New Year, New Challenges

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in My Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

New Year, New Challenges

PREDICTIONS 2015Happy New Year from SciBridge Media, Inc! I’ve been busy working on a range of stories and projects and wanted to check in and offer some predictions for the coming year.


Last Fall, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa caught the public’s attention as healthcare and aid workers returned home with Ebola infections and tested our healthcare system’s preparedness. In the heat of the epidemic, I wrote about whether the delay in appointing a new surgeon general may have hampered our national public health communication efforts. Since then, I’ve been hearing mostly good news about the Ebola containment efforts in Africa, though there is certainly much work still to do to end the epidemic. In mid-December, Dr. Vivek Murtha was appointed the new surgeon general, despite previous opposition about his support for gun control and health care reform. Most observers say Dr. Murtha is eminently qualified for the job and I look forward to seeing the direction he takes. Some of the nation’s best surgeon general’s have been activists drawing the nation’s attention to pressing public health issues. I would expect to hear more from him on Ebola soon.


Healthcare spending will remain a hot topic in 2015. Last year, I wrote about how the healthcare spending habits of doctors are influenced by both the norms in the region where they trained and the norms in their practice area. I also covered the RSNA Meeting here in Chicago for Diagnostic Imaging, where radiologists were a buzz about the need to maximize the value of the care they provide to remain relevant. In a keynote talk, Dr. David C. Levin, MD, professor emeritus at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, challenged (free registration required) radiologists to maximize the value of the care they provide to patients and their referring physicians, even if that means sacrificing some income by providing unreimbursed services. I think were going to hear a lot more about maximizing value in healthcare across specialties this year. My hope is that specialties and policy makers will invite patients and the public into these discussions about value in healthcare. Ultimately, it is patient and taxpayer dollars we are trying to get the most value from.


Speaking of smart use of public and private funds, I also profiled a program in Michigan that is working to prevent homelessness by helping individuals and families who have fallen behind on rent to catch up. The program is a public-philanthropy partnership based on the premise that it is more cost-effective and humane to prevent a family from becoming homeless than it is to try to get them back into housing.  For many, an eviction means more than just losing a home, it also may mean losing all their belongings and being displaced from their community or school district. Local philanthropies work with the state and the court system to divert individuals who are in jeopardy of eviction into the program. For a few hundred or thousand dollars, the program can save the thousands it would cost to re-home a homeless family. I look forward to seeing more such public-philanthropy partnerships this year as both governments and philanthropies try to get the most impact out of limited dollars.





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