Category Archives: Healthcare

The Fall of the Deal-Maker

By Kenneth T. Walsh – America’s polarization and political dysfunction have become structural, built into the system as never before. President Donald Trump didn’t create the situation in which the country finds itself, increasingly divided into irreconcilable camps, but Trump is intensifying the hard feelings all around. And things are getting worse.

Trump has suffered a huge blow to his reputation as a deal-maker.

The billionaire real-estate developer pledged during the campaign to use his deal-making skills to outsmart and overpower the power structure in Washington and force the elites bend to his will. It isn’t happening. And he has little of consequence to show legislatively for his first six months in office, aside from winning Senate confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

One of Trump’s problems is that he can’t keep from tripping over himself. When things seem to be going his way, he unleashes angry and off-message comments on Twitter, and he appears to be a bully, an undisciplined braggart and a nasty politician who strikes many as unlikable.

Washington insiders generally say he would be better off staying on message – talking about his steps to improve the economy, cut regulations, stimulate the business sector, reduce the size and cost of government, and attack the status quo in Washington. more> https://goo.gl/njA1P1

Republicans Aren’t Turning on Trump—They’re Turning on Each Other

By Molly Ball – The House is mad at the Senate. The Senate is mad at the House. Various factions in the House and Senate are mad at each other or mad at their leaders.

Everyone is always mad at the Freedom Caucus. Divisions between Republican factions are nothing new; nor is friction between the House and Senate. In an oft-repeated fable, a new Republican member of Congress, eager to go after the “enemy” Democrats, is corrected by an old bull: “The Democrats are the opposition,” he says. “The Senate is the enemy.”

Still, some wonder whether the current sniping isn’t better directed to Pennsylvania Avenue, where the scandal-mired president creates new headaches with every passing day.

A House Republican staffer described the fractious mood on Capitol Hill as “Republican-on-Republican violence.” As for why lawmakers don’t train their ire on the real root of their problems, the staffer shrugged: “Maybe it’s just easier to attack people without 13 million Twitter followers.” more> https://goo.gl/UEe8ja

Updates from GE

Looking For The Unknown: Artificial Intelligence Is Seeking Cancer Patterns That Have Eluded Humans
By Maggie Sieger – The use of AI in healthcare, which was one of the topics discussed at GE’s recent Minds + Machines conference in Berlin, is a fast-growing field. Scientists are using so-called “deep learning networks,” which weave together hundreds, if not thousands, of data points and process this data with multiple algorithms simultaneously, mimicking the human brain.

When crossing the street, pedestrians take into account dozens of factors, including the number and speed of approaching cars, the condition of the pavement, fellow travelers and even the shoes they are wearing or what they are carrying. Deep learning has the potential to do the same thing – but with even more data points and at speeds unmatched by humans.

They are feeding millions of data points into the cloud, including decades of colorectal data collected by national registries, thousands of MRIs and CT scans, gene panels and biomarkers. The software then looks for patterns, connections and correlations with a speed and detail unmatched by humans.

As AI becomes a more common tool in healthcare, medical schools will have to change how they train physicians to make sure they have the new capabilities, skill sets and methodologies to use AI effectively, more> https://goo.gl/2kME5a

Updates from GE

Flesh Memory: This Company Uploaded The Heart Into The Cloud
By Tomas Kellner – Beckers is the CEO of Arterys, a company using deep learning and artificial intelligence to process data generated by medical imaging machines. Its cloud-based algorithms can show doctors blood flow details that were once impossible to see. “We want to enable data-driven medicine,” Beckers says.

“The goal is to build an intelligent platform that helps physicians diagnose ailments and prescribe the most effective treatment. Cloud computing and artificial intelligence have this transformative power.”

With conventional technology, it takes about an hour to obtain cardiac MRI images, Beckers says, and patients frequently have to hold their breath for up to 20 seconds during a scan. “This can be a major obstacle for imaging small children or patients with severe heart problems,” he says. But with advancements in GE’s MRI scanners, the scanning time can be less than 10 minutes and the patient can breathe normally, making MRI a quicker and a more comfortable process.

Within minutes of acquiring a 4D flow MRI scan, physicians can evaluate data in seven dimensions — three in space, one in time, and three in velocity direction — and see actual blood flow in the heart as a 3D image. “Arterys provides the most comprehensive view of blood flow and heart function,” Beckers says. more> https://goo.gl/5FyrYW

Republicans are victims of a discredited economic ideology

By Isabel V. Sawhill – Republicans have become trapped in their own rhetoric, crafted during years of being in opposition. As Ross Douthat noted in a recent New York Times column, drawing on new analysis in a report by Lee Drutman, that rhetoric is now well to the right of the beliefs held by the broader Republican electorate.

Republican leaders have failed to recognize the fact that the economic views of those who voted Republican in 2016 “lean only slightly to the right.”

Republicans could have used the Trump election to effect a political realignment—one that would have combined a more moderate set of economic policies than the Republican elite currently supports with a more moderate set of cultural positions than those espoused by leading Democrats.

