The current issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:
The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday issued its contingency plan for staffing and operations in the absence of enacted annual appropriations. HHS reports that 52% of HHS employees would be on furlough and 48% would be retained. According to HHS, if an appropriations measure is not enacted by October 1: NIH will not take any actions on grant applications or awards; HRSA would be unable make payments for the Children’s Hospital GME Program but would be able to fund Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps; in the short term, the Medicare Program will continue largely without disruption; CMS would continue large portions of its ACA activities; CDC would be unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program and outbreak detection; and, AHRQ would be unable to fund new grants and contracts related to health services research initiatives.
Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, last week sent a message to NIH grantees whose awards are funded by appropriations. She wrote, “…if there is a lapse in funding, HHS’ NIH staff will not be available to provide routine administrative support services. HHS will, however, maintain the Payment Management System in an operational status to continue processing grant drawdown requests. Given that you have received your award prior to the gap in funding, you may be able to continue drawing funds from prior awards during an appropriations lapse. If you received your notice of grant award with restrictive terms and conditions, or if your drawdown request triggers one of the Payment Management System edit checks and/or the drawdown limit controls, you will not be able to drawdown funds.” Dr. Rockey also reported that grants.gov may accept new applications to NIH but that they will be stored and not processed.
An internal memo from the chief of staff of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs reported that about 62,000 VA workers could face furloughs if the government shuts down. However, VA hospitals and care centers “will be able to continue to provide services” since VA health care funding was approved in advance.
An important perspective article in the November issue of Academic Medicine is now available on-line. Titled, “Making Equity a Value in Value-Based Health Care,” the article is by Drs. Philip Alberti, Ann Bonham, and Darrell Kirch, all from AAMC. In the article, the authors “envision how disparities-related provisions in the Affordable Care Act and other recent legislation could be linked with new value-based health care requirements and payment models to create incentives for narrowing health care disparities and move the nation toward equity. Specifically, the authors explore how recent legislative actions regarding payment reform, health information technology, community health needs assessments, and expanding health equity research could be woven together to build an evidence base for solutions to health care inequities. Although policy interventions at the clinical and payer levels alone will not eliminate disparities, given the significant role the social determinants of health play in the etiology and maintenance of inequity, such policies can allow the health care system to better identify and leverage community assets; provide high-quality, more equitable care; and demonstrate that equity is a value in health.”
The National Science Foundation has issued a new InfoBrief on Federal funding for research. It shows that research funding dropped by 9.0 percent in FY 2011, mostly as a result of the ending of the impact of ARRA stimulus funding. NSF reported that funding in fiscal year 2012 is estimated to remain relatively flat and projected to increase by 3.3 percent in FY 2013. Focusing on the six top federal R&D funding agencies, in FY 2011 basic research obligations fell 9.6 percent and applied research fell 11.8 percent.
A commentary in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, titled, “Medical Education Needs Major Surgery,” was written by Dr. Jonathan David, a gastroenterologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He argued, “The uncomfortable truth is that medical schools today provide a preclinical education that their students neither want nor need. Students hate live classroom lectures, especially for basic content, and they know they learn better on their own time at their own pace. Yet schools still rely on these educational relics. A more individualized system of self-study using the latest in digital technology, along with small study groups to integrate knowledge, would provide more effective learning. It seems wasteful to pay 170 anatomy professors to design 170 separate courses and then bill students for this privilege.”
Science on Friday reported, “On 1 October, NIH will shutter its nine-person Office of Science Education (OSE) and cease to conduct a range of activities designed to foster health science education among elementary and secondary school students and the general public…” The OSE staff have been reassigned.
The October issue of the Harvard Business Review features an article titled, “The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care.” The authors assert, “The strategy for moving to a high-value health care delivery system comprises six interdependent components: organizing around patients’ medical conditions rather than physicians’ medical specialties, measuring costs and outcomes for each patient, developing bundled prices for the full care cycle, integrating care across separate facilities, expanding geographic reach, and building an enabling IT platform.” The article is written by Michael E. Porter, the Bishop Lawrence University Professor at Harvard University, and Thomas H. Lee, the chief medical officer at Press Ganey and the former network president of Partners HealthCare.
