Sunday, August 2, 2015

How to die - and how not to - according to 3 physicians

A couple of connected posts hit my feeds on consecutive days ... the kind that really force a reaction. Nobody likes to think about dying. We in the US seem to have a particularly difficult time thinking about death, talking about death - and especially about planning for death.

Those who know me will be aware that I'm a big fan of Dr. Zubin Damania - an internist from Las Vegas who's better known as ZDoggMD. If you haven't checked out his growing library of parody videos, you really must. As a scientist, public health expert and comedian his work is truly genius (My favorites are his Dr. House of Cards videos). But ZDogg blew my mind a little bit this week with his latest video ... because it wasn't brilliantly funny. It was just brilliant.

Ain't the Way to Die sums up far too many patients' end-of-life experiences. The scenario he's talking about here is one in which everybody loses. And it's made me think hard about updating my own advanced directive. [Note: For more on advanced directives & how to talk to your family about them, please refer to Dr. Christian Sinclair's post 20 Ways to Discuss Advance Care Planning With Your Family Over The Holiday. Dr. Sinclair is a Hospice and Palliative Medicine specialist who's done an enormous amount of great work to raise awareness on this topic]

ZDogg's video also inspired a simple but powerful share on the top medical blog in the world, This is the epic rap video that will change how you feel about dying (which, incidentally, was among the most-shared posts by US doctors on the day of its release).

But it also inspired an impassioned post from one of my favorite physician-writers, Dr. John Mandrola of Louisville, KY. Dr. Mandrola has written on his own blog for years, but now has become one of the leading physician bloggers in the world with his Trials and Fibrillations blog on Friday's post, Avoiding a bad death requires preparation, took the subject to a new level. It's my hope that more and more people will see these pleas from caring and thoughtful physicians and take action themselves. These docs have seen the consequences of failure to plan more than they can stand - they know what they're talking about!

The fact that Dr. Mandrola's post showed up in my personal facebook feed, having been shared by a friend, is a good sign that people ARE paying attention. Talk to your family about your advanced directive now!!

And if you've not already connected/subscribed to Drs. Damania, Sinclair and Mandrola, please do!

Zubin Damania, MD (Blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube)
Christian Sinclair, MD (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
John Mandrola, MD (Blog, Twitter, Facebook, TheHeart.Org Blog)

UPDATE: This post was updated to correct Dr. Damania's medical specialty from Family Medicine to Internal Medicine. Gm

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's a global online health ecosystem?

Everyone who spends much time with me is a little sick of the "global health ecosystem" by now, because I've been obsessed with it for the last 3 months. For the rest of the world, though, it's a pretty new concept. In a nutshell: We've been studying physicians' online conversations for years now. We've learned a massive amount about what kinds of docs are using social media, why, and what they're talking about. And all of that is amazing. But it pales in comparison to being able to understand how ALL the stakeholders in healthcare are interacting online. So now, instead of just indexing the world's doctors (149 countries and counting), we're also indexing the online presence (or "digital footprint" as we like to call it) of patients, hospitals, advocacy organizations, government organizations, healthcare companies, reporters, media outlets, researchers and research institutions, etc. If you want to see a little more, check out this 5 minute video of my presentation from the Techonomy Bio conference in Mountain View (March 2015).

And if you want to get the up-to-the-minute scoop on the global online health ecosystem, you can always get it at our web site: