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The Dartmouth Atlas of Health
Dartmouth Health Atlas
August 28, 2009

In the film MONEY DRIVEN MEDICINE, viewers meet Dr. James N. Weinstein, the director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Founded in 1988 by Dr. John E. Wennberg as the Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences, and dedicated to studying the U.S. health care system, the Institute was the first to study variations in care across different regions of the United States.

The Dartmouth Institute places patients and their health at the center of studying the U.S. health care system. That may not seem revolutionary, but between the race to create more advanced treatments and the corporate bottom-line, the patient has often been treated as an abstract concept in the U.S. system.

Online Tools
To facilitate a system with both better informed patients and doctors, The Dartmouth Institute has created projects aimed at educating the public, many of them now available online.

The Dartmouth Atlas of Health
In its own words, "For more than 20 years, the Dartmouth Atlas Project has documented glaring variations in how medical resources are distributed and used in the United States. The project uses Medicare data to provide comprehensive information and analysis about national, regional, and local markets, as well as individual hospitals and their affiliated physicians."

The Web site "provides access to all Atlas reports and publications, as well as interactive tools to allow visitors to view specific regions and perform their own comparisons and analyses."

Shared Decision Making
The Center for Informed Choice, a division of the Dartmouth Institute is dedicated to educating patients about the risks and benefits of medical procedures, because "patients deserve to be equal partners in making choices about their health care."

In one example of informed choice, patients use such aids as the Ottawa Personal Decision Guide and their doctor's input to choose medical procedures. According to the Center for Informed Choice's Web site: "Our research shows that 40 percent of the time, patients who participate in informed choice or 'shared decision-making' choose less invasive, less risky, less costly procedures."

The Center has created multiple clinical models of informed choice at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), including a Center for Shared Decision-Making which has decision-making tools and workbooks available online.
Also This Week:
The film reveals how a profit-hungry "medical-industrial complex" has turned health care into a system where millions are squandered on unnecessary tests, unproven and sometimes unwanted procedures and overpriced prescription drugs.

Data shows that the U.S. spends more on health care than any other industrialized nation — and gets less.

Explore the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice's atlas that documents "glaring variations in how medical resources are distributed and used in the United States."

Pose your questions about health care reform to writer and health care system expert Maggie Mahar on the MOYERS BLOG.

Complete coverage of health care on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.
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