Israel Journal of Health Policy Research

Published by BioMed Central
Application and process of request for PGD for non-medical sex selection.
Reasons for requesting PGD sex selection
Number of yearly applications to the committee (N = 411).
Committee approval by reason for request
Committee decisions by year of application (N = 216).
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for fetal sex selection raises complex dilemmas. In Israel, PGD is regulated by the Ministry of Health. It is basically prohibited, but exceptions can be made upon approval by the National Committee for Sex Selection by PGD for Non-Medical Reasons (the “Committee”). This report describes the Committee’s work since its inception in May, 2005 through December, 2011. Files were abstracted onto a structured form. Discrete variables were analyzed by chi-square analysis, and continuous variables by T-Test. During the study period 411 applications were received. Two-thirds of the applicants (n = 276; 67.2%) were Jewish and 26.8% were Moslem Arab. Over two-thirds (n = 285; 69.3%) had no children of the requested sex and ≥4 children of the opposite sex. Three-quarters of the requests were for a male (n = 308; 74.9%): 100% of Arab and 63% of Jewish applicants. Many noted more than one reason for their request. The most frequent category (n = 201; 48.9%) was a strong emotional desire, followed by medically-related reasons (n = 83; 20.2%). For 216 applications a decision was arrived at, with 46 (21.3%) approved. Of the remaining 195 for 192 over a year had passed since last contact with the Committee. The likelihood of approval was higher if applicants met the criterion of ≥4 same-sex children than if they didn’t (33.7% vs. 11.6%, P = 0.001). The largest number of approvals were those requested for ‘emotional’ reasons, while the highest approval rate was for religious reasons. This study reviewed the first seven years of Committee activity. Most requested males, and the primary reason was the parents' intense emotional desire. Only one-fifth of the decisions were approvals, possibly reflecting reluctance to encourage non-medically-indicated PGD, a viewpoint not unique to Israel. Limitations include the relatively small number of cases and lack of access to Committee deliberation protocols. It is recommended that longitudinal studies be conducted to gain insight into the consequences to individuals, couples and families--both those whose requests were approved and those denied-- of this major step in reproductive technologies and in society’s effort to respond to them.
Definitions and data sources of the QICH indicator set, 2007-2009. (Continued)
Quality indicators of the National Program for Quality Indicators in Community Healthcare in Israel, 2007-2009.
The National Program for Quality Indicators in Community Healthcare in Israel (QICH) was developed to provide policy makers and consumers with information on the quality of community healthcare in Israel. In what follows we present the most recent results of the QICH indicator set for 2009 and an examination of changes that have occurred since 2007. Data for 28 quality indicators were collected from all four health plans in Israel for the years 2007-2009. The QICH indicator set examined six areas of healthcare: asthma, cancer screening, cardiovascular health, child health, diabetes and immunizations for older adults. Dramatic increases in the documentation of anthropometric measures were observed over the measurement period. Documentation of BMI for adolescents and adults increased by 30 percentage points, reaching rates of 61% and 70%, respectively, in 2009. Modest increases (3%-7%) over time were observed for other primary prevention quality measures including immunizations for older adults, cancer screening, anemia screening for young children, and documentation of cardiovascular risks. Overall, rates of recommended care for chronic diseases (asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes) increased over time. Changes in rates of quality care for diabetes were varied over the measurement period. The overall quality of community healthcare in Israel has improved over the past three years. Future research should focus on the adherence to quality indicators in population subgroups and compare the QICH data with those in other countries. In addition, one of the next steps in assessing and further improving healthcare quality in Israel is to relate these process and performance indicators to health outcomes.
About the Dead Sea Conferences.
Individuals covered by supplementary and commercial health insurance (% of total population). Sources: [5,6]. 
Household spending on healthcare and health insurance as a % of total household spending. Source: 7.
The private health insurance (commercial and supplementary health insurance) sector has undergone a revolutionary transformation in recent years, both in the number of individuals who own private plans, and in the financial scope of these plans. With these developments in the background, leaders of the Israeli healthcare system convened in December 2012 at the Dead Sea for a discussion on "Private healthcare insurance plans in Israel: Developments, concerns, and directions for a solution." This meeting report summarizes the main issues discussed at the conference.
The first national study in Israel of post-acute rehabilitation service use for elderly patients with stroke and hip fracture reported regional variation in care receipt. Although lower likelihood of admission to inpatient rehabilitation was observed in districts with known shortages of rehabilitation beds, supply alone did not explain the findings. This commentary explores other potential contributing factors. It argues that greater uniformity in the process and documentation of discharge planning in combination with decision support would help to standardize provider behavior. Implementation of a system of functional status data collection that is linked to administrative data is recommended to enable examination of the impact of care receipt and variation. Additional research is needed to provide a clearer understanding of factors contributing to regional variation and to identify solutions to ensure equal access to post-acute rehabilitation services in Israel.
The Israel Journal of Health Policy Research (IJHPR) is a new, open access journal. IJHPR seeks to promote intensive intellectual interactions among scholars and practitioners from Israel and other countries regarding all aspects of health policy, with particular attention to Israel. The ultimate aim of these interactions is to contribute to the development of health policy in Israel, and also to foster wider communication between health scientists and policy analysts in Israel and their colleagues around the world. This inaugural editorial provides an overview of the new journal's rationale and its key features.
Health policies tend to focus on improving the access to health care of persons of low-socioeconomic status to improve their health status. This commentary argues that health policies directly directed at health and socioeconomic status (and other components of individual welfare) will also be effective if one wants to improve the well-being of the poor.
Contributing reviewers The Editors of Israel Journal of Health Policy Research would like to thank all reviewers, both external and Editorial Board Members, who have contributed to the journal in 2013, and whose valuable support continues to be essential to the success of the journal.
Comparison of strengths and weaknesses of action research compared to randomized controlled trials and improvement campaigns 
Despite highly systematic methods for identifying priority problems and assessing intervention effects, the recent study by Bashkin and colleagues would not be considered rigorous by conventional standards of validity, nor would its sample size of three units impress policymakers eager to promote large-scale change through improvement programs. Yet, study findings suggest that no single intervention would have accomplished as much as the action research approach the authors' employed. This perspective argues that although action research may lend itself to neither clean comparisons of intervention and control units over time nor far-reaching improvement campaigns, its advantages, including responsiveness to context, emphasis on implementation and sustainability, and insight about underlying mechanisms of change, make rigorous action research a highly attractive alternative for engendering real world improvement. This is a commentary on
Percent of patients with observed PAEs in each unit 
Percent of patients with observed PAEs in each unit before vs. after intervention 
Action research is a participatory research method based on active cooperation between researchers and subjects. In clinical practice, action research enables active involvement of workers in developing and implementing actions promoting patient safety. This article describes a participatory action research project that was conducted in the radiology department of a tertiary care university hospital. The main objectives were: identifying potential adverse events in the department of radiology, and offering a proactive approach to improving patient safety. Phase one of the study included observing 100 patients in three units of the department and identifying potential adverse events using an observation form. According to the data obtained from the observations, multidisciplinary research teams developed and initiated, together with front-line workers, four types of interventions: ergonomic interventions in work environment design, interventions in work procedure and task design, training and guidance, and managerial interventions. Phase two included evaluation of the interventions after six months of implementation. Results showed different weaknesses in each of the three radiology units tested, including incomplete medical information necessary for performing the radiological procedure, and discontinuity of care. Post-intervention observations showed a significant reduction in the prevalence of potential adverse events. At the Angiography unit, potential adverse events related to incomplete medical information dropped from 50% to 32%, and at the CT unit they dropped from 70% to 23%. At the MRI unit potential adverse events related to discontinuity of care dropped from 61% to 19%. The current study demonstrates the value of action research in non-hospitalizing health units and the benefits of cooperation between medical teams and human factor professionals in promoting patient safety. Methods similar to those described in the current paper are applicable to medical work teams in a broad range of practices.
