Headlines

Canada - New study suggests that a family physician's decision to investigate symptoms suggestive of cancer could help explain international differences in cancer survival This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This study by the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership examined beliefs, behaviours and systems in primary care across six countries with similar healthcare systems, analysing responses from family physicians (FPs) on how they would manage patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of lung, colorectal or ovarian cancer. These responses were then correlated to one-year mortality rates from these cancers. Cancer Care Ontario researchers who participated in the study report that early investigation by FPs is reflected in mortality and that access to diagnostic tests by FPs may play a role in their decision to investigate symptoms.

Canada - Canadians spent $28.8 billion on prescription drugs in 2014 This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information reveals that while Canadians continued to save money on generic drugs last year, those savings were offset by increased spending on newer classes of biologic drugs. Decreased spending due to patent expiration was seen in five drug classes, including statins, PPIs, ACE inhibitors, SSRIs and drugs used in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

France - Creation of a national public health agency: Initial report delivered to Minister of Health Marisol Touraine This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The law on the modernization of France's healthcare system provides for the creation of a new agency bringing together the Institut de veille sanitaire, the Institut national de prévention et d’éducation pour la santé and the Établissement de préparation et de réponse aux urgences sanitaires. The aim is to equip the country with an institution that covers all public health missions. This report details the process, tasks and key issues in establishing this new institution.

UK - Over 55 million patients in England can now book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and access summary information in their medical record online – according to latest figures This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Data released by the UK government shows the number of general practitioners (GPs) offering online services has tripled since January 2015. Over 97% of patients in England can now take advantage of services that include online appointment booking, prescription refills and access to medical records. 

UK - Clampdown on staffing agencies charging NHS extortionate rates This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The UK government is setting new rules for outsourcing staff hiring by the National Health Service (NHS) after revealing the NHS has been paying staffing agencies up to £3,500 per shift for doctors. The new rules will put a cap on total agency staff spending and set a maximum rate for agency doctors and nurses.

Upcoming Events

Australia - Population Health Congress 2015
This conference is organized by four of Australasia’s leading health professional organisations that are working together to strengthen the focus on population health in the region. It takes place in Australia from September 6 to 9, 2015.

Philippines - Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health 2015
This conference takes place from August 24 to 27, 2015, in Manila, and is of interest to governments, corporations, researchers and NGOs. Presentations are grouped into two main tracks: Increasing the effectiveness of research and innovation for health through social accountability, investments and capacity building; and the role of research and innovation in improving food security, health in mega cities and disaster risk reduction.

Reports and Issue Portfolios

Australia - Bleeding hearts, profiteers, or both: specialist physician fees in an unregulated market This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Based on a population survey linked to administrative records, this study of Australia’s out-of-hospital services market shows that specialist physicians in the unregulated fee-setting environment practice price discrimination on the basis of their patients’ income. Findings indicated that specialists charged low-income patients $26 less than high-income patients for a consultation.

Canada - Renewing Canada’s Social Architecture: Modernizing Medicare This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This paper argues that the ‘medically necessary services’ defined by the Canada Health Act need revising because hospital and physician services currently account for 40% of total Medicare spending, 20% less than when the Act became law in 1984. The paper says Medicare must address gaps in coverage left by the Act in a way that recognizes that health technologies change constantly.

Canada - Navigating the Evidence: Communicating Canadian Health Policy in the Media This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Published by the University of Manitoba, this e-book is a compilation of newspaper commentaries published in 2014 by Canadian health policy experts. The Op-Eds highlight recent evidence on a wide range of topics, including population aging, healthcare sustainability, pharmaceutical policy, mental health, obesity, and the social determinants of health.

Canada - Patient partnership in quality improvement of healthcare services: Patients’ inputs and challenges faced This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Researchers at the Université de Montréal’s teaching hospitals co-authored this patient engagement study looking at patient participation as members of clinical teams in hospital Continuous Quality Improvement Committees (CICs). The study highlights the contribution of patient CIC members to quality of care improvement and includes interviews with patient participants.

Europe - Economic crisis, health systems and health in Europe: country experiences This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Europe’s economic crisis has had a visible but varied impact on the continent’s national health systems. This new book maps responses to the crisis, providing detailed analysis of health system changes in nine countries and shorter overviews of another 47 countries. It draws on a study involving over 200 European health system experts and academic researchers.

Portugal - OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: Portugal 2015. Raising Standards This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Released by the OECD, this report reviews the quality of Portuguese health care, highlights best practices, and provides a series of targeted assessments and recommendations for improvement. The report describes how Portugal has responded well to financial pressure, successfully balancing financial consolidation and continuous quality improvement.

UK - Improved circulation: unleashing innovation across the NHS This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Unprecedented demand has left Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) with a funding gap of billions of pounds. This paper argues that widely applied healthcare innovation would help the NHS improve its finances by boosting productivity gains. The paper identifies barriers and accelerators to innovation within the NHS and proposes incentives.

USA - MEDICARE: Results from the First Two Years of the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model This hyperlink will open in a new window.
American health care providers form accountable care organizations (ACOs) to offer coordinated care and reduce spending. Under the Pioneer ACO model introduced in 2012, ACOs earn additional Medicare payments if they generate savings, but pay penalties if spending rises. This report finds that fewer than half of participating ACOs generated savings in the model’s first two years.

International - Managing the Risk and Impact of Future Epidemics: Options for Public-Private Cooperation This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Commissioned by the World Economic Forum, this briefing analyses the value of private-sector engagement in West Africa’s response to the recent Ebola crisis and captures lessons learned in the wide scope of partnerships and innovations developed at the time. The briefing considers models for public-private cooperation to best address possible future epidemics.