Due to my work schedule and family commitments, Sunday was my last day at MLA ’14. Besides being tired from travel and not wanting to write last night, I also put off posting my report on my third day at MLA because I didn’t want to post this right after Kelly Thormodson’s “And it begins!” post. Although I learned a lot and experienced a lot in three packed days, I think my goal for the next MLA will be to take it a bit slower and perhaps spend more time on fewer things.
That being said I guess I have to tackle the Big Issue we all considered yesterday as we listened to Dr. Aaron E. Carroll deliver the John P. McGovern Award lecture, “The Affordable Care Act: Health Care Reform Is Far From Over.” Over the past few years I have learned not to bring up Obamacare on social media unless I am prepared for never-ending and frustrating debates with some guy I went to high school with and my wife’s second cousin’s friend. If my Facebook interactions are even a skewed measure of how people understand and feel about the current state of healthcare in America, then this lecture is still timely even four years after Obamacare became law.
As Dr. Carroll spoke, I began to understand why healthcare is such a big issue. As his graphs showed (and everyone retweeted and tweckled), we don’t have a spending problem or a social security problem we have a healthcare problem. Once again I fell into my MLA ’14 pitfall of trying furiously to understand, take notes and tweet about what I was learning all at the same time. (Wait, was that smoke coming from the touch screen of my iPad??!!) Finally I sat back and just began to listen to what Dr. Carroll was saying. I agree with Rachel Harrison’s blog entry below, that his explanation of Obamacare was the most clear cut and fact-based explanation I have heard to date. His rule of threes, from the Iron Triangle of Cost, Quality and Access to his Three Legged Stool of Regulations, Individual Mandate and Subsidies helped to make a complex and emotional issue more rational and understandable. His lecture gave me a clear overview of the challenges we face as healthcare professionals and a new rational voice to listen to.
I wish I could say that after my first experience at MLA ’14 I am now a master at statistics, electronic health records, iPad apps and the Affordable Care Act. Was I too ambitious in my goal setting, perhaps? But what can I say? Like a good librarian I gathered and organized my resources (or I will be this week). So now I have an answer to the following questions:
Q: Where would I go for a primer on how to assess statistics published in medical journals?
A: Steve Simon’s retro webpage at http://pmean.com and his book “Statistical Evidence in Medical Trials: Mountain or Molehill, What Do the Data Really Tell Us?”
Q: I want to see what a typical Electronic Health Record System (EHR) looks like, but my hospital won’t give me access. How can I find out what EHRs are all about?
A: Set up a free account and enter some fictitious patients in Practice Fusion and see what functions are common to most EHRs, without worrying about HIPAA or institutional red-tape.
Q: I want to jump on the bandwagon and really use my iPad. What free apps are out there for Medical Professionals?
A: Start with the National Library of Medicine’s “Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites”
Q: My sister’s friend’s uncle says Obamacare will ruin this country. Where can I go to read the latest information from an expert?
A: Try The Incidental Economist blog (Affordable Care Act tag) where Dr. Aaron Carroll is an Editor.
Q: Can you beat @TonyNguyen411 at silly selfies?
Q: What is tweckling?
So for all you #medlibs and fellow library students still in Chicago, don’t be afraid to jump into the deep end of the pool with the big kids. Have fun, and learn a lot but remember to pace yourselves. There are more MLA’s coming: Austin, Toronto, Seattle, Atlanta and back in Chi-town in 2019! I know I’ll be there next time!