unnecessary visits are avoided and the family’s trust, autonomy and self-care are favored. Since the beginning of the unit, we have found a decrease in the number and duration of our patients´ hospital admissions, as well as the number of visits to the emergency room. Since the beginning of the unit, we have reported a decrease in the number and duration of the our patients admissions, as well as in the number of emergency room visits. In the last four years, the number of admissions per patient and per year has been reduced from more than 5 to 1, the average time of admission from 13 to 4 days, and the average number of visits to the emergency room per patient and per year from 8 to 1.

What does the integrated care in the context of this particular project consist of?

The project PRINCEP works on external coordination, trying to encourage collaborative models of health and social care, so that families can receive the support of the health or social services closest to them that then will be integrated into the patient’s treatment plan.

Social and spiritual support is also essential. Evaluating the social and family situation from the outset allows us to identify factors of vulnerability and to accompany and to prevent situations of social risk. More than 50% of the patients and families included in the program have needed a moderate or intensive intervention by our social worker. In addition, accompanying patients and their families in the different phases of the disease facilitates adherence to the treatment as well as the adaptation to the changes, and helps to strengthen the family structure and social support network.

The social and emotional situation influences the health conditions and the empowerment and confidence of the families improves the clinical management of the pediatric, complex chronic patients who benefit from a comprehensive and global care. The integrated approach to children’s chronic disease favors the optimization of resources and improves the quality of life of patients and families.

Post written by Andrea Aldemira Liz, pediatrician of the Complex Chronic Disease Unit of the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital (@HSJDbarcelona_es).

Integrated care: what is the main underlying idea?

9 Jun

This past 23rd, 24th and 25th May, 2016, Barcelona hosted ICIC16 – The 16th International Conference on Integrated Care where 1,000 attendees from over 50 countries around the globe enjoyed an active and busy agenda.

The experience involved 92 speakers and over 23 hours, which was also possible to follow via streaming. All in all, a challenge which the organizers were successful in delivering. You can read or re-read the Twitter comments from here: #ICIC16.

ICIC - AQUAS
Gabi Barbaglia, Vicky Serra-Sutton, Laia Domingo, Mireia Espallargues, Marina Ordóñez, Montse Moharra

The International Conference on Integrated Care (ICIC) has become a must for professionals who provide care for people and managers working in the fields of health and social services, among others.

Different languages to express the same message: integrated care represents the path we need to follow in order to meet the challenges of our aging populations.

How can we do it? Integrated care proposes the integration of services as a response to the fragmentation of care practice, especially in the biomedical system. The coordination of professionals and institutions aims to improve the experience of patients’ who receive care, as well as their families and to improve their quality of life related to health. This becomes especially key when identifying patients with complex needs.

The main topics covered during the ICIC conference referred to people-centred care within the perspective of those treated and in the coordination, integration and, collaboration of services, professionals and systems (health, social, education, justice, corporate, etc.). In this regard, there were a variety of experiences presented from around the world of collaborative approaches that promote a multidisciplinary and integrated style.

ICIC-cloud-persons

The conference speakers emphasized the value of primary care and community health as being core to providing care to the community as well as the leadership of professionals from the areas of nursing, social work, the field of mental health and other disciplines and profiles.

Following this main topic, several presentations focused on different organizational models of collaborative care which report findings that endorse the adoption of strategies from the bottom up, in other words, strategies that would enable the initiatives proposed by health professionals to reach planners and administrators who, in turn, can provide the support and recognition.

It is important to highlight that there is an ever-increasing recognition of the importance of social determinants of health and looking to the community for the role it might play in shaping these determinants.

One highlight of the conference was the talk Changing culture and measuring what matters given by Alonzo L. Plough in which the speaker summarized the report: Building a National Culture of Health: background, action, framework, measures and next steps.

Don Reding from National Voices, gave an inspirational presentation with Putting what matters most to patients and communities at the heart of health and social care design.

Another outstanding presentation was that given by Professor Deirdre Heenan from the University of Ulster: Integrated care in Northern Ireland: meeting the challenge of mental health.

***You can read more about the ICIC 2016 conference by clicking on the following link:

http://lhalliances.org.uk/international-conference-on-integrated-care/

http://blog.hospitalclinic.org/2016/05/catalunya-acull-la-16-conferencia-internacional-sobre-atencio-integrada/

http://gestioclinicavarela.blogspot.com.es/2016/05/a-proposit-de-la-16th-international.html

That’s not all. Next year’s conference will be held in Dublin (land of innovators!) with the following themes:

ICIC #ICIC17 Dublin

Let’s come back to Barcelona for a while. For some time now, the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS as per the Catalan synonym) has been working on an assessment of integrated care, by way of example with the Evaluation of collaborative social and health care models.