The extent of participation of NMAs in quality improvement activities
Categorization of NMA participation in quality improvement.
CME activity.
scope of compatibility between involvement in regulatory tasks and participation in quality improvement activities
Many countries have devoted considerable efforts in an attempt to improve the performance of their health care systems. National Medical Associations (NMAs), along with other stakeholders, play a part in the promotion of such activities. The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature and level of participation of NMAs in activities of quality improvement in medicine, with a specific emphasis on Israel. THE AUTHORS CONDUCTED A SURVEY AMONG NMAS AROUND THE WORLD INQUIRING AS TO THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THREE CENTRAL ASPECTS OF QUALITY IMPROVEMENT: clinical guidelines, quality measurement and continuing medical education (CME). In addition, they conducted a review of the literature in order to gather more information and complete the data collected in the survey. The findings were processed and analyzed comparatively. Most of the NMAs surveyed participate in quality improvement activities at least to some extent. NMAs' main involvement is in the regulation of CME and they are involved to a much lesser extent in the preparation of clinical guidelines and in quality measurement. In Israel, the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) has a dominant role in both the preparation of clinical guidelines and the regulation of CME credits. It is possible that the expertise maintained by the profession, coupled with the organizational power of the NMA as a union, is viewed as beneficial for regulating educational activities in medicine such as CME. Conversely, the issuing of clinical guidelines is usually regarded as a typical scientific activity, and therefore often rests in the hands of professional medical societies. Quality measurement is regarded as a distinctive administrative tool and is usually found in the province of governments. Based on the typology that we introduced in our previous paper, we discovered that the extent of NMAs' involvement in quality improvement coincides with the mode of governance of the health care system. The nature and level of participation of NMAs in activities of quality improvement varies widely. Collaboration of NMAs in this field with other stakeholders is not uncommon, and may contribute to the further development of quality improvement in medicine.
Demographic distributions of respondents from public and policy maker surveys (Dec. 2010)
Comparisons of recommendations by healthy Israel 2020, the Public Committee for Reducing Harm Due to Smoking, and current Israeli law on 8 items (as of March 2013)
Public opinion, and health policy advisor assessment of public opinion, regarding desire for smoke-free air.
Background Health policy-making, a complex, multi-factorial process, requires balancing conflicting values. A salient issue is public support for policies; however, one reason for limited impact of public opinion may be misperceptions of policy makers regarding public opinion. For example, empirical research is scarce on perceptions of policy makers regarding public opinion on smoke-free public spaces. Methods Public desire for smoke-free air was compared with health policy advisor (HPA) perception of these desires. Two representative studies were conducted: one with the public (N = 505), and the other with a representative sample of members of Israel’s health-targeting initiative, Healthy Israel 2020 (N = 34), in December 2010. Corresponding questions regarding desire for smoke-free areas were asked. Possible smoke-free areas included: 100% smoke-free bars and pubs; entrances to health facilities; railway platforms; cars with children; college campuses; outdoor areas (e.g., pools and beaches); and common areas of multi-dweller apartment buildings. A 1–7 Likert scale was used for each measure, and responses were averaged into a single primary outcome, DESIRE. Our primary endpoint was the comparison between public preferences and HPA assessment of those preferences. In a secondary analysis, we compared personal preferences of the public with personal preferences of the HPAs for smoke-free air. Results HPAs underestimated public desire for smoke-free air (Public: Mean: 5.06, 95% CI:[4.94, 5.17]; HPA: Mean: 4.06, 95% CI:[3.61, 4.52]: p < .0001). Differences at the p = .05 level were found between HPA assessment and public preference for the following areas: 100% smoke-free bars and pubs; entrances to healthcare facilities; train platforms; cars carrying children; and common areas of multi-dweller apartment buildings. In our secondary comparison, HPAs more strongly preferred smoke-free areas than did the public (p < .0001). Conclusions Health policy advisors underestimate public desire for smoke-free air. Better grasp of public opinion by policy makers may lead to stronger legislation. Monitoring policy-maker assessment of public opinion may shed light on incongruities between policy making and public opinion. Further, awareness of policy-maker misperceptions may encourage policy-makers to demand more accurate information before making policy.
Monthly Percentage of Annual Mortality, Israel: 1970–2010. (Source: State of Israel, CBS, 2012. Data available at: Retrieved: 3.1.2012).
Monthly Percentage of Annual Mortality, Israel: 1970 – 2010. (Source: State of Israel, CBS, 2012. Data available at: . Retrieved: 3.1.2012). 
Recommended data needs for preparedness for extreme weather events.
Recommended registries of the demographic details and geographic location of vulnerable groups and individuals that should be maintained and updated regularly (older persons, children, chronically ill, people with special needs, outdoor workers).
Climatic changes have increased the world-wide frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, cold spells, floods, storms and droughts. These extreme events potentially affect the health status of millions of people, increasing disease and death. Since mitigation of climate change is a long and complex process, emphasis has recently been placed on the measures required for adaptation. Even though the principles underlying these measures are universal, preparedness plans and policies need to be tailored to local conditions. In this paper, we conducted a thorough review of the literature on the possible health consequences of extreme weather events in Israel, where the conditions are characteristic of the Mediterranean region. Strong evidence indicates that the frequency and duration of several types of extreme weather events are increasing in the Mediterranean Basin, including in Israel. We examined the public health policy implications for adaptation to climate change in the region, and proposed public health adaptation policy options. Preparedness for the public health impact of increased extreme weather events is still relatively limited and the policies are not clearly defined. Therefore, clear public health policies are urgently needed to prepare for adaptation to this impact. Particular needs are for improved early warning and monitoring systems, preparedness of the health system, educational programs and environmental management.
