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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Future of Health CarePatient EmpowermentResearch
August 9, 2017

How to Recognize “Fake” Medical News — And Why It Matters

Is coffee good for you? A recent headline suggested that people who drink coffee live longer. Sounds great to me. I drink a lot of coffee, so maybe I will be immortal. But, wait, another report links coffee to cancer. Dang. Estrogens were once touted as a life saving elixir for women of elegant ages, until these hormone supplements were linked to increased cancer risk. Wine will either add to your life expectancy or increase chances of breast cancer. But if you are married and have cancer, your outcome is better; you live longer (and can drink more wine?). Eggs…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient Empowerment
July 26, 2017

It’s Not What We Don’t Know That Hurts Us: It‘s What We “Know” That Isn’t So

Making a decision is a—or really—“the” fundamental activity of life. The decisions we make, the consequences of those decisions, our feelings about the consequences, our interpretation of whether we made a good or bad decision based on those consequences, in total, form the basis of our life’s experiences, and, often, how we decide the next time. My children used to say, “Duh,” to my muttering an obvious observance like, “It sure is hot today,” because the temperature just hit 100 degrees. The opening sentence of this blog may seem so obvious that it may trigger a similar response. Making a…
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Future of Health CarePerformance Improvement
January 31, 2017

The Dirty Little Secret About Performance Measurement Data

“The data just hooks up.” That was an opening remark from a competitor applauding his company’s scoring system for physician quality. He went on to explain how this data produced reliable scores on quality. The idea that data hooks up and produces a true scoring system for quality is a fantasy. Not only is data itself flawed, but it doesn’t always tell the exact truth. Treating data casually amounts to an off-hand dismissal of the complexity and inherent biases of performance measurement. But here’s the kicker: we need to measure performance, anyway. In fact, it’s more critical than ever to…
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Registry ScienceResearch
November 15, 2016

Bedside Viewpoint: Why Watson Will Never Know Enough to Replace Your Physician

Every conversation with a patient is an exercise in big data analysis. Your patient’s appearance, changes in mood and expression, and eye contact are data points. The illness narrative is rich in semiotics: pacing, timing, nuances of speech and dialect are influenced by context, background and insight, which, in turn, reflect religion, education, literacy, numeracy, life experiences and peer input. To all this, add personality traits such as recalcitrance, acceptance and personal philosophies. Taking a history generates a wealth of data. Mix in physical findings of variable reliability, laboratory markers of variable specificity, imaging bits and bytes, and you have…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPerformance ImprovementRegistry ScienceResearchValue-Based Health Care
October 11, 2016

Physician Culture Must Transition from Defensiveness to Performance Improvement

Physicians undergo long and arduous training, with good reason. Lives are at stake. Learning to make the correct diagnosis, to expertly perform the appropriate procedure and to properly treat conditions is essential. Mistakes or flaws are scrutinized and not tolerated. Being wrong may cause greater harm to the patient—and lead to malpractice litigation. In short, physician culture places a premium on individual performance and responsibility. Steeped in those values, most physicians take great pride in the quality of care they deliver to patients, in the examination room or the surgical suite. Teams who provide specialized services, such as Emergency Departments,…
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Alternative Payment Models (APM)Future of Health CareMACRAMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Performance ImprovementValue-Based Health Care
October 4, 2016

Improve Your Risk Readiness With Physician-Driven MACRA CPIA Innovation

CMS is pushing providers to accept Risk under Alternative Payment Models (APMs), and they’re sweetening the pot with incentives. But for the vast number of providers who will participate in MIPS because they don’t participate in risk-based APMs, the path to reward is murky. That’s because many Health Systems have a hard time visualizing how Performance Improvement with CPIAs can create savings under ACOs, the biggest APM model. Here’s the key: innovation that engages physicians. Historical Performance Improvement Often Leaves Out Physicians For most Health Systems, it’s rare for physicians to actively participate in Performance Improvement initiatives. There are two…
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Performance ImprovementPersonalized MedicinePopulation HealthRegistry ScienceResearch
August 30, 2016

Personalized Medicine v Population Health: Opposites or Complements?

If personalized medical care is the goal, how does that fit with the concept of “population health,” the darling of the health care industry’s drive toward better results and lower costs? Are these two concepts really at odds, or do they work in tandem? This is not a rhetorical question; in the current environment of keeping costs under control, lives are at stake. How Personalized Medicine Should Work We know that best outcomes occur when individuals are appropriately assessed and allowed to make choices based on their personal characteristics. Personalized medicine is not a concept of averages; it is a…
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Future of Health CarePersonalized MedicineRegistry ScienceResearch
August 9, 2016

Personalized Medicine Can’t Wait for Genomic Data

Personalized medicine is off and running. The effort to enroll one million people who will volunteer their genomes for science by the year 2019 kicked off recently with an event featuring President Obama that included more than 150 of the first volunteers. But this effort is not for my patient. It will be either too little, or too late, and certainly not enough. While personalized medicine is an old concept, the new push for personalization focuses on genes or gene products. These, it is hoped, may be better predictors of an individual’s outcome of a disease condition. The new efforts may…
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