Notes & Links: July 25, 2013

I’m a Patient and I Read Like a Seventh Grader: This is Your Problem

Chen Sirkis writing on HealthWorks Collective makes the case for a collective need for content focused on the below average reader. Use videos, pictures, and collateral material aimed at a 15 year old. JAMA Internal Medicine published a study on readability. 

The research determined that such materials often are too complex for their intended audience. The main reason is that the average American adult reads at approximately a seventh- to- eighth-grade level.

We can do better with this audience since they are the key to driving durable improvements in outcomes. Currently we are collectively speaking in an echo chamber to ourselves. Additionally I wonder if this audience is more at risk when visiting sites that do not speak to evidence based medicine or proven science. Will they make decisions based on bad information? 

Social Media Gets Strep Throat Epidemic Under Control

Michael Sherman writing on HealthWorks Collective share an article from Clinical Infectious Diseases how 18 of 63 party goers came down with strep throat. 

After seeing a large number of posts on Facebook related to strep throat, one parent alerted the Minnesota health department that this wasn’t just a coincidence. The department then conducted phone interviews with attendees and their family members and analyzed DNA from strep bacteria samples.

I hope we see more studies show social media being part of improved identification of disease and its effect on specific populations. 

Identifying “good” and “bad” hospitals

The Incidental Economist takes a look at a new paper from JAMA Internal Medicine “Mortality for Publicly Reported Conditions Overall Hospital Mortality Rates“. The study looks at reportable data for hospital mortality rates indicate overall hospital performance. IE does a great job at reviewing this study. 

A hospital’s 30-day mortality rates for Medicare’s 3 publicly reported conditions—acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia—were correlated with overall hospital mortality rates, even in clinically dissimilar fields. Hospitals in the top quartile of performance on the publicly reported mortality rates had greater than 5-fold higher odds of being top performers for a combined metric across 19 common medical and surgical conditions, translating into absolute overall mortality rates that were 3.6% lower for the top performers than for the poor performers. Finally, performance on the publicly reported conditions far outperformed 2 other widely used markers of quality: size and teaching status. […]

Perhaps the crap load of data we are collecting and sharing will help patients make better healthcare decisions that improves overall outcomes. The real issue will be how well we teach patients to find and appraise this data and what it means especially in light of the article on patient reading skills. We got our work cut out for us.

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