Today patients can consult with their treating physician by cell phone or e-mail. These means of communication enhance the quality of medical care and increase patient satisfaction, but they can also impinge on physicians' free time and their patient schedule while at work. The objective of this study is to assess the attitudes and practice of patients on obtaining the cell phone number or e-mail address of their physician for the purpose of medical consultation. Personal interviews with patients, 18 years of age or above, selected by random sampling from the roster of adults insured by Clalit Health Services, Southern Division. The total response rate was 41%. The questionnaire included questions on the attitude and practice of patients towards obtaining their physician's cell phone number or e-mail address. Comparisons were performed using Chi-square tests to analyze statistically significant differences of categorical variables. Two-tailed p values less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant, with a power of 0.8. The study sample included 200 patients with a mean age of 46.6 ± 17.1, of whom 110 were women (55%). Ninety-three (46.5%) responded that they would be very interested in obtaining their physician's cell phone number, and an additional 83 (41.5%) would not object to obtaining it. Of the 171 patients (85.5%) who had e-mail addresses, 25 (14.6%) said they would be very interested in obtaining their physician's e-mail address, 85 (49.7%) said they would not object to getting it, and 61 (35.7%) were not interested. In practice only one patient had requested the physician's e-mail address and none actually had it. Patients favored cell phones over e-mail for consulting with their treating physicians. With new technologies such as cell phones and e-mail in common use, it is important to determine how they can be best used and how they should be integrated into the flow of clinical practice.
Stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue can have a significant adverse effect of physician well being and patient care. While the frequency and intensity of these negative influences appear to be increasing, there is little help available. We need to raise physician awareness as to the seriousness of this issue and at the same time gain a better understanding of some of the causative factors so we can provide the necessary support services that will enable our physicians to better adjust to the pressures and stresses of our health care environment and re-energize their zest and idealism for medical care. This is a commentary on
The Israeli health system has made considerable progress in reducing deaths amenable to medical care but has more to do. This commentary describes how progress in this area results from innovation, coverage, quality, and adherence to treatment. It describes what is being done in Israel and beyond to address each of these factors but concentrates on the often poorly recognised problem of adherence to treatment, describing the growing evidence that it is often sub-optimal and reviewing evidence on what can be done to improve it.
Compared to OECD countries, Israel has a remarkably low percentage of GDP and of government expenditure spent on health, which are not reflected in worse national outcomes. Israel is also characterized by a relatively high share of GDP spent on security expenses and payment of public debt. To determine to what extent differences between Israel and the OECD countries in security expenses and payment of the public debt might account for the gaps in the percentage of GDP and of government expenditures spent on health. We compare the percentages of GDP and of government expenditures spent on health in the OECD countries with the respective percentages when using primary civilian GDP and government expenditures (i.e., when security expenses and interest payment are deducted). We compared Israel with the OECD average and examined the ranking of the OECD countries under the two measures over time. While as a percentage of GDP, the national expenditure on health in Israel was well below the average of the OECD countries, as a percentage of primary civilian GDP it was above the average until 2003 and below the average thereafter. When the OECD countries were ranked according to decreasing percent of GDP and of government expenditure spent on health, adjusting for security and debt payment expenditures changed the Israeli rank from 23rd to 17th and from 27th to 25th, respectively. Adjusting for security expenditures and interest payment, Israel's low spending on health as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of government's spending increases and is closer to the OECD average. Further analysis should explore the effect of additional population and macroeconomic differences on the remaining gaps.
Major variables reported per individual management option
Potential delivery pathways for the base case patient with breech presenting fetus. The patient with breech presenting fetus can go directly to cesarean delivery, or undergo ECV, either with (Pathway B) or without (Pathway C) spinal anesthesia. ECV success rates with and without spinal anesthesia were taken from our previous publications [19,20]. Pathway A (no ECV) shows 100% CD rate, despite the possibility of vaginal breech delivery or spontaneous conversion to cephalic presentation. For pathways B2/B3 and C2/C3, following successful ECV, a cesarean delivery rate of 16% is used, based upon calculated data from Table 3. Costs associated with each pathway are presented in Table 3. VD = vaginal delivery, CD = cesarean delivery.
Reported ECV success rates range from 30-70%; higher ECV success generate higher vaginal delivery rates - decreasing costs. Figure 2a shows ECV success rates ranging from 30-70% without spinal anesthesia and Figure 2b shows ECV success rates ranging from 30-70% with spinal anesthesia. Both show costs for a 16% and 30% cesarean delivery rate. If the prevailing cesarean delivery rate increases from 16% to 30%, the cost savings from ECV success rates falls.
External cephalic version (ECV) is infrequently performed and 98% of breech presenting fetuses are delivered surgically. Neuraxial analgesia can increase the success rate of ECV significantly, potentially reducing cesarean delivery rates for breech presentation. The current study aims to determine whether the additional cost to the hospital of spinal anesthesia for ECV is offset by cost savings generated by reduced cesarean delivery. In our tertiary hospital, three variables manpower, disposables, and fixed costs were calculated for ECV, ECV plus anesthetic doses of spinal block, vaginal delivery and cesarean delivery. Total procedure costs were compared for possible delivery pathways. Manpower data were obtained from management payroll, fixed costs by calculating cost/lifetime usage rate and disposables were micro-costed in 2008, expressed in 2013 NIS. Cesarean delivery is the most expensive option, 11670.54 NIS and vaginal delivery following successful ECV under spinal block costs 5497.2 NIS. ECV alone costs 960.21 NIS, ECV plus spinal anesthesia costs 1386.97 NIS. The highest individual cost items for vaginal, cesarean delivery and ECV were for manpower. Expensive fixed costs for cesarean delivery included operating room trays and postnatal hospitalization (minimum 3 days). ECV with spinal block is cheaper due to lower expected cesarean delivery rate and its lower associated costs. The additional cost of the spinal anesthesia is offset by increased success rates for the ECV procedure resulting in reduction in the cesarean delivery rate.
Frankel and colleagues have compared Israel and the U.S.’s experiences with health information exchange (HIE). They highlight the importance of institutional factors in fostering HIE development, notably the influence of local structures, experience and incentives. Historically, information infrastructure in the U.S. has been limited due to lack of standards, fragmented institutions and competition. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 authorized billions of dollars for the adoption and “Meaningful Use” of electronic health records. HITECH programs and Meaningful Use incentives target the advancement of HIE through 1) building blocks, 2) local support and 3) payment incentives. Meaningful Use requirements create a roadmap to broader electronic exchange of health information among providers and with patients. Ultimately, successful HIE in the U.S. will depend on whether Meaningful Use can address institutional needs within local markets. This is a commentary on
In the last decade (2001--2010) the Ministry of Health implemented two major inter-related reforms: a 'structural reform' to reduce the number of psychiatric beds and the 'Rehabilitation of the Mentally Disabled in the Community Law', which allocated funds for a variety of residential and vocational programs in the community for these patients. The objective of the present paper was to examine the impact of the two reforms on the hospitalization of schizophrenic and affective disorder patients by tracking the patterns of their inpatient care during the last decade. Data on all psychiatric admissions during the period 1990--2011 were extracted from the Israel Psychiatric Case Register to examine changes in the rate of admissions, length of hospitalizations, total inpatient days and tenure in the community. The analysis was done separately for first-in-life vs. all admissions and for patients with schizophrenia vs. patients with affective disorders. From 2006 onward, with no decrease in the number the beds, the number of inpatient days for first-in-life patients with schizophrenia decreased by 29%, their admission rates dropped by 22%, the proportion of short [< 30 days] first in life episodes went up, while the percentage of those whose first in life episode lasted more than one year went down from 2.5% to 0.5%. The parallel results for patients with affective disorders were much less significant. An increasing percentage of patients with schizophrenia are not admitted to psychiatric wards at all and an increasing percentage of those who are admitted are treated during a shorter episode. The change is probably due to the rehabilitation reform which enabled the structural reform (the reduction in beds) to be implemented effectively.
