Health Systems Action

Author name: Gareth Kantor

Type 1 Diabetes: Can a low carb diet cure it? Does immunisation cause it?

Our online health professionals discussion group includes clinicians who use dietary interventions to change the course of type 2 diabetes. One of them described two patients newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and his approach to their treatment, raising a couple of interesting questions: – Can a low-carb diet help with type 1 diabetes? – …

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AI and Large Language Models – Divine or Platonic?

In the journal NEJM AI, Peter Szolovits, a computer scientist and medical decision-making expert, describes generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) models as having “miraculous abilities” but points out that “science abhors miracles” and concludes that these models aren’t ready for clinical use. [Miracle: “an extraordinary and welcome event not explicable by natural or scientific laws and …

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Death after Surgery is the Third Biggest Cause of Mortality – and a Public Health Problem

In 1954, Henry Beecher, the pioneering American anaesthesiologist, described death from anaesthesia as a “public health problem“. Seventy years later, thanks to concerted effort and innovation, anaesthesia is about 100 times safer, occurring in about 1 in 100,000 cases. This makes surgery safer and contributes to its popularity and effectiveness: globally, over 313 million surgical …

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Fatty Liver Has a New Name, and a New Drug. Why Should We Care?

If you’ve never heard of NAFLD (Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), or MASLD (Metabolic dysfunction-Associated Steatotic Liver disease (MASLD), its equally non-catchy new name[1], you’re not alone. Yet this condition affects 30% of the global population.   Image: DALL-e As an anesthesiologist working in the operating rooms of a large university medical center in Cleveland, Ohio …

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Polygenic Risk Scores for Africa?

Despite the huge excitement that greeted the sequencing of the first human genome at the turn of the century, genetic testing isn’t routine. When will this change? Historically, genetic testing was reserved for patients with known or suspected genetic disorders. Tests could identify single gene (“monogenic”) changes linked to conditions like sickle cell disease, haemophilia …

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Does “Patient Satisfaction” Predict Hospital Readmission?

Discovery Health reviewed 8 years of data from private hospital “patient satisfaction surveys”. They say patients with low scores are more likely to have an unplanned hospital readmission in the 30 days after hospital discharge and that their study identifies responsible gaps in hospital care.   Are they right? I want to discuss these conclusions …

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Eagles, beagles and a moose – change comes to cardiology

This week I attended a webinar series hosted by the Cardiac Arrhythmia Society of Southern Africa (CASSA), taught by cardiologists from the University of Cape Town, focused on Essential ECGs. These are the ones you can’t miss – if you do, your patient might die! I surprised myself by getting the quizzes mostly right. Surprised …

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An Old German Philosopher Rescues AI Users

Advances in artificial intelligence have come at breathtaking speed but have outpaced most ordinary people’s ability to make productive use of these amazing technologies. Some people walk away disappointed because they use Large Language Models (LLMs) inappropriately, as if they were search engines, and get less than impressive results. A good answer to how to …

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The IQ of AI

Read an edited and updated (March 18, 2024) version of this article here, on  Insight Health Solutions – https://www.insight.co.za Do Google Gemini’s claims match their ambitious aims? Measuring human intelligence (“IQ”) is challenging, even controversial. As we enter the age of artificial intelligence (AI), in healthcare and everything else, how will we measure the “IQ …

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Solving the Twelve Language Problem in Healthcare

Over the years, I’ve used Google Translate where I had to, including on trips to China – and found it useful enough. But Google Translate is primitive compared to the ability of today’s generative AI applications to read and write fluently in multiple languages. When it comes to languages, my mom’s not bad for a …

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