We don’t know anything, really

Two months ago, I began the daily Health Memes
coverage on this site, and I’ve been immersed in scores of great
journals, blogs and news sources from scores of different perspectives.
In an effort to wrestle some meaning out of all that content, I’ll post
a weekend review examining the big themes against our NBIC template.

THIS WEEK’S REDUCTIO

We don’t know anything, really.

Marcia Angell’s essay in the January 15 New York Review of Books, Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption,
outlines the crooked dance of clinical trials in which medical schools,
researchers and Big Pharma select the most profitable results. Susan
Dentzer’s’ commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine decries the Pitfalls of Health Care Journalism in
which ignorance, sloth and linkbaiting produce shoddy and even harmful
news coverage. Much worse, David Gorski unveils active pseudoscience in
his Science-Based Medicine post Chopra and Weil and Roy, Oh My! Or: The Wall Street Journal, coopted. In the policy arena, audacious hopefuls get a dose of reality from The Health Care Blog as Robert Laszewski pours cold water on The Five Myths of Healthcare Reform.

It’s hard to live the evidence-based life.

BIOTECHNOLOGY

The first annual Consumer Genetics Show debuts in Boston this summer. Psychologist Stephen Pinker’s New York Times Magazine cover story My Genome, My Self brilliantly describes the possibilities of personal genomics and discusses its limitations for individual health. Medical News Today tells of the First Baby Tested For BRCA1 Before Conception Born In UK but not about her brothers and sisters who failed that first test. And the Center for Genetics and Society brought us the Mercury News story It’s a boy! Asian immigrants use medical technology to satisfy age-old desire: a son.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Tim Gee in Medical Connectivity offers an outstanding analysis of how Medical Device Networks Trouble Industry
as open architectures, commodity hardware and consumer electronics
intrude upon regulated, proprietary, embedded legacy apps. Reality
similarly intrudes in Scott Shreeve’s Crossover Healthcare essay The Problem with VistA: “Its the Platform, Stupid” and the good comment thread about the VA’s pioneering electronic medical record.

Evidence-based reality comes up against the World Wide Web’s “wisdom of the crowd” in a thoughtful post on Laika’s MedLibLog The Web 2.0-EBM Medicine split. [1] Introduction into a short series. Bob Doherty at The ACP Advocate Blog asks Do patients really want to see their doctor’s report card? The disruptive Scott Shreeve of Crossover Healthcare suggests putting some sunlight into insurers’ Explanations of Benefits with a call to a Transparency Trek: The Million EOB March. And KevinMD.com tells of a little too much transparency in A vasectomy, live on Twitter.

NANOTECHNOLOGY

Last month, Nature Nanotechnology published a study from Yale which was released in Medical News Today with the headline Nanotech Culture Wars Possible. A PhysOrg.com story worries about Nanotech in your vitamins, and the gap between nano-reality and visions of self-replicating molecular machines prompts Biopinionated Nils Reinton to ask Anybody Seen a Nanobot Lately?

COGNITIVE SCIENCE

Zack Lynch in Brain Waves describes a conference on the Decade of the Mind, and Shannon Proudfoot in the Calgary Herald declares “Brain gyms” a new industry. The World of Psychology reports Tetris Inoculation Against PTSD Flashbacks.

Returning to this week’s reductio, in The Chart Is Dead, Long Live The Chart, The Last Psychiatrist
describes how patient records (which all the revolutionaries want to
digitize) are “unreliable, misleading and worse than useless” because
of politics, financial interest and fear of litigation. Paraphrasing
Ted Nelson, “If the chart is not shaped by the doctoring, the doctoring
will be shaped by the chart.”

See all the week’s Health Memes for January 12-15 and January 19-22.