Health

Since 1980, the proportion of overweight U.S. children ages 6 to 11 has more than doubled, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Childhood obesity doesn't stop at our nation's borders; it's a global trend. The usual suspects ­— poor eating habits, lack of exercise, parental obesity, genetics, and even demographics all play a role — but one controversial "x-factor" is emerging as a primary catalyst for the explosive growth of overweight children: television food advertising. Numerous studies at the W. P. Carey School of Business and around the world have found a link between the number of TV commercials children watch and the amount and type of food children consume.

The health-care industry is beginning to adopt the principles of sustainable procurement — a "green" approach to purchasing which takes into account the efficient use of nonrenewable resources and the potential for recycling. Research Professor Helen Walker, an international expert visiting ASU from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, recently focused attention on the trend during a speech sponsored by the W. P. Carey School's Health Sector Supply Chain Research Consortium. A number of the consortium's corporate members, including Premier, Novation and Amerinet, are actively involved in advancing sustainable purchasing.

How efficiently hospitals keep track of health-care supplies can make the difference not only in cost but also the quality of patient care. There's plenty at stake: the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association reports that "goods and purchased services" is the second-largest expense — after labor costs — in hospital settings. Eugene Schneller and the late Lawrence Smeltzer of the W. P. Carey School of Business spent the last few years studying procurement processes employed in U.S. hospitals. They discovered that a key to streamlining health-care delivery may lie in the industrial supply chain concept of "clockspeed."

The availability of health data has implications for individual patients, health-care systems and policymakers, yet despite advances in information management, patient health records to a large extent are still scattered and difficult to retrieve. A research team at the W. P. Carey School of Business created a database of patient information that aggregates information about disease and treatment from physicians, clinics and hospitals without compromising confidentiality. The database has been useful to health-care planners and public health researchers — and is a model of local innovation as the nation moves toward the regional health information sources.

The solution to the increasingly expensive U.S. health-care system is to abandon insurance plans and government programs — and throw the beast into the open marketplace, according to 2004 Nobel Laureate Edward C. Prescott, professor of economics at the W. P. Carey School of Business. Prescott outlined the economic logic of his economic hypothesis at a recent Phoenix symposium on the future of health care.