Sometimes doing nothing is the right action

30 Jul

Joan-PonsJoan MV Pons. Head of Evaluation AQuAS

Doing or acting is irresistible; it must be a feature of being human, just like a spring is always ready to bounce, unless we’re talking about contemplators, hermits and stylites (St. Simeon). In medicine and public health we’re more afraid of failures by omission than of failures by commission, so we find ourselves unable to abstain from action. Often we act by asking for analytical or image tests, thinking that these, consisting in a mild pierce or radiation (a lot more if it’s a CT scan) can do no harm, can have no adverse effects. But it’s not quite so. Besides the fact that any unnecessary test (which will not bring new information and if it does will not alter patient management) means throwing money (tax payer’s money), any medical, preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic intervention, in whatever form, brings risks along with any benefits. It can not be otherwise. Needless to say, the main issue is properly knowing how to weigh the pros and cons and how to choose wisely. Continue reading

Promoting patients’ proactive attitude in the care of their illness, can this generate more inequalities?

23 Jul

Joan EscarrabillJoan Escarrabill, Director Chronic Care Program at Hospital Clínic Barcelona

As participants in a mature society, we’re responsible for our actions and it’s clear that these actions have consequences. Take healthy habits as part of this responsible attitude. From the health point of view, this attitude of individual responsibility leads us to value this role of “active patient” to the maximum. In addition, we know that active patients have better health outcomes.

Now this storyline has a weakness that wouldn’t exist if we all had the same cards to play with. Unfortunately there are social inequalities. In 2014, in an article in the NEJM, Sayer and Lee explain very well this relationship between social conditions and health. Not all citizens (patients) start the race from the same point and in the same conditions. Social inequalities cause that not even “starting up early, very early…” can offset these imbalances. Naturally, from the point of view of the health care organization we can not attempt to resolve social inequalities. However, we can hope to mitigate them. From my point of view, to mitigate social inequalities we’d have to act in three directions simultaneously: Continue reading

Collaboration between professionals and citizens, a key factor for health data visible and useful

16 Jul

CrisRibasCristina Ribas, President of the Catalan Association of Scientific Communication (ACCC). Professor of Journalism in Internet. Universitat Pompeu Fabra

AQuAS and ACCC recently organized a data visualization workshop for health technicians and science journalists. The outcome of this session resulted stimulating and enriching for both profiles. Undoubtedly, sharing knowledge between disciplines encourages innovation and professional growth.

The workshop, taught by Eva Dominguez and Paula Guisado, showed visualization examples applied, mainly to journalism, but other institutions, are increasingly moving in the same direction. And it’s that the public rarely knows how to interpret and treat available data unless it’s accompanied by graphics and interactive tools. The Catalan Health System Observatory, for example, makes an extra effort to gather all network data from Catalan institutions in a single portal and, as Anna Garcia Altés explains, they are investigating how to use visualization tools with the purpose of providing a better service . Continue reading

European Health Management Association (EHMA) Conference 2015: Special interest group session on best practice in management

9 Jul

Montse MoaharraMontse Moharra, OIGS AQuAS

The EHMA Annual Conference took place this year in Breda (The Netherlands). The main theme was on Evidence-Based Management which is inspired by the use of evidence in the decision making process of healthcare professionals assuming that the systematic use of the best available evidence in management decision making will improve healthcare provision. This year’s programme included several oral presentations within the Special Interest Group (SIG) session on best practice in management. The aim was to make participants familiar with different problem-solving approaches taken up in different European countries.

The Observatory of Innovation in Healthcare Management in Catalonia presented the three best practices selected from innovative experiences during this SIG session: Continue reading

Measuring the impact of research: an ongoing challenge

2 Jul

MaiteSolansMaite Solans, ISOR Group

Society has high expectations from research and wishes to know what are its benefits: social, decision-making, health, economic, etc., and in order to respond to these expectations, it’s important to assess its impact. An important aspect to consider when we want to evaluate the impact of research would be to choose our starting point: a project or an impact?

Let’s consider the first option. Our starting point is a research project. Now we want to find out whether it has led to a specific health benefit. In most cases, this cannot be found out immediately, on the contrary, we’ll have to spend enough time waiting for the effects to take place. As time passes, we then find that this project will contribute in some way or another to a greater number of impacts and also that other research projects have their own impact. If our starting point is a specific impact, the opposite will occur: that is, it will be difficult to connect an impact with a specific project and as time passes, many other research projects will have contributed to our specific impact. Continue reading