Nearly 3-in-4 parents want to breast-feed as long as they are able

BY Michael Johnsen

ANDOVER, Mass. — As many as 95% of women reported having at least attempted to breast-feed their babies, with 35% continuing between four and six months, and another 52% breast-feeding for seven to 12 months, according to the Philips Mother & Child Care Index that was released Monday by the Philips Center for Health and Well-being.

And parents would like to breast-feed even more — 72% expressed a desire to continue breast-feeding as long as possible. The survey cited pain and lack of milk supply as the two top reasons women give-up on breast-feeding, and a return to the workplace also contributed to their decision to stop breast-feeding.

“The findings show that parents are placing a very high value on breastfeeding,” stated Katy Hartley, director for the Philips Center for Health and Well-being. “There is an opportunity to help parents who want to breastfeed their children for longer than six months, but lack the resources to help cope with problems that may arise.”

Pain was usually a factor that caused women to stop breast-feeding within the first three months, and lack of supply typically caused women to stop between three and seven months. As many as 67% of American women cited a lack of milk supply as a reason, compared with 40% globally. And 73% of American women completed a breast-feeding course, compared with 41% of mothers globally.

“Parents’ commitment to breast-feeding should be bolstered by a recent IRS ruling that expenses paid for breast pumps are deductible medical expenses under IRS Section 213(d),” Philips AVENT marketing director Ron Tiktin said. “As a result, expenses for these items may now be reimbursed by flexible spending arrangements, health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts.”

To download the complete report, click here.

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Healthcare scorecard: The bad offsets the good

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNETONKA, Minn. — United Health Foundation’s "2011 America’s Heath Rankings," released Tuesday, found that increases in obesity, diabetes and children in poverty are offsetting improvements in smoking cessation, preventable hospitalizations and cardiovascular deaths. According to the report, the country’s overall health did not improve between 2010 and 2011 — a drop from the 0.5% average annual rate of improvement between 2000 and 2010, and the 1.6% average annual rate of improvement seen in the 1990s.

“Where people live matters. Every state can make improvements to ensure healthier quality of lives for their residents,” stated Reed Tuckson, United Health Foundation board member and EVP and chief of medical affairs for the UnitedHealth Group. “In the history of the rankings, we have seen many examples of stakeholders coming together to improve their standing. States, such as Tennessee and Maine — which made explicit efforts to improve their rankings — have shown us that improved public health is achievable but must be tackled in a concerted and aggressive way.”

For the fifth year in a row, Vermont is the nation’s healthiest state. States that showed the most substantial improvement include New York and New Jersey, both moving up six places, largely because of improvements made in smoking cessation. Idaho and Alaska showed the most downward movement. Idaho dropped 10 spots, from number nine to 19 in this year’s rankings, and Alaska dropped five places.

To see the rankings in full, click here.

This year’s rankings, which offers a state-by-state snapshot of population health based on 23 measures, includes several positive nationwide trends:

  • Smoking cessation: 17.3% of the population smoked in 2011, down from 17.9% in 2010 — a 3.4% decline since 2010; a 25.4% decline since 2001;

  • Preventable hospitalizations: 68.2 preventable hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare enrollees in 2011, down from 70.6 preventable hospitalizations in 2010 — a 3.4% decline since 2010; a 17.3% decline since 2001; and

  • Cardiovascular deaths: 270.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2011, down from 278.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2010 — a 2.8% decline since 2010; a 22.2% decline since 2001.

These improvements were offset by increases in:

  • Obesity: 27.5% of the adult population in 2011, up from 26.9% of the adult population in 2010 — a 2.2% increase since 2010; a 37.5% increase since 2001. 2011 marks the first year when no state had an obesity prevalence under 20%;

  • Diabetes: 8.7% in 2011, up from 8.3% in 2010 — a 4.8% increase since 2010; a 42.6% increase since 2001; and

  • Children in poverty: 21.5% in 2011, up from 20.7% in 2010 — a 3.9% increase since 2010; a 33.5% increase since 2001.

