Wednesday, I went to the Donaghue Foundation Annual Meeting and Conference. The Donaghue Foundation was established to “promote medical knowledge which will be of practical benefit to the preservation, maintenance and improvement of human life.” Three very different projects were highlighted.
The first panelist, Harlan Krumholz, MD (Yale School of Medicine) presented on a project he undertook to reduce the time to intervention for patients presenting with a particular kind of heart attack. The good news is that this goal can be reached with a relatively modest financial investment from hospitals. The bad news: it requires a cultural shift in most healthcare organizations, empowering various team members – EMS staff, ER docs, cath lab staff – to make decisions they are trained to make, rather than waiting on a primary care physician to come in and make the call.
The second presentation was by Elizabeth Pivonka, PhD, RD, from the Produce for Better Health Foundation. They are the “5 a day” people. She talked about the investment that the Produce for Better Health Foundation made in social marketing that would reach its target audience of Gen X moms. Because of the research, focus groups, and surveys they’ve undertaken, “5 a day” is becoming “fruits & veggies: more matters.” The foundation has strong relationships with both public & private partners. Whereas the “5 a day” campaign really looked to healthcare workers to disseminate the message, the “fruits & veggies: more matters” campaign is looking to moms themselves to spread the word to each other.
Finally, Veronica Nieva, PhD, discussed a new toolbox that the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) is pulling together, called AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. This website is designed for health care professionals of all stripes to share with each other innovations that improve quality and care of patients.
The three projects on which the conference focused present a well-rounded picture of necessary action to improve our healthcare systems:
1. We need to improve the efficiency and efficacy of our systems of care.
2. We need to address the broader environmental factors that impact our health status.
3. We need to make sure that practitioners, policy makers, and other stakeholders are communicating best practices and thinking collaboratively & strategically about how to implement those practices in different settings.
I would have liked to hear more about the policy implications arising out of each of these projects. In each case, I believe that policy action bolsters significantly the impact of the work described. I guess that part’s what we do here!