Having just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s brilliant rendition of Steve Jobs’s life and career, I’ve considered whether there are health care marketplace lessons to be garnered from his central casting in the extraordinary tech wars for primacy over the past 25 years. I’d commend this biography to anyone who loves great writing and insightful analysis of the human condition, along with the foibles of growing a business.
The drumbeat of EBM — Evidence Based Medicine — seems less vigorous in the wake of enthusiasm for new models of care — Medical Homes and Accountable Care Organizations — and reimbursement based on performance, outcomes, or episodes of care.
In my Saturday morning Torah study, we focused on Jacob’s “settling in” with his family. After years of struggle, Jacob becomes complacent, comfortable. We discussed whether Jacob’s complacency — his relative inaction — contributed to the animosity that led Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery and to report to their father that his then youngest son had been killed.
Mark Herzlich, Boston College All American linebacker and now New York Giants rookie, believes that positive thinking played an important part in his successful battle "to beat bone cancer" and return to football. World-renowned cyclist and cancer advocate Lance Armstrong credits not only topnotch medical care but also positive thinking in his overcoming testicular cancer. Armstrong stated on CBS Sunday Morning, "You can't deny the fact that a person with a positive and optimistic attitude does a lot better." Like the vast majority of individuals polled on whether or not the positive thinking can influence cancer outcomes, I believed/wanted to believe that positive thinking would be correlated with better survival data. But the weight of evidence does not support the thesis that optimistic attitude trumps the Big C, or even influences oncology outcomes.
Americans’ girth is growing at an alarming rate. Many are too sedentary, too stressed, suffering from insomnia, making bad food choices. The drumbeat of “We need a culture of health versus a sickness culture” is a refrain that we now often hear and that I have espoused.
I was just looking at the website of Newtek Business Services (www.thesba.com/), which also goes by the name of The Small Business Authority. It sells financial and administrative services to small businesses. I found more evidence that the public doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on in health care. This is goofy stuff, folks, so I'll have some fun with it.
"You Can't Outrun Your Past"........ The title of a slide in a grand rounds presentation by Dr. David Kountz, senior VP for medical and academic affairs at Jersey Shore Medical Center and professor of medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The subtext is that the impact of being black in our society confers incremental risk across a range of cardiovascular and cardiometabolic conditions irrespective of socioeconomic status.
There has been a lot of discussion of the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to revoke approval for the use of Avastin in metastatic breast cancer. Most of it takes at face value FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg’s 69- page decision in which she claims that the “objective” evidence of benefit did not exist to support approval relative to the serious side effects of the drug.
A recent conversation reminded me of the forgotten population in health care — the non-utilizers. I was speaking with a physician leader in Lancaster, Pa., about his program that emulates the good work of Dr. Jeff Brenner and his team in Camden, N.J., that has targeted the 1 percent of patients responsible for 30 percent of the cost.