Instead, the Republican elites are now out-of-step with their followers and could pay a big political price if they continue down their current path. more> https://goo.gl/AXQ7x3

Agencies Could Learn a Lot From Tennessee’s Shift to Pay for Performance

By Howard Risher – Federal agencies will certainly not be the first public employer to switch to pay for performance. Among the earliest were Florida in 1968 and Wisconsin and Utah in 1969. Over the next four decades, reports show another 20 states adopted the policy although almost half cover less than 10 percent of the workforce. Unfortunately, their experience has not been documented or assessed recently.

The most recent may be Tennessee, and by all standards it’s demonstrated one of most successful transitions. The statute Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act was signed in April 2012, although significantly the first payouts didn’t occur until 2016.

The key to the state’s success is the decision to rely on S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time sensitive) performance goal setting. The requirement that performance plans be based on individual goals that meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria ensured four things:

  1. It provided an intuitive linkage to higher level agency goals;
  2. facilitated supervisor/subordinate discussions;
  3. enabled progress assessments throughout the year; and
  4. provided a verifiable basis for year-end reviews.

For government, a decided advantage is that it allows managers and supervisors to empower their people and hold them accountable. When employees are focused on achieving specific goals, the progress can be tracked throughout the year and supervisors can shift to monitoring and coaching. more> https://goo.gl/jKfRqW

Updates from Georgia Tech

Researchers Create 3-D Printed Tensegrity Objects Capable of Dramatic Shape Change
By Ke Liu, Jiangtao Wu, Glaucio H. Paulino, and H. Jerry Qi – A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a way to use 3-D printers to create objects capable of expanding dramatically that could someday be used in applications ranging from space missions to biomedical devices.

The new objects use tensegrity, a structural system of floating rods in compression and cables in continuous tension. The researchers fabricated the struts from shape memory polymers that unfold when heated.

“Tensegrity structures are extremely lightweight while also being very strong,” said Glaucio Paulino, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “That’s the reason there’s a heavy amount of interest right now in researching the use of tensegrity structures for outer space exploration. The goal is to find a way to deploy a large object that initially takes up little space.” more> https://goo.gl/bVJHjf

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The future is emotional

By Livia Gershon – The truth is, only a tiny percentage of people in the post-industrial world will ever end up working in software engineering, biotechnology or advanced manufacturing. Just as the behemoth machines of the industrial revolution made physical strength less necessary for humans, the information revolution frees us to complement, rather than compete with, the technical competence of computers.

Many of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.

Back in 1983, the sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild coined the term ‘emotional labor’ to describe the processes involved in managing the emotional demands of work. She explored the techniques that flight attendants used to maintain the friendly demeanors their airline demanded in the face of abusive customers: taking deep breaths, silently reminding themselves to stay cool, or building empathy for the nasty passenger.

A growing real-world demand for workers with empathy and a talent for making other people feel at ease requires a serious shift in perspective. It means moving away from our singular focus on academic performance as the road to success. It means giving more respect, and better pay, to workers too often generically dismissed as ‘unskilled labor’. And, it means valuing skills more often found among working-class women than highly educated men. more> https://goo.gl/hghbQM

Why Single-Payer Health Care Could Work in California

By Natalie Shure – This groundswell of public enthusiasm has given rise to multiple initiatives to construct single-payer systems at the state-level, in places where local politics are more amenable to leftward reform than Washington’s.

California’s bill advanced on the heels of a similar one in May that made it through the New York Assembly. Last week, Nevada’s legislature voted to allow anyone to buy into Medicaid coverage—a move that would effectually create a so-called “public option” that some argue could be a gateway toward single-payer.

The overwhelming majority of proponents of state-level single-payer cite a unified national program as their endgame, and state-based overhauls may indeed by the most feasible route there.

In many ways, California seems better poised for a single-payer coup than any other state. A Democratic supermajority controls both houses of the California legislature, which has already passed similar bills in 2006 and 2008 (albeit arguably underdeveloped ones, which were subsequently vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger). more> https://goo.gl/S4PKsc

Updates from Georgia Tech

Decades of Data on World’s Oceans Reveal a Troubling Oxygen Decline
By Takamitsu Ito, Shoshiro Minobe, Matthew C. Long and Curtis Deutsch – A new analysis of decades of data on oceans across the globe has revealed that the amount of dissolved oxygen contained in the water – an important measure of ocean health – has been declining for more than 20 years.

The majority of the oxygen in the ocean is absorbed from the atmosphere at the surface or created by photosynthesizing phytoplankton. Ocean currents then mix that more highly oxygenated water with subsurface water. But rising ocean water temperatures near the surface have made it more buoyant and harder for the warmer surface waters to mix downward with the cooler subsurface waters. Melting polar ice has added more freshwater to the ocean surface – another factor that hampers the natural mixing and leads to increased ocean more> stratification.

Falling oxygen levels in water have the potential to impact the habitat of marine organisms worldwide and in recent years led to more frequent “hypoxic events” that killed or displaced populations of fish, crabs and many other organisms. more> https://goo.gl/3F17TB

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