Eve Harris

Who Should Pay for Lung Cancer Screening?

Looking for unique ways to spend your money? Straight outta Compton this week, an announcement: CT scans available at a local medical center for people who are at risk for lung cancer. Cost is $295. Or, if you live near San Jose, you can walk into a free-standing imaging center that will charge you $349, … Continue reading Who Should Pay for Lung Cancer Screening? →

In Medicine, Don’t Believe Everything You Know

How do you know your doctor is right? Ideally you and your doctor have a relationship based on trust. That is, you believe she knows the best options to recommend to you. You may think your doctor is right, but -- how does your doctor know she's right? We'd like to think physicians are relying on the latest evidence of medical practice. But not all physicians do that. I recently joined in a robust, four-day discussion designed to address this issue at the 14th Rocky Mountain Workshop on How to Practice Evidence-Based Health Care. Doctors, policy makers and yes, journalists gathered to explore what many patients might have thought they were already getting: evidence-based health care, or evidence based medicine.

Primary Care Efforts to Involve Patients in Decision Making

All day, every day, people make medical choices that have repercussions for common yet dangerous conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Although chronic disease takes a greater toll [PDF] on people with lower socioeconomic status, chronically ill patients are part of every community. In California and across the country, public health officials and physicians keep searching for the best way to get patients involved in improving their health. Some patients naturally want to be involved with their care. Other times it's doctors and nurses who must try to encourage more engagement by their patients. “Whether to exercise or change their diet, take medication," Dr. David Thom told me recently, "those are the bread and butter decisions that go into primary care."

What Do ‘Engaged’ Patients Do?

Desiree Basila was 52 when her stage zero breast cancer was diagnosed. While her cancer was found very early, she was ultimately diagnosed with the disease in both breasts. In addition, it was found in several locations. For Basila, this meant her only treatment option was double mastectomy -- which Basila opposed. “If I die at 75 instead of 95 I think I can live with that," she told me recently. "I did not really want to have a double mastectomy." Basila is strong evidence that individuals react differently to their treatment choices. The new healthcare buzzword is the engaged patient, generally referring to someone who is collaborating with doctors in the decision-making process and, conversely, where a patient's individual preferences are respected.

The Perils of Medical Jargon

When a doctor can’t explain their patients diagnoses and treatments in plain language, people suffer. Poor health literacy -- a patient’s inability to understand health information – was first linked to poor health a decade ago. People who find their doctor’s advice confusing don’t manage their chronic diseases as well and are more likely to wind up hospitalized; among the elderly, the death rate is higher.

Turning Health Data Into Information

Healthcare is not a science problem; it’s an information problem. Thomas Goetz,  TEDMED 2010 Bank and airline customers rely on sophisticated systems that allow them to personalize and track complex data. But consumers of the services and products that comprise modern health care –  the patients — currently are offered much more rudimentary data handling. … Continue reading Turning Health Data Into Information →

New Health Care Jobs: How Healthy?

California stands to reap tens of thousands of jobs because of the federal health care overhaul -- according to a new report [PDF] by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute (BACEI). Researchers compared the state’s 2010 workforce to what it might have been if the Affordable Care Act had been fully implemented in that year. They concluded that once the ACA is fully in place in 2014 almost 99,000 new jobs will be created as a result of the law, most of them in Southern California. The Sacramento Valley will see the largest increase rate: a 1.3 percent boost in job opportunities.