You'll hardly believe these 6 nerdy ideas! aka Buzzfeed's 'Misconceptions about Screening'

Yes, it's true, even the popular 'internet news media company' Buzzfeed is hosting an article highlighting the issues that arise with the current practice of disease screening. Known for horribly-titled and irrelevant news-utainment, with headlines like "The 21 Erotic Moments From The First Time You’re In A Bulk Barn," the site does have over 200 million viewers monthly. They must be doing something right, and hopefully this Buzzfeed Community post, Misconceptions about Screening, will be a viral hit, just like "These American Tourists Were Delightfully Puzzled By Awesome Canadian Road Signs."

In the post, Sense about Science, a UK-based organization that 'equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion,' wrote:

There’s a huge amount of discussion about screening programmes from celebrities, campaigners and emotive media case studies. Unfortunately, a lot of this discussion is filled with misconceptions, misinformation and unrealistic expectations of what screening programmes are and what they can deliver. This has real lasting implications for patients and healthcare professionals. This needs to stop.

They go on to review 6 key issues with broad-based screening campaigns, highlighting the grey areas in screening test results, the costs and harms of these tests, the different role they play as compared with diagnostic tests for symptomatic individuals, and the idea that screening must be employed only for the right population and the right diseases.

One of the Making Sense of Science infographics on the topic of screening.

One of the Making Sense of Science infographics on the topic of screening.


Much of the culture of screening has been created by the medical industry and by health care practitioners, but the celebrity 'experts' have not helped. This article reminds Buzzfeed readers, many of whom follow celebrity news, to think twice about listening to this unscreened advice.

Read Making Sense of Science's 'MAKING SENSE OF SCREENING: A guide to weighing up the benefits and harms.' Other similar tools can be found in the health care provider section, the patient section, and the 'hands-on' section (mostly tools for shared decision-making) on this site.



Health Care Social Media #hcsm - Using it for advocacy & Prezi slides

I have used social media extensively to advance my advocacy for the Less is More Medicine movement. This includes blogging here to share the latest research and opinions, tweeting @LessIsMoreMed to spread the word, participating in related discussion groups (eg. Teaching Value in HealthCare on Google+), and using LinkedIn to connect with colleagues in my province who are also engaged in health care transformation. I also listen to podcasts (like the BS Medicine Podcast) to keep up to date on the latest studies relevant to this area and prescribe YouTube videos (like those of Dr Mike Evans) to patients to help them join me in shared decision-making or to help them self-manage using less harmful and costly measures.

Curious about how to use Social Media in your professional existence as a health care provider?

Here is the brief talk I gave to the UBC CPD Practice Survival Skills audience in Vancouver, Jun 13, 2015.

There is also an accompanying handout which highlights some of the key resources that will help guide you to (safely) using HCSM professionally.

The talk and handout present a fairly superficial overview of how one might use social media to advance a clinical or advocacy agenda, but hopefully it gives you a taste of how you might use this technology meaningfully. Or, it might encourage you to not use it at all, which is also a valid choice!

For me, #hcsm has been the foundation for this Less Is More work. It is the means by which I can make a big splash with no budget (other than my own investment of 'spare' time and web hosting fees), grow my expertise (with no advanced degree in health policy), and network with heavy hitters in this field (who I would otherwise be unable to access).

It is an incredibly powerful tool.


Celebrity Medical Advice: Mark Cuban says "more is better" in Health Care

Twitter is a wonderful place to share ideas, learn quick tidbits, and to get a sense of the 'zeitgeist.'

Unfortunately, many people use it as a platform to share their crazy opinions and famous people are able to propagate all kinds of medically questionable myths (read Hoffman SJ and Tan C in BMJ re: following celebrities' medical advice). The Jenny McCarthy- and Gwyneth Paltrow-types persuade others with obvious contravention of science. However, the subversion of the process of medicine can also be subtle. 

BEWARE it may make you shudder to read it:

If you can afford to have your blood tested for everything available, do it quarterly so you have a baseline of your own personal health . . . 

a big failing of medicine = we wait till we are sick to have our blood tested and compare the results to “comparable demographics

- Mark Cuban (@mcuban)

Fortunately, before Mark Cuban (billionaire entrepreneur) could get too far with his "more is better" evangelism, Charles Ornstein (Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, @charlesornstein) challenged him. Too bad that challenging people often makes them dig their heels in deeper.

Did the evidence provided sway Cuban? See the play-by-play on Forbes.