The regulation of medical practice can historically be understood as a second-level agency relationship whereby the state delegated authority to professional bodies to police the primary agency relationship between the individual physician and the patient. Borow, Levi and Glekin show how different national systems vary in the degree to which they insist on institutionally insulating the agency function from the promotion of private professional interests, and relate these variations to different models of the health care state. In fact these differences have even deeper roots in different “liberal” or “coordinated” varieties of capitalist political economies. Neither model is inherently more efficient than the other: what matters is the internal coherence or logic of these systems that conditions the expectations of actors in responding to particular challenges. The territory that Borow, Levi and Glekin have usefully mapped invites further exploration in this regard. This is a commentary on
As populations age, most industrialized nations are seeking to review the structure for their long term care programs with the goal of allocating better limited public resources to meet expanding needs. In this Commentary, I examine critical questions that define the way individual nations provide for the long term care needs of their aging populations. As examined by Asiskovitch, Israel's programs appear, in cross-national context, to have a broader reach and rely more heavily on community based services. In the future, the challenge Israel may face involves maintaining aspects of its programs that probably account for its popular support and stability while it identifies better the extent of potential gaps in care for those with greater needs and how best to meet them.
Breech presentation is encountered in 3 to 4% of term pregnancies and has been a significant driver of the increased rate of cesarean deliveries over the last 4 decades. External cephalic version (ECV) is recommended at term by most professional organizations in an effort to reduce the prospect of cesarean deliveries. The authors propose the use of regional anesthesia to increase efficacy and reduce cost in the care of patients who undergo ECV in an effort to convert a breech presentation to a vertex counterpart. Despite emerging evidence of the advantages, obstacles to more comprehensive implementation of this approach continue to exist, which include patient acceptance, provider experience, and safety concerns. The addition of tocolytics and use of regional anesthesia for secondary ECV efforts have also been considered as options to increase success and reduce cost. This is a commentary on
The Israel Journal of Health Policy Research (IJHPR) seeks to promote intensive intellectual interactions among scholars and practitioners from Israel and other countries regarding all aspects of health policy and health care, with a special focus on Israel. During 2012, its first year of operation, the journal succeeded in publishing an impressive volume of policy-relevant articles by a remarkably diverse set of authors. The journal's success to date would not have been possible without the vital contributions of the editorial board, the authors, the reviewers, the readers, BioMed Central (the journal's publisher), and the Israel National Institute for Health Policy (the journal's sponsor). The challenges ahead include promoting greater reader involvement, and enhancing the journal's policy and educational impact.
Abstract Complementary alternative health care presents fascinating challenges and opportunities for health policy and research - from issues of definition to training and licensing, to insurance reimbursement and evidence regarding clinical efficacy and outcomes. Complementary alternative health care is utilized by a substantial proportion of the population both now and likely in the future and requires serious health policy consideration. This is a commentary on
The paper explores the patterns of coexistence of alternative/complementary health care (CAM) and conventional medicine in Israel in the cultural, political, and social contexts of the society. The data are drawn from over ten years of sociological research on CAM in Israel, which included observation, survey research, and over one hundred in-depth interviews with a variety of CAM practitioners - many with bio-medical credentials - and with policy makers in the major medical institutions. The analysis considers the reasons for CAM use, number of practitioners, the frequency of CAM use and some of its correlates, and how CAM is regulated. The structure of the relationship between the conventional health care system and CAM is discussed in the public sector, which provides two-thirds of CAM services, and in the private sector, which provides about one-third. The history of the development of these structures and some of the dilemmas of their operation are discussed. A number of policy issues are considered against this background: regulation and licensing, CAM in primary care, reimbursement for CAM treatment, and the inclusion of CAM in education and training for the health professions.
Background Mortality from causes amenable to health care is a valuable indicator of quality of the health care system, which can be used to assess inter-regional differences and trends over time. This study investigates these mortality rates in Israel over time, and compares inter-regional and international rates in recent years. Results Age-adjusted amenable mortality rates have been decreasing steadily in Israel, by 31% for males and 28% for females between 1998–2000 and 2007–2009. Amenable mortality was lower in the center of the country than in the Northern, Southern, and Haifa districts. The proportion of mortality from circulatory diseases was highest in the North and Haifa districts and from cancer in the Tel-Aviv and Central districts. A higher proportion of infectious diseases was seen in the Southern district. In comparison with amenable mortality rates in 20 European countries, Israel ranked 8th lowest for males and 12th lowest for females, in 2008. The rate was lower than in Britain, Ireland, and Portugal; lower than in Germany, Spain, Austria, and Finland for males; and higher than France, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Italy. But Israel ranked higher in the decrease in amenable mortality rates between 2001 and 2007 for females than males in a 19 country comparison. Genitourinary diseases were a larger component in Israel than other countries and circulatory diseases were smaller. Conclusion The indicator of amenable mortality shows improvement in health outcomes over the years, but continuing improvement is needed in health care and education, in particular in the periphery of Israel and for females.
Ginosar, et al. describe a new performance indicator, the Obstetric Anesthesia Activity Index, to represent the current amount of obstetric anesthesia work done daily at each of 25 Israeli hospitals. The authors claim, correctly, that this index is a closer reflection of the anesthetic workload than simply looking at the number of deliveries at each hospital. However, the Obstetric Anesthesia Activity Index could easily be refined to reflect more closely the actual obstetric anesthesia workload by using the average cesarean delivery time for each hospital rather than one value for all hospitals. Although the authors state that they developed the Obstetric Anesthesia Activity Index out of concern for inadequate obstetric anesthesia manpower in Israel, they have not compared the Obstetric Anesthesia Activity Index with the size of the patient population or any measure of patient satisfaction or patient safety. In its current form, the Obstetric Anesthesia Activity Index describes the current work situation but does not evaluate the extent of the unmet need for additional anesthesia providers. Despite these shortcomings, the Obstetric Anesthesia Activity Index is an important first step in developing a tool to assess unmet obstetric anesthesia needs.
