I’ve been working up a storm here at 30 Rockefeller center- NBC’s headquarters in Midtown, NYC. I do a lot of “vetting” medical studies- looking at the “embargoed” research that is going to come out in the next few weeks and help decide which ones might be “newsworthy” for the general public. But I’m also a sort of jack or all trades when it comes to medical research: I might be asked to write up a list of heart healthy foods, dispel some myths about concussions or summarize the current research on treating headaches.
But I’ve also found some time to keep writing. I have a regular gig writing about healthy aging and palliative care for a Stanford website. I also have written two pieces so far for NBC.com:
In general it’s a lot like medical school. Mostly studying and research but with some moments of excitement mixed in. In med school we have something called “pimping” where a superior puts you on the spot and asks you a question in front of everyone while you are rounding on your patients. “Hayley, what are the reasons that we need to thin a patient’s blood with Heparin before just keeping them on Coumadin?” They might ask. It’s hardly surprising that I love it- I love having to think on my feet. Here it’s no different, except that the “attending physician” in this case might be NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and he might be asking you in front of the whole team whether or not something is new in the medical community or constitutes breaking news. But the thrill is essentially the same thing.
I also needed to share a project I had been working on last year with the University of Pennsylvania- and my good friends in the alumni office (shoutout to LSK)- it was a video created for the “Making History” Campaign and I was asked to represent the medical school. It was certainly a shock: do they know I’m the girl who lost her keys a grand total of 3 times year? Or the one who forgot her white coat on the first week of rotations? I’m also the girl who essentially subsisted on Trader Joe’s frozen edamame and trail mix while my classmates cooked gourmet dinners, raised puppies and ran marathons– but obviously an honor. Most importantly it was an honor to be featured alongside my mentor Dr. Kovarik. So here is a little sneak peak:
One of the things I’m learning is how to best describe scientific research in simple terms. Below is piece I wrote about a new study from some of my Penn Derm mentors that was just published in JAMA Dermatology:
Doctors consulting using a smartphone “app” might be just as good as an in person visit from a doctor, according to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania. Many patients in the hospital end up with skin problems but most hospitals don’t have dermatologists to evaluate them. A possible solution may lie in a an “app” that lets doctors look at pictures of the skin problems and tell hospital staff whether or not the patient merits an in person visit.
The study, published Wednesday in JAMA Dermatology, took 50 patients from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania who needed to be seen by a dermatologist. Researchers took a picture of the skin problem using a smartphone and sent it virtually to dermatologists (“teledermatologists”) who provided an opinion. Another dermatologist saw each of the patients in person and recorded his decision: did the patient really need to be seen that day, the next day, sometime during their hospital stay or could it wait for an outpatient visit? He also wrote down whether the patient needed to have a biopsy (skin sample).
When the in person dermatologists decided a patient be seen the same day, the teledermatologists agreed in 90 percent of cases. And they agreed in 95 percent of cases where the in-person dermatologist had recommended a biopsy. The doctors completely agreed on a diagnosis 82 percent of the time, and partially agreed in 88 percent of cases, which is the standard variation expected between doctors.
This is encouraging news in a time when many areas of the United States have very little access to dermatologists. “In addition to addressing physician shortages from a clinical standpoint, teledermatology programs are very important for vulnerable citizens in the United States and abroad,” said Dr. William James, author in the study and past president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “It is wonderful that the impact of these teledermatology consultations continues to expand.”