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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

"Peak human intelligence?" Are we nearing it? Have we passed it?

Recently encountered at The Neurologica Blog:
There is an interesting article at The Conversation asking the question – have humans reached peak intelligence? ... [A]re there ultimate limits to the ability of humans to think, understand, and hypothesize? If so, are we approaching that limit now? ... [I]s there is limit to our ability to manage complexity (as opposed to just comprehending reality)?...
Some might sadly conclude that we've passed peak intelligence, at least in some demographic strata.

Are the tails of the IQ bell curve distribution getting fatter ("kurtosis")? Asymmetrically so (epistemically skewed)?

More from Neurologica:
...The article essentially focuses on what we are capable of when thinking clearly, but humans do not always think clearly. We therefore backslide and this also hampers progress. One question is – is the ratio of progress to backsliding changing over historical time? Will this also reach a point of equilibrium?...
...[W]e are also developing artificial intelligence. Whatever you think about the current state and the rate of progress of this endeavor, we are steadily developing more and more intelligent machines, and eventually we will very likely develop general AI with capabilities beyond humans. We may be able to evolve intelligent machines and select them for their ability to solve scientific mysteries...
I will have more to say about "AI" in the foregoing context shortly. See my prior post "Ethical Artificial Intelligence?" for now. Author Flynn Coleman in particular argues that our AI advances may well result in the "birth" of a "new species," one (or more?) with "cognitive" abilities far exceeding those of humans.

Highly recommend you read The Conversation piece in its entirety. Quoting from it:
Will science ever be able to provide all the answers? Human brains are the product of blind and unguided evolution. They were designed to solve practical problems impinging on our survival and reproduction, not to unravel the fabric of the universe. This realisation has led some philosophers to embrace a curious form of pessimism, arguing there are bound to be things we will never understand. Human science will therefore one day hit a hard limit – and may already have done so.
Some questions may be doomed to remain what the American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky called “mysteries”…

 Well, "two cheers for uncertainty." Two cheers for the "mystery."
If we all knew everything, there would be no point in living, no need for curiosity, for inquiry, for science. It would essentially all be "history" (or, for some people, the "Godhead"). Think about it. Why would you ever even bother to read a book, watch a movie, go to a ball game, take a trip, or whatever? Many uncertanties resolve into verifiable knowledge. Some do not (or have not yet). It's the process of sentient experiential inquiry that really comprises worthwhile living.

Ahhh... what do I know?

More to come...

Sunday, November 17, 2019

et Tua?

Alabama star QB Tua Tagovailoa is out for at least the remainder of the 2019 season. His football career may be over.

Ours is an enthusiastic college football house. Specifically a "Roll TIDE!" house. My Alabama native wife is 'Bama Class of '72. She knew Bear Bryant and knew and worked for Joe Namath. We met at Joe Namath's Restaurant in Birmingham in 1974 when I was on tour playing guitar for Merillee Rush during my musician life.

I seriously owe ya, Mer'.

My Alabama extended family in-laws are also full-tilt 'Bama fans. This Damned Yankee, a subsequent 1985 Tennessee grad, has long gotten over my Vols' chronic SEC and national ranking subordinate status. Roll Tide, it is.

I have always loved football. Played varsity center in high school (where I got my butt severely kicked every week, as the smallest center in the conference at 5'10" and 165 lbs). When I was young, the NFL kept my rapt attention. As I've aged, though, pro ball has taken a back seat to college ball. The high-energy enthusiasm of kids with everything on the line, most of whom will never go on to pro leagues.

Of course, like most people, I am always aware of the significant injury risks associated with football (and the other "collision sports"). Concussion gets all the media ink (impelling some to Quixotically call for banning college football), but Tua's injury is terribly serious as well, and could well end his storied football days (he'd been touted to be a NLF 1st round draft pick). His hip was dislocated, and he suffered a complicating posterior wall fracture.

I'm sure he will get A+ medical treatment.

I tweeted:
Most people are blithely unaware that NCAA "full-ride" college athletic scholarships can be revoked in the wake of serious injury, and that they are typically contingent on a yearly basis.

I'll be watching what happens to Tua closely. Hoping for a full recovery as quickly as possible, and his return to the game.


