FDA Launches Nationwide Campaign on Women and Medication
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a nationwide campaign designed to educate women about the importance of properly using medicines. “Women's Health: Take Time to Care, ‘Use Medicines Wisely’” is aimed at women 45 years of age or over, particularly those in underserved populations. The FDA estimates that 30 to 50 percent of Americans do not take their medications as prescribed. The FDA Office of Women's Health worked with a broad network of partners to shape the campaign, including government agencies and officials, national health and consumer organizations, women's groups, health care professionals and health institutions. The public awareness initiative will include a tour of 15 major cities. The FDA also plans to bring the program to rural communities and Indian reservations in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service. More information about the campaign can be found on the FDA Web site (http://www.fda.gov/).
Nine States Approved for Children's Health Insurance Program
Michigan has become the ninth state to receive approval of its program to provide health insurance coverage for uninsured children under the federal-state Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), created under Title XXI of the Social Security Act. CHIP will expand coverage to uninsured children whose families earn too much to receive Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage. CHIP gives states three options for devising a plan to cover uninsured children: designing a new children's health insurance program; expanding current Medicaid programs; or a combination of both strategies. The Department of Health and Human Services must approve each state's plan before CHIP funds become available. Funds for the program became available on October 1, 1997. As of April 7, 1998, eight other state plans have been approved: Alabama, Colorado, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, California, New York and Illinois. In addition, Puerto Rico and the following 15 states have submitted plans: Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, New Jersey, Idaho, Nevada, Vermont, Wisconsin, Texas and Utah. States have until September 30, 1998, to have their CHIP plans approved.
AHCPR Announces Priorities for Grant-supported Research
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) wants researchers to submit applications for funding of studies that will support improvements in health outcomes and strengthen quality measurement and quality improvement, including research on the organizational and financial aspects of health care. The AHCPR also called for projects that will identify strategies to improve access to health care, foster appropriate use of health care and reduce unnecessary expenditures, as well as research on ethical issues in health care delivery. Examples of the kinds of issues that the AHCPR wants include clinical decision making in primary care, causes of variation in clinical practice, and evaluation of outcomes, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of clinical preventive services for people of all ages. The announcement is ongoing, and proposals can be submitted on February 1, June 1 and October 1 of each year. More information can be obtained by calling 301-594-2800 from a telephone-equipped facsimile machine or by accessing the AHCPR Web site at http://www.ahcpr.gov/ (see “Funding Opportunities”). In addition, program information and applications can be obtained from Equals Three Communications, Inc.; telephone: 301-656-3100; fax: 301-652-5264.
AMIA Task Force Releases Guidelines for the Clinical Use of Electronic Mail
The Internet Working Group Task Force of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has developed guidelines for health care organizations and health care professionals who want to use electronic mail to provide information traditionally provided over the telephone to their patients. The guidelines recommend establishing administrative policies for staff to follow in communicating with patients and to use in internal management. The guidelines emphasize the importance of obtaining informed consent prior to the use of e-mail and before forwarding e-mail communication to a third party, the use of encryption technology and other security measures, and archiving messages as a means for documenting progress notes for the patient's record. The guidelines were published in the January/February 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association and are available on the AMIA Web site (http://www.amia.org). They can also be obtained from the AMIA, 4915 St. Elmo Ave., Ste. 401, Bethesda, MD; telephone: 301-657-1291.
NRHA Releases Issue Paper Regarding Rural Health Reform Models
The Rural Health Policy Board of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has approved an issue paper establishing the association's position and policy recommendations regarding the NRHA's vision for health reform models. “A Vision for Health Reform Models for America's Rural Communities” represents the NRHA effort to develop a national consensus on the optimal models of reform for rural communities. Included in the paper are summaries of several major health reform trends and their impact on rural health systems, a set of commonly accepted principles that correlates with rural communities successfully sustaining their health care systems, and a general discussion of the response options for rural health professionals in preparation for managed care. In addition, models for community-based rural health systems and their key characteristics are listed and described. All NRHA policy issue papers are available on the NRHA Web site (http://www.NRHArural.org). A free copy may also be obtained by writing to the NRHA, Communications Department, One West Armour Blvd., Ste. 203, Kansas City, MO 64111.