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White Coat notes

New health journal aims to fill a gap

Excerpts from the Globe’s health care blog.

Two Boston physicians with experience working on national health policy are launching a journal focused on changes in the health care system, including new payment methods.

Doctors Sachin H. Jain and Amol Navathe expect the first issue of Health Care: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation to be published next summer.

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They began planning the journal, which will be published by Elsevier, while in Washington, D.C., together last year.

Jain, who sees patients at VA Boston and holds posts at Harvard Medical School and Merck & Co., was an adviser to Dr. Donald Berwick, then administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Navathe was a medical officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. He is a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and has appointments at Harvard Medical School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“We were struck by the fact that there were sort of gaps in the research that’s being produced,” Jain said. “There’s so much change in the world in health care right now, but there aren’t a lot of venues to publish about that change.”

Another gap they noticed was between researchers and policy makers. The journal’s leaders plan to coach researchers about how to get their work into policy makers’ hands and will host forums to that end.

Jain said the journal will emphasize case studies as a means of exploring how people are changing the way health care works. And the group is looking for research from relative newcomers to publishing, including people who might lack the background or academic connections to get their work into top journals.

Health Affairs has been publishing about health policy for two decades, and the New England Journal of Medicine includes work about health care delivery. But, Jain said, “there’s a totally new health care context that’s developing. We need more than just one or two great journals in this space.”

Prescription food

Food is medicine. That’s the basic premise behind the Preventive Food Pantry at Boston Medical Center.

Doctors can write prescriptions for patients to visit the pantry twice a month. Just as for insulin or blood pressure medications, the prescription becomes part of the patient’s medical record, allowing him or her to return to the pantry to stock up on fresh vegetables and canned goods. A chef gives lessons in a demonstration kitchen about how to prepare healthy food.

The program, which aided 80,000 people last year, is being recognized with the James W. Varnum National Quality Health Care Award from Dartmouth-Hitchcock, named for the health system’s longtime president.

The pantry is supported by donations and is available to people who have been referred by doctors.

Visit boston.com/whitecoatnotes for the full blog.
Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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