More to come...

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Baltimore's unhappy YTD 300

Today is Day 317 of 2019, 300 murders within the city limits thus far YTD.

Draw a mental vertical line down from the "W" in "TOWSON" to just south of the northernmost black dot. That's where we now live. Homeland District just west of the 5400 block of York Road. Our affluent, bucolic Colonial and Tudor "Shire," a mere few blocks from random (and distressingly frequent) violent mayhem clusters.

Some locals get pissed when I allude to "The Wire" on social media apps such as (which can get episodically overpopulated with pearl-clutching melodramatists decrying their why-doesn't-somebody-(else)-DO-something? proximity to the Bmore "War Zone").

Whatever. I sometimes simply retort that I've raptly watched every episode of all 5 Wire seasons at least a dozen times (it has gritty veritas out the wazoo). Moved here anyway, to be close to my son and his fabulous Eileen. No regrets whatsoever.

Notwithstanding, today denotes a very sad YTD round number milestone, just shy of a murder a day. That's just within the city. Wonder what the aggregate metro tally is?


Just heard on CBS affiliate WJZ local news that the Baltimore city YTD tally of non-fatal shootings is 692. So, about 3 episodes of (mostly) gun violence per day in the aggregate. Ugh.

More to come...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Is aging preventable? Any credible science?

I'm soon to be 74. Some days, increasingly (notwithstanding my now being back on the hoops court 14 months after my open heart surgery), I feel like the guy on the above right, holding his aching lower back and leaning on his cane. But, hey, "check ball."

Comes a book review at Science Based Medicine.

We are living longer, but not much better. The average lifespan has increased, but the limit has not. 95% of people are dead before 100, and almost no-one reaches 115. The years at the end of life are filled with suffering and illness. Conventional wisdom tells us we will all experience a decline as we age, and we will all eventually die. Ben Franklin said nothing is certain but death and taxes. But what if death is not certain? What if we could stay healthy and live forever? Science is investigating some intriguing clues suggesting that aging and death may not be as inevitable as we thought.

David Sinclair believes aging is a disease, the most common disease, and he believes it should be aggressively treated. His book Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To was published in September 2019. A PhD professor and researcher at Harvard Medical School and cofounder of the journal Aging, he is well informed. He explains how recent scientific breakthroughs have reversed the effects of aging in animal models. He has applied many of the scientific findings to his own life…
I've not bought this one yet. The SBM review seems excellent, thorough, appropriately critical.

Not all readers are amused. A 1-star Amazon review:
This is one of the latest self-promotion books by authors affiliated with Harvard and other once respected American academic institutions. Only small parts of the book actually address the questions posed in the title: "Why We Age--and Why We Don’t Have To." These questions are addressed in more concise form in various You Tube videos featuring the author (among other sources), and in more reliable form in publications by other investigators of foundational research in peer reviewed journals.

The remainder of the book involves numerous autobiographical interjections and discussions of various political (or politicized) topics including the environment, vaccines, the American health care system, nutrition and sustainable diets, over-population, and the social issues associated with an increasingly aged population in the developed world.

Overall, one cannot help being impressed that a man like the author, who reports working so hard within his field of expertise, could also become such a purported expert on so many other topics! However, readers who purchase this book because of an interest in the biology of aging may be disappointed or annoyed by the onslaught of unsolicited opinions presented by the author, in part due to the lack of foundation for the opinions, as well as the general absence of originality. Most of these opinions line up obediently with tired leftist cliches that have infected academia over recent decades. Beyond that, the reader will not be surprised to find that the author strongly supports the use of longevity increasing techniques (should his work out), notwithstanding the social and ethical issues that result.

Likewise, the reader will not be surprised at the author’s extended argument that aging should be classified as a “disease” so that more funding for his type of research will be made available. For the time being though, the reader may just have to purchase and ingest various supplements promoted by the author (in which he may or may not have some business interest)--although there is currently no human research showing the efficacy of these supplements to increase longevity. I guess, from the author’s perspective, this is in some sense “visionary.”

