Every week, writers on LinkedIn publish more than 160,000 articles. So who stood out in 2016 — and who do you need to start reading now?
When LinkedIn sifted through it’s data, looking at factors as diverse as reader engagement (particularly comments and shares) and follower growth, it came up with the top 10 voices in healthcare.
These writers covered some of the biggest stories of the year: highlighting global public health crises, new advances in drug development and the many ways technology is transforming every aspect of medicine, a report by Beth Kuscher, Editor -Healthcare at LinkedIn said.
Their articles according to the report, highlighted a healthcare industry at a crossroads, one that is under pressure from shrinking reimbursement, an aging patient population that is also savvier and more informed than ever before, and the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act.
They wrote about their personal experiences as patients and about the challenges facing doctors and nurses in developing countries,the report highlighted.
The report added that, these authors explored sensitive topics like end-of-life care and offered a compelling vision of how technology will allow us to grow organs, simplify risky surgeries and allow doctors to treat patients based on their unique genetic makeup.
Here are the top voices in healthcare for 2016:
Dr. Louis Profeta | St. Vincent Emergency Physicians
What he writes about: This emergency medicine doctor captures the details of life in the emergency room, whether it’s asking veterans about their war experiences or confronting the hubris of practicing medicine. “I write about the world and the changing tides of life as I see it through the eyes of an emergency physician,” Dr. Profeta said.
Article he’s proudest of: “I know you you love me now let me die,” an article about how less is more when it comes to end-of-life care. “Outside of being a father, it may just be the most important thing I have and will ever do in my life,” Dr. Profeta said, adding that thousands of readers commented on the post or reached out through personal emails. Some thanked him for allowing them to let go of the guilt they felt about not doing more to prolong their loved ones’ lives. Others, in the throes of terminal illness, felt that they had a way to begin difficult discussions with their own family and friends.
How he finds his ideas: Dr. Profeta often mulls ideas for posts while riding his lawn mower. But he draws inspiration directly from the ER. “It is the only place in all the world where every single facet of the human experience comes together,” he said. “From the rich to the poor, old, young, sane, crazy, powerful, desperate, tragic, elated and on and on, they all come here. It’s magical.”
Michelle Chaffee | Founder & CEO, alska
What she writes about: As the founder of a technology startup trying to provide additional support to patients and their caregivers, Chaffee writes about a range of healthcare topics, including support for senior citizens, patient advocacy, entrepreneurship and the challenges facing women.
Article she’s proudest of: “Why Giant Healthcare Systems Might Be Getting It Wrong,” which drew upon her personal experience as a cancer patient. “The comments from healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers indicated my experience was unfortunately not uncommon,” Chaffee said.
“The system I wrote about contacted me and made changes as a result of my experience and my input on how they could make their facility more patient friendly.”
One thing not on her LinkedIn profile:Long before she set out to help patients and caregivers, Chaffee spent a summer as a Hollywood nanny, a brief experience that she says “changed my experience in a very lasting way.”
Dr. Bertalan Mesko | The Medical Futurist
What he writes about: As the self-described Medical Futurist, Dr. Mesko writes about the “science fiction technologies” that are changing healthcare and medicine for the better(and sometimes those that are just hype.) “I dedicate my life to finding the latest advances in health technology and understanding how these trends are shaping the present and future of medicine,” he said.
Article he’s proudest of: “Kids Should Choose Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for Their (And Our) Future!” The articles that stand out for Dr. Mesko are those that generate robust feedback and discussion from readers. “The more vivid discussions we have, the better we can look at both the amazing advantages and the ethical considerations the technological changes bring upon us,” he said.
One thing not on his LinkedIn profile:Mesko is “fanatic” about science fiction, reading and watching sci-fi material everyday. “I’m always amazed by how sci-fi works as a glue between what’s possible today and what might become possible tomorrow,” he said.
Yasi Baiani | Principal product manager, Fitbit
What she writes about: This product manager at wearable technology company Fitbit writes about digital health as well as the ways in which entrepreneurs and established tech companies can deliver cutting edge innovations, build superior products andestablish high-performing teams.
Article she’s proudest of: “How to Build the Next Unicorn in Healthcare,” for its practical tips to technology entrepreneurs on how to navigate the healthcare system and build products for an industry that’s been particularly slow to innovate.
What she’ll be watching in 2017: Self-driving cars, robotics and artificial intelligence will remain on Baiani’s radar in the New Year. But she acknowledges that sometimes the hype doesn’t match the reality. “There’s a lot of conversation around AI and machine learning, but I think the progress has been slower than we would like to see,” she said.
Dr. Luca Dezzani | Global medical director, Novartis Oncology
What he writes about: As a leader at a global pharmaceutical company, Dr. Dezzani is well-positioned to write about the drug and biotechnology industries, clinical research, healthcare, diagnostics and medical devices. He’s also written about how to deliver better care at a lower cost and the promise of one day being able to personalize treatmentsbased on a patient’s genome and other personal information.
Articles he’s proudest of: Dr. Dezzani aims to inform readers with his articles, whether it’s a monthly news round-up or the “Top 10 Pharmaceutical Companies 2016.” He also points to the data-driven “Global Healthcare Expenditure in 8 Graphs” because, he said, “I believe that sustainability is one of the most important aspects of healthcare today.”
One thing not on his LinkedIn profile:Dr. Dezzani is an Italian expat who loves art and opera. “New York, my new home, it’s one of the best places on earth for both of them,” he said.
