Amy Berman, left, and her daughter Stephanie at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides event in New York’s Central Park.
Maggie Mahar is an influential blogger on topics from health care reform to the economy. Maggie and I agree that we are not making sufficient strides in the war on breast cancer. We disagree that I chose life over longevity. I chose life and longevity.
In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Maggie has allowed us to repost a blog she featured in HealthBeat on Oct. 11th. I am grateful that she uses her potent prose to draw attention to the needs of older adults. Cancer is, after all, primarily a disease of aging. Two-thirds of those living with cancer are age 65 or older.
Jürgen Unützer, MD, brings the IMPACT model of depression care to Casper, Wy.
Given the John A. Hartford Foundation’s focus on improving the health of older Americans, it should come as no surprise that the Foundation has looked for opportunities to create a more comprehensive, coordinated and continuous health care delivery system.
Since the 1990s, we’ve done this by investing in the development, testing, and spread of effective and affordable Models of Care to address barriers to the provision of high-quality, cost-effective care for elders.
Amy Berman, right, with surgeon, author, and “Twitter rock star” Atul Gawande.
I tweet therefore I am. That is quite an overstatement. But it’s true that my life has been greatly enriched by Twitter. I continually learn and grow through engagement with an incredibly robust network of people found in the Twittersphere.
I have blogged about Twitter on HealthAGEnda before. It is the fastest growing form of social media—launched just seven years ago—and now has more than 500 million users. Sharing 140-character “byte-sized” messages is just enough to make a point, share a link, and be engaged.
Amy Berman’s daughter, Stephanie, with her greatgrandparents, Herb and Julia.
It tickles me to report that I live with incurable cancer and I am expecting. I am expecting that the cancer will take its toll, that I will need to make choices about my health and care, that I will need the support of my family, and that I will need resources.
Imagine if everyone understood that they are expecting. We should all plan for great beginnings and endings.
On June 4, I was fortunate enough to be the special guest on a record-breaking Health Care Leadership Twitter Chat (#HCLDR ) that reached more than 2 million people on Twitter and was the number one trending topic in the twittersphere.
As the guest, I was charged with designing the chat, choosing the topic and questions, and contributing a blog to be referenced on the Health Care Leadership homepage. What was the topic that had the social media hive buzzing? We explored the issues surrounding person-centered care and patient activation, and talked about the role of people supporting their health within the context of health care delivery.
So many of us spend our lives dedicated to improving health care. As a senior program officer working for The John A. Hartford Foundation in NYC, I peruse endless data quantifying the problems, poor quality care, and needless harm to our nation’s frail and vulnerable older adults. For example, 20 percent of our nations’ older adults return to the hospital within 30 days after being discharged. The cost for this debacle is estimated at more than $17 billion dollars per year in avoidable readmissions. If this were a car dealership—and the rate of repaired cars returning needlessly to the shop—they would go out of business.
Amy Berman, left, with geriatrician and social media maven Wen Dombrowski at TEDMED 2013.
Earlier this month, I attended my very first TEDMED in Washington, D.C. I had butterflies in my stomach because I was asked to provide opening remarks on the final day of TEDMED, at a convening on The Great Challenges of Health Care.
As a person living with serious illness, I was charged with speaking from the heart and grounding a discussion about the Role of the Patient. And as a professional who works on one of the biggest challenges health care faces—how to best care for a rapidly growing older adult population—excitement didn’t come close to describing how I felt. Thrilled? Terrified? Much closer.
At the tender age of seven, social media’s Twitter is the new Vox Populi.
Known for spreading information in succinct 140 character bites, Twitter—which just marked its 7th birthday—now has more than 500 million registered users. I was a relatively early adopter, joining at the beginning of 2009. As a senior program officer for a foundation committed to improving the health of older adults, I wondered: What could Twitter do?
One thing it has done is to far exceed my expectations. Initially, I hoped to spread high-value information. I naively imagined that my tweets on cost-effective geriatric models of care might be retweeted and gently land in the receptive hands of those involved in redesign efforts.
When I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer—one that has no cure—I debated whether to share this information publicly. Discussions about “death panels” were all the rage. It infuriated me to think that uninformed folks in the policy world would aim to limit open discussions with patients about their diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options.
How could care be patient centered if patients and families were excluded?
Because I found an oncologist who was transparent and asked about my values, I was able to opt for care focused on feeling well for as long as possible, not the typical let’s-throw-everything-we-have-at-this approach. The latter would have made me feel terribly unwell without the likelihood of a real benefit later. I told family, colleagues at work, and my closest friends about my illness and decisions about treatment. I debated whether sharing my terminal diagnosis and decisions could help others. I wondered about the benefits and risks. Would I be marginalized professionally? Would I be attacked for my views and choices? Could going public cause pain to my family?