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William Cayley: What are the (hidden) costs?

26 Feb, 15 | by BMJ

bill_cayley_2“The economics of education are changed dramatically by delivering online courses to large numbers, making expensive education much cheaper.” That line in Richard Smith’s blog post describing a proposed “global university” for healthcare workers caught my attention—especially since my own local statewide university system, of which I am an employee as a medical school faculty member, is facing a proposed $300 million budget cut over the next two years. more…

David Kerr: Doctor Google versus the NHS

12 Feb, 15 | by BMJ

david_kerrApparently one in 20 searches on Google are for health related topics. At the moment typing in a medical condition (such as diabetes) on Google produces links to reputable sites and online patient forums.

However, beyond the first page of a Google search, the quality and accuracy of the listed domains becomes more questionable, with searchers running the risk of encountering various snake oil salesmen, quacks, and purveyors of alternative therapies. Furthermore, trying to find out the potential implications of common symptoms can provoke a wave of neurosis, with Googlers believing that their runny nose, cough, or headache are invariably the first symptoms of some rare and lethal condition. more…

Samir Dawlatly: Healthcare in 2065

4 Feb, 15 | by BMJ

I looked down at my left leg. It had been aching for a day or two. Thanks to the laser eye surgery that I had had the previous month, I could see that the left calf was definitely more swollen than the right. I sat back in my chair and reminisced.

Back when I was a GP, in the early part of the 21st century, we would often be confronted with patients with swollen legs. The diagnosis that we worried about was deep vein thrombosis. I could even remember when it was called “economy class syndrome,” owing to one of the risk factors being the immobility and dehydration experienced on long haul flights. more…

Kate Adlington: Mitochondrial donation—the person at the centre of “three person IVF”

4 Feb, 15 | by BMJ

kate_adlington_picA vote was held yesterday in the House of Commons to decide whether to allow mitochondrial donation to be used in clinical practice. The vote marked the culmination of a decade of research and consultation into the science and ethics of so called “three person IVF”—a modified IVF technique proposed to prevent transmission of mitochondrial disease by combining the DNA of two parents with the healthy mitochondria of a donor woman. more…

James Buchanan: Genomics, the data revolution, and health economics—the 2015 Astellas Innovation Debate

2 Feb, 15 | by BMJ

James BuchananIt’s early days, but 2015 is already shaping up to be another exciting year for researchers in genomics. In his State of the Union address last month, Barack Obama launched a new $215m Precision Medicine Initiative, which aims to collect genomic sequencing data for one million individuals. In the UK, we’re slightly further down this road: the pilot phase of the 100 000 Genomes Project is coming to an end, and full scale recruitment of patient samples begins today (2 February). more…

Jeffrey Aronson: When I use a word . . . Blogging on

30 Jan, 15 | by BMJ

jeffrey_aronsonWhat links blogs to logs (wooden ones)?

The Sailor’s Word Book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms (1867), compiled by Admiral W[illiam] H[enry] Smyth and revised for publication by Vice Admiral Sir E[dward] Belcher, gives the answer:

“LOG-BOARD. Two boards shutting together like a book, and divided into several columns, in which to record, through the hours of the day and night, the direction of the wind and the course of the ship, with all the material occurrences, together with the latitude by observation. From this table the officers work the ship’s way, and compile their journals. The whole being written by the mate of the watch with chalk, is rubbed out every day at noon.” more…

David Kerr: Rise of the medical selfie

22 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

david_kerrAccording to Twitter, 2014 was the year of the selfie. The Oxford English dictionary defines a selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.” Selfies began only a few years ago, but have reached epidemic and global proportions—and a new industry has developed with the creation of selfie sticks to support the phenomenon. more…

Helen Morant: How should doctors look at patients?

17 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

helen_morantWhen health professionals talk about patient engagement, we express ideas of listening to patients’ voices, understanding their priorities, and changing our treatment models and priorities to focus on theirs. We should treat (in both senses of the word) patients more like people and less like objects we control. We should stop dehumanising patients.

I was challenged to think about how we do just that as I listened to this podcast—it’s worth a listen all the way through. more…

Joyce Lee: Social media, Google, and the internet are medical therapy

2 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

joyce lee largeI have to thank my colleague @SusannahFox for alerting me to this Washington Post article—about a campaign by the government in Belgium to get people to stop Googling their symptoms.

Check out the video that was made (below). In it the narrator states: “I have a deadly disease and I am going to die in six weeks. Or at least, that’s what I thought when I used Google to diagnose my twitching eyelid. I’m not the only one. Instead of consulting a doctor, 75% of the population uses Google to diagnose their symptoms, and on the internet, anyone can be a doctor. Most cures you’ll find online only make things worse. The Flemish government commissioned us to prevent people from making this mistake.” more…

Sarah Welsh: Egg freezing—does this “insurance policy” offer false hope?

14 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

sarah welshEgg freezing is an up and coming trend among hopeful future mothers—hailed as “the new 30th birthday present for British women,” in a recent Telegraph article.

Egg freezing allows women with medical and social reasons to delay having a baby. It may be seen as an “insurance policy” for women who are not in a relationship or who are not ready to have a baby for any other reason. They may freeze their young healthy eggs in order to wait until they are in a loving relationship or ready to start a family. It can help take away the urgency some women feel to find a man for procreation only, allowing them to concentrate on their education or career first. more…

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