The fact that the country did not improve in overall health status means there was a balance between improvements and detriments across all 23 measures. A compelling example of this stagnation is the improvement in the number of smokers being offset by worsening rates of obesity: the rankings found that, for every person who quit smoking in 2011, another person became obese. And a 2010 report from the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization indicated that if current trends continue, diabetes and prediabetes will account for approximately 10% of total healthcare spending by 2020 at an annual cost of almost $500 billion — up from an estimated $208 billion this year.

“While this year’s rankings shows some important improvements, we also see some very alarming trends — particularly diabetes and obesity — that, left unchecked, will put further strain on our country’s already strained health care resources,” Tuckson said. “At a time when the nation, states and individual families are grappling with tightening budgets and growing healthcare expenses, this year’s rankings sends a loud wakeup call that the burden of preventable chronic disease will continue to get worse unless we take urgent action."

In conjunction with the report, United Health Foundation is launching an interactive “Take Action for Change” campaign to incent Americans to adopt healthier habits. “Take Action for Change” is designed to inspire people to adopt healthier behaviors. For every day someone pledges an “act of health” on the America’s Health Rankings Facebook page, United Health Foundation will make a 25 cent donation — up to a total of $50,000 — to nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the nation’s health.

Visitors to the Facebook page will be able to upload their own “acts of health” and vote for which nonprofit organization will receive the donation.

The American Cancer Society, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and YMCA are partnering with United Health Foundation on this initiative.

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Cardinal Health ranks No. 1 on Gartner’s ‘Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25’

BY Michael Johnsen

STAMFORD, Conn. — Gartner on Monday released the findings from its third annual "Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25," ranking Cardinal Health No. 1. The top 25 ranking for 2011 identifies organizations using their supply chains to improve the patient care experience.
"Value chain leadership in a range of foundational and collaborative capabilities has allowed these organizations to make great strides in enabling high-quality patient care at optimal economic cost," stated Barry Blake, research analyst at Gartner.
"This year we see commonality between the strategies supply chain organizations from across the different segments are pursuing," Blake said. "Supply chain and customer segmentation, working capital optimization, resiliency, talent management, standardization and, of course, collaboration are mentioned in nearly every strategic supply chain document we’ve reviewed."
Cardinal Health captured the No. 1 spot this year. A complex combination of connected businesses, Cardinal Health combines the varied strengths of a medical surgical distributor, a pharmaceutical wholesaler and a large manufacturer. Its financials, relative to peers, remained impressive, even though its return on assets dropped this year, and its inventory turn performance remained essentially the same. Cardinal made significant gains in the opinion component of the poll, a reflection of the credibility it has established with healthcare providers, manufacturers and the analyst community, Gartner stated. "Cardinal has the closest thing to a ‘one-stop shop’ in serving providers and gets credit for having a unique ability to support its trading partners."

BD, which ranked No. 3, moved into the Top 5 for the first time in Gartner’s ranking. Consistent financial performance in both ROA and inventory turns, along with a strong surge in peer recognition, particularly from healthcare providers, fueled its move up the ladder.
The top-25 rankings are:

  1. Cardinal Health

  2. Mercy

  3. BD

  4. Mayo Foundation

  5. Owens & Minor

  6. Johnson & Johnson

  7. Intermountain Healthcare 

  8. Abbott

  9. Novartis

  10. Geisinger Health Systems

  11. Cleveland Clinic 

  12. AmerisourceBergen

  13. Boston Scientific

  14. McKesson

  15. Bristol-Myers Squibb 

  16. BJC Healthcare 

  17. CVS Caremark 

  18. Baxter 

  19. Pfizer 

  20. AstraZeneca 

  21. UPMC 

  22. Alcon

  23. GlaxoSmithKline 

  24. Amgen 

  25. Kaiser Permanente

More detailed analysis is available in the report "The Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 for 2011." For the full report, click here.

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