Access to Oncology Care

Oftentimes, health services research measure access as the distance between a patient and the nearest provider of a given type (e.g., hospital, physician).  This issue of access is particularly relevant for individuals with cancer, since cancer care typically requires supervisions from specialist oncologists.  In most cases, health services researchers assume that individuals located far from…

Cancer screening rates

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) publishes screeening rates for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers over the past 25 years.  I have reproduced the charts below.  I wonder how the USPSTF recommendation in November 2009 that women ages 40 to 49 should not undergo screening unless they are in a high-risk group will affect mammography rates in the most recent…

Reducing Cancer Treatment Costs

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Reducing mortality and morbidity from many types of cancer would be an enormous breakthrough. Although the benefits from high-quality cancer care are clear, cancer care is expensive. GoozNews reports that a UnitedHealthcare official stated that reimbursement for cancer care now accounts for 12…

Variation in End-of-Life Cancer Treatments

According to a recent Dartmouth Atlas study: “The nation’s most elite cancer care centers performed only modestly better than community hospitals at meeting recognized quality standards for treating dying cancer patients, displaying similar patterns of relatively aggressive, high-intensity treatments in the final weeks of these patients’ lives… The Dartmouth researchers also found that even among…

Fraudulent Cancer Research: An Exception or the Tip of the Iceberg

Yesterday, 60 Minutes reported on Dr. Anil Potti, researcher at Duke University.  Dr. Potti supposedly offered cancer patients improved cancer treatments.  These recommendations, however, were based on falsified data. “Five years ago, Duke University announced it had found the holy grail of cancer research. They’d discovered how to match a patient’s tumor to the best chemotherapy…

California Health Care Almanac

The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF)’s Health Care Almanac provides some unique insights on trends in health care quality in California and for the United States as a whole.  Many of the national figures for the Almanac come from the CDC (BRFSS and Vital Stats) and AHRQ’s National Healthcare Quality Report.  California quality figures come…

Does getting cancer incentivize individuals to switch from Medicare managed care to FFS?

Medicare beneficiaries have a choice: pick the standard Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) benefit or rely on managed care plans to supply their healthcare through the Medicare Advantage (MA) program.  Many Medicare beneficiaries prefer MA because it offers them lower out-of-pocket costs and provide benefits not available in the traditional FFS Medicare program. Other beneficiaries prefer the…

Determining Population Size

How do ecologists determine the size of a population?    One method is the mark and recapture (a.k.a. capture/recapture method).  This method relies on having two separate trials to capture (either physically or in data) members of certain population and determines the population size based on the proportion of specimens who are captured in both…