Baseball and US healthcare

If you’re a baseball fan than you’re likely mourning the end of the season and likely familiar with the concepts of “moneyball” and “sabermetrics” and the use of statistics to infer trends, future performance and player investment or drafting strategies. It counters the traditional methods of judging future performance on the basis of personal observation and informed opinion. The concept is most closely associated with Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and (in theory) explains why small-market teams such as Oakland are able to compete with large-market teams whose budgets dwarf the latter.

This concept of statistic-driven outcomes has its equivalent in healthcare: evidence-based medicine. Yet despite its theoretical value, it’s still rarely used and tough to access. As Billy Beane, Newt Gingrich and John Kerry note in a recent New York Time op-ed, “a doctor today can get more data on the starting third baseman on his fantasy baseball team than on the effectiveness of life-and-death medical procedures.”

All this despite the fact that the US spends more than twice per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world, ranks amongst the worst industrialized countries on health quality, and sees nearly 100,000 Americans killed every year by preventable medical erros. You’d think a moneyball/evidence-based medicine approach to healthcare would gain more traction. Read the rest of this entry »


Voting and technology

Much has been written bout the impact of collaboration and social networks on the election south of the border. The allure of Obama vs. McCain, not to mention their respective approaches towards technology makes for an interesting case study.

But if you’re Canadian and concerned that either the current Conservative government will get a majority hold of Parliament, or conversely concerned that it will fail to do so, then there are several appropriate story lines to follow up North. The first is a growing Facebook group called ‘Anti-Harper Vote Swap Canada,’ which now boasts over 12,000 members.

The group works as follows: Read the rest of this entry »