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Employee Health: The First “Benefits Package” Blog Carnival

Welcome to The Benefits Package — the very first employee benefits blog carnival. After healthcare reform, employee benefits move to center stage as one of the most important issues facing Americans.

So what are employers, insurers, and the government really doing to rein in healthcare costs, get their employees to live healthier lives, and improve healthcare quality?

The Benefits Package is the first-ever blog carnival dedicated to these issues. With benefits executives starting to make the leap into the blogosphere, The Benefits Package will highlight the best insights and opinions on this important subject. You will discover new blogs, learn new things, and hopefully think about issues a little differently. I’ll host the first couple of Benefits Packages, and then others will take their turn.

Below you’ll find a terrific set of posts by some true thought leaders. If you like what you see, please submit a post of your own next time. Enjoy the first Benefits Package!


At the Health Business Blog, David Williams explains why mini-med plans aren’t as bad as some people would have you believe.

At Hank Stern’s Insure Blog, Mike Feehan explains how the federal government makes private coverage more expensive in a way that makes its own coverage cheaper.

Jen Benz of the Benz Communications Blog explains that companies who fail to put their benefits information online are making a big mistake. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Are Social Networks Compatible Or Competitive?

The BlogWorld Panel - Kerri Sparling, Kevin Pho, and Bryan VartabedianI was in Las Vegas, but it wasn’t all just spending quality time with blogging buddies.  There was work to do — we were there for the Social Health track of BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2010 to help inform others about the discussions taking place in the medical blogosphere, and the power of these communities. 

The panel that I was participating on was Social Networks & The Medical Blogosphere:  Compatible or Competitive, with fellow panelists Kevin Pho and Bryan Vartabedian (see photo) moderated by the fabulous Kim McAllister. The big question was: “Are these social networking technologies helping or hurting the blogosphere?”

We, as a panel, gave this a lot of thought as we prepared for our discussion, and we ultimately settled on the answer of “Well…both.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Breaking Oncology News: Can It Spread Socially?

I [recently] received a press release from a friend in the Bay Area. Investigators at UCSF have published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that less chemotherapy can be effective at treating some childhood cancers.

The paper was the result of an eight-year clinical study in children with neuroblastoma. In this particular population, researchers were able to reduce chemotherapy exposure by 40 percent while maintaining a 90 percent survival rate. You can read about it here.

The press release sparked a brief email exchange between me and my friend: Who might be interested in writing about this study and is there any way to get it to spread?  What would make it sticky in the eyes of the public?

Here are a few ideas:

Figure out who cares. Sure it’s niche news, but there are people who would think this is pretty darn important. Think organizations centered on parents of children with cancer, adult survivors of childhood cancer, pediatric hematology-oncology physicians, pediatricians and allied professionals in pediatric medicine like nurse practitioners and hematology-oncology nurses. Networks form around these groups. Find them and seed them.

Make a video. Offer powerful, visual content beyond a press release. A four-minute clip with the principal investigator, Dr. Matthay, would be simple and offer dimension to what is now something restricted to print. The Mayo Clinic has done this really well. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Should Doctors Be Socially Anonymous?

I don’t think doctors should be socially anonymous. We need to be seen. Here’s why going underground isn’t good policy for physicians:

Anonymity makes you say stupid things. When you’re shouting from the crowd it’s easy to talk smack.  Come up to the podium, clear your throat, and say something intelligent. You’re a physician, not a hooligan.

It’s 2010: Anonymity died a long time ago. You think anonymity offers shelter? You’re funny, you are. Anonymity is a myth. You can create a cockamamie pseudonym, but you can’t hide.  And if I don’t find you, the plaintiff attorneys will. They found Flea.

Being a weanie is no excuse. Just as you’re unlikely to consult a lawyer before speaking at a cocktail party, commenting as Dr. You is unlikely to kill you or land you in court. Just a few pointers: Don’t talk about patients, help people out, and be nice. Trust me, I’m a doctor. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Electronic Medical Records, ER Wait Times, And The Medical Blogosphere

Here’s a confession: Despite my steadfast advocacy of medical blogging as a means to promote understanding and education, I continue worry a lot about professional liability. Not just whether the things I write could hurt my career, but, in terms of academic output, is blogging a waste of time? What view does my department’s leadership take on blogging?

Still, I’ve continued to support medical blogging as a useful academic endeavor, hoping that someday this support would be borne out. When sites like Sermo and Facebook came along, I despaired that more physician opinions were going to be hidden behind walled gardens, available only to select colleagues or friends.

Then, last week, some revelations — I discovered a member of my department’s leadership was blogging, or at least, had commented on a  blog. How about that! The other revelation? Facebook may be the last great hope for academic discussions to flourish on blogs.

This all arose from a pretty academic question about emergency department implementation of electronic medical records. Does the degree of implementation (full, partial, or none) impact patient wait times in the emergency department? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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