Some hos­pi­tals aren’t sweet on sugar,

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

An old jour­nal­ism maxim, much beloved of news as­sign­ment ed­i­tors, is that one is an ac­ci­dent, two is a co­in­ci­dence, but three is a trend worth writ­ing about. Which means Out­liers is way over­due to note the hand­ful of hos­pi­tals that have banned sales of sug­ary drinks within their walls.

The lat­est to make the move is Van­guard Mac­neal Hospi­tal in sub­ur­ban Chicago, which re­cently an­nounced it would no longer sell drinks sweet­ened with sugar. The Berwyn, Ill., hospi­tal joins Car­ney Hospi­tal in Bos­ton and the Cleve­land Clinic in the move­ment, which was started by Fairview Hospi­tal in Great Bar­ring­ton, Mass.

The Illi­nois hospi­tal, which is part of the Van­guard Health Sys­tems chain, says this change bet­ter aligns with its mis­sion to “help peo­ple achieve health for life.” Along with elim­i­nat­ing soda, en­ergy drinks and sports drinks, Van­guard Mac­neal has elim­i­nated all fried foods and trans-fat from its cafe­te­ria menu, in­creased salad bar op­tions and swapped vend­ing ma­chine se­lec­tions with health­ier food choices.

We’re sure the quar­tet of hos­pi­tals will be the un­but­tered toast of the Sug­ary Drinks Sum­mit com­ing up June 7-8 in Washington. The con­fer­ence, spon­sored by the Cen­ter for Sci­ence in the Public In­ter­est, aims to help forge strate­gies to re­duce sug­ary drink con­sump­tion na­tion­wide.

Out­liers as­sumes Coke and Pepsi won’t be spon­sors.

Do u need shots?

If you re­ceive a text en­cour­ag­ing flu shots while you’re driv­ing, is the net im­pact pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive?

Although driv­ing while tex­ting is risky be­hav­ior—and we here at Out­liers of­ten find any tex­ting to be a lit­tle ob­nox­ious—a new study says text mes­sages sent to par­ents about the flu can in­crease the rate of im­mu­niza­tion in chil­dren. So the next per­son who looks down at his phone while you’re talk­ing might just be do­ing his part to de­crease in­stances of in­fluenza. Or maybe you’re just bor­ing him.

The study, from the April 25 is­sue of the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, found that ed­u­ca­tional “text mes­sage in­ter­ven­tion” re­gard­ing the flu in­creased in­fluenza vac­ci­na­tion cov­er­age among low-in­come and mi­nor­ity chil­dren and ado­les­cents, a group of young- sters that typ­i­cally has low im­mu­niza­tion rates.

The flu is one of the most com­mon causes of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion in chil­dren and ado­les­cents, and ac­cord­ing to the JAMA ar­ti­cle, “timely vac­ci­na­tion is the cor­ner­stone of in­fluenza preven­tion.”

Melissa Stock­well of Columbia Univer­sity headed the study, which com­pared the im­mu­niza­tion of 9,213 ran­domly se­lected chil­dren and ado­les­cents who were re­ceiv­ing care at four com­mu­nity-based clin­ics in the U.S. Par­ents of chil­dren se­lected for the study re­ceived up to five weekly im­mu­niza­tion reg­istry-linked text mes­sages pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tional in­for­ma­tion and in­struc­tions re­gard­ing im­mu­niza­tion.

As of March 31, 2011, 43.6% of the chil­dren whose par­ents had re­ceived text mes­sages had been im­mu­nized com­pared with 39.9% of sim­i­lar chil­dren whose fam­i­lies did not par­tic­i­pate in the text mes­sage study.

Think­ing be­yond docs for P4P

In a per­fect world, ev­ery­one would care more about their health than their pock­et­books. Of course, this is the real world and the bot­tom line still refers to the size of one’s bank ac­count and not one’s, um, bot­tom.

With that in mind, at least one doc­tor is call­ing for a new sys­tem that would pay pa­tients for healthy liv­ing. In a re­cent blog post at Kev­inmd.com (bit.ly/iw7csu), fam­ily physi­cian Dr. Ste­wart Se­gal ad­vo­cated for “pa­tient pay-for-per­for­mance (PP4P),” rather than the “doc­tor pay-for-per­for­mance (P4P)” sys­tem that has been sug­gested by some in­sur­ers and Medi­care of­fi­cials. The P4P method would fi­nan­cially re­ward, and pun­ish, doc­tors based on how their pa­tients fare.

While providers and in­sur­ers go back and forth on per­for­mance­based pay for doc­tors, Se­gal’s sug­ges­tion just might at­tract some fi­nan­cially strapped pa­tients. It is hard to think of any­one ob­ject­ing to de­creased pre­mi­ums and re­duced de­ductibles as a re­ward for healthy be­hav­ior.

As Se­gal sees it, PP4P al­ready ex­ists in the money saved on med­i­ca­tion and hospi­tal vis­its for those in tip­top shape; with greater fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive and clearer cri­te­ria for healthy liv­ing, Se­gal thinks more pa­tients would see the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits of meet­ing cer­tain health ex­pec­ta­tions tai­lored to a par­tic­u­lar pa­tient’s needs.

“A di­a­betic could be graded on his/her blood sugar con­trol. A pa­tient with hy­per­ten­sion could be graded on his av­er­age blood pres­sure. An obese pa­tient could be graded on con­tin­ued weight loss. Pay­ing pa­tients for per­for­mance makes a lot of sense. All we need is a grad­ing sys­tem,” Se­gal ex­plains in the post.

A few hos­pi­tals have joined the move­ment to dis­cour­age sug­ary bev­er­ages.

Time to vac­ci­nate the lit­tle one? Par­ents who get text re­minders are more apt to bring the tyke in for shots, ac­cord­ing to a study.

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