A health professional turns an experienced eye toward sensible, ground-level actions to make medical care better and cheaper.

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THE LONG FIX

SOLVING AMERICA'S HEALTH CARE CRISIS WITH STRATEGIES THAT WORK FOR EVERYONE

Physician, scientist, and health care administrator Lee charts a new and improved system that lowers costs while providing more efficient service.

Lee, president of Health Platforms at Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), is appalled by the current state of health care in the U.S., where spending is "rapidly approaching $4 trillion per year," far more than in countries that provide universal coverage—and our results are worse. In a nation in which 10% of citizens don’t have or can’t afford health insurance (and millions are underinsured), the landscape is dire: We waste 30 cents of every dollar spent on health care, 20% of medical care is unnecessary, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death, we forego preventative care, and we push high-cost, branded drugs instead of generics. Although Lee sometimes drifts into insurance-speak—"the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement pilot project"—she mostly presents sensible options: "Pay for results instead of action" (collaring costs, predicating fees for results); set expectations of zero tolerance for serious medical errors; giant providers (such as Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration) should negotiate prices; take cues from successful "employer-driven and government-run health systems"; and understand that it will take time to build "on the vital roles that everyone needs to play.” Lee believes that the fee-for-service models undercut doctors’ intrinsic motivations—such as purpose and mastery—and that it is crucial for patients to become fully engaged in their health care. Of particular value are the action plans that conclude each chapter, which contain countless helpful suggestions for patients, consumers, physicians, health care professionals, health care payers, and policymakers. These include tapping into big data (with buffers for privacy), a 10-point plan for employers, and a health system that learns from its results and acts on them.

A health professional turns an experienced eye toward sensible, ground-level actions to make medical care better and cheaper.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00667-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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