Some hospitals aren’t sweet on sugar,
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.