It is also noteworthy the recent publication of the specialised report in the Social Work Magazine (Revista de Treball Social), titled: Integrated social and health care: points to reflect upon, which we believe to be a good cross-section of opinions and a good starting point.

Another iniciative in AQuAS is the SUSTAIN project -funded by Horizon2020, an opportunity for professionals to work jointly with their peers in other countries in an effort to define a roadmap and establish synergies in the field of Integrated care in Europe, a project of great interest for Catalonia.

Finally, it is vital not to lose sight of another key issue which is equality in the access to and outcomes from services, and this implies regular analysis of variations  in care which have not been justified.

A further helpful instrument for incorporating the opinions of those who receive care and the professionals involved is that of shared decisions. This involves a line of work which incorporates available evidence in a specific area or department of care, the preferences of patients when faced with the different health intervention options, and the essential information for improving the knowledge of all those involved (professionals, patients and their families and environment).

Post written by Vicky Serra-Sutton, Gabi Barbaglia (@gabibarblagia), Laia Domingo, Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret) and Mireia Espallargues.

Programming the 2016 agenda… some (good) recommendations

11 Feb

2016 is loaded with interesting and innovative events regarding management, patient experience, health 2.0, overdiagnosing, integrated care and research impact. These are our recommendations:

Innovation in management: which are the keys to success
Barcelona, February 17th, 2016

What can be done so professionals exchange their experiences and learn from one another? What can be done to spread the knowledge on innovation generated by the health system? This session of the Catalan Society of Health Care Management (SCGS) will be held in the Catalan Observatory of Innovation in Health Care Management (OIGS), and it will discuss innovation in management topics.

Practising Community on Patients’ Experiences

Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona), February 18th, 2016

What is person-centred care in practice? Hospital Sant Joan de Déu will hold a session with workgroups that will deal some topics of interest, such as what person-centred care involves, the presentation of practical cases of participative design techinques for patients’ experiences, and one session on this technology as a lever to help improve patients’ experiences.

Health 2.0 Europe 2016
Barcelona, May 11th and 12th, 2016

Health 2.0 Europe 2016

European and international innovation focused on the patient-practitioner relationship, consumers’ health, data analysis, and more. More than 120 participants and 600 attendants from all over the world will gather to experience live innovative solutions for the European health care systems. Those with an innovative experience included in the OIGS register can benefit from a 15% discount in the registration fee.

ICIC16 – 16th International Conference on Integrated Care
Barcelona, May 23th – 25th, 2016

ICIC16

A gathering of researchers, clinicians and managers from all over the world. This international conference offers a chance to share experiences and the most recent evidence on the integration of public healthcare, health and social services. Among other issues, it will deal with the challenges of the population’s ageing, the integration at hospital care level of mental care services and rehabilitation services, and the new tools mhealth and digital health. Clinical leadership and models of joint work between patients, caregivers and the community will also be discussed.

EHMA Annual Conference 2016: New Models of Care. Reinventing healthcare: why, what, how

Porto (Portugal), 14-16 June 2016

The EHMA Annual Conference: “New Models of Care. Reinventing healthcare: why, what, how”  will bring together policy makers, health managers, health professionals and educators to discuss new models, approaches and solutions for facing challenges that healthcare Systems will experience  in the next decade and beyond.

Preventing Overdiagnosis 2016
Barcelona, September 20th – 22th, 2016

Preventing Overdiagnosis

Barcelona will follow Washington, as AQuAS, together with Oxford University, will organise the next issue of this international conference, a space to share knowledge to help debate and reflect on overdiagnosing and its nature, its potential risks, its impact on people’s health and the cost of opportunity it may offer to healthcare systems. You can register at this link.

The International School on Research Impact Assessment
Melbourne (Australia), September 19th – 23th, 2016

ISRIA2016

Annual meeting point to improve abilities in the assessment of research impact. The the International School on Research Impact Assessment (ISRIA), co-founded by AQuAS in 2013, will reach its 5th edition being faithful to its original goals of fostering the science of research impact in all scientific fields and of supporting the sustainability of research system in all the world. Up to date, ISRIA has reached the figure of 300 participants from 17 countries in the three previous editions altogether.

New perspectives of assessment: good health outcomes in communities with unsatisfactory care

29 Jan

Mireia Espallargues Mireia Espallargues. Head of Healthcare Quality AQuAS

Identifying patients with good results in communities with unsatisfactory care can be the key to finding success factors.

There are several initiatives that advocate a high value care in order to contribute to greater efficiency and sustainability of health systems. This value is interpreted as obtaining better health gains relative to the costs, which translates into better use of available resources (1). The more traditional approach to detect this potential value was based on the identification of patients with poor health in order to establish subsequent remedial measures that lead to a good result.

