March 18, 2018

Practice makes perfect (2)

The Volume–Outcome Relationship Revisited: Practice Indeed Makes Perfect

Why is it so difficult to accept it? There is wide "evidence for the practice-makes-perfect hypothesis by showing that volume is a driving factor for quality". Unfortunately, the opportunities for the health system are still larger than it should be. There is a resistance in organizations, there is inertia, and all these drivers play a role. In planned health systems, there is no reason to be strict on it.
Just for those that are dubious, I would suggest a look at this article and to my former post.

Parov Stelar

March 16, 2018

The smart money in tech would not have made this mistake

It's about Theranos. You may find my previous posts in this link. Now SEC has confirmed that was a "massive fraud". That's it. If you want a good analysis check FT.
Microfluidics is not an easy prêt-à-porter technology. Many people knew it but Mrs Holmes has been selling it as snake-oil. And as usual in these cases, the end of the film is already written. She can't go to the lab for the next 10 years, a fine, and the company may be closed. All started with and article by Mathew Herper in WSJ. An innocent article with an innocent question that she couldn't answer. That's all. Silicon valley smart money would not have made this mistake.

March 15, 2018

The miracle of bread and fish

According to the Gospels, a large crowd had gathered and was following Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to him and said:
"I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."
His disciples answered:
"Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?"
"How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked.
"Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."
"Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan (or Magdala)."
Now let's imagine one country and his health expenditure in 2007 and 2017, let's think about a figure, let's say 1,186€. This was the per capita expenditure in 2017. What was the per capita expenditure one decade earlier? 1€ less!!! It was 1,185€. This is a miracle, if you take inflation into account the reduction of expenditure is huge. Technology and ageing were not the drivers of expenditure growth because there was no growth!
Between 2017 and 2016 the growth was 5.9% in public expenditure. In private health insurance  expenditure it was 5,4%. That's it.
If you have to think about health expenditure miracles, have a look at Catalonia, it's incredible.
And it is so incredible that today our government is in exile, or in prison, or bail pending trial. Today the spanish police has entered in our government palace and has arrested one high official.
This is the rogue state where the majority wants to leave, and unfortunately we are alone, prosecuted and it's not possible to decide the new president. Europe forgets the attack on civil liberties. Shame.


March 13, 2018

Allocating expenditures to diseases

Guidelines for Measuring Disease Episodes: An Analysis of the Effects on the Components of Expenditure Growth

One of the most interesting reports by OECD was produced 15 years ago. The title was "A Disease-based Comparison of Health Systems What is Best and at what Cost?". The approach was clear, in order to compare health systems we do need to focus on specific diseases and its costs and outcomes.
Now you can read in Health Services Research an interesting article that shows what and how you should do to measure episodes. The comparison between person based and episode based approach is useful and it depends on the goals of research. For insurers and health population managers: episode-based. For officials and statistical offices: person-based
All the stuff on decomposition of health expenditures should be readjusted after reading this article. A hard work forward.

PS. OECD made an update on 2013. Good news.

March 11, 2018

The rethorical work of modern medicine

Bodies in Flux; Scientific Methods for Negotiating Medical Uncertainty

Evidence and persuasion play a crucial role in everyday task of any physician. That is, knowing the evidence of what works, and persuading that the treatment will succeed in a specific disease.
But how are evidential worlds assembled from bodies in perpetual flux? From where does medicine’s evidential weight hail? What protocols and procedures elevate everyday
biological activities to positions of argumentative authority?
 Defining and diagnosing disease is a kind of quixotic empiricism. It requires taking what’s known now and making best guesses about what’s to come. Yet, as physicist and philosopher David Bohm (1981) argues, “all is flux”
 After nearly a decade of studying evidential construction in the biomedical backstage, I have identified four specific methods with which medical professionals attune to corporeal flux in cancer care: evidential visualization, assessment, synthesis, and computation.
These are the approaches that a new book highlights in detail. In chapter 6 I suggest you read the section "Medical care as phronesis",
Phronesis is one of “the five expressions of care discussed in Book VI of the Ethics” and is a “mode that deals with the contingent and the possible”. Typically, phronesis (defined by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics as “prudence”) is set counter to another rhetorical construct, metis.
A book highly recommended for those that want a fresh perspective on evidence based medicine and rethorics.

March 9, 2018

Medicine trends

The future of medicine

A new supplement in Nature explains the main trends in Medicine. It is really helpful to have a quick look focused on those approaches that are the more promising for the next future. From the issue, I would pick one article: A CRISPR edit for heart disease, A one-off injection to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease is now a prospect thanks to advances in gene editing.This is amazing, it changes current perspectives on the first cause of death worldwide (18 million people per year).
 In 2014, Musunuru and his team showed that more than half of Pcsk9 genes in the mouse liver could be silenced with a single injection of an adenovirus containing a CRISPR–Cas9 system directed against Pcsk9. This led to a roughly 90% decrease in the level of Pcsk9 in the blood and a 35–40% fall in blood LDL cholesterol4. Next, they used a mouse engineered to contain human liver cells, and tuned the CRISPR–Cas9 payload to target human PCSK95. The team succeeded in showing that the human gene can also be switched off.
This is changing the focus of drug research, and a recent article explains the new approach.  Let's see if finally delivers what they say.

March 2, 2018

Setting priorities explicitly (or not)


A chapter of this book explains who does what in prioritisation (resource allocation and rationing).
I've found of interest this classification of rationing:
  • Rationing by denial. Exclusion of specific services or treatments from the National Health System portfolio (often explicitly) or from one healthcare provider (near always implicitly) that believes that such treatment or service is inappropriate.
  • Rationing by selection. Exclusion of some patients of some treatments because they do not meet certain eligibility criteria fixed by the regulator (often explicitly) or the provider (near always implicitly). 
  • Rationing by delay. The demand that cannot be met by a rigid offer remains on hold (waiting list) and the wait acts as a barrier to access and, in many cases, as a de facto denial of care. 
  • Rationing by deterrence. Barriers placed, either consciously or unconsciously, by the healthcare providers that make it difficult for patients to find out about, and book appointments with, some healthcare services. 
  • Rationing by deflection. Patients being shunted off to another institution, agency or programme. 
  • Rationing by dilution. Services continue being offered to patients, but with fewer resources, and the quality of care gets worse
 And the summary:
In conclusion, adequate priority setting is not about choosing either to muddle through implicit rationing or to be corseted by an exhaustive, rigid and explicit interventionist structure at the macro, meso and micro decision-making levels. This dichotomy fails to capture the complexity of priority setting in practice. We need more and better explicit priority setting, not to substitute but to improve implicit priority setting.


 Weegee by Weegee