Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Drive-by blogging

Another busy day (I had a meeting all morning that went an hour over time, three papers to write, two students needing recommendations, another student needing a paper critiqued, two proposals to write -- you get the idea). Anyway, a couple of links to commend to your attention.

Sense about Science is one of those most excellent UK projects that the U.S. is just too good for. They do their best to make scientific issues of public interest and of relevance to public controversies accessible. For example, here's their backgrounder on population screening for cancer and other diseases. If you want a reasonably in-depth but also accessible primer on some of the issues I often discuss here, this is a great resource.

Then of course there is the U.S. health care system, "The Greatest In All The World," sayeth the GOP, and if you don't agree you must look French and wear treasonous Birckenstocks.

Why then, when the Commonwealth Fund (Commonwealth, eh? Sounds socialistic to me) surveys primary care physicians in 11 countries, the U.S. comes in last on:

* Electronic health information capacity (yep, we're the lowest tech around);
* After-hours access to care without going to the ER;
* Percentage of patients who have difficulty paying for medications;
* Amount of time doctors spend trying to get access to treatment because patients aren't covered for it.

The U.S. also ranks low, though not last, on performance incentives, use of patient-centered chronic care models, and other innovations to make medical care more efficient, effective, and better at meeting people's needs and preventing serious consequences of chronic disease. It's the same old story -- we're still spending the most, and getting the least. We're losers. We're the pits. And we seem to be proud of it.

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