A lengthy article posted by Bloomberg on Wednesday discussed how the Mount Sinai Medical Center, prompted in part by Affordable Care Act incentives, has developed a program to reduce readmissions. According to the article, “Mount Sinai said the program reduced admissions 43 percent and cut emergency room visits 54 percent during a test run from September 2010 to May 2012. The decision to target high-risk patients is estimated to have saved $1.6 million in medical costs over a six-month period, the hospital said.”
The October issue of Academic Medicine is now available on-line. Articles from the November issue also are available in the Published Ahead-of-Print section of the journal’s web page.
On Friday, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released new guidance that provides colleges and universities with information about the ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, and “reiterates the Departments’ position on the voluntary use of race to achieve diversity in higher education.” The guidance is the first policy clarification from the Departments on the use of race in higher education since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer on Saturday featured an article on the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) program. The program was launched in 2008 with $90 million in funding. It is now entering it second phase, “a five-year, $75 million program that will help move some of the original projects to clinical trial and renew the focus on cutting edge treatments by funding early stage research.”
The current issue of JAMA features an article on “The Evolving Role and Value of Libraries and Librarians in Health Care.” The article by Julia F. Sollenberger, MLS, and Robert G. Holloway Jr, MD, both at the University of Rochester, concludes, “With ongoing changes in health care as a result of information technology, health sciences libraries and librarians can play an important role in bringing high-quality, evidence-based medical information to the bedside, helping to make patient care both efficient and effective. Health care libraries and librarians are adapting to the changing information needs of physicians, other health care professions, researchers, and patients. With rigorous evaluation, enhanced librarian training, and continuous attention to advances in technology and needs of the users, health care librarians can provide value to patient care.”
Shares of Premier Inc., the medical supply-chain management and analytics company, rose almost 15 percent in initial trading. According to press reports, “Premier’s initial public offering valued the company at about $4.40 billion.” According to Reuters, “Premier is owned by 181 hospitals, health systems and healthcare organizations …These members will hold 80 percent of Premier’s Class B stock after the IPO.”
An article in the new issue of The Economist reported on the emergence of a plagiarism industry in China. According to the article, “As China tries to take its seat at the top table of global academia, the criminal underworld has seized on a feature in its research system: the fact that research grants and promotions are awarded on the basis of the number of articles published, not on the quality of the original research. This has fostered an industry of plagiarism, invented research and fake journals that Wuhan University estimated in 2009 was worth $150m, a fivefold increase on just two years earlier.” The article further noted, “Chinese scientists are still rewarded for doing good research, and the number of high-quality researchers is increasing. Scientists all round the world also commit fraud. But the Chinese evaluation system is particularly susceptible to it.”
UCSF announced this week that it is the first U.S. medical school to offer credit for editing medical content on Wikipedia.
The September issue of “Peer Review Notes,” published by the NIH Center for Scientific Review, has been posted on-line. The issue includes a discussion of issues related to the review of discovery (non-hypothesis-based) research. Another article discusses how percentiling works and how it supports NIH’s funding decisions.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its health reform subsidy calculator to provide ZIP code-specific estimates of the insurance premiums and tax subsidies available for people who buy coverage for 2014 through the new state health insurance marketplaces.
The fall issue of the HHS Office of Research Integrity’s newsletter has been posted. It highlights on-going research projects funded by ORI. It also summarizes recent misconduct case findings.
The current issue of The Annals of Family Medicine features two studies on physician burnout and mindfulness. Dr. Pauline Chen commented on the studies in her column posted by The New York Times on Thursday.
James L. Schroeder, MD, MBA, has been named associate dean for clinical affairs and vice president for physician integration at the University of Chicago Medicine, effective October 1. Dr. Schroeder will report jointly to the dean for clinical affairs and to the president of the medical center. A rheumatologist, he comes to the University of Chicago from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where he was an associate professor of clinical medicine and senior associate dean for external relations.
Sherrie Sitarik, President and CEO of Orlando Health has stepped down, effective on Thursday. Dr. Jamal Hakim has been named interim CEO and president. Orlando Health includes eight hospitals, including Orlando Regional Medical Center and Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital.