In an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Sequist and Taveras (2) propose to analyze the problem from a different perspective:

  1. Identify patients who are doing good (“positive outliers“)
  2. Analyze what factors may influence their good health
  3. Disseminate the identified success factors and expand them to the rest of the system

To accomplish this, the authors propose a new approach to measure and analyze information. It’s about relating the supply system, the community and the patient in an effort integrated as a strategy with the aim of improving population health. This type of approach strengthens assessment models that AQuAS is applying in areas such as attention to chronicity and integrated health and social care in our country (3-5).

Health determinants and social determinants

According to the authors, the population’s health status is the result of a complex web of interactions between individual patient characteristics and other determinants of health dependent of the area of residence (community). The more evident is that most determinants that affect the health of people would be generated outside the health service delivery system. These factors, that some studies estimated constitute about 80%, have a profound effect on how the patients interact with the system and consequently, the quality of care they receive and their health outcomes.

Thus, the policies and the actions in areas such as housing, employment or social welfare can not be decoupled from assessments on health and from the health system. We must emphasize the need of introducing in the context of public and social policies, the concept of health as an item to be referred to in all its dimensions and evaluated in an integrated manner, together with other social determinants besides the health system (6).

The challenge of evaluating integrated care

Given this new approach it’s necessary to analyze the performance at the community level, usually focused on the area of residence. This analysis will allow provision system to obtain a better understanding of its population and identify where patients are grouped within communities, as well as what are the environmental factors that can affect health outcomes. This represents a quality leap beyond traditional analysis of each service providing system units (hospitals, primary care, care teams, etc.). Among the advantages of this new strategy we must specify the identification of patients who reside in communities where the quality of care and the results are not satisfactory, the detection of promising approaches for patients in these communities and integrating these successful strategies into care plans for the patients.

The definition of the community and the analysis of data for evaluation

To perform this type of assessment it’s necessary to first have a good working definition of “community” as well as a robust infrastructure for data analysis. The second step consists in identifying positive outliers – extreme values with good results- in communities with poor performance or with a high burden of disease – hotspot communities– more specifically, the identification of treated patients with good health outcome in an environment of unsatisfactory service provision and, in particular, those who historically had poor results and who recently improved. Once the success factors are identified, we would move on to the phase of climbing or extending the strategies in the rest of the territory.

In the precise case of the project assessment of the care for chronic diseases, the territories with programs or models of care to chronic diseases seeking greater care integration have been identified, given the large impact on morbidity and mortality and the use of resources caused by a complex chronic population. Consequently, the analysis from this territorial or community vision -taking into account the various healthcare resources and interventions in the territory- has allowed us to identify programs or models that perform better in relation to a number of health result indicators of various quality of care dimensions. This way we can select those that are “outstanding” (good outcomes for patients) and then identify good practices and success factors.

The last step is the integration of these strategies or models with the plans of patient care. Sequist and Taveras cite some other examples of community initiatives that relate to clinical practice (care or welfare services provision) as communicating vessels between the data analysis and the interventions that can be made in various areas.

This analytical approach can have several potential uses and can also be a powerful tool for addressing socioeconomic inequalities in health outcomes; as long as they focus on the differences at the context level, on patients’ membership to a community, on differences in gender, income, or education. Finally the authors mention that, as a prerequisite for a successful implementation, it’s necessary to have a well-defined operational infrastructure in which funding is aligned with the approach of linking the community and the health care.

Similarly, sustainability challenges also occur, as it may be that the service providing system “buys” this concept of factors that historically have been considered outside the area of influence or responsibility of health care. We must also ensure that resources and community interventions are safe and reliable if we want to have the support of professionals to refer patients to these resources as well as determining the most appropriate information updating intervals.

To conclude, we’re looking at an approach that instead of focusing on the “non-compliant” patients, it’s based on the observance and analysis of the best, especially in disadvantaged areas, with the purpose of applying the same keys to success to other territories.

Bibliography

(1) Porter ME. What is value in healthcare?. N Engl J Med. 2010;26:2477-81.

(2) Sequist TD, Taveras EM. Clinic-community linkages for high-value care. N Engl J Med. 2014;371(23):2148-50.

(3) Desenvolupament d’un marc conceptual i indicadors per avaluar l’atenció a la cronicitat. Primer informe. Barcelona: AQuAS; 2013.

(4) Consens i selecció d’indicadors per avaluar l’atenció a la cronicitat. Segon informe. Barcelona: AQuAS; 2013.

(5) Serra-Sutton V, Montané C, Pons JMV, Espallargues M. Avaluació externa de 9 models col•laboratius d’atenció social i sanitària a Catalunya. Barcelona: AQuAS; 2014 (en premsa).

(6) Determinants socials i econòmics de la salut. Efectes de la crisi econòmica en la salut de la població de Catalunya. Barcelona: Observatori del Sistema de Salut de Catalunya. AQuAS; 2014.