Kaiser Health News

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Elon, Do We Have a Disaster for You!

One of the most interesting twists resulting from Hurricane Maria striking Puerto Rico was Elon Musk's offer that Tesla could help Puerto Rico solve its energy crisis, with a long-term, 21st century fix. After all, its electrical grid was devastated, with almost all the power wiped out. It didn't help that even prior to this disaster its system was antiquated and badly in need of repairs. It is telling that we don't have similar offers to rebuild the Puerto Rico's health care system, which is similarly devastated. Or, for that matter, our system, which is its own kind of disaster. Mr. Musk was asked on Twitter if Tesla could help Puerto Rico using solar and battery power, and he responded in the affirmative, saying it had done so on smaller islands but faced no scalablity issues...

Pardon Me, Your Interface Is Showing

In a great post, "Doctor as Designer" Joyce Lee laments the "sad state of product and design in healthcare," and asks "when will device and drug companies create user-centered innovations that actually improve the lives of patients instead of their bottom line?" I heartily agree with Dr. Lee's point, and think the question can be extended to the rest of the health care system. Dr. Lee uses two examples to compare health care to consumer goods. Heinz took a product design -- the glass ketchup bottle -- that had been around for over a hundred years, and greatly improved the user experience by changing to a squeezable "upside down" bottle. This not only kept the ketchup from concentrating at the bottom but also avoided the need to hold the bottle at a special angle or to tap at a particular spot just to get the ketchup out...

The Business of Healthcare Is Business

Hmm, that headline doesn't seem right, does it? I mean, shouldn't the business of healthcare be, well, health? Or, at least, caring? Actually, shouldn't the business of healthcare be patients? After all, everyone in healthcare says it's all about patients. Everyone says they're patient-centered, whatever that means. But think about this: who in healthcare gets paid for you to be healthy? Or, conversely, who in healthcare doesn't get paid when you get sick, or when you don't improve under their care? Whether we planned it or not, whether we admit it or not, or whether we like it or not, our healthcare system is a business that has become about making money.

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When It Comes to Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, We Should Ask More and Listen Better

A new study in JAMA suggests that nearly one-in-three drugs approved by the FDA between 2001 and 2010 had post-market safety issues, which caused safety communications to physicians and consumers, "black-box" warnings on labels, and drug withdrawals. It is not clear how many patients may have died or otherwise harmed by these issues...Lead author Joseph Ross, M.D., noted: "No drug is completely safe, and during premarket evaluation, we are not going to pick up all the safety signals," and urged "that we have a strong system in place to continually evaluate drugs and to communicate new safety concerns quickly and effectively."

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Winners And Losers With The 21st Century Cures Bill

Sydney Lupkin and Steven Findlay | NPR | December 2, 2016

A sprawling health bill that passed the Senate Thursday by a 94 to 5 vote and is expected to gain President Obama's signature is a grab bag for industries, academic institutions and patient groups that spent oodles of time and money lobbying to advance their interests. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls it "the most important legislation that Congress will pass this year." Who wins and who loses? Here's the rundown of what's at stake in the 21st Century Cures Act...

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