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WikiLeaks: What It Means For Healthcare Privacy

From the official White House statement yesterday regarding WikiLeaks disclosure of diplomatic cables:

“By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights, but also the lives and work of the individuals. We condemn in strongest terms, the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.”

No matter what people think of WikiLeaks disclosure of approximately 250,000 classified diplomatic cables to the Internet yesterday with the help of the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and Le Monde, the implications to electronic healthcare information security are significant.

Day in and day out, I type huge volumes of information on my patients on a computer and my fellow physicians do the same. As a result, vast healthcare information warehouses are at the disposal of the government, insurers, and major healthcare institutions eager to become more efficient, strategic, or competitive. We are promised the information is private, confidential, and even stripped of its identifiers for group analysis. It is even protected to remain so by law. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

The AMA’s Policy On Professionalism In The Use Of Social Media

A new policy on professionalism in the use of social media was [recently] adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA Office of Media Relations was kind enough to share a copy of the policy:

The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily. Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication. Social networks, blogs, and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship. Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

(a)  Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

(b)  When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

An App To Self-Test For STDs?

A new ÂŁ5.7 million project being led by St. George’s-University of London is developing self-test devices that can plug directly into mobile phones and computers, immediately identifying sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The project is called eSTI — electronic self-testing instruments for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — and is being led by Dr. Tariq Sadiq, senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George’s-University of London. Most of the funding is coming from The Medical Research Council and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration.

The UK has seen a 36 percent rise in STIs from 2000 to 2009 — often blamed on the reluctance of the population to get diagnosed and the stigma of going to public health clinics — prompting the support of this project. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Security Of Patient Records: The Weakest Link

The Queen of Soul famously wailed about being a link in a “chain of fools.” The lead story in the August 13th Boston Globe tells us about another sort of link in the chain — the weakest link in the chain of custody of patient records.

In brief, a pathology billing service bought out by another service apparently dumped all records more than a year old in a town dump. A Globe photographer taking out his own trash noticed that the paper records (which he was looking at because he thought they ought to be recycled rather than dumped) had identifiable patient data and represented at least four hospitals from across Eastern Massachusetts. Clearly, these records ought to have been shredded or otherwise destroyed before disposal. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

8 Things You Shouldn’t Keep From Your Doctor

It’s important to have an open relationship with your primary care physician because the more he or she knows about your health and lifestyle, the better able he or she is to diagnose illnesses as they come up.

You wouldn’t take your car to a mechanic and not tell him that the brake is sticking, and a human organism is thousands of times more complicated than a car. But patients are shy. They’re embarrassed. They don’t want you to think badly about them, so they often leave out important information that’s critical for the physician to know. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

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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