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Annals of Internal Medicine editorial supports the March for Science, two different takes on a heart disease study, and more

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April 20, 2017

In order to bring you more of the news you want to read, Right Care Weekly presents articles related to moving our healthcare system toward the right care for all patients.

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If you’re still looking for reasons to join the March for Science this weekend, the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine have got you covered. In their editorial, “Alternative Facts Have No Place in Science,” the authors argue that the “politicization of science, in which parties select the knowledge they are willing to pursue and the data they are willing to promote or denigrate” is a serious threat to our nation’s health, one that doctors should not ignore. The authors describe how the politicization of scientific research on topics like climate change, vaccination, and gun violence can endanger public health. They urge doctors to face these issues head-on by joining the protest. Members of the Right Care Alliance will be marching in cities around the country. We hope to see you all there!

Two articles on the same study reveal how interpretation of data matters just as much as the data. The Minneapolis Heart Foundation analyzed cholesterol and other risk factors for a cohort of 1062 patients who suffered a major heart attack between 2011 and 2014. They found that the majority of the cohort did not have elevated LDL cholesterol levels prior to their heart attacks. The lead author, Michael Miedema, MD, told MPR News that “monitoring cholesterol levels should be just one of many risk factors to consider in assessing the risk of heart disease.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune took a different view entirely, that the “normal” cholesterol levels in heart attack victims indicates the need for more people to take statins. The Tribune quoted Miedema as well. “Even if you have a normal cholesterol level, that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from the medication,” he said.

“If we don’t stand up for our patients, who’s going to do it?” That’s the thought that motivated infectious disease specialist Charles van der Horst, MD, to engage in civil disobedience for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina in 2014. After blocking the door to the NC Senate chamber in protest, Van der Horst and a few others stayed to be arrested. “If our patients get arrested, they would have huge problems,” said van der Horst. “It’s up to the people of power and privilege to do this.” Read our latest Conference Preview blog for an interview with Van der Horst about the lessons he learned advocating for right care from both inside and outside the health care system. And don’t miss his keynote at the Lown Conference!

How much of a doctor’s day is spent on the computer versus talking to patients? In a new Health Affairs study, researchers used time stamps from 31 million electronic health records between 2011 and 2014 to track primary care physicians’ time use patterns. On average, physicians spent 3.08 hours a day on office visits and 3.17 hours on what the authors call “desktop medicine” (see here for an illustrative graph). While electronic medical records can play an important role in improving care quality and patient safety, it’s important to push manufacturers to develop EMRs that don’t disrupt patients’ relationships with their clinicians, and that actually improve clinical efficiency and safety, not just billing and administration.

Why would Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative advocacy group in favor of reducing taxes, run a full-page ad decrying legislation to lower prescription drug prices? For the answer, just follow the money. In response to new legislation to lower drug prices, Big Pharma has started paying “independent” conservative groups to run ads in several newspapers, The Intercept reports. Pharmaceutical companies are also using similar “astro-turf” tactics in supporting several patient groups in fighting legislation in Nevada to lower the cost of diabetes medications. For an in-depth look on the influence of pharma on patient advocacy groups, check out Health Advocacy, Inc., by health activist and scholar Sharon Batt, PhD. Batt tells the story of how Canada’s breast cancer movement changed from a democratic movement to a mouthpiece of the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Announcements

The Lown Institute Conference is only two weeks away! But it’s not too late to register for three days of research presentations, networking, participatory workshops, and keynote speeches. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM. This activity is awarded ANCC credit. See registration page for details.

Get excited for the March for Science this weekend! Join Right Care Alliance members in ten cities across the U.S (Boston, Washington DC, Charlottesville, San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago, St. Louis, St. Paul, Portland ME, and Seattle) to march in defense of science and evidence. See the Facebook page to sign up for the march in your city.

 

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Right Care Weekly is made possible through the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

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