Big data is big in health care. With #data from police and social services, #hospitals could help patients who constantly show up at the #ER.

It’s probably PI to call them this, but they are known as frequent flyers. An editorial in The Boston Globe this morning lauds a new program — which calls them “Frequent Utilizers ” —  aimed at helping hospital  staff help patients who show up at the ED again and again.

boston_globeResearchers, police officers, and doctors have long understood the challenge of so-called frequent utilizers — mentally ill or addicted people who cycle in and out of emergency rooms and jailhouses at enormous cost, with little sign of improvement...

There are records here and records there. But you’d have to look at them in combination — two ambulance calls for overdoses, a police call for an attempted suicide in one town and a second call, in a neighboring town, when she was the victim of an assault — to get the full picture.

That’s the idea behind a promising new pilot program bringing together law enforcement, corrections officials, and health care providers in three jurisdictions: Long Beach, Calif., Johnson County, Iowa, and Middlesex County, a sprawling region that includes urban centers like Cambridge and Lowell and smaller towns like Concord and Groton.


Tuesday, Globe series targets racial disparities in health care. Conclusion: The color line exists in sickness as in health.

CaptureThe Boston Globe’s series on race focuses on health disparities on Tuesday.

Though the issue gets scant attention in this center of world-class medicine, segregation patterns are deeply imbedded in Boston health care. Simply put: If you are black in Boston, you are less likely to get care at several of the city’s elite hospitals than if you are white.

Also, check out the paper’s Q&A from 2014 between Kate Walsh , the chief executive of Boston Medical Center, and Dr. Paula Johnson , executive director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Walsh: What would you say are the biggest health issues facing the minority community in Boston?

Johnson: There are a number, and they really occur across th


e life span. For example, black infants are 1.5 to 4 times more likely to die prematurely in the first year of life. If we looked at those likely to die below the age of 74, blacks are twice as likely to die.

Then you look at the disparities in chronic disease. They are pretty significant. Heart disease, stroke, cancer. And there also are a lot of inequities in people being able to make the right choices. That is a very significant health issue for minorities. For example, being able to make healthy food choices, being able to let your children out on the playground and get adequate exercise.



Another reason we need The Boston Globe – nursing home coverage

CaptureAs The Globe heads for another round of buyouts,  consider one of many reasons we so need a robust news operation in town: your parents.

Or maybe your grandparents. Or anyone who lives or works in a nursing home in the state. Kay Lazar has been doing some great reporting on conditions in and regulation of nursing homes.

I covered this beat in NC in the 1990s,  so I know the kind of dark places she’s had to go to get these stories. (I count the state Department of Public Health — super uncooperative about public records — among them.) I started reporting on the low fines North Carolina was issuing serious violations of are rules.  After a couple months of this, a county inspector told me this: one home owner said: I don’t care how much you fine me, just keep me out of the paper. When our news operations are diminished, she’ll get her wish.

A small sample of Lazar’s work:

A pattern of profit and subpar care at Mass. nursing homes

The Globe scrutinized the 2014 financial reports, the latest available, from 396 Massachusetts nursing homes and examined the money spent on nursing care, patient food, management, rent, and fees for therapy, office support, and other services. Also examined were health and safety violations for each nursing home.

For-profit nursing homes, which constitute three-quarters of those in the state, frequently devote less money to nursing care, compared to nonprofit homes, the analysis showed.

From Tuesday’s paper

Nursing homes are being bought and sold in the United States at a rapid clip, raising questions about the quality of care, according to a Harvard University-led study published Monday.

Corporate owners appear to target nursing homes beset with problems, and the difficulties — notably health and safety violations — often persist after the transactions, the researchers found.

Nursing home owners profited as complaints rose

Over the past year, a portrait has emerged of substandard care in many of the nursing homes run by Braemoor’s owner, Synergy Health Centers. Poor treatment of patients’ festering pressure sores. Medication errors. Inadequate staff training.

Now, a Globe investigation shows that as father and son were paying themselves handsomely, Synergy apparently provided false information when applying for nursing home licenses. The Globe’s review also found that Synergy and its affiliated companies assembled a string of 11 nursing homes with little state scrutiny of the backgrounds of top executives, including Larry Lipschutz, who faces tens of thousands of dollars in fines because of previous business dealings.