Aseptic technique and handwashing have been shown to be important factors in perioperative bacterial transmission, however compliance often remains low despite guidelines and educational programs. Infectious complications of neuraxial (epidural and spinal) anesthesia are severe but fortunately rare. We conducted a survey to assess aseptic technique practices for neuraxial anesthesia in Israel before and after publication of international guidelines (which focused on handwashing, jewelry/watch removal and the wearing of a mask and cap). The sampling frame was the general anesthesiology workforce in hospitals selected from each of the four medical faculties in Israel. Data was collected anonymously over one week in each hospital in two periods: April 2006 and September 2009. Most anesthesiologists received the questionnaires at departmental staff meetings and filled them out during these meetings; additionally, a local investigator approached anesthesiologists not present at these staff meetings individually. Primary endpoint questions were: handwashing, removal of wristwatch/jewelry, wearing mask, wearing hat/cap, wearing sterile gown; answering options were: "always", "usually", "rarely" or "never". Primary endpoint for analysis: respondents who both always wash their hands and always wear a mask ("handwash-mask composite") - "always" versus "any other response". We used logistic regression to perform the analysis. Time (2006, 2009) and hospital were included in the analysis as fixed effects. 135/160 (in 2006) and 127/164 (in 2009) anesthesiologists responded to the surveys; response rate 84% and 77% respectively. Respondents constituted 23% of the national anesthesiologist workforce. The main outcome "handwash-mask composite" was significantly increased after guideline publication (33% vs 58%; p = 0.0003). In addition, significant increases were seen for handwashing (37% vs 63%; p = 0.0004), wearing of mask (61% vs 78%; p < 0.0001), hat/cap (53% vs 76%; p = 0.0011) and wearing sterile gown (32% vs 51%; p < 0.0001). An apparent improvement in aseptic technique from 2006 to 2009 is noted across all hospitals and all physician groups. Self-reported aseptic technique by Israeli anesthesiologists improved in the survey conducted after the publication of international guidelines. Although the before-after study design cannot prove a cause-effect relationship, it does show an association between the publication of international guidelines and significant improvement in self-reported aseptic technique.
The well-designed, model-based cost-utility analysis by Ginsberg and colleagues provides useful information on the value for money of universal GBS screening in Israel. An extended application of the model-based approach used in the study could provide policymakers additional practical information on the budget impact of a potential universal GBS screening program. Such an approach could also be used to guide future research priorities in the prevention of GBS in Israel, by measuring the value of seeking further information to reduce the uncertainty in the cost-effectiveness of universal GBS screening. This is a commentary on
The wide variation in epidural and cesarean delivery rates in Israeli hospitals makes annual delivery numbers a poor assessment of obstetric anesthesia activity. For each composite figure, the upper portion consists of annual numbers of deliveries, epidurals, and cesareans. The lower portion represents the calculated OAAI. Ranking of hospital activity by annual delivery numbers alone does not reflect the ranking by OAAI. Data for 2005 (upper) and 2007 (lower).
The wide variation in epidural and cesarean delivery rates in Israeli hospitals is reflected in the contributions of epidural analgesia and cesarean anesthesia to the total OAAI in individual hospitals. Data for 2005 (left) and 2007 (right).
Correlation of annual epidural and cesarean numbers with annual delivery numbers (A, C) and with OAAI (B, D). Data for 2005 (A, B) and 2007 (C, D). The OAAI correlated more closely with both the number of cesarean deliveries and the number of epidurals. Although coupling exists as the OAAI is derived from both cesarean delivery and epidural rates, it is precisely for this reason that a single denominator is a more useful measure of obstetric anesthesia activity than annual delivery numbers.
The OAAI for individual hospitals according to obstetric anesthesia workforce allocation (data for 2005 only; 2007 survey did not collect workforce data).
Abstract Background Obstetric anesthesia workload demand in Israel has increased due to both an increase in the requests for labor analgesia and a marked increase in the cesarean delivery rate. We propose a new workload-driven performance indicator, the Obstetric Anesthesia Activity Index (OAAI), to serve as a single denominator of obstetric anesthesia activity to enable direct comparison of different hospitals despite dissimilar rates of epidural labor analgesia and cesarean delivery. Methods We performed a secondary analysis of two recent national surveys by the Israel Association of Obstetric Anesthesia. In 2005 and 2007 questionnaires were sent to all Israeli hospitals requesting information on the total numbers of deliveries, epidurals, and cesareans annually, together with the anesthesia workforce allocated for the provision of obstetric anesthesia services. The OAAI was calculated based on the premise that epidurals and cesareans are the predominant determinants of obstetric anesthesia workload and that a typical epidural takes about half the time of a typical cesarean. Accordingly, the OAAI for each hospital was calculated as ((0.75 * number of epidurals per year) + (1.5 * number of cesareans per year))/365. Results This secondary analysis assessed the 25 maternity units in Israel that participated in both the 2005 and 2007 surveys. As expected, there was a wide inter-hospital variability in epidural and cesarean rates. Hospital rankings based on annual delivery numbers were different from those based on the OAAI. The OAAI correlated closely both with the number of epidurals (2005: Pearson 0.97, p
Underrepresentation among physicians: population groups that are underrepresented relative to their numbers in the general population (N = 103,550).
Employees in the health care sector compared to other employees among all employees, by ethnicity and gender
Academics versus non-academic population, by ethnicity and gender
in medicine: physicians in relation to others among the entire population by ethnicity and gender
An intersectionality approach that addresses the non-additive influences of social categories and power structures, such as gender and ethnicity, is used as a research paradigm to further understanding the complexity of health inequities. While most researchers adopt an intersectionality approach to study patients' health status, in this article we exemplify its usefulness and importance for studying underrepresentation in the health care workforce. Our research objectives were to examine gender patterns of underrepresentation in the medical profession among the Arab minority in Israel. We used both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The quantitative data were obtained from the 2011 Labor Force Survey conducted by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, which encompassed some 24,000 households. The qualitative data were obtained through ten semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted during 2013 with Arab physicians and with six nurses working in Israeli hospitals. The findings indicate that with respect to physicians, the Arab minority in Israel is underrepresented in the medical field, and that this is due to Arab women's underrepresentation. Arab women's employment and educational patterns impact their underrepresentation in medicine. Women are expected to enter traditional gender roles and conform to patriarchal and collectivist values, which makes it difficult for them to study medicine. Using an intersectionality approach to study underrepresentation in medicine provides a foundation for action aimed at improving public health and reducing health disparities.