Dr. Mark Hyman | Chairman, Institute for Functional Medicine
What he writes about: As the author of a number of best-selling books includingEat Fat Get Thin and The 10 Day Detox Diet, Dr. Hyman focuses on health, wellness and nutrition topics. His articles examine how to speed up our metabolisms, heal a fatty liver and navigate controversies like whether coffee is good or bad. He draws from his experiences as a physician, educator and activist.
Top post: “The Biggest ‘Drug’ to Reverse or Prevent Heart Disease Isn’t a Medication” Dr. Hyman’s recipe for heart health is simple and straightforward: Eat a healthy diet, avoid sugar and processed food, exercise, increase your consumption of fiber and healthy fats and reduce stress. Perhaps that’s why the topic resonated deeply with his audience.
How he views health and wellness: Dr. Hyman sums up his philosophy in this way: “What is at the end of our fork is more essential and important than what it at the bottom of our pill bottles. Each meal is a chance to heal.” A broadcast version of Eat Fat Get Thin aired on PBS in March 2016.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu | CEO, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
What he writes about: An epidemiologist and the head of Nigeria’s national public health institute, Dr. Ihekweazu writes about global health threats like Ebola, the impact of the country’s health sector strikes and thelack of trust in the healthcare system.
Top article: “We Have Started Our Descent: Strikes and the Future of Public Sector Health Delivery in Nigeria” Nigeria’s healthcare professionals have been engaged in ongoing strikes for better wages and working conditions, throwing patient care into turmoil. Over the past three years, the protests have included nearly every sector of the industry, including doctors, residents, nurses and other allied health professionals. Dr. Ihekweazu calls for a national conversation, an Indaba, and offers suggestions on how to meet the needs of both caregivers and patients.
Interests outside of public health: Dr. Ihekweazu is a cofounder of TEDxEuston, a not-for-profit group that helps connect Africans living around the world with projects and ideas coming out of their home continent.
Dr. Jacques Kpodonu | Cardiac surgeon, Harvard Medical School
What he writes about: Dr. Kpodonu draws upon his experience as a cardiovascular surgeon to write about a number of healthcare and technology topics including genomics, big data,wearables, drug discovery, precision medicine, digital health, 3D printing and robotics.
Favorite article: “Could Block-chain Technology be the Missing Link to Solving Healthcare DATA Interoperability?” Block-chain technology, a method of tracking and organizing changes made to large databases, is the next great wave that will transform a number of industries, from finance to healthcare, Dr. Kpodonu argues. “This post is about the future of our ecosystem,” he said. He added that he is “very intrigued about the potential of block-chain technology to add a layer of disruptive innovation in healthcare, finance and the insurance market. Although it is relatively a new concept, it has tremendous possibilities to democratize healthcare and put the consumer in the driver’s seat.”
One thing not on his LinkedIn profile:Dr. Kpodonu writes from a global perspective, influenced by having lived on three continents. He grew up in Africa, in a region that lacked technology and infrastructure, and then moved to Europe and North America, ultimately entering a profession where he lives and breathes technology innovation. “I am constantly reminded every day that I am in a unique position to re-engineer innovation in Africa through my experiences,” he said.
Dr. Ola Orekunrin | Founder, The Flying Doctors Nigeria
What she writes about: Dr. Orekunrin, the founder of a Nigerian air ambulance service, is passionate about improving pre-hospital trauma management across Africa. Her posts typically highlight Africa’s business and healthcareenvironment.
Article of which she’s proudest: “6 Dead Doctors,” about a car crash that took the lives of six physicians. The article highlighted vulnerabilities in Africa’s trauma and emergency care before patients make it to a hospital and Dr. Orekunrin hopes it will prevent other deaths. “Basically nearly all the physicians in the car had survivable injuries, but died because the ambulance took too long to come, the hospital was not prepared to handle trauma patients and eventually the ambulance ran out of fuel,” she wrote.
What she’s watching in 2017: Dr. Orekunrin, who has studied and worked in Japan and the United Kingdom, its closely following the recession in many of Africa’s oil-producing countries and how it will affect economic development on the continent.
Julie Kliger | Senior director, Alvarez & Marsal
What she writes about: Kliger has deep experience consulting for hospitals and health systems on improving patient outcomes. However, her writing is from the patient’s perspective, including her own. “The slice of the story I pay most attention to is when someone gets sick and moves from being a person to being a patient,” she said. “I write about topics that are often ‘off limits’ with the hope of re-examining why it is off limits in the first place.”
Article of which she’s proudest: “Is It OK to ‘Learn On-The-Job’ When Your Job is Saving Lives?” This article about physician training focused on the “July effect,” or the spike in hospital deaths when new residents start their jobs. It raised critical questions about whether we’re compromising patients’ well-being for the sake of medical education, which she described as an outdated apprenticeship model.
On the largest healthcare story of 2016:“I find the ongoing debate of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) confusing and interesting since I believe it is a policy that truly helps many Americans afford health care,” she said. “And yet there is a big push to reject it. As a nurse, I have seen many people ruined by healthcare bills so I just honestly don’t get why people would not want to have this type of protection.”
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Kobby Blay is the chief health editor at Ghanahealthnest.com. A professional practicing nurse with specialty in mental health and focus for health communications, public health, medical/documentary photography, ICT and systems perspective for health improvement.