The book does summarize some of the author's animal-based research. The author should disclose, clearly and completely, any and all financial interests (direct and otherwise) in the supplements he discuses for increasing longevity or other purposes. The author uses his relationship with Harvard to promote the book and his Harvard-based research, apparently with the school's consent. Harvard itself, through its administrators, has an obligation to insist on appropriate disclosures that comply with applicable professional and ethical standards. (Providing a laundry list of entities that the author has some affiliation with does not meet these standards.)

Those who read this or any other author’s book or published research regarding supplements should be able to determine whether the author or those who fund his research have a financial interest in the promotion of those supplements. This general principle is especially applicable in the case of this book, given the author's history. Over a decade ago, the author began promoting resveratrol through various business entities which he founded and/or has had a financial interest.

Of course, the author is not just another hustler pushing the most recently hyped supplement. After all, he is a Harvard Man (he references his association with the school dozens of times in the book), and refers to his products not as mere supplements, but rather euphemistically as “molecules.” While the potential relationship between resveratrol and longevity was widely recognized when the author began selling it as a supplement, his optimistic promotion of that “molecule” was unique among serious investigators given that its very limited bioavailability in humans was also widely recognized. There is still no evidence supporting claims that supplementing with resveratrol enhances longevity in humans. There is, however, ample clinical experience that this “molecule” causes diarrhea in many people. So although the author’s former customers may not spend any additional time on the planet, many of them probably did did get some extra time in the bathroom.

Ultimately, this book might be a worthwhile read for someone who enjoys sophomoric socio-political monologues, expects to live to be 150 years old or longer (as the author maintains will be imminently possible), and is looking to kill some time.

Usually, when I'm considering buying a new book, I look at negative reader reviews first. Many times they are show-stoppers. Not always, but often.

Two prior reads seem relevant: "Elderhood" and "Can Medicine Be Cured?" How about "A billion tons of human bones"?


My latest issue of AARP Bulletin came in the mail (may be paywalled).

Could Decreasing Inflammation Be the Cure for Everything?
Managing your body's immune response is key to diseases of aging
Mike Zimmerman, AARP

It hardly sounds serious at all. An inconvenience, perhaps, like maybe a mild fever or a creaky joint. In the lexicon of aging and disease, there are far more worrisome words: cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes. But researchers have suspected for years that all of these health issues, and more, have at their heart one common trigger: low-grade inflammation. And now they may finally have proof.
Cardiologists in Boston have reported on a clinical trial with more than 10,000 patients in 39 countries (mean age: 61) that tested to see if an anti-inflammatory drug could lower rates of heart disease. They discovered that it could. But they also found that the same drug, canakinumab, reduced lung cancer mortality more than 77 percent, and reports of gout and arthritis (conditions linked to inflammation) also fell.

"Inflammation plays a role in everyone's health,” says Dana DiRenzo, a rheumatologist and instructor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. When inflammation levels increase, so does the risk of disease. But understanding inflammation can be tricky because, when you get a disease, inflammation levels naturally increase as your body fights the condition. Inflammation, in other words, is both good and bad.

Given how crucial this issue is to your health, AARP spoke with some of America's top experts in the field, pored over the latest studies and created this guide to understanding — and overcoming — inflammation…

From Naked Capitalism:

Millennials’ Health Deteriorating, Projected Mortality Rates Higher Than GenX; “Deaths of Despair” a Major Culprit

Posted on  by 
You thought deaths of despair were an affliction of deplorables. Silly you. In case you weren’t paying attention, young people are under a lot of stress too and many don’t have reason to think their state will get much better. Short job tenures and the rise of McJobs mean not just uncertain incomes, which are bad enough, but weak social attachments due to shallow relationships with co-workers and often too little discretionary income to mix regularly with contemporaries. Student debt is another major source of anxiety. We’ve also written, virtually from the inception of this site, that high levels of income inequality are bad for health, even for the wealthy. 
And the reality of the accelerating effects of global warming weighs more on the young than the old, who can hope to die before serious dislocations kick in. The Jackpot is indeed coming.
Psychological, income, and time stress have knock-on health effects, including depression, poor coping mechanisms (alcohol and substance abuse; overeating), lack of time and/or money to take care of oneself well (good diet and exercise, as well as stress reducers like vacations and spending time with friends). And no or crappy health insurance means a lot of people who would benefit from health treatment or therapy won’t get it or won’t get enough. Look at the stories of deaths from inability to afford insulin...
Read all of it, including the comments.


