"But all those numbers and the prospect of wading through them—Excel spreadsheets, pivot tables and the like—is frankly intimidating. Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘I’m a writer. It was my understanding there would be no math.’
I realized several years ago--if I wanted to be a truly independent writer--I would need to understand the numeracy behind the headlines. As Brie mentions, those data points are people, cities, communities, states, and countries. There is a heterogeneity that can't be ignored in the discussions about chronic disease, direct and indirect healthcare costs, health policy, medical education, and articles written to start a narrative, dialogue or story.
After a few years, although I am not a statistician, I have developed a decent theoretical grasp of biostatistics, EHR relational databases, semi-proficient in R programming language, and can hold my own with data visualization tools.
I have been thinking about the slide below since I returned from The Lown Conference. I attend every year to listen and learn. Physicians lead discussions on avoiding over-treatment, misdiagnoses, spurious low-evidence published clinical trial manuscripts, and improving healthcare--one patient at a time. Its hard not to pivot when you hear a room full of physicians clap when hearing the well-known "Do no Harm" from The History of Epidemics meant to balance benefits AND harms of interventions--often the best outcome for the patient requires FIrst, Do Nothing...
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) invest in social services 2:1
Poor kids are sick kids, a fact backed up by a wealth of research. They’re sometimes sick emotionally—due to higher exposure to psychological trauma—and physically, with higher risks of chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and obesity.
Here’s another statistic: About 80 percent of the health of these children (and the rest of us, too) can be tied to the environment they grow up in, not to the medical care they receive. That means that kids who live down the street from the best health care institutions in the world can be some of the sickest, and most at risk for poor health as adults.--Urban Health Matters, Brie Zeltner
Used well, data reveals important truths about ourselves and our world, but it’s often only a jumping off point for the real work of the journalists—the storytelling that introduces us to the human nuance behind statistics and digs into the why of what we observe around us.--Urban Health Matters, Brie Zeltner