March 23rd, 2020
We have suddenly been thrust into a global pandemic. Seemingly overnight, our lives have changed. Many of us are on lockdown, prohibited from leaving our homes except to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the doctor. We must now maintain “social distance” to prevent infection, staying at least six feet from others.
There were already signs, back in December 2019, of a strange viral disease originating in the filthy live animal markets of China’s Wuhan province. Then it was seen in South Korea, and Japan. Somehow it jumped to Italy, and spread throughout Europe. All the while, from our “distant” perch–despite alarms being sounded by infectious disease and public health experts–our leaders looked on, and did nothing.Read the rest of this entry »
January 26th, 2020
I’d like to start a movement called “Humans for the Democratization of Health and Healing.” The movement will include many stakeholders: patient/consumers, healthcare practitioners, industry, and government. It will question the traditional relationships among all of these entities. And it will demand change from them all–including myself!Read the rest of this entry »
January 6th, 2020
The cultivation of cannabis is a science and an art. As medicine, it can be used for relief of pain and the enhancing of pleasure; to relax and to sleep. It can stimulate the creative mind, and the spiritual one as well.
The Emerald Cup, an annual event held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, is the “Academy Awards” of cannabis. Named for Northern California’s “Emerald Triangle”–the center of the state’s cannabis cultivation industry—it is now in its sixteenth year. Awards are given in a variety of categories: from Best Tinctures, Topicals, and Edibles to Best Marijuana Plant Photography.Read the rest of this entry »
September 28th, 2019
In The Digital Health Revolution, Kevin Pereau describes a new world of medicine: a digitized world. He takes us from electronic health records (EHRs) to new self-monitoring devices that provide continuous feedback about blood pressure, heart rate, and how many steps we take each day.
Knowing the number and type of calories we have taken in, how active we have been (or not), and our blood sugar levels, can be very helpful. This information provides a pathway to prevention, and often reversal, of many of the chronic diseases that plague us today. Eighty per cent of all illnesses we suffer from fall into this category.Read the rest of this entry »
January 17th, 2019
There is a growing canon of work on the opioid epidemic. The best of these books include “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones, “Dopesick” by Beth Macy, and “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari. Each tells the story from a different angle. Together, they describe the confluence of heroin, Oxycontin, and fentanyl, the complicity of Big Pharma, and the failed “war on drugs.”
There is a new book to add to the list: “The United States of Opioids,” by Harry Nelson, JD. As a practicing health care attorney, Harry brings a legal eye—as well as a deep heart of compassion—to this very complex subject.Read the rest of this entry »
September 19th, 2018
We are currently in the midst of the most lethal drug epidemic in our country’s history. One of the shocking things about this crisis is that it has been going on for the past 20 years without showing any signs of letting up. In 2016, overdoses involving opioids killed more than 42,000 people. Of those deaths, 40% were from prescription opioids. (Statistics are still being finalized for 2017.)
Several recent books describe the evolution of this epidemic, each from a slightly different perspective.* I’ll focus on just one of them here.Read the rest of this entry »
August 27th, 2018
Real change is coming to our health insurance system. This is inevitable for the simple reason that the system, as it stands, is not sustainable. Premiums and deductibles keep rising, way beyond the rate of inflation. Drug prices also rise, as do hospital and medical device costs.
In 2010 President Obama pushed through his landmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which enabled millions of previously uninsured people to get health insurance for the first time. But the model was still rooted in the same private insurance system, and dominated by the usual players: Aetna, United Health Care, Cigna and the “Blues”. So there was little reason to expect the inflationary trends to slow down.Read the rest of this entry »
March 26th, 2018
With the recent revelations about the Russian trolling of the 2016 presidential election, during which both Facebook and Twitter were manipulated by a foreign power, we are witnessing the beginning of a national reckoning with social media. A global network that was initially seen as a great gift to humankind is now being reconsidered.
Hailed as a great unifier, and a way to connect people—social media was the force behind the Arab Spring and other revolutionary movements—the broader implications of this network have come crashing down on us. There has even been a good deal of hand wringing among some ex-Facebook executives, who have had second thoughts about what they have created.
Irresistible, the new book by Eric Alter, that describes the effects of social media on our children and the science behind those effects, sheds light on some of the reasons for this soul searching.Read the rest of this entry »
October 19th, 2017
Part of my frustration, as I watch the current health care debate, is realizing that most of those charged with reforming our economy simply do not understand the health care system. This holds true from the House of Representatives up to the Presidency.
The health care sector is one sixth of the US economy. Those making decisions need to be educated about how this behemoth works. What are the cost drivers? Where are the inefficiencies? What are the relationships between interest groups—such as the pharmaceutical, medical device, hospital and insurance lobbies—and legislators in Washington, DC? Read the rest of this entry »
August 2nd, 2017
The Republican Congress has been doing its best to bring down the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and replace it with the cruel joke that would be known as “Trumpcare.” Despite the fact that only 17% of the public supports the Republican proposals, the GOP is still trying to burn the ACA to the ground.
It is in this environment that Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal’s new book–An American Sickness–has arrived. The timing could not be better!Read the rest of this entry »