Venice, Italy today:

 apropos of my "Covering Climate now" posts.

More to come...

Monday, November 11, 2019

On Veterans' Day

My Late Dad and all four of his brothers served for the duration of WWII. Only Pop and my late uncle Warren survived the war years. My dad left a leg behind on Sicily after crashing a glider during a night landing. My Mom's adult brothers likewise served, with one deployed in the D-Day landing. He survived, and recounted to me the experience. Spielberg nailed it. When I first saw Saving Private Ryan, my first thought was "holy shit, this is not entertainment!"

We went to Normady and the Omaha Beach D-Day Memorial in 2004. Sobering.

Then there's this:
...Writing in his new book—titled Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us[Donald Trump Jr.] detailed a list of grievances his family has suffered since his father decided to run for public office, while saying a "victimhood complex has taken root in the American left."

In it, the 41-year-old detailed a visit to Arlington National Cemetery the day before his father's inauguration in which he likened the lost lives of the service members interred there to the financial toll allegedly suffered by his family.

"I rarely get emotional, if ever," Trump Jr. wrote, according to an excerpt of the unreleased book published by Business Insider. "I guess you'd call me hyper rational, stoic.

"Yet as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country.

"In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we'd already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we'd have to make to help my father success—voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were 'profiting off of the office.'"

He later added: "Frankly, it was a big sacrifice, costing us millions and millions of dollars annually. Of course, we didn't get any credit whatsoever from the mainstream media, which now does not surprise me at all."
Ads by
"Yet as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country.
"In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we'd already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we'd have to make to help my father succeed—voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were 'profiting off of the office.'"
He later added: "Frankly, it was a big sacrifice, costing us millions and millions of dollars annually. Of course, we didn't get any credit whatsoever from the mainstream media, which now does not surprise me at all.
Tthe definition of the word "clueless."

Donnie Jr., just have daddy tell Treasury Secretary Mnuchin cut you a check. 

Below, a short YouTube thing I did some years back.


More to come...

Thursday, November 7, 2019

64-bit Mac OS Catalina migration?

Notwithstanding having begun my day gig work using microcomputers in the mid-1980's in the 10-bit DOS (2.1), Intel world in a lab in Oak Ridge (where I also installed and admin'd an Intel based Unix server/thin client "dumb terminals" network to run an Oracle platform LIMS), it has long been total Mac Snobbery in our house.
I came to Macs in 1991 upon joining a West Knoxville digital industrial diagnostics startup firm as their Technical Editor. Our department was basically an in-house digital ad agency running then- state of the art Macs doing publication-quality 4-color pre-press on platforms such as QuarkExpress and Photoshop. We even did our own Mac-based video production. It was a great fun time.
I compose this blog stuff on either my 13" Mac Air or 27" iMac desktop. My wife uses a 13" Mac Air. We both have iPads, iPhones and Apple watches, and our creaking 2003 21" iMac still works (running in a corner just off the kitchen), as does our old Mac PowerBook. We run a Mac Time Capsule Wifi router with Time Machine always-on silent backup. I'm currently running OS Mojave on both my iMac and Mac Air.

Now comes Mac OS Catalina. Apple keeps badgering me to upgrade, every time I get an "upgrades available" notice for other routine stuff.

2^64 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,616

Mac OS Catalina, 64-bit addressing. 2 raised to the 64th power. What's not to love? Lotta app power potential there.

Apple has been working with developers to transition their apps, and in 2018 Apple informed them that macOS Mojave would be the last version of macOS to run 32-bit apps. Apple's transition to 64-bit technology is now complete. Starting with macOS Catalina, 32-bit apps are no longer compatible with macOS
Will my current MS Office Suite no longer run? My Adobe Creative Suite? My Logic Pro X audio recording platform? My Finale music notation platform? My open-source Filezilla FTP app? My open-source Thunderbird email client? My Audio Hijack app? etc?

What will all of this cost me? Netted out against the improved OS functionality? (My prior OS migration to OS Mojave has proved to be a mixed blessing; they "fixed" a lot of stuff that "wasn't broke.") Don't know yet. Probably just gonna hang with Mojave a while longer (in part to let other early adopters serve as bug testers).


