Interim Notes 

Hope you're ready for a transition because in a short time we will arrive at a momentous inflection point in our national political and social life. Come November 3, we voters may affirm the country's current reactionary direction through continued support for white nationalism, international isolation, and inequality and injustice. Alternatively, we may decide, to paraphrase President Obama, to resume our progress along that long arc that bends towards justice. Many fear we will enter a period of tumult and conflict after the election, an unprecedented situation of not knowing which direction we are turning.

I knew that President Obama borrowed from Dr. King "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Only recently did I learn that Dr. King was inspired by Theodore Parker (1810-1860), an abolitionist minister born in my hometown of Lexington, Massachusetts. In 1853, Parker preached, \u201cI do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice." As we enter this period of transition, we must humbly acknowledge that we cannot calculate the curve of the universe, and we surely cannot wait for its inevitable bend towards justice. If our conscience divines that the moral universe bends towards justice, we will soon be at a moment when our actions must make it so.

Dan Dohan

Elizabeth Dzeng, MD, MPH, PhD
Elizabeth Dzeng, MD, MPH, PhD is a sociologist and hospitalist physician conducting research at the nexus of sociology, medical ethics, palliative and end-of-life care, and human-centered design. She is an assistant professor in the Division of Palliative Medicine and Social and Behavioral Sciences, Sociology program and affiliated faculty at PRL-IHPS. She is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health based at the Global Brain Health Institute at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center, a Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and a Visiting Assistant Professor in General Internal Medicine at UCLA.  Read More
Implementation Strategies for Frontline Healthcare Professionals:
People, Process Mapping, and Problem Solving

As healthcare organizations become increasingly accountable for equity, quality, and value, attention has been directed to identifying specific implementation strategies that can accelerate the adoption of evidence-based therapies into clinical practice. In a recent perspective in Journal of General Internal MedicineMary Whooley, MD and colleagues offer three simple, practical strategies that can be used by frontline healthcare providers who are involved in on-the-ground implementation: people (stakeholder) engagement, process mapping, and problem solving. Read more

Tobacco use and tobacco services in California
substance use 
treatment programs

In a recent article in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Joseph Guydish, PhD, Kwinoja Kapiteni and colleagues shared their findings on smoking prevalence and tobacco-related services offered to persons enrolled in 20 California residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment programs. "Smoking is a ubiquitous risk factor in SUD treatment, said Guydish. "But we do not measure it, within SUD programs, we do not reimburse treatment for it and we do not treat it. That is the problem."  Read more

How effective are clinical decision support systems?

Clinical decision support systems will continue to be an area of innovation and research, and we will only realize their true potential to improve healthcare and patient outcomes if we learn what does not work, as well as looking for what does. In a recent editorial in BMJ,  Urmimala Sarkar, MD and Samal Lipika, MD recommend a change in approach after reviewing a meta-analysis ( of 122 trials of clinical decision support systems embedded in electronic health records.   Read more

Mental Health Equity in the Twenty-First Century: Setting the Stage

Reducing mental health disparities, and ultimately achieving mental health equity, requires understanding the wide range of factors that influence health outcomes at multiple social-ecological levels. To achieve equity, in a recent Psychiatric Clinics of North America article, Christina Mangurian, MD, MAS and colleagues detail four components of an effective strategy.  Read more

IHPS faculty are responding to policy challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic with rapid-cycle research and technical assistance. A compilation of their work to date is available on a webpage that is updated regularly. One recent publication is Matt Pantel, MD, MS and Laura Shields-Zeeman, "Maintaining Social Connections in the Setting of COVID-19 Social Distancing: A Call to Action" in American Journal of Public Health. Read more

PRL-IHPS Faculty In The News

Julia Adler-Milstein:
The pandemic is putting electronic medical records to the test (Marketplace)

Jahan Fahimi:
Are They Symptoms of COVID-19 or Wildfire Smoke? Frontline Docs Are Freaking Out (Daily Beast)

Valerie Flaherman:
Most Newborns of COVID-19-Infected Moms Fare Well (WebMD)

Margot Kushel:
An RV park housing the homeless in San Francisco has become a runaway success story (Salon)

Ed Yelin:
How Could COVID-19 Change The Labor Movement? (KCBS)

"Ask the Policy Doctor"
A Blog from IHPS Faculty Member Jim Kahn

Insurance, opioids, pandemics – we've got big, complicated health problems. What solutions are Trump and Biden proposing? What difference will it make?

You've got questions; PRL-IHPS Professor Emeritus Jim Kahn, MD, MPH has answers. Dr. Kahn is a medical doctor with 30 years' experience at the University of California studying these issues. He has written hundreds of influential scholarly papers on health care, US and global health agency reports, and editorials. He appears on radio and TV, and in documentaries.

Now, Dr. Kahn will explain key health issues as we approach election day. He'll offer insights into our insurance system and how to improve it, as well as facts about other health issues and the science behind them.

Check out his blog on Medium, and send him questions you want answered, or to receive the link to the weekly live Zoom sessions (Thursdays at 3pm PT)  at [email protected].  

About The Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies

The Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (PRL-IHPS) contributes to the solution of complex and challenging health policy problems through leadership in research, training, technical assistance, and public service. Our special competence lies in translating research across disciplines and fields to inform health policy. We undertake this work with a commitment to improve health and health care within local, state, national, and international communities and with a focus on improving the health of vulnerable populations.

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