Articles of Interest This Week

DSC_1593Cancer

Ezekiel Emanuel’s A Plan to Fix Cancer Care, focuses on five changes: shift from fee-for-service to bundled payments, insurers to give doctors cost information and better data, rigorous quality monitoring, ‘high touch’ oncology services to reduce ER visits and allow for end-of-life planning, and better incentives for research.

A reminder of how cancer has become another chronic disease: By 2022 There Will Be Nearly 18 Million Cancer Survivors In The US. Authors of the study recommend:

  • Improved ways for giving long-term follow-up care;
  • Long-term data should be gathered from adult cancer survivors;
  • Use of electronic health records and other technologies to monitor and enhance survivors’ care; and,
  • Better palliative care.

Health and Wellness

laughterBurgers, Fries and Lies comments on the fast-food industry complaints about the cost of healthcare coverage in the US, and how the industry may be getting off lightly given the long-term health cost implications of their products.

And yet another reminder of conflicts of interest and tendentious research results in The filtering of medical evidence has clearly failed.

What makes Canadians sick? Ken MacQueen explains why Canadian health care is stuck in the middle is part in a series of town hall discussions on health issues. This particular session focusses on the socioeconomic determinants of health, in particular prevention.

I have been following a discussion thread on patient engagement on LinkedIn (here) and one of the participants highlighted an orientation video for patients and their parents at the BC Children’s Hospital that benefited from parental input into what they need to know which is very well done (New BC Childen’s Hospital Cardiology Video-Thank You Partners in Pajamas – 6 minutes)

How Laughter Impacts Your Heart Health provides another illustration of the benefits of humour and laughter to health, with a nice infographic and some short videos on ‘laughter therapy’. And Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park demonstrates what we all instinctively know, that green spaces relax us.

Other

While written for health professionals, these presentation tips apply to all of us (7 tips to improve your patient presentations). I have seen some horror stories by those not following these; while being an empowered patient means learning some of the jargon and PFS (progression free survival) charts, slides done for medical students should not be used for patients!

While I had a good university experience, The Extreme (Existential) Makeover details one person’s effort to redo their less satisfactory experience. Some of the general observations about makeovers are interesting.

David Brooks, in Forecasting Fox, outlines some approaches to improve forecasting and reduce confirmation and other biases (as per Kahneman). The study, by Penn and Berkeley, involved comparing the results of teams that used different approaches. Teams that engaged in probabilistic thinking performed best, where the inside view (knowing all the details of a particular situation) was less effective than the outside view (knowing about the probabilities in comparable situations). Closing quote:

If I were President Obama or John Kerry, I’d want the Penn/Berkeley predictions on my desk. The intelligence communities may hate it. High-status old vets have nothing to gain and much to lose by having their analysis measured against a bunch of outsiders. But this sort of work could probably help policy makers better anticipate what’s around the corner. It might induce them to think more probabilistically. It might make them better foxes.

I am enjoying the extracts by Evgeny Morozov in the NYT immensely. Imprisoned by Innovation reminds us that technology can be a force for conservatism, not innovation. My favourite quote:

By offloading the responsibility for problem solving from governments to citizens, self-tracking can get us to optimize our behavior within the constraints of an existing system. What we need is a chance to reform the system itself — perhaps by dismantling those constraints. Ambitious reforms like regulating the food industry and building the infrastructure needed to get good food to hungry people shouldn’t lose their relevance in the era of universal self-tracking. 

Barbara Fredrickson reminds us of the importance of face time, not screen time, to improving relationships, emotional intelligence, and indeed overall health in Your Phone vs. Your Heart:

So the next time you see a friend, or a child, spending too much of their day facing a screen, extend a hand and invite him back to the world of real social encounters. You’ll not only build up his health and empathic skills, but yours as well. Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity. 

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