The Associated Press reported that Bill Atkinson, the CEO of WakeMed Health & Hospitals since 2003, “is leaving his post after the board of directors cited ‘differences in the future direction of the organization.’” WakeMed is an 870-bed private, not-for-profit health care system based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A lengthy article in Sunday’s Seattle Times reported, “Faced at times with regulatory concerns about how it houses its laboratory animals, the University of Washington is working on plans to build an underground facility for its mice, rats and primates…But the cost of the project has skyrocketed by almost 50 percent from its initial projection earlier this year, to $123 million, or about $1,000 per square foot. Earlier this month, the high price caused the university’s governing board to pull approval of the proposal from its agenda. Administrators are now looking at ways to lower the cost of the building.”
A recent issue of the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association featured an important article on “The Educational Struggles of African American Physicians in Mississippi: Finding A Path Toward Reconciliation.” The article reported on a “state-sponsored regional plan,” begun in the 1940s, “to divert black applicants from attending all-white health professional school in the Southern states, including Mississippi, which persisted until the 1970’s.” The article was written by Dr. Richard deShazo and Dr. Lucius Lampton. It builds on an earlier article that appeared in the American Journal of Medicine earlier this year. A separate article in the same issue by Dr. Lampton discussed the role sex and race played over the last 157 years in organized medicine in Mississippi.
In August, Farzad Mostashari, chief of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced he was leaving. This week, the principal deputy national coordinator, David Muntz, announced his departure. Both will exit on Oct. 4. Jacob Reider, MD, ONR’s Chief Medical Officer, has been named acting national coordinator. Lisa Lewis, deputy national coordinator for operations, has been named acting principal deputy.
An op-ed column in Sunday’s Washington Post, authored by Dr. Dan Morhaim, a physician and Maryland state legislator, is highly critical of current electronic health record systems. He concluded, “Ideally, electronic health records would provide doctors with instant access to information and help patients track their medical histories. Such records should be a giant step forward in continuity and comprehensiveness of care. So far, the ‘cures’ are worse than the disease.” He proposed that, “The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology should declare a moratorium on implementation of electronic health records programs and review where things stand, with the goal of implementing a uniform, user-friendly system.” Dr. Morhaim is supportive of the VA’s VistA system and thinks an enhanced version, widely adopted, “might do wonders.”
Paolo Casali, M.D., has been appointed chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the UT School of Medicine in San Antonio and will occupy the Zachry Foundation Distinguished Chair in Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Casali is currently the Donald Bren Professor of Medicine, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.
The Endocrine Society has named Barbara Byrd Keenan as the organization’s next chief executive officer. Ms. Keenan currently is executive vice president of the Institute of Food Technologists and previously served as President of the Community Associations Institute. She also served on the board of directors for the American Society of Association Executives. Ms. Keenan will assume her new role as CEO on Jan. 6, succeeding Scott Hunt, MBA, who is stepping down after 25 years.
Dr. Richard Klausner has been named Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Illumina, a San Diego-based “developer, manufacturer, and marketer of life science tools and integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and function.” He is the former director of the National Cancer Institute and most recently the managing partner of a venture capital firm.
Dr. Javeed Sukhera, a former member of the AAMC Board of Directors, was recently appointed as Academic Director of Global Health Curriculum at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, in London, Ontario. Dr. Sukhera is currently the Physician Lead, Transition Age Services, London Health Sciences Centre, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Tufts University has approved the creation of the School of Medicine’s twentieth clinical department, the Department of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. Barbarajean (BJ) Magnani, PhD, MD, FCAP has been named the inaugural chairperson of the new department.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has named Larry Kun, M.D., a radiation oncologist, as clinical director and executive vice president. He has been chair of the St. Jude Department of Radiological Sciences and will remain in that position. Dr. Kun succeeds Joseph H. Laver, MD, who was named Chief Medical Officer of Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) in June.
Dr. James McDeavitt has been named chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Baylor College of Medicine, effective Jan. 1, 2014. He is currently the chief academic officer and senior vice president for education and research for the Carolinas HealthCare System, a position he has held for the past nine years. Dr. McDeavitt also served as the founding associate dean for the Charlotte Campus of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Barry S. Smith, M.D., has been serving as the Interim Chair of PM&R at Baylor since Martin Grabois, M.D., stepped down after 25 years as chair.
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PPS: Registration is now open for the 2013 AAMC Annual Meeting, November 1-6, in Philadelphia.