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Tailored