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Latest Posts

CDC Warns: Border Crossers May Expose US Population To Infectious Diseases Such As Tuberculosis

Picture overlooking El Paso border with microscopic picture of tuberculosis overlayed

Borders, Budgets, and the Rising Risk of Disease

Is there a perfect storm brewing along our nation’s southern border?  Let’s take a look at the numbers in El Paso, Texas where I recently visited:

  • There are 27 million crossings per year alone at the El Paso Point of Entry (POE)
  • Cuts to federal funding including a 50% reduction in the  Early Warning Infectious Disease Program as well as 12.5% cuts to critical preparedness and response funding;
  • Texas is second in the nation for number of tuberculosis cases, the majority of which are found near the border  and many of the cases involve tuberculosis strains that are drug resistant
  • The bordering country, Mexico, was the source of the last global influenza pandemic

So is this a bad situation getting worse or a ticking bomb? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Public Health Matters Blog*

Obesity: On The Rise In Developing Nations

Emerging economies must act immediately to halt rising obesity rates before the epidemic becomes as severe as it is in first-world countries, according to new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD report was published in the Lancet. It characterizes the prevalence of obesity in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa. Obesity rates were found to vary dramatically across these six countries. In Mexico, a stunning 70 percent of adults were reported to be overweight or obese. Nearly half of all Brazilians, Russians and South Africans fell into these categories. China and India had a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity, but were moving rapidly in the wrong direction, according to the OECD.

Developing nations don’t have enough resources to handle the health consequences of obesity, which include an increased risk of cardiac disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and disability from all causes.

Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

HIPAA Stifles Tech Innovation, Developing Nations Take Communications Lead

Sms_your_doctor_mexicoThis picture from 3G Doctor is remarkable.  It captures the flier of a Merck supported Mexican Medmobile initiative that apparently connects patients with their doctors via SMS (translation available on 3G Doctor Blog.)

But don’t expect fliers of this type in American offices anytime soon.  Risk of privacy violation and difficulty in documentation stifle this level of
doctor-patient connectivity.  The very laws created to protect patients may ultimately thwart the timely adoption of new communication channels.

And the slow march towards a single payer system will only make real connectivity a rare bird.

Look to the groundswell in mobile technology and social platforms will force change in our current privacy laws.  Until then look for innovation to come from the second and third world.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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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