Characteristics of Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS) primary-care physicians (PCPs) compared to the study population of PCPs 
To provide quality care to the growing number of older patients, primary care physicians (PCPs) will require support from geriatric specialists. Multidisciplinary comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) has been found to improve outcomes in older people. This study explored the contribution of CGA to the management of older patients by their PCPs; PCP attitudes to CGA; and PCP satisfaction with CGA. Two hundred PCPs in an Israeli Preferred Provider Organization were interviewed as part of an evaluative study of the contribution of a national outpatient CGA program to older patients, their families and physicians. The main reasons for referral to CGA were cognitive impairment and rapid functional decline. Three domains described the contribution of CGA to PCPs: medical treatment, support in counseling patients, and treatment of cognitive impairment. About 69% of PCPs definitely agreed that CGA more fully addressed the physical, mental and social needs of patients than other consultative clinics. About half were very satisfied with the CGA staff's attitudes to patients, their families and to the PCP. CGA contributed significantly to the care provided to older patients by PCPs. The expansion of CGA services deserves consideration.
A collaboration of medical professionals with economists and computer scientists involved in "market design" had led to the redesign of the clearinghouse assigning medical students to internships in Israel. The new mechanism presents significant efficiency gains relative to the previous one, and almost all students get a better chance of getting what they want. Continued monitoring of the new mechanism is required to verify that it is not abused, and explore whether it can be improved. Other organizations in Israel may also be able to profit from the experience that accumulates from market design, both in Israel and abroad.
Demographic features of patients included in the sample (N = 1,713).
Correlations* between continuity of care indices and healthcare services utilization (scope and costs).
Selected linear regression models for health outcomes.
Prevalence of chronic and risk conditions in the sample (N = 1,713).
The study goal was to assess indices of continuity of care in the primary care setting and their association with health outcomes and healthcare services utilization, given the reported importance of continuity regarding quality of care and healthcare utilization. The study included a random sample of enrollees from Clalit Health Services 19 years-of-age or older who visited their primary care clinic at least three times in 2009. Indices of continuity of care were computed, including the Usual Provider Index (UPC), Modified Modified Continuity Index (MMCI), Continuity of Care Index (COC), and Sequential Continuity (SECON). Quality measures of preventive medicine and healthcare services utilization and their costs were assessed as outcomes. 1,713 randomly sampled patients were included in the study (mean age: 48.9 ± 19.2, 42% males). Continuity of care indices were: UPC: 0.75; MMCI: 0.81; COC: 0.67; SECON: 0.70. After controlling for patient characteristics in a multivariate analysis, a statistically significant association was found between higher values of UPC, COC, and SECON and a decrease in the number and cost of ED visits. Higher MMCI values were associated with a greater number and higher costs of medical consultation visits. Continuity of care indices were associated with BMI measurements, and inversely associated with blood pressure measurements. No association was found with other quality indicators, e.g., screening tests for cancer. Several continuity of care indices were associated with decreased number and costs of ED visits. There were both positive and negative associations of continuity of care indices with different aspects of healthcare utilization. The relatively small effects of continuity might be due to the consistently high levels of continuity in Clalit Health Services.
Licensing and registration
Specialty training
Disciplinary procedures
In many countries, NMAs, along with other stakeholders, play a part in the regulation of physicians. The purpose of this paper is to compare and explain the level of involvement of NMAs in physician regulation in several developed countries, with a specific emphasis on Israel. The authors conducted a review of the literature on physician regulation, focusing on licensing and registration, postgraduate training and physician disciplinary measures. Detailed country specific information was also obtained via the websites of relevant NMAs and regulatory bodies and correspondence with select NMAs. Five test cases were examined in detail: Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Israeli case will be discussed at greater length. Medical licensing usually lies in the hands of the government (on the national or state level). Specialist training, on the other hand, is often self-regulated and entrusted in the hands of the profession, frequently under the direct responsibility of the NMA, as in Israel, the Netherlands and Germany. In all the countries presented, other than Germany, the NMA is not involved in instituting disciplinary procedures in cases of alleged physician misconduct. The extent to which NMAs fulfill regulatory functions varies greatly from country to country. The relationship between government and the profession in the area of regulation often parallels the dominant mode of governance in the health care system as a whole. Specifically, the level of involvement of the Israeli Medical Association in medical regulation is a result of political, historical and ideological arrangements shaped vis-à-vis the government over the years. In Continental Europe, co-operation between the NMA and the government is more common than in the USA and the UK. The Israeli regulatory model emerged in a European-like fashion, closer to the Netherlands than to Germany. The Israeli case, as well as the others, demonstrates the importance of history and ideology in shaping contemporary regulatory models.
Subgroups of non-attenders to a PCP during a four year period (multivariate logistic regression) 
A model that combines reactive and anticipatory care within routine consultations has become recognized as a cost-effective means of providing preventive health care, challenging the need of the periodic health examination. As such, opportunistic screening may be preferable to organized screening. Provision of comprehensive preventive healthcare within the primary care system depends on regular attendance of the general population to primary care physicians (PCPs). To assess the proportion of patients who do not visit a PCP even once during a four-year period, and to describe the characteristics of this population. An observational study, based on electronic medical records of 421,012 individuals who were members of one district of Clalit Health Services, the largest health maintenance organization in Israel. The average annual number of visits to PCPs was 7.6 ± 8.7 to 8.3 ± 9.0 (median 5, 25%-75% interval 1-11) and 9.5 ± 10.0 to10.2 ± 10.4 (median 6, 25%-75% interval 1-14) including visits to direct access consultants) in the four years of the study. During the first year of the study 87.2% of the population visited a PCP. During the four year study period, only 1.5% did not visit a PCP even once. In a multivariate analysis having fewer chronic diseases (for each additional chronic disease the OR, 95% CI was 0.40 (0.38¬0.42)), being a new immigrant (OR, 95% CI 2.46 (2.32¬2.62)), and being male (OR, 95% CI 1.66 (1.58¬1.75)) were the strongest predictors of being a non-attender to a PCP for four consecutive years. The rate of nonattendance to PCPs in Israel is low. Other than new immigrant status, none of the characteristics identified for nonattendance suggest increased need for healthcare services.
The article by Eshel et al. describes major differences, in terms of demography and health status, between elderly patients who did and those who did not visit primary care physicians for general health check-ups. The authors conclude that non-attenders are not at risk for developing health conditions. While this study by Eshel et al. provides a better understanding of the primary care population, the conclusion (no need for reaching out to the non-attenders) should be viewed with caution. In this study, non-attenders ‘have a higher probability of being women, older, not married and from a lower socio-economic’ segment of the population, a population that is known to be at higher risk for chronic disease. In addition, outreach programs in primary care would be key in providing essential preventive measures for this vulnerable population (e.g., osteoporosis prevention, vaccination, lifestyle, etc.). This is a commentary on
Second opinion is a treatment ratification tool that may critically influence diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Second opinions constitute one of the largest expenditures of the supplementary health insurance programs provided by the Israeli health funds. The scarcity of data on physicians' attitudes toward second opinion motivated this study to explore those attitudes within the Israeli healthcare system. We interviewed 35 orthopedic surgeons and neurologists in Israel and qualitatively analyzed the data using the Grounded Theory approach. As a common tool, second opinion reflects the broader context of the Israeli healthcare system, specifically tensions associated with health inequalities. We identified four issues: (1) inequalities between central and peripheral regions of Israel; (2) inequalities between private and public settings; (3) implementation gap between the right to a second opinion and whether it is covered by the National Health Insurance Law; and (4) tension between the authorities of physicians and religious leaders. The physicians mentioned that better mechanisms should be implemented for guiding patients to an appropriate consultant for a second opinion and for making an informed choice between the two opinions. While all the physicians agreed on the importance of the second opinion as a tool, they raised concerns about the way it is provided and utilized. To be optimally implemented, second opinion should be institutionalized and regulated. The National Health Insurance Law should strive to provide the mechanisms to access second opinion as stipulated in the Patient's Rights Law. Further studies are needed to assess the patients' perspectives.
