Media to Consider

Books and Articles worth a Review…

Detecting the BS in Health Care – In case you missed it, Lawton Burns, Ph.D. and Mark Pauly, Ph.D. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania recently released an important piece - Detecting BS in Health Care 1.0. They highlight some of the claims that too frequently are touted as outcomes without the necessary backing of data.  It’s a phenomenon that seems to be seeping into too many aspects of our societal discussions.  We need to be on the alert to such shifts because the reason health care has moved from opinion to solutions over the last couple of centuries is because of the rigor of the medical profession on insisting that scientific research be upheld with transparency and open scrutiny.  

Readings To Consider - 1/24/19

Books and Articles worth a Review…

If you want to read a book that will stop you in your tracks and get you to thinking about the significance of humankind – let alone who we are as individuals – go out and get a copy of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.  It’s compelling.  It’s thought provoking.  And, while it’s about astrophysics, it’s also about our presence in the multiverse.  Finally, it has nothing to do with health care but it’s still important nonetheless. His metaphors bring into jarring clarity, how small we are when considered on the scale of the multiverse. Read it.  Ponder it.  Get back to me with your thoughts… = This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Readings To Consider - 12/31/18

Books and Articles worth a Review…

Become Disconnected – I was just about to start on my latest Fickenscher Files when yet one more email came flying through the ethernet to capture my attention.  It was from a colleague who was beside themselves because of a relatively minor disconnect.  Such disconnects seem to be happening more and more in the new world of “connectivity”.  It brought to mind an article I had recently read by Atul Gwande, MD – the new head of Amazon’s yet-to-be-described health care initiative.  He recently posted an article in The New Yorker magazine on a related topic – the use of clinical information systems by physicians.  He captured an issue that is all too increasingly common among physicians and others in the health care industry who spend intensive amounts of time in front of computer screens – disconnection and burnout.  The tedious nature of clicks and data requirements while offering value on one side of the equation often result in more labor investments on the other side of the equation.  The burnout rate among physicians is increasing and some of it stems from the intrusion of computers into the process without adequate revision of the process.  Just like the miscommunication with my colleague, the intrusion of the computer screen between the patient and the clinician is becoming an obstacle to conclusion and connection.  We should take note.  While there are no quick answers, the issue of “connectivity” deserves our special attention.  It is what makes for a good clinician…

 The Gender Gap Considered – Women comprise about 80% of the health care workforce in the US according to a recent report by The Advisory Board.  But, they only represent between 3 – 9% of the leadership workforce for the industry.  It’s one of the reasons I became involved in helping to develop the Carol Emmott Fellowship (CEF) Program. The intent of the program is to accelerate leadership capacity for women in health.  Individuals selected for participation in the program complete a 14 month long program which includes experiential, didactic, and cohort experiences along with coaching and mentoring from senior health care executives from across the entire industry.  It’s a program worthy of your organization’s commitment.  If you’re a leader in health care consider contacting the CEF and providing support for an emerging woman leader in your organization.  It will pay off in dividends over the longer term for the greater good of the health care community. 

 

Media and Issues To Consider - 11/5/18

Books, Articles and Thoughts worth a Review…

VOTE!!
It’s not only a right,
it’s also a responsibility. 

 A Change of Focus on Another Issue: Something Bigger Than Politics – Jonathan Swift in 1711 said, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”  We’re there and we’ve got the blinders on.  In the last couple of months, we’ve heard a lot about the trade difficulties with China and other countries, the “unfair” tariffs, the implication of the tax cut passed into law by the Republican Congress – and, a host of other issues.  Mudslinging seems to have become the mainstay.  But, there’s one issue you may not have heard about which is the new, evolving threat to Maine’s lobster industry.  Yes, this is not about health care (yet), it’s about lobsters!! This brief missive is about the severe bait shortage facing lobstermen (and, women).  Now for a foodie – like myself – this is a big issue and for us Mainers, it’s not only a food issue, it’s an economic issue which makes it really BIG!!

