Events over the past year clearly have confirmed that we are a “work in progress” even as we stubbornly affirm our good intentions to create a society committed to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
With the Dobbs’ decision, our Supreme Court has unleashed long-abandoned regressive state laws designed to reinforce selective patriarchy and undermine the stability and confidence of America’s women and families. As a result, our nation’s health professionals, and the patients they care for, potentially find themselves “on the wrong side of the law.”
It calls to mind the well-worn phrase of mothers everywhere to their bossy children, “Who died and left you boss?”
Since our former President, on the eve of his latest indictment, decided to deliver a message to North Carolina Republican supporters this past weekend, claiming that he was engaged in the “final battle” with “corrupt” forces, most especially the “Deep State” that was “out to get him,” I decided to fact check his claims with the kids of North Carolina.
North Carolina’s K-12 lesson plan, titled “The Rule of Law,” begins with the Teddy Roosevelt quote, “No man is above the law, and no man is below it” from his 1903 State of the Union address.
Medicare Advantage (MA) has passed the tipping point, delivering coverage and care to more than half of the senior population in the US. The Congressional Budget Office projects more than 60 percent of people 65 years and older will be in the program by 2030. As enrollment soars and interest in value-based health care grows, it is imperative policymakers modernize the program that is expected to cost $7.5 trillion over the next decade.
Rather than taking the standard Washington posture of declaring victory or defending the status quo, our provider-aligned, nonprofit member plans spent nearly two years developing a detailed vision for MA for Tomorrow. The policy proposals being released at a Capitol Hill briefing on June 12 are concrete reforms from executives with decades of experience and a track record of achieving the highest quality ratings in the program.
MA for Tomorrow is built on five pillars: (1) Raising the Bar on Quality; (2) Improving Consumer Navigation; (3) Achieving Risk Adjustment for Care, not Codes; (4) Modernizing Network Composition; and (5) Transforming Benchmarks. Taken together, the policies foster greater competition, reduce provider burden, push quality standards higher, enhance the shopping experience and curb improper payments.
With consistently high-quality ratings, expanded benefits and a proven ability to reach minority populations, the MA public-private partnership is an undeniable success. More than 31 million seniors are enrolled in MA, a growth of over 107 percent since 2014. In the past five years, as seniors voted with their feet, MA grew by 9.1 million enrollees while fee-for-service Medicare shrunk by 5.1 million.
But even the most successful programs must evolve. To serve current and future retirees, MA must keep pace with medical and technological advances; it must improve the shopping experience to match other retail sectors; it must address loopholes and bad behaviors that dampen competition and choice. While fundamentals of the program remain strong, change is necessary to ensure the MA program of the future is equitable, affordable and focused on health outcomes.
A national study from Korea published in the European Heart Journal sheds important new light on complications related to COVID vaccine related myocarditis. While US public health authorities have been convinced from the very beginning about how safe and effective the new vaccines are, researchers in other countries with far smaller budgets have been testing that theory.
It was Israeli researchers that first highlighted the novel mRNA vaccines as potentially causing myocarditis in the Spring of 2021, but it has proven difficult to quantify the risk of severe complications beyond scattered case reports of severe morbidity and mortality. In part, US researchers are hampered by vaccine reporting systems in the US that are passive surveillance systems relying on voluntary reporting of vaccine adverse events. This has the potential of under-reporting adverse events, which was exactly the conclusion of an earlier JAMA analysis on US VAERS vaccine myocarditis cases.
Diving deep into the methods and results of the study
The South Korean approach was to organize a national reporting system under the auspices of the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The KDCA also established a reporting system with a legal obligation for special adverse events including myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination. To evaluate all reported cases of suspected myocarditis or pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination, the KDCA organized an “Expert Adjudication Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination Pericarditis/Myocarditis”. The committee comprised 7 experts in cardiology, 1 in infectious disease, 2 in epidemiology, epidemiologic investigators in 16 regional centers, and officials from the KDCA.
Among 44,276,704 subjects vaccinated from 26 February to 31 December 2021, 1533 cases of suspected myocarditis were reported to the KDCA. The committee adopted the myocarditis case definition and classification of the Brighton Collaboration (BC) (see figure below) for the diagnosis and degree of certainty of a Vaccine Related Myocarditis (VRM) diagnosis.
“The title of our lands is free, clear, and absolute, and every proprietor of the land is a princess his own domains, and lord paramount of the fee.”
