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עמוד בית
Tue, 06.06.23

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January 2007
Z. Kaufman, W-K. Wong, T. Peled-Leviatan, E. Cohen, C. Lavy, G. Aharonowitz, R. Dichtiar, M. Bromberg, O. Havkin, E. Kokia and M.S. Green

Background: Syndromic surveillance systems have been developed for early detection of bioterrorist attacks, but few validation studies exist for these systems and their efficacy has been questioned.

Objectives: To assess the capabilities of a syndromic surveillance system based on community clinics in conjunction with the WSARE[1] algorithm in identifying early signals of a localized unusual influenza outbreak.

Methods: This retrospective study used data on a documented influenza B outbreak in an elementary school in central Israel. The WSARE algorithm for anomalous pattern detection was applied to individual records of daily patient visits to clinics of one of the four health management organizations in the country.

Results: Two successive significant anomalies were detected in the HMO’s[2] data set that could signal the influenza outbreak. If data were available for analysis in real time, the first anomaly could be detected on day 3 of the outbreak, 1 day after the school principal reported the outbreak to the public health authorities.

Conclusions: Early detection is difficult in this type of fast-developing institutionalized outbreak. However, the information derived from WSARE could help define the outbreak in terms of time, place and the population at risk.

[1] WSARE = What’s Strange About Recent Events

[2] HMO = health management organization

December 2006
E.S. Kokia, R. Marom, V. Shalev, Y. Jan and J. Shemer
 Background: During war the health management organizations have tremendous difficulty monitoring members' needs according to geographic spread.

Objectives: To describe how an HMO[1] used its health information technology in a way that enables its management to receive updated online information on the demands of the insured, according to their distribution throughout the country during the time of the war in Lebanon in July-August 2006.

Methods: Data were derived from the computerized medical records of Maccabi Healthcare Services – the second largest HMO in Israel, providing care to more than 1.7 million members nationwide. Data on healthcare utilization by northern members were compared to the geographic distribution of clinics.

Results: The war was characterized by the massive evacuation of citizens southwards. During this period there was an abrupt decline in the utilization of medical services by northern members in the northern region. This decline returned to normal 10 days after the ceasefire. A reciprocal increase was noted in the use of health services by citizens from the north in other regions. This increase returned to normal after the war. No such pattern was noticed during the same period in 2005.

Conclusions: Real-time surveillance of trends in consumption of health services by citizens in times of regular daily living as well as during emergencies and wars is a vital management tool for medical directors responsible for providing health services.


[1] HMO = health management organization

February 2004
A.D. Heymann, J. Azuri, E. Kokia, S.M. Monnickendam, M. Shapiro and G. Shalev

The complexity of medical problems is a well-recognized phenomenon. In the presence of economic and cultural restrictions, medical decision-making can be particularly challenging. This paper outlines a system of analysis and decision-making for solving such problems, and briefly describes a case study in which the method was used to analyze the case of antibiotic overprescribing in a large health maintenance organization. The purpose of the study was to determine if a technique for problem-solving in the field of engineering could be applied to the complex problems facing primary care. The method is designated Systematic Inventive Thinking and consists of a three-step procedure: problem reformulation, general search-strategy selection, and an application of idea-provoking techniques. The problem examined is the over-prescribing of antibiotics by general practitioners working in Maccabi Healthcare Services, an HMO[1] serving one and a half million patients in Israel. The group of healthcare professionals involved in the discussions generated 117 ideas for improving antibiotic use. Six of these ideas were then implemented in a national campaign in the winter of 2000/1 and 2001/2. During this period, a significant reduction in per-visit antibiotic purchasing was observed for influenza visits (from 79.2 per 1,000 to 58.1 per 1,000, P < .0001), but not for other categories of visits. The SIT[2] methodology is a useful technique for problem-solving and idea generation within the medical framework.

[1] HMO = health maintenance organization

[2] SIT = systemic inventive thinking

October 2003
Y. Shapiro, J. Shemer, A. Heymann, V. Shalev, N. Maharshak, G. Chodik, M.S. Green and E. Kokia

Background: Upper respiratory tract illnesses have been associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

Objective: To assess the influence of vaccination against influenza on the risk of hospitalization in internal medicine and geriatric wards, and the risk of death from all causes during the 2000–2001 influenza season.

Methods: A historical cohort study was conducted using computerized general practitioner records on patients aged 65 years and above, members of “Maccabi Health Care Services” – the second largest health maintenance organization in Israel with 1.6 million members. The patients were divided into high and low risk groups corresponding to coexisting conditions, and were studied. Administrative and clinical data were used to evaluate outcomes.

Results: Of the 84,613 subjects in the cohort 42.8% were immunized. At baseline, vaccinated subjects were sicker and had higher rates of coexisting conditions than unvaccinated subjects. Vaccination against influenza was associated with a 30% reduction in hospitalization rates and 70% in mortality rates in the high risk group. The NNT (number needed to treat) measured to prevent one hospitalization was 53.2 (28.2 in the high risk group and 100.4 in the low risk group). When referring to length of hospitalization, one vaccine was needed to prevent 1 day of hospitalization among the high risk group. Analyses according to age and the presence or absence of major medical conditions at baseline revealed similar findings across all subgroups.

Conclusions: In the elderly, vaccination against influenza is associated with a reduction in both the total risk of hospitalization and in the risk of death from all causes during the influenza season. These findings compel the rationale to increase compliance with recommendations for annual influenza vaccination among the elderly.

January 2003
J. Shemer, N. L. Friedman, E. Kokia

This paper describes "Health Value Added" – an innovative model that links performance measurement to strategy in health maintanance organizations. The HVA[1] model was developed by Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel’s second largest HMO[2], with the aim of focusing all its activities on providing high quality care within budgetary and regulatory constraints. HVA draws upon theory and practice from strategic management and performance measurement in order to assesses an HMO’s ability to improve the health of its members. The model consists of four interrelated levels – mission, goals, systems, and resources – and builds on the existence of advanced computerized information systems that make comprehensive measurements available to decision makers in real time. HVA enables management to evaluate overall organizational performance as well as the performance of semi-autonomous units. In simple terms, the sophisticated use of performance measures can help healthcare organizations obtain more health for the same money.

[1] HVA = Health Value Added

[2] HMO = health maintenance organization

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