You think I jest.  I’m not!!  In essence, regulators held this year’s herring landings at last year’s levels – or, 50,000 metric tons – and, are planning to slash next year’s quota of herring (= the most popular lobster bait) down to 30,000 metric tons. Why?  Well, there is a record low number of newborn herring entering the fishery off the coast of Maine.  Why?  In large measure it’s because the Gulf of Maine is among the fastest-warming bodies of water across the entire globe. It’s been local news since around 2015 and the problem is accelerating.  Due to warming, the lobsters have already moved about 150 miles further north off the coast of Maine in search of cooler waters and, are expected to move even further north.  They’re accompanied in their northerly travels by cod, northern shrimp and a host of other species that dominated the waters in the Gulf of Maine – including the herring!  Then, on top of all of that China and Europe are both threatening a tariff on lobster from the USA.  Need I say more?   Well, just a bit more… 

There is a controversy on what to do about the herring which takes us into a much longer discussion even further away from health care (NOTE: occasionally, that’s a sanity improvement strategy). Leave it to say that there’s a big debate on how to proceed between the New England Fisher Management Council, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) on what to do.  But, unlike debates in other parts of our society, this one is civilized and – more importantly – trying to find a solution.  The fly in the ointment is that the problem is global warming.  Yes, you heard it here – global warming. Now, that is an issue that I hope we can all rally around.  Several weeks ago, I noted the invasion of ticks at our southern border due to “global warming” and the diseases that were beginning to show up.  Now, it’s lobsters and herring.  It’s a climate issue today.  It will be a health care issue tomorrow.  Mark my word… 

Kudos to the American College of Physicians (ACP) –  The ACP is one of the largest associations of physicians and a leader among such organizations on all considerations related to health care.  Of note, they just updated their firearms policy paper, “Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the U.S.” which includes nine (9) evidence-based strategies to help reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths by keeping guns out of the hands of those at risk of harming themselves or others. The new recommendations include such ideas as passing laws to prohibit individuals with a history of domestic violence – including those under restraining orders – from buying or possessing firearms. There is even a call to allow family members to seek an immediate court order for removing guns from a family member who is at risk of using firearms to inflict harm on themselves or others. After the experiences of the last couple of weeks – YET AGAIN – at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the yoga studio shooting in Tallahassee, Florida we clearly need to address firearms violence and hate crimes which are happening far, far too frequently across the country. Do we make this a healthcare industry issue as well?

 

Media To Consider - 10/11/18

Books and Articles worth a Review…

The Coders of Kentucky – The New York Times recently posted an important article that all of us need to read in this time of revolution.  First, a brief history lesson.  The First Industrial Revolution lasted about 120 years.  It tore apart professions that had been passed down from generation to generation.  In fact, my great-grandfather was a victim in the line of progress.  He was a tanner in Bavaria who lost his job to the looms.  Like many of that generation experienced, there was disruption.  The options were few and far between in Germany at the time plus Otto Von Bismarck was engaging in lots of little wars with his neighbors throughout Europe.  My great-grandfather thought better of fighting wars as an unemployed tanner so he picked up his family and moved to America to become a farmer in Western Nebraska as a homesteader.  There were further revolutions along the way and now we are facing the digital revolution.  The difference is that instead of 120 years it will likely only take 20 years and the disruption will be far more significant.  It will affect not just coal miners and linemen in car factories.  It will also “affect doctors, lawyers and such.”  But, rather than hide or blame immigrants (like my great-grandfather) or engage in other disruptions – we need to learn from the past.  Education is the key.  It is disingenuous to tell coal miners that they will all get their jobs back!  Rather, the US should do what the Times article points out – which is to retrain people with new skills, added knowledge and capabilities for meeting new challenges.  From the hills and hollers of Eastern Kentucky, a new breeding ground of cybercoders has been created that will no doubt change the landscape.  The same type of thinking needs to go into retraining and educating workers so they can hold jobs in new areas.  Just as farming, tanning, car manufacturing and a host of other well-paying professions have radically changed – so it will be as the continuous cycle of change moves society forward.  Continuous education and re-education are the keys to success.  I see it with doctors, lawyers and such – because they’re next…

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