News and Views

Adherence to medical treatment is not always an easy task. And while the Holy Grail leading to high adherence rates has yet to be found, financial incentives and the ubiquitous smartphones are frequently in the running as solutions. In this week JAMA Internal Medicine, Medication Reminders to Improve Outcomes After Myocardial Infarction should give us pause in this quest.

In the study, 1509 patients with a diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction taking at least two of four standard medications for patients with this diagnosis were randomized to the treatment arm or control. The treatment included financial incentives, electronic pill bottles and social support aimed at increasing...

U.S. News and World Report recently disclosed their Best Children’s Hospitals 2017-2018 annual rankings. Do children’s hospitals even matter? Is an academic center, community or other facility good enough?

In general, I advise not to swoon over institutions as they are only as strong as their weakest link. Being an admitted patient or having a loved one hospitalized —in even the most optimal of circumstances— warrants a family or otherwise invested advocate at the bedside throughout the stay. Not merely to be an effective communicator to ensure no avoidable medical errors arise, but also to provide support and be the patient’s...

In the simple marketplace, in Union Square’s Greenmarket, for example, you can look at the produce and may a reasonable judgment regarding its quality; the veracity of the sellers’ claims, organic or free-range are a given. But in more complex markets, like healthcare information is more imbalanced. Physicians know more, not just about medical care but about the more elusive character of quality. Patients have readily observed measures, network participation, a well-curated web presence, word of mouth recommendations from both their family and friends and most importantly their doctor. Quality has many parameters, how many patients have their cholesterol or HgA1c checked, how long is the wait in the office, and so on; but determining quality is less observable it is just not one thing...

Usain Bolt is the world's fastest man. But does that also mean that compared to all other competitive runners on Earth he has the best body mechanics?

Assumptions about bodily efficiency and how physical output is maximized would lead us to say, yes. The Jamaican sprinter and multiple Olympic Gold medalist has spent nearly a decade on the world stage repeatedly blazing past his competitors. And by posting the fastest recorded time in human history in 2009 – a lightning-quick 100-meter dash in 9.58 seconds – that, we might plausibly reason and would strongly suggest, as the fastest person to have ever lived his lower body operates in perfect (or near-perfect)...

Okay, most people don't want the words feces and food uttered in the same sentence. So, with just-released reports from a BBC investigation revealing that ice from three of the largest coffee companies in the United Kingdom was contaminated with fecal matter (aka stool), expect a little panic to ensue.

BBC's Watchdog group identified a diversity of bacteria concentrations in iced beverages from Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero. Tables, trays and high chairs were also sampled at 30 branches. The story further claims the companies are initiating their own investigations and updating ice-handling guidelines. 

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At this point, cyber attacks on politics have transcending the attacks on ordinary industries, like the movies or healthcare companies. But remember, in the days before our concerns about ‘actor states’?

Millions of Anthem Customers Targeted in Cyberattack

Anthem, a major U.S. health insurer, suffers massive hack

And of course, there is this consolation headline

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Whether they like to admit it or not, scientists want to have a broad impact on society. Sure, recognition from other academics is nice, but most scientists would prefer to see their research splashed across the front pages of the New York Times and BBC News. How does one achieve that?

Obviously, it helps to have compelling research. As a general rule, the public thinks that aliens and dinosaurs are inherently more interesting than the sex lives of slugs. But new data suggests another important factor: Research papers should be given simple titles*.

Two European scientists examined the titles of 108 medical and health science papers that were ranked in the Altmetric Top 100 from 2013 to 2015. (...

This past week, a story went viral that calls into question the media's ability to separate fact from fiction, even when handed a story that is obviously not true.

The story centered around a married couple, Akahi Ricardo and Camila Castello, who define themselves as "breatharian." They claim to not need food and water because they possess the ability to live solely off the energy of the universe with comments that this is "not possible when you don't have the state of mind. When your mind doesn't believe it's possible, it won't be possible."

What they failed to mention in the story is that they also eat. They must - there is simply no way around it. Not eating food leads to death - breatharian state of mind or not. It doesn't take a physician, scientist, nutritionist or...

The Breakthrough Dialogue is an annual meeting of a politically diverse group of scientists, professors, journalists, think-tankers, and others who discuss technological solutions to environmental and social problems*. Referring to themselves as "ecomodernists," they represent everything environmentalism should be: pro-science, pro-technology, pro-human, and bipartisan.

One of the featured speakers at this year's Dialogue was the preeminent Harvard scientist Steven Pinker. He is an optimist who believes that, in general, the world is getting better. (Sadly, only 6% of Americans agree with him.) Dr. Pinker concluded his talk with the following insight:

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For those who live in a specific corridor between the Pacific Northwest and the Atlantic Southeast, get set to experience a breathtaking celestial event that hasn't occurred in nearly a century.

That's when night will interrupt day for a couple minutes.

In less than two months time, the entire continental United States will witness a total eclipse of the sun, the first time that will happen in 99 years, according to a NASA officials in public statements released yesterday. The event will take place on August 21, when those living in a 70-mile-wide band between Oregon and South Carolina will be able to watch the moon completely block out the sun (adjacent graphic courtesy of NASA) while providing them a rare, naked-eye glimpse of the...