Increase in ART utilization over the past decade
Abbreviations ART: Assisted reproductive technology; IVF: In vitro fertilisation; MAR: Medically assisted reproduction; MoH: Ministry of Health; NHI: National health insurance; SCNT:Somatic cell nuclear transfer.
Since the successful introduction of in vitro fertilization in 1978, medically assisted reproduction (MAR) has proliferated in multiple clinical innovations. Consequently, egg cells have become an object of demand for both infertility treatment and stem cell research, and this raises complex legal, ethical, social and economic issues. In this paper we compare how the procurement and use of human egg cells is regulated in two countries: Israel and Austria. Israel is known for its scientific leadership, generous public funding, high utilization and liberal regulation of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Austria lies at the other extreme of the regulatory spectrum in terms of restrictions on reproductive interventions. In both countries, however, there is a constant increase in the use of the technology, and recent legal developments make egg cells more accessible. Also, in both countries the scarcity of egg cells in concert with the rising demand for donations has led to the emergence of cross-border markets and global 'reproductive tourism' practices. In Israel, in particular, a scandal known as the 'eggs affair' was followed by regulation that allowed egg cell donations from outside the country under certain conditions. Cross-border markets are developed by medical entrepreneurs, driven by global economic gaps, made possible by trans-national regulatory lacunae and find expression as consumer demand. The transnational practice of egg cell donations indicates the emergence of a global public health issue, but there is a general lack of medical and epidemiological data on its efficacy and safety. We conclude that there is need for harmonisation of domestic laws and formulation of new instruments for international governance.
The latest amendment to the ban on smoking in public places in Israel was implemented in 2007, adding pubs and bars (P&B) to the list of public places in which smoking is prohibited. However, smoking in most P&B continued. The aim of the study was to identify the theoretically plausible reasons for the partial success of a public ban on smoking in P&B settings. Explanations provided by P&B owners were interpreted as probable causal factors based on the Behavioral Ecological Model (BEM). Qualitative interviews were performed with 36 P&B owners in Tel-Aviv and 18 Israeli towns and cities of various population size. P&B owners reported a variety of situational factors (i.e., contingencies) and reinforcers as likely explanations of the partial failure of the legislated ban on smoking in public places, particularly P&B. The major reinforcers for non-adherence with the law were no or low frequency of inspections and low penalties from authorities. P&B owners also feared loss of customers and revenue if bans were enforced in their own establishment but not in competing establishments. Finally, owners reported social norms prevailing among some Israeli patrons supporting smoking in P&B settings, in part to express opposition to the new law. Qualitative assessment can uncover probable social situations that operate to prevent greater adherence to smoking bans. The results warrant confirmation by quantitative analyses. Policies with mandated inspections and penalty requirements that are implemented in all bars without prejudice could lead to greater adherence to smoking bans. Positive reinforcing consequences that encourage adherence (such as publicity and support from non-smokers) would be more likely to generate both greater adherence to the policy and good will toward the government. Principles of behavior outlined in the BEM offer guidance for designing quantitative confirmation analyses of future bans.
Readmission reduction is at the focus of health care systems worldwide in efforts to improve efficiency across care settings. Yet, setting targets for readmission reduction is complicated due to inconsistencies in evidence pointing to effective organization-wide interventions and because of inverse incentives (such as maintaining high occupancy rates). Nonetheless, readmission reduction is one of the few quality measures that, if implemented properly, can serve as a catalyst for system integration. Appropriate mechanisms should be applied to hospitals as well as ambulatory settings to ensure that accountability is assigned to all stakeholders.
Shared decision making (SDM) - involving patients in decisions relevant to their health - has been increasingly influential in medical thought and practice around the world. This paper reviews the current status of SDM in Israel, including efforts to promote SDM in the legislation and healthcare system, its influence in medical training and the national health plans, and funding for SDM-related research. Published studies of SDM in Israel are also reviewed. Although informed consent and patients' right to information are regulated by Israeli law, little provision is made for SDM. Further, there are few organized programs to promote SDM among medical professionals or the public, and governmental support of SDM-related research is minimal. Nonetheless, patients have begun to influence litigation in both formal and informal capacities, medical schools have begun to incorporate courses for improving physician-patient communication into their curricula, and the largest national health plan has initiated a plan to increase public awareness. A review of the limited research literature suggests that although patients and physicians express a desire for greater patient involvement, they often have reservations about its implementation. Research also suggests that despite the positive effects of SDM, such an approach may only infrequently be applied in actual clinical practice. In conclusion, though not actively promoting SDM at present, Israel's universal coverage and small number of health plans make rapid, widespread advances in SDM feasible. Israeli policymakers should thus be encouraged to nurture burgeoning initiatives and set plausible milestones. Comparing the status of SDM in Israel with that in other countries may stimulate further advancement.
This paper examines whether individuals facing the threat of poverty are curtailing their consumption of various goods and services in a given order and, if among the expenditures that are cut back, there are also health expenditures. The location of individuals in this order of cutback is then used to derive the degree of their deprivation and the factors that affect the extent of this deprivation. This order of curtailment of expenditures is obtained on the basis of an algorithm originally devised to derive the order of acquisition of durable goods. Having found the order of curtailment of expenditures on the basis of the 2003 Israel Social Survey, we then estimate an ordered logit regression whose latent dependent variable is assumed to measure the individual degree of deprivation. The results of this estimation show that, other things constant, the individual latent level of deprivation increases with the size of the household, first increases and then decreases with the age of the individual, is higher when the individual has children under the age of five, has a low educational level, a low income, and when he/she is separated or divorced. Finally, deprivation is found to be lower among individuals with good health. Discovering the order of curtailment of expenditures, including health expenditures, of individuals facing economic difficulties and finding the determinants of the extent of such deprivation should help policy makers focus their attention on the population subgroups that are most likely to curtail their health expenditures when facing economic difficulties.
