How I Got Here

That’s the title of a new podcast series by Touchpoint Media, hosted by Reed Smith, and I’m honored to be the subject of the first episode.

I’ve known Reed for more than a decade, and he’s been a great friend and trusted advisor as we developed the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Likewise with his Touchpoint Media partner, Chris Boyer.

I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did, and that it provides some insights you might find helpful in your career and life.

I look forward to the rest of the series, which features some old friends like Ed Bennett as well as others I’m looking forward to getting to know better.

Listen on iTunes or Stitcher and be sure to subscribe.

Diabetes is Devastating

As my blog starts its new direction, I had planned on beginning in my next few posts with some background on my health exploration journey, but a news release about a study from Mayo Clinic that came into my inbox yesterday caused me to revise my plan.

The study in the Rochester, Minn. area identified 116 patients with diabetes and 232 who didn’t have diabetes, but otherwise were matched for heart failure risk factors like age, hypertension, sex, coronary artery disease and diastolic dysfunction.

Following both groups for 10 years, researchers found that 21% of the patients with diabetes developed heart failure, while just 12% of the patients without diabetes did.

So while we’ve long known that diabetes is associated with a host of health problems, here’s fresh evidence of another: almost doubling the risk of heart failure, although in this study it didn’t increase mortality.

Still, this new study adds to what already was a grim prognosis, both for individuals with diabetes and for society as a whole. As this paper in the journal Population Health Management put it:

Diabetes and its complications, deaths, and societal costs have a huge and rapidly growing impact on the United States. Between 1990 and 2010 the number of people living with diabetes tripled and the number of new cases annually (incidence) doubled. Adults with diabetes have a 50% higher risk of death from any cause than adults without diabetes, in addition to risk for myriad complications. Reducing this burden will require efforts on many fronts—from appropriate medical care to significant public health efforts and individual behavior change across the nation, through state- and community-specific efforts.

That same paper suggests that in the next decade

  • the total number of Americans with diabetes will increase from 43 million to nearly 55 million,
  • that annual diabetes-related deaths will increase by more than 55,000 and
  • annual diabetes medical costs will go up almost $100 billion.

It all means that preventing (or even reversing) type 2 diabetes is probably the most important thing we can do.

But the statistics are clear: what we’ve been doing as a society for the last 30 years hasn’t been working.

What I’ve been learning and experiencing over the last three years through personal investigation and application suggests that we have more ability to influence this trajectory than we might think.

I’ve read about thousands of patients with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes getting their Hemoglobin A1c levels down to the point where (under medical supervision, of course) they have been able to discontinue taking insulin or diabetes medications, and are no longer considered even prediabetic.

I know some people are skeptical that type 2 diabetes can be reversed, but given the scope of the problem it sure seems worth exploring.

If type 2 diabetes is three times as prevalent as it was a generation ago, this can’t be a genetic problem. Our genes don’t change that fast.

Since changes in our environment and behavior are likely responsible for the epidemic, shouldn’t we look at reversing those changes as much as we can, at least in our personal lives, where we have the most control?

I was never diagnosed as prediabetic, but I’ve made some significant changes and have seen lots of benefits in my own health. I couldn’t have made them all at once, but I evolved them over time.

Type 2 diabetes isn’t the only disease that seems to have potential for lifestyle prevention or reversal. Some of the same interventions seem to work in other diseases, too – mainly because diabetes, as we see in this Mayo Clinic study, is a risk factor for a host of other ailments.

Curious? Follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and I’ll tell you how it happened.

AASLD Webinar: Have You Googled Yourself?

Today I’m giving a webinar for the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) focusing on the role social media can play in online reputation management for physicians.

Here are my slides:

AASLD has a helpful Social Media Essentials page you should check out, too.

A SMUG Tour of China

I’m excited to begin a new adventure today as I make my first trip to China.

I’m accompanying Kent Seltman, co-author of Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic. Kent was formerly the Marketing Division Chair at Mayo Clinic, and he wrote his book with Len Berry as his swan song as he approached retirement. It has been translated into Mandarin and has sold 350,000 copies in China.

China TourKent has previously visited China 13 times, always taking a current Mayo Clinic employee with him. I’m delighted to accompany him on his 14th trip. We’ll be there from now until June 27 and will speak at 9 hospitals in China (click the map to enlarge).

According to the Chinese Firewall Test, I probably won’t be able to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn for the next couple of weeks.

On the bright side, SMUG does appear to be available from mainland China.

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I’ll hope to post updates here relatively frequently. Since my posts are tweeted automatically, SMUG will be my way of at least sending messages via Twitter.