Weekend Reading: Navigating Treatment; Can A Robot Replace Your Doctor?
Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.
Health Affairs: An Accidental Tourist Finds Her Way In The Dangerous Land Of Serious Illness
Your pathology report indicates that you have stomach cancer. Hearing those words conveying yet another cancer-related diagnosis—my fourth since the age of 20—I felt, at the age of 57, as though I had been airdropped into a foreign country. Once again, I didn't know the language and didn't understand the culture. I had no road map and desperately wanted to find my way home. Following my previous diagnoses (Hodgkin's disease in 1973, cervical in 1981, and colon in 2005), this new diagnosis came with new words to describe what had gone wrong in an unfamiliar organ system. There were new approaches to treatment that bore only a passing resemblance to those I had experienced before, and new specialists, subspecialists, tests, and procedures. I needed to master these terms, and quickly, as part of my latest effort to survive (Jessie Gruman, February 2013).
The Atlantic: The Robot Will See Your Now
IBM's Watson—the same machine that beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy—is now churning through case histories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, learning to make diagnoses and treatment recommendations. This is one in a series of developments suggesting that technology may be about to disrupt health care in the same way it has disrupted so many other industries. Are doctors necessary? Just how far might the automation of medicine go? (Jonathan Cohn, March 2013).
The Daily Beast: Can The Cleveland Clinic Save American Health Care
"The best doctors are not motivated by money." It's a common sentiment (this particular example comes from the comments section of Felix Salmon's blog, but you see it anywhere that doctor salaries are discussed.) … But what if we actually did take money out of the equation? What if we put doctors on salary and substituted relentless cost-control for "anything goes"? Well, say critics, probably you'd get what everyone complained about with HMOs: a situation where providers have every incentive to undertreat instead of overtreat. We didn't like that, either. And yet, there are places where it works. One of them is the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation's leading hospital centers (Megan McArdle, 2/26).
Time: Remembering Dr. C. Everett Koop, America's Doctor
Koop, 96, passed away at his home in New Hampshire on Feb. 25. With his trademark beard and no-nonsense demeanor, Koop, who was a native of Brooklyn, New York, liked to play the part he was assigned, often appearing in public in the traditional vice admiral's uniform of the Public Health Service that came with the position of Surgeon General. ... Koop took a relatively obscure position in the government and over his seven-year tenure infused it with a responsibility and obligation to improve public health that his successors still strive to meet. "While he was Surgeon General, he was America's doctor," says Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy and education for the American Lung Association. "He recognized he was a highly visible spokesperson, and he was the personification of what the Surgeon General can and should be" (Alice Park, 2/27).