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Faculty Members Author Book On U.S. Health-Care System

By Lois Baker

Release Date: March 4, 1998

BUFFALO, N.Y.-- Trying to comprehend the complexities of the U.S. health-care system can make your eyes glaze over.

But if the number of colleges and universities using a new book, "Health Care USA: Understanding its Organization and Delivery," written by two University at Buffalo faculty members is any indication, a growing number of people are finding the system much easier to understand.

Co-authors Harry Sultz, D.D.S., UB professor of social and preventive medicine, and Kristina M. Young, adjunct assistant clinical professor of social and preventive medicine, were frustrated by the lack of a good textbook to use in their introductory courses on health services and health management. So they wrote their own.

"Health Care USA" is the first comprehensive textbook on the subject written by authors who also are teachers. Former textbooks describing the U.S. health-care system were compilations of chapters contributed by different experts in each field, none of whom had taught an introductory course, Sultz said.

The textbook has gone through three printings in a year and is being used in 120 courses in 77 colleges and universities around the nation. Michael Brown, senior vice president and publisher at Aspen Publishers, Inc., said its success caught him unawares.

"...This is really spectacular... Aspen has certainly been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response to your book and we look forward to publishing an extraordinarily early second edition in January 1999 ..."

Writing from a lay perspective, the authors bring historical and cultural insights to bear on such topics as "Why Patients and Providers Behave the Way They Do," "The Tyranny of Technology," "Influences of Business and Labor," "Forces that Shaped the Hospital Industry," "The Aging of America" and "How Health Care Advances."

Chapters present an overview of health care from a public-health perspective and discuss benchmarks in U.S. health care; the past, present and future of hospitals; ambulatory care; medical education; health-care personnel; finance and managed care; long-term care; mental-health services; public health and the role of government; the role of medical research, and the future of health care.

Michael A. Ibrahim, M.D., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and dean of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, states in his foreword: "This volume...describes the changing roles of the components of the system as well as the technical, economic, political and social forces responsible for those changes. The authors have crafted an exceptionally readable text by balancing and integrating the diverse subject matter and presenting it in appropriate depth for an introductory course on this topic."

Sultz and Young, who is president of the Center for Professional Advancement at Bryant and Stratton Institute and has taught in the health track of the UB School of Management since 1990, are working on the second edition of the book.

The cost of the current edition is $39. Copies are available by calling Aspen Publishers at 1-800-638-8437.