Jesse Root, 1798, Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court
When it came to social hierarchy and family position, land was the ultimate measure of success and influence in Great Britain. But by the time of the American Revolution, our Founders were already fast at work dismantling Primogeniture (“the right of succession belonging to the firstborn child, especially the feudal rule by which the whole real estate of an intestate passed to the eldest son.”) It had already largely disappeared in New England, and was gone in the southern colonies by 1800.
In its place, the colonists envisioned a “free and mobile market,” where land could be traded like money and other goods. To do so, the original land grants and “feudal tenures” were obliterated, and their legal documents swept clean by the new law of the land. The decisions on ownership were made locally, empirically and by “common wish” of those in power.
Property was meant to be traded, fast and furious, but most of all put to “productive use” in a young nation obsessed with rapid growth. As legal historian, Lawrence Friedman, suggested, “In land lay the hope of national wealth; for countless families, it was their chance to make some money. The land, once it was cleared of the native peoples (by hook or by crook), and properly surveyed, was traded with speed and fury. Speculation in raw lands was almost a kind of national lottery.”
As many of you did, I followed the recent debt ceiling saga closely, and am relieved that we now have a compromise, of sorts. The House Republicans demanded a lot of things, most of which they did not get, but one area where they did prevail was in toughening work requirements for food (SNAP) and income (TANF). They somehow believe that there are uncounted numbers of “able-bodied” people sitting around on their couches collecting government benefits, a myth that goes back to Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen stereotype, and have long advocated work requirements as the remedy.
Ironically, according to the CBO, the work requirements passed may actually increase federal spending by as much as $2b, and increase the number of monthly recipients by as many as 80,000 people, but who’s counting?
All this seems timely because of some new studies that illustrate – once again — that, yes, poverty is bad for people’s health, and helping them get even a little bit more out of poverty improves their health.
It is hard to open a medical journal in any specialty without seeing an article on burnout. There are statistics, trends, and of course a myriad of causes detailed in these articles. A few even offer some sensible solutions – flexible scheduling, peer support, delegation of clerical work and an increased focus on personal well-being activities are steps in the right direction.
I have previously written that “the absence of burnout does not equal wellness” just as the absence of disease does not imply health. We deserve more than simply the ability to function, we deserve to flourish. This is where a field such as positive psychology, or what many call the science of happiness, can offer some evidence-based guidance.
What has become clear over the past few years is that many people are giving new buzzwords like burnout or moral injury too much credit for their unhappiness. Many of us are not well, either personally or professionally. It’s not as if we are joyful, peaceful and fulfilled at home and then suddenly begin to suffer only when we go to work.
Our jobs, colleagues or even the draconian healthcare system are not to blame for our discontent. Many of us may feel burned out but it has little to do with our career choice. Not many of us are fulfilled. Not many of us are content. Not many of us are free of stress and anxiety. Most of us seem to be restless and want to feel better all the time. So we blame our jobs, our bank account, people around us, even the world, and call it burnout. Burnout, while a significant problem for some people is now conveniently being used by many to shift the blame away from ourselves. We are the problem. But the good new is that we are also the solution. It is our lack of understanding that causes us to feel perpetually discontent and frantically chase happiness in various forms. It can only be understanding that will set us free.
What is it that we have not understood? What are the questions deep within us that we never have the courage to ask?
Why are we not fulfilled? Why are we restless and anxious much of the time? Why do we crave distractions in phones, TV and alcohol?
Here’s a question: what medical schools are incorporating Roblox into their curriculum?
Interested readers can get back to me, but in the meantime I’m guessing none. At best, very few. And instead of “medical schools” feel free to insert kind of “healthcare institutions/organization” that is interested in educating or training – which is to say, all of them. By way of contrast, I was intrigued by the collaboration between Roblox and The Parsons School of Design.
Perhaps you don’t know about Roblox, a creator platform whose vision is “to reimagine the way people come together to create, play, explore, learn, and connect with one another.” As their website says: “We don’t make Roblox. You do.” It claims to have almost 10 million developers using its platform, hosting some 50 million “experiences.”
On March 25th, 1971, the Pakistani army launched Operation Searchlight, a military campaign to brutally suppress a Bengali nationalist movement.
