Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearch
April 24, 2019

If Not Now, It’s Too Late: More Clinical Science Pitfalls and a Path to Improvement

Let’s review three major vulnerabilities with how randomized trials (RTs) are conducted, as discussed so far in this series. Critically appraising a research study involves determining the “internal and external” validity. Internal validity deals with the conduct of the study, per se. External validity deals with whether the study’s findings can be generalized to others in the population. Here’s what can go wrong: Populations being studied in RTs are too often convenience samples of patients/subjects rather than random or systematic samples of subjects. This diminishes our ability to externalize findings from the RT to the population at large. This is…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearch
April 3, 2019

If Not Now, It’s Too Late: Simple Randomization Can Lead to False Inferences 
About Treatment Decisions

Medical decisions are best made on the basis of clinical science. Accurate research, shared between physician and patient, enables the patient to make an informed choice about risks and outcomes of treatment options. That’s how it should work, in theory. But in practice, even with the best shared medical decision-making, far too much clinical research employs faulty methodologies that limit the relevance of findings. This must change. In a recent blog post, I suggested that clinical science can improve by choosing more representative groups of people for study. Many clinical studies use convenience samples of patients rather than samples chosen…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPopulation HealthValue-Based Health CareWomen and Health Care
March 28, 2019

Women with Autoimmune Diseases Fight Uphill Battle on Every Health Care Front

Our articles on women’s health care issues have focused on areas that must change in order to provide better quality and outcomes, to lower costs, to advance treatment, and to treat women respectfully and equitably as patients and providers. We have demonstrated how women have been sidelined from getting the right health care because of two key systemic obstacles that must be addressed: Cultural bias that prevents accurate clinical assessment of symptoms and diagnosis, adoption or use of protocols relative to women’s biology, and effective health care therapies, and Inadequate basic science and clinical research that will illuminate sex-differentiated biology…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearch
March 6, 2019

If Not Now, It’s Too Late: Clinical Science Is Futile If We Study the Wrong Population

In 1936, the Literary Digest, a respected national magazine, undertook a public opinion poll. Who would win the race between Republican Alfred Landon, governor of Kansas, and Democratic incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt? Mock ballots were mailed to 10 million Americans. About 2.4 million responded—one of the largest survey samples ever created. Their prediction? Landon would carry the day. They were wrong—by a landslide for FDR. That’s because respondents were biased toward Landon and did not accurately represent the distribution of presidential preferences across all voters. Notably, George Gallop accurately predicted FDR’s victory using a smaller representative sample of about 50,000…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearch
February 13, 2019

If Not Now, It’s Too Late: Clinical Science Needs Fixing

In 1967, the year I graduated from high school, my family’s television required “rabbit ear” antennae with perched aluminum foil. Our farming family had little time to watch TV, but when we did, the ritual included a side trip to reset the antennae’s angle to ensure good reception. Today, I watch a clear picture on myriad devices, no antennae needed. In the 1980s, my trips to a library to find medical literature were few. A single trip to the library would take hours and net only a small number of papers. Now, I obtain articles on any topic in a…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingWomen and Health Care
January 30, 2019

Lessons in Health Care Empowerment from Women With Breast Cancer

For the one in eight women who will get breast cancer—more than 242,000 new cases were reported in 2015, alone, according to the CDC’s most recent data—the treatment is bad enough. Even more frightening is the uncertainty of what lies ahead. Will the cancer recur? And if so, when, and what’s next? Breast cancer kills 40,000 American women each year. Fear is a powerful motivator, because many women experience a recurrence of disease years after they were declared “cancer free.” Nonetheless, women with breast cancer have created an extraordinary movement that has changed how people see the disease and how…
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Consumers & PatientsMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
December 12, 2018

Conflict of Interest in Medical Practice Is Hardwired: Unless We Acknowledge It, Nothing Will Change

In philosophy class, we were asked to choose which of two children falling out of a boat, unable to swim, should we save. Kant believed all people share the same moral equivalency, and a choice cannot be made to save one or the other based on morality. They must be treated the same. This question was paired with a second question forcing a choice between sacrificing one to save others, or many to save one. Tough moral questions. However, both questions were moot if the one being saved or sacrificed was your child. No matter what moral principle studied, whether…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearchValue-Based Health Care
October 17, 2018

Wise Patients Really Can Make Medical Decisions

“The numbers in this blog are hard to believe. Why is the medical profession recommending shingles vaccine? It is one thing to say that patients should be their own advocates. But why would medical professionals recommend a vaccine to their patient that has such a paltry risk/benefit outcome? After all, we go to doctors because we presume that they know more about medical conditions, prevention and treatment than we do. If they don’t, what’s the point?” A wise patient reading my blog on the shingles vaccine made the above comments. The adjective “wise” has been defined as “able to make good judgments.”…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
October 3, 2018

Why ACOs Must Build Trust with Providers and Patients to Meet Goals

As ACOs develop approaches to Value-Based Health Care, they are struggling with a key issue: lack of trust. How can providers commit to collective cost reductions that could have potentially negative revenue consequences for themselves individually or on their practices? If they don’t believe that the other players or their ACO are operating in the best interests of all involved, how can they participate in the ACO’s goals? Conversely, how can the ACO create effective leadership and collaboration if physicians are unwilling to commit to making the model succeed? Likewise, ACOs have to work harder to earn patients’ trust. Ask…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
August 22, 2018

How ACOs Can Leverage Price Transparency To Create Value for Consumers

Health care consumers are being forced to assume a greater share of costs for treatment. But how can patients determine the value of health care services if they can’t compare costs? Lack of price transparency is a major obstacle to value-based medical decisions. In evaluating treatment options or services by different providers, consumers have no reliable means to monetize their choices. They are powerless to do anything about it—as yet. But that may well change as ACOs adapt to downside risk. Price transparency is a tool that exclusively benefits consumers, because health plans already, obviously, know the prices they negotiated…
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