A good vacation by the sea is a useful level set. Conferences and presentations happen at lightening speed--or so it seems. An opportunity to reflect and make sense of data and insights is good for a writing life. I am not one of the folks impressed by technologic advances. I am from the camp--what took you so long?
The collective sigh stemming from frustration with electronic health records, algorithms promising better health outcomes, and gnarled teeth at the mention of the rising cost of "innovative" therapies--all worthy of a dramatic eye roll.
I did have a cringe worthy moment when talking with a health policy expert and architect of healthcare reform policies. An informative course had shown up on Coursera for a red hot minute. It was free and discussed all the titles of the Affordable Care Act in detail with context typically missing from news media accounts. I was thanking the on-camera expert only to be told they were no longer offering the course and it would now be part of an educational masters level course at the university. I am glad I had the opportunity for the free beta test--but once again the siren call of profits drowned out the need for dissemination of wisdom.
If you are not willing to get dirty, roll up your sleeves and question profit motives, incentivized healthcare algorithms, health policy, and farm subsidies you are guilty of moving your peas around on your plate--and hoping they disappear.
Technology is remarkably seductive and may delude us into thinking that the human condition is changing faster than it really is. Big data, biometric sensors, and the vaunted promise of e-health have undoubted contributions to make to contemporary healthcare but fall far short of delivering the moral core of medicine that has always been the relief of suffering--Iona Heath BMJ Commentary
I am a data wonk. Similar to many of you, I have had the requisite statistics, research methodology, and data science but perhaps tend to focus a wee bit more on the outlier or the sources of potential bias. I see my role as storyteller but in recent years I have tackled data projects of varying sizes. We are a robust assortment of statisticians, medical writers, and data scientists sharing a skepticism that challenges Big Data and its claims. I predict a narrowing penumbra attempting to focus attention on arbitrary "facts" and predetermined outcomes. Be steadfast my friends--follow the patient--do no harm. Or if you are in doubt, it's okay to do nothing.
Long runs at the beach are also great for catching up on podcasts. Here is a great interview with Charles Ornestein from ProPublica.
The Science of Conflicts of Interest|FiveThirtyEight
"Where is the Life we have lost in living?
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
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