“Punytive” damages: the biggest corporate fines ever

Since I’ve discovered the website called Information is Beautiful, I’m afraid that all my available free time for at least the next year or so will be consumed by pouring over this fascinating time-sucker of a site. The book of the same name has been published across the world in nine languages. All of it was conceived and designed by David McCandless, a London-based author, information designer and data journalist. As he explains:

“I’m into anything strange and interesting. A passion of mine is visualizing information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions – all with the minimum of words. Love pie – hate pie-charts.”   Continue reading

An open letter to mobile health app developers and their funders

UPDATE:  This guest post by the late Dr. Jessie Gruman was originally published on the Center for Advancing Health’s Prepared Patient blog in February, 2013. CFAH was founded by Jessie, the author of AfterShock, a book that helps patients navigate their way through the health care system following a serious or life-threatening diagnosis.

As a patient, writer and respected advocate, she sent this open letter to the tech hypemeisters of Silicon Valley.

I hope they’re paying attention.

◊    ◊     ◊  Continue reading

Branded content: advertising dressed up in a thin disguise?

Pity the poor marketer.  As reported in Forbes earlier this year, a lot of us simply do not trust advertising.  For example, a study called ‘Does It Really Ad Up’ from Lab 42, a Chicago-based research firm, revealed:

  • 76% of respondents said ads in general were either “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated”
  • 87% think half or more cleaning ads are photoshopped
  • 96% think half or more weight loss ads are photoshopped
  • 81% feel beauty ads are exaggerated (although – alarmingly! – 77% of men believe beauty ads are “very accurate”)

And that pervasive sense of mistrust (except for those guys watching beauty ads) helps to explain why industry has jumped all over the advertising concept called “branded content”Continue reading

The author of this post, Marie Ennis-O’Connor, is a respected patient advocate, speaker, blogger, PR consultant and health activist from Ireland. This was originally published on her site, Health Care Social Media Monitor, one of Healthline’s Top Health Blogs for 2012.

Health Care Social Media

It has been fascinating to watch a discussion take place on social media centering on the pertinent issue of whether patient engagement is a concept which is truly being embraced or is mere tokenism.

The debate started with the announcement of a Canadian Patient Experience Summit:

Connect with other healthcare leaders at the NATIONAL FORUM ON PATIENT EXPERIENCE and help shape the future of patient centred care in Canada.

This unprecedented event provides the perfect platform for exchanging ideas and sharing solutions. The conference is dedicated to addressing the central issues and successful strategies for implementing patient centred care.

However, one vital ingredient from the conference appears to be missing:

The Patient!

Colleen Young asks the obvious question of the organizers: ” Do you know about the patient motto “nothing for us without us”. More and more health conferences (med2.0, medX, Doctors2.0) are including patients by setting up special funds…

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“Heads they win, tails we lose”: the corruption of science

It’s 2003. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry accepts a $1 million donation from Coca-Cola. That same year, the group announces  that scientific evidence is certainly not clear on the exact role that soft drinks play in terms of children’s oral disease.”  This statement, according to a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, directly contradicts the AAPD’s previous stance: Consumption of sugars in any beverage can be a significant factor that contributes to the initiation and progression of dental caries.”

Yes, I guess it could be purely coincidental that the AAPD decided to contradict what every parent with even a tiny shred of common sense already knows – at the very same time they’ve just inked the $1 million Coca-Cola deal.

But really? Seriously?  Continue reading

How other doctors (but not you, of course) are influenced by Big Pharma

The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars each year on handing out free samples of their expensive brand name drugs to physicians, who in turn hand them out to their patients.  As I’ve written about here and here, the obvious marketing truth is that no company would be doing this unless the strategy resulted in a significant increase in sales of those drugs.  When you’re looking at a global market for pharmaceuticals expected to top $1.1 trillion by next year, that’s a substantial incentive to keep up this practice. Still, very few physicians believe that doctors accepting billions of dollars in free drug samples annually has the slightest bit of influence on the way they practice medicine. Except, of course, when it’s those other docs out there who are accepting the freebies.  Continue reading