More to come...

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Health IT: Where do things stand?

Healthcare Triage is always worth your time.

Yeah, the more things change, the more they remain the same. I first came to the fractious Health IT space in 2005 ("DOQ-IT"). We continue to fight a lot of the same battles. Interestingly, Dr. Embi touts Kaiser Permanente at 08:00. Cheryl and I are now KP members. So far so good.

More to come...

Saturday, November 2, 2019

"Ethical Artificial Intelligence?"

When we have yet to even get to consistently ethical human intelligence?

Two (of four) of my current book reads. Stay tuned. Timely, important material.
 Note: Henceforth you are able to click on book cover images to go straight to their respective purchase info sites in a new browser window (usually Amazon). 
For openers, succinctly on "ethics."


The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosophers today usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the meaning of ethical terms themselves. Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others. Finally, applied ethics involves examining specific controversial issues, such as abortion, infanticide, animal rights, environmental concerns, homosexuality, capital punishment, or nuclear war.
Notwithstanding my long (albeit late-blooming) white-collar career in a variety of tech disciplines, my field of grad study was squarely in the domain of "applied ethics." My MA is in "Ethics & Policy Studies," an interdisciplinary gumbo of applied ethics ("moral philosophy"), PolySci, Jurisprudence/ConLaw, and Econ, all applied to a policy topic of interest.

So, this kind of stuff is intrinsically of interest to me.


Amazon's AI certainly has my number. Touted just now in my inbox:
“[Coleman] argues that the algorithms of machine learning — if they are instilled with human ethics and values — could bring about a new era of enlightenment.” —San Francisco Chronicle
The Age of Intelligent Machines is upon us, and we are at a reflection point. The proliferation of fast-moving technologies, including forms of artificial intelligence akin to a new species, will cause us to confront profound questions about ourselves. The era of human intellectual superiority is ending, and we need to plan for this monumental shift.
A Human Algorithm: How Artificial Intelligence Is Redefining Who We Are examines the immense impact intelligent technology will have on humanity. These machines, while challenging our personal beliefs and our socioeconomic world order, also have the potential to transform our health and well-being, alleviate poverty and suffering, and reveal the mysteries of intelligence and consciousness. International human rights attorney Flynn Coleman deftly argues that it is critical that we instill values, ethics, and morals into our robots, algorithms, and other forms of AI. Equally important, we need to develop and implement laws, policies, and oversight mechanisms to protect us from tech’s insidious threats.
To realize AI’s transcendent potential, Coleman advocates for inviting a diverse group of voices to participate in designing our intelligent machines and using our moral imagination to ensure that human rights, empathy, and equity are core principles of emerging technologies. Ultimately, A Human Algorithmis a clarion call for building a more humane future and moving conscientiously into a new frontier of our own design.
A groundbreaking narrative on the urgency of ethically designed AI and a guidebook to reimagining life in the era of intelligent technology."
I'm gonna go broke buying books to study. I don't get paid for these rants. Gonna have to find a gig to continue to fund this Jones.


I have a question for Counselor Coleman:

"Assuming / Despite / If / Then / Therefore / Else..." Could AI do "argument analysis?"

e.g., "NLU"--Natural Language Understanding. I remain dubious. But, it's a moving target.

...The demonstrated power of artificial intelligence has, in the last few years, led to massive media exposure and commentary. Countless news articles, books, documentary films and television programs breathlessly enumerate AI’s accomplishments and herald the dawn of a new era. The result has been a sometimes incomprehensible mixture of careful, evidence-based analysis, together with hype, speculation and what might be characterized as outright fear-mongering. We are told that fully autonomous self-driving cars will be sharing our roads in just a few years—and that millions of jobs for truck, taxi and Uber drivers are on the verge of vaporizing. Evidence of racial and gender bias has been detected in certain machine learning algorithms, and concerns about how AI-powered technologies such as facial recognition will impact privacy seem well-founded. Warnings that robots will soon be weaponized, or that truly intelligent (or superintelligent) machines might someday represent an existential threat to humanity, are regularly reported in the media. A number of very prominent public figures—none of whom are actual AI experts—have weighed in. Elon Musk has used especially extreme rhetoric, declaring that AI research is “summoning the demon” and that “AI is more dangerous than nuclear weapons.” Even less volatile individuals, including Henry Kissinger and the late Stephen Hawking, have issued dire warnings. 