Clear definitions and measurement of preventive health behaviors, as well as the relevant demographic and socioeconomic variables, is important to understanding what factors explain inequalities in health and in the use of health care services. This commentary addresses issues related to the measurement of preventive health behaviors and suggests a distinction between personal life style behaviors and preventive screening practices in order to better explain the associations between these practices and visits to general practitioners. The commentary notes that physician visits are a health-related behavior which is shaped by socioeconomic status: visits to general practitioners are more prevalent among the poor, while visits to specialists are more prevalent among the rich. Therefore, in any analysis of the factors contributing to socioeconomic inequalities in health, physician visits and preventive health behaviors ought to be included as two distinct sets of health-related behaviors. Changing these health-related behaviors is only one of the interventions that are better developed by healthcare services, while the majority of multi-level efforts to reduce inequalities should be outside of the health sector.
Background: The aim of this study is to examine the joint impact of preventive health behavior (PHB) and social and demographic factors on the utilization of primary and secondary medical care under a universal health care system, as measured by visits to the doctor, who were categorized as either a General Practitioner (GP) or Specialist Doctor (SD). Methods: An ordered probit model was utilized to analyze data obtained from the 2009 Israeli National Health Survey. The problem of endogeneity between PHB factors and visits to GP was approached using the two-stage residuals inclusion and instrumental variables method. Results: We found a positive effect of PHB on visits to the doctor while the addition of the PHB factors to the independent variables resulted in important changes in explaining visits to GP (in values of the estimates, in their sign, and in their statistical significance), and only in slight changes for visits to SD. A 1% increase in PHB factors results in increasing the probability to visit General Practitioner in the last year in 0.6%. The following variables were identified as significant in explaining frequency of visits to the doctor: PHB, socio-economic status (pro-poor for visits to GP, pro-rich for visits to SD), location (for visits to SD), gender, age (age 60 or greater being a negative factor for visits to GP and a positive factor for visits to SD), chronic diseases, and marital status (being married was a negative factor for visits to GP and a positive factor for visits to SD). Conclusions: There is a need for allowing for endogeneity in examining the impact of PHB, social and demographic factors on visits to GP in a population under universal health insurance. For disadvantaged populations with low SES and those living in peripheral districts, the value of IndPrev is lower than for populations with high SES and living in the center of the country. Examining the impact of these factors, significant differences in the importance and sometimes even in the sign of their influence on visits to different categories of doctors - GP and SD, are found.
Beyond the trends in the use of rehabilitative services in response to a new policy and its fiscal incentives, it is important to consider the effectiveness and quality of the services provided to individuals with mental disabilities in Israel. What is known about the outcomes of different rehabilitative services, and what is their value compared to other types of health and mental health services? Can typical health insurance be used to finance such services? These are some of the broader international questions raised by this report on the impact of a new law encouraging rehabilitation services in the community for individuals with psychiatric disabilities. This is a commentary on
Ilan and Donchin have compared Israel and Canada's experiences in setting a national patient safety agenda. We broaden this comparison to include the U.S. experience, and suggest that there are three additional key steps which will be important in any national patient safety agenda, and which Israel in particular should consider. These are 1) using health information technology (HIT) to directly improve patient safety, 2) dissemination and broad use of checklists, and 3) measuring patient safety over time at the national level. Especially because of its already substantial commitment to HIT and well-developed HIT sector, Israel has a major opportunity to move forward rapidly in this area and to achieve broad impact on the safety front. This is a commentary on
A recent survey by Menahem and colleagues revealed that 65% of the surveyed primary care physicians reported that they performed any minor surgical procedures, and 46% reported performance of any musculoskeletal injections. Lack of allocated time and lack of training were the main reported barriers confronting higher performance rates. Healthcare systems are shifting large chunks of traditional hospital-centered activities to competent and comprehensive community-based structures. These changes are very well aligned with key trends in modern consumerism that prefer a close to home availability of medical services. Minor surgical procedures and musculoskeletal injections are good examples of medical activities that had been performed mainly by hospital and community based specialists. The syllabus of specialty training in Family Medicine in Israel includes these skills and trainees should acquire them during the residency program. We estimate that hundreds of family physicians obtain different levels of such training. Yet, only few family physicians have allocated protected time for performance of the procedures. For the skilled physician, performance of such relatively simple procedures extends his professional boundaries and the comprehensiveness of his service. For the healthcare system the “extra effort” and investment needed for performance of minor surgical procedures in primary care clinics is small. The results of the present study reflect on wider issues of care delivery. This study highlights the need for formalized and documented training of family physicians together with allocation of managerial and technical requirements needed to encourage these and similar medically and economically justified endeavors that seem to be perfectly aligned with the wishes of healthcare consumers.
Nurses and physicians reporting whether they perform specific activities a (%) 
MoH activities permitted to PBE graduates and physicians only, and the respondents' perceived need for other necessary approval (%) 
Respondent reports of RN performance of activities permitted to all NICU nurses (%) 
Background: Medical and technological developments, financial constraints and a shortage of physicians have made it necessary to re-examine professional boundaries between physicians and nurses. Israel's manpower shortage in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) has changed the responsibility and authority of nurses. However, these changes have not evolved into a uniform policy defining the division of responsibility between physicians and nurses. This study was designed to examine the work processes and actual division of labor between NICU physicians and nurses; the attitude of physicians and nurses to greater empowerment of the nursing role; and to suggest a model to regulate work processes and develop the role of neonatal nurse specialists in NICUs. Methods: Open interviews with NICU physician-directors and head nurses and a cross-sectional survey of some 50% of the physicians and nurses at 22 hospital NICUs (N = 430). Results: Main problems of NICUs: physician shortage, deficient infrastructures, fragmented work processes. Nurses do not perform many practices allowed to them due to the need for organizational approval and their own unawareness. Conversely, they sometimes conduct procedures and make decisions outside of their authority. Most physicians agree that nurse graduates of Post-Basic Education training (PBE) should be authorized to independently perform such activities as resuscitation and medication balancing while reserving invasive procedures for physicians. It is widely agreed that broadening the authority of nurses would improve the quality of NICU care even though it would increase the nursing workload. Conclusions: The study provides important input into decisions about authorizing nurses over complete practice areas rather than isolated activities; the need to remove institutional restrictions on tasks currently permitted to nurses; introducing teamwork from within the NICUs, and expanding nursing decision-making. The study reveals that there is a basis on which to to build the role of the neonatal nurse,since most NICU nurses have the suitable academic and clinical training.
Tobacco use causes a tremendous amount of morbidity and mortality globally, with a staggering level of financial costs. In many countries, public health interventions have been able to reduce the prevalence of smoking and the associated burden. However, despite these successes, there is still much work left to be done. This commentary argues that the tobacco control interventions recommended by the World Health Organization are necessary but not sufficient to adequately address the consequences of tobacco use.
Top-cited authors
Avi Israeli
  • Ministry of Health, State of Israel
Ruth Waitzberg
  • Technische Universität Berlin
David Chinitz
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Neelesh Kapoor
  • IPE Global
Rahul Chandra