April, 2017 vol. 2 - In This Issue:
Investment in prevention and access are essential to our society's health and wellness. Ironically, I've noticed growing obsession with new technologies - telemedicine, big data solutions, diagnostics and genetic testing, precision medicine - that outpaces investment in evidence-based practices like vaccination, stewardship, and integrated primary care services that address social and health factors.  Innovation is important. But the "sweet spot" for policymakers should be the ability to balance speculation in "new and improved" approaches to health with serious investment in implementing the prevention strategies that research demonstrates are effective. Such balance is vital to maximum public value that doesn't break the bank or waste precious resources.  I ponder whether we have equilibrium when I read about federal investment in new technology (Zika vaccine) and the millions invested in new apps designed to "improve care and patient satisfaction," while we're still fighting about basic health care access, vaccination policy, and public health resources to combat an epidemic in substance abuse. Innovation shouldn't be a distraction from the fundamentals and both deserve vigorous investment of time, discussion and resources.

Vital Directions and National Will

If the United States had undertaken road building or space exploration in the same way it is chasing health system reform, there would be neither an interstate highway system nor footprints on the moon. The successes depended on clear, bold, shared aims; strong investments in technical mastery; continuity of purpose over time; and continual learning at a large scale-not to mention considerable celebration. Health care reform has had none of these.

How to Win the Doctor Lottery

Not every doctor-patient encounter is healing, and it can seem a game of chance. One patient explores what it takes to win.

When my son was five weeks old, he began to turn away from my breast even when hungry. He'd suck, then cry sharply, and twist away. I called the office of the pediatrician I'd chosen while pregnant, but she had no free appointments, so I saw another doctor in the practice instead. I'll call him Dr. Jones. He examined my son, told me he had "gas pains," and asked me, "Are you feeling anxious about being a good mom?"  

Combating the complex global challenge of antimicrobial resistance: what can Antimicrobial Stewardship contribute?

Antimicrobial resistance is a major health issue and a worldwide problem. The O'Neill report published in 2016 analyses different aspects and provides an extrapolation of the consequences. An increasing number of stakeholders are recognizing the fact that such a large and complex problem requires  multiple approaches tackling  it from different angles and perspectives - the One Health approach. It is not just a problem in hospitals for medical professionals to solve. 
Using Clinical Scenarios to Understand Preventability of Clostridium difficile Infections by Inpatient Antibiotic Stewardship Programs

Clostridium difficile infections (CDIs) pose an urgent threat to public health. Both the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) recommend 2 approaches to combat CDI:  (1) infection prevention interventions to limit transmission of C. difficile from infected patients and  (2) antimicrobial stewardship to limit unnecessary antimicrobial use. 

California's vaccination rates are up. Let's keep it that way
The controversial 2015 law doing away with an exemption that had allowed public school students to skip vaccinations based on their "personal beliefs" appears to have worked. California state officials reported this week that 95.6% of kindergartners are fully vaccinated. That's the highest rate recorded at least since 1998, when a now-debunked study purported to show a link between vaccinations and autism.  

You Draw It: Just How Bad Is the Drug Overdose Epidemic?

It's the worst drug overdose epidemic in American history, spurred by rising drug abuse, increased availability of prescription opioids and an influx of potent synthetics like fentanyl and carfentanil.

How does the surge in drug overdoses compare with other causes of death in the U.S.? Draw your guesses on the charts in this interactive article.

Disease outbreaks also pose 'tremendous threats to business,' former CDC chief warns 

The world has faced a string of infectious disease threats in the past dozen or so years, with SARS, bird flu, swine flu, MERS, and Ebola wreaking havoc.

Yet despite the abundance of evidence that microbes pose major threats, both to human health and economies, global preparedness is not where it needs to be, Dr. Julie Gerberding warned this week.  

start up
From Dying Wishes To Support For Substance Users: How 5 Health Startups Tackle Tough Problems

How can you make decisions about your own death more enjoyable? Or nudge recovering opioid addicts away from unhealthy social contacts? Or find the perfect caregiver to mind your aging, sometimes prickly, parent?
These are a few of the difficult problems that a slew of digital health startups are trying to solve as part of a competition led by PULSE@MassChallenge, a health-focused nonprofit startup accelerator in Boston.  

Why Baseline? 

The field of medicine is ever-evolving, and the hope is that recent advances in technology will continue to spur the next generation of medical discoveries. At Verily, we have been focused on creating new tools to collect and organize information in ways previously not possible so that we can make the information useful. These initiatives, we believe, may chart a course towards the ultimate goal of improving human health. Our aim with Project Baseline is to contribute meaningfully to these efforts and to scientific research more broadly.

Passion + Quality = Change That Matters
I embrace the powerful opportunities in our evolving health care landscape. I founded Momentum Health Strategies to be a catalyst for change through continuous learning, diverse engagement and thoughtful policy and practice initiatives. I deliver innovative, strategic thinking and a passion for improving the patient experience. My personal drive and dedication to high-quality results will help you navigate the competitive terrain you face and convert your vision to action.

Momentum Health Strategies

Jennifer L Bright, MPA
(703) 628 - 0534