The roots of the genocide lie in the parting gift British rulers gave to the Indian subcontinent at the time of independence in 1947. British controlled India was separated into Hindu majority India and Muslim majority Pakistan. But because there were two dense non-contiguous Muslim majority areas in British controlled India, the muslim majority country of Pakistan was divided into East and West Pakistan.
East and West Pakistan were linked by religion, but little else. East Pakistan was culturally Bengali, and had much more in common with Bengali Hindus than Muslims in West Pakistan. While Bengalis took pride in their culture and language, West Pakistani’s looked down on the Bengali’s because it was deemed to be too influenced by Hindu culture. While Bengali muslims may have identified themselves with Pakistan’s islamic project, by the 1970s many in East Pakistan had given priority to their Bengali ethnicity over their religious identity, desiring a society more in accordance with Western principles of secularism and democracy. A growing opposition in East Pakistan strongly objected to the Islamist paradigm being imposed the West Pakistani state.
But West Pakistan controlled the military, and formed much of the ruling elite after the partition in 1947. In a move designed to send a message to Bengali speaking East Pakistani’s , the founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Jinna even made Urdu the national language of all of Pakistan, and branded those opposed as enemies of the State.
Recent regulations have mandated the use of HL7 FHIR APIs (application programming interfaces) to share health data. The regs apply to healthcare providers, payers, and technology developers who participate in federal programs. Many incumbent healthcare organizations are viewing these mandates as a compliance burden. That’s short-sighted. We recommend a more opportunistic POV.
APIs facilitate the sharing of health data across different devices and platforms. By adopting APIs, healthcare organizations can transform themselves from traditional service providers into powerful platforms that can connect patients, providers, and other stakeholders in new and innovative ways.
This blog post is the fourth in the series on The New Rules of Healthcare Platforms. In this essay, we explore the many benefits of API adoption for healthcare organizations and the key considerations that must be taken into account when implementing APIs:
Healthcare’s Data Inflection Point
APIs Enable Platform Business Models
Barriers, Challenges, Reality Check
Healthcare’s Data Inflection Point
Compared to other industries, healthcare generates a disproportionately large amount of data. According to RBC Capital Markets, “30% of the world’s data volume is being generated by the healthcare industry. By 2025, the compound annual growth rate of data for healthcare will reach 36%. That’s 6% faster than manufacturing, 10% faster than financial services, and 11% faster than media & entertainment.”
Over the past 15 years, new regulations have driven digitization, data interoperability, and data sharing. The goal of regulations has been to liberate patient data that has previously been unstructured and trapped in patient silos. Venture capitalist Kahini Shah summarized these regulatory efforts in her article entitled Healthcare Data APIs – An Upcoming Multi-Billion Dollar Market?:
Recent regulation is forcing digitization, aggregation and transmission of medical records. Congress passed the HITECH Act in 2009, prompting the adoption of electronic health records. Before that medical records were paper based. Healthcare data is incredibly siloed, every American sees an average of 19 providers in their lifetime. Connecting these disparate electronic systems and having them exchange information is called interoperability. In 2020, the HHS and CMS implemented two rules that mandate patient access to their medical records and interoperability. These transformative rules give patients the right to access their data when they need and make it available via APIs. The interoperability rules state that there is no blocking – EHRs must allow data to be shared easily across different systems owned by different vendors.
A few weeks ago New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote, “We Are Opening The Lid On Two Giant Pandoras Boxes.” He was referring to 1) artificial Intelligence (AI) which most agree has the potential to go horribly wrong unless carefully regulated, and 2) global warming leading to water mediated flooding, drought, and vast human and planetary destruction.
Friedman argues that we must accept the risk of pursuing one (rapid fire progress in AI) to potentially uncover a solution to the other. But positioning science as savior quite misses the point that it is human behavior (a combination of greed and willful ignorance), rather than lack of scientific acumen, that has placed our planet and her inhabitants at risk.
The short and long term effects of fossil fuels and carbonization of our environment were well understood before Al Gore took “An Inconvenient Truth” on the road in 2006. So were the confounding factors including population growth, urbanization, and surface water degradation.
When I first published “Healthy Waters,” the global population was 6.5 billion with 49% urban, mostly situated on coastal plains. It is now 8 billion with 57% urban and slated to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 with 63% urban. 552 cities around the globe now contain populations exceeding 1 million citizens.
Under ideal circumstances, this urban migration could serve our human populations with jobs, clean air and water, transportation, housing and education, health care, safety and security. Without investment however, this could be a death trap.