Recent News & Press Releases

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  • April 1, 2007: The State of the Nation's Health.

    The U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation. Does that money buy what it should? Not according to decades of Dartmouth research on regional variations in spending and outcomes. But policy-makers are now paying attention to the DMS work - and therein may lie a solution to the money-medicine puzzle." This passage introduced the cover article by Maggie Mahar in Dartmouth Medicine's Spring 2007 issue, entitled "The State of the Nation's Health." The article featured the work of the Dartmouth Atlas project and the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences (now The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice).

  • December 5, 2006: America's Health Rankings: A Call to Action for People and Their Communities.

    The United Health Foundation released the 2006 edition of America's Health Rankings: A Call to Action for People and Their Communities. This year's ranking included state-level findings from the Dartmouth Atlas Project. The report showed not only tremendous variation in the quality and cost of medical care among the states, but that providing more services did not lead to better-quality care. In fact, in some states, the greater use of services was associated with poorer quality and lower satisfaction with care.

  • December 5, 2006: Establishing accountability for quality and costs.

    Organized care beats disorganized care. The question is how to organize it. Most physicians do not practice medicine in the multi-specialty group practices, or in similar practices integrated with hospitals, that have been shown to be the most effective and efficient delivery systems for care. In a recent Health Affairs article, Dr. Elliott Fisher and coauthors advocate focusing accountability for quality and cost on the "extended hospital medical staff." The paper demonstrates that all physicians are already members of a virtual multi-specialty medical group -- the physicians who work in or whose patients are admitted to a local hospital -- and patients, especially those who have chronic diseases, receive the vast majority of their care from these local delivery systems. It is therefore feasible to develop performance measures for these organizations. Dr. Fisher also presented his findings to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) November 9, 2006.

  • October 17, 2006: Dartmouth Atlas Research in the News.

    Dartmouth Atlas research was featured prominently in a five-day USA Today/ABC News collaboration on the U.S. health care system. USA Today reported on findings published in the November 2006 issue of Spine revealing the steady increase in rates and Medicare spending for spine surgery, particularly lumbar fusion. Another article in USA Today used Dartmouth Atlas data to explore variation in end-of-life costs. ABC News featured the Intermountain Health Care system in Salt Lake City, which the Atlas used as a benchmark for efficiency in the treatment of the chronically ill. Finally, the ABC/USA Today collaborative named the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care web site as one of the five most important web sites in health policy.

  • March 1, 2006: There is no need to expand physician workforce training to meet the future needs of an aging population.

    There is no need to expand physician workforce training to meet the future needs of an aging population; the current supply, if employed efficiently, is adequate through 2020. "Spending millions of dollars annually to expand our capacity to train physicians will create an oversupply at the same time that it diverts health care dollars from care that has been shown to improve the health and well being of patients," according to David C. Goodman, M.D., and colleagues at Dartmouth's Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences (now TDI). The research was published by the journal Health Affairs in its March/April 2006 issue.

  • November 16, 2005: From Sacramento to Los Angeles, More Health Care is Not Necessarily Better Health Care.

    Despite the wide differences in spending among hospitals in California, there is no gain in quality or patient satisfaction, according to a study by the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School (now TDI). The ground-breaking study, released by the California HealthCare Foundation, looked at the performance of individual California hospitals in managing seriously ill patients over a five-year period. The study found that eliminating "Medicare overcare" by improving hospital efficiency could have saved Medicare $1.7 billion over five years in Los Angeles alone.

  • November 15, 2005: Dartmouth Atlas Releases New Topic Briefs.

    The Dartmouth Atlas Project has documented three sources of unwarranted variation in the practice of medicine and the use of medical resources across the United States. These new briefing papers are beginner's guides to these categories. The underuse of effective care includes such problems as the failure to give beta-blockers consistently to people who have had heart attacks, or to routinely screen diabetics for early signs of retinal disease. Even hospitals considered among the "best" in the country - including some academic medical centers - fail to take these proven steps. Misuse of preference-sensitive care refers to situations in which there are significant tradeoffs among the available options, yet often the patient's values and preferences are not taken into account when deciding the course of treatment. The overuse of supply-sensitive care is particularly apparent in the management of chronic illness, where there is often an over-dependence on hospitals and a lack of the infrastructure necessary to support the management of chronically ill patients in non-inpatient settings. In the absence of medical evidence regarding such questions as when to schedule return visits, when to hospitalize or admit to intensive care, when to refer to a medical specialist, and, for most conditions, when to order a diagnostic or imaging test, the availability of resources tends to govern these decisions.

  • October 7, 2004: Dartmouth studies show wide variations in hospital care and outcomes for chronically ill Medicare patients.

    Medicare patients with similar chronic conditions receive strikingly different care, even among hospitals identified as "best" for geriatric care by U.S. News & World Report, according to one of several Dartmouth Medical School studies featured in a special issue of Health Affairs.


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The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care is based at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and is supported by a coalition of funders led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, including the WellPoint Foundation, the United Health Foundation, the California HealthCare Foundation, and the Charles H. Hood Foundation.