The purpose of this book is to illuminate the field of artificial intelligence—as well as the opportunities and risks associated with it—by having a series of deep, wide-ranging conversations with some of the world’s most prominent AI research scientists and entrepreneurs. Many of these people have made seminal contributions that directly underlie the transformations we see all around us; others have founded companies that are pushing the frontiers of AI, robotics and machine learning...

Ford, Martin. Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it (p. 2). Packt Publishing. Kindle Edition.

More to come...

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

How the “culture of science” plays into the “reproducibility crisis”

A call for interested, knowledgeable interviewees.

We’re making an NIH-funded podcast on a very important topic! Maybe we want to interview you!
Tiffany Doherty

We are creating a podcast about science culture! Specifically, it is a podcast that will be accompanied by educational modules (all NIH funded) addressing how the “culture of science” plays into the “reproducibility crisis”.

We are focusing on the “why” behind the “how”. Meaning rather than focusing on p-hacking/image duplication/fabricated data, we’re focusing on what drives people to p-hack/duplicate images/fabricate data. We want to examine, among other things, the incentive systems put into place by universities, granting agencies, & publishers, and how that contributes to poor research.

A (non-exhaustive) list of things we plan to cover:

  • How quantity over quality is rewarded in hiring, tenure/promotion, funding, publishing
  • Media coverage (fame factor and how the media doesn’t report on null results)
  • Conflicts of interest (professional, ideological, financial)
  • Poor oversight/mentoring (including how that can trickle down scientific “generations”)
  • Authority structure
Particularly in terms of those last two: We want to talk to people who have felt pressure from mentors (likely during grad school or postdoc) to conduct inappropriate analyses and/or other data/publication related tasks for the sake of publishing specific and/or significant results. We want to hear from you whether you felt comfortable doing what was asked of you or not, whether you complied or did not. There is no judgement, only the wish to talk about an issue that is difficult to quantify precisely because we do not talk about it. We can take measures to anonymize you if you prefer.

If you have stuff to say about any of the above, we want to hear from you!!! You can e-mail Tiffany at or DM her on Twitter @DrTiff_

We’ll likely conduct a pre-interview over the phone (less than 20 minutes) to make sure we’ll have plenty of relevant and interesting things to discuss, and if we all feel like it’s a go, we’ll get you scheduled for an interview. We’ll come to you and work around your schedule. The interview itself would be around an hour, and it’s not live, so we can edit anything. Very low pressure. We want this to be as easy on you as possible.

In addition, if you have further topics related to this angle that you think we should consider, we want to hear about it! And if you know someone who would be awesome but not likely to see this, we want to hear about them, too!
Originally posted at The Incidental Economist. Important topic.

I spoke with Dr. Doherty today to encourage this initiative. All that good science stuff. Been riffing on it a lot of late. "Define 'science,'" "Why trust science?"

They need to interview Dr. Oreskes, big-time.


So much to continue to learn. Just finished "Winners Take All." Excellent.

More to come...

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Improving Medicare?

Interesting episode.

I first came to Medicare analytics 26 years ago in 1993, signing on with what was then called the Nevada Peer Review (shortly thereafter re-branded as the HealthInsight Medicare QIO). QIO's, "Quality Improvement Organizations," were mostly state-level non-profits contracted by the then-"HCFA" (Health Care Financing Administration / CMMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). It would be my first of three tenures with them.
The new "QIO's" were intended to evolve past the Peer Reviews' traditional "beat cop" review / sanction function into progressive QI facilitators. The results were a mixed bag.
In addition to my duties as our Novell LAN administrator, I ground up tons of mostly UB-82 statewide hospital encounter quarterly claims data, using SAS and Stata platforms, resulting in periodic summary tabular, graphics, and narrative reports like this one (pdf).

A quarter century later, we're still fussing over stuff like "hospital readmission rates." I'm not sure that the widespread penetration of EHR's and HIE's has made all that much of a difference.
"Who knew health care could be so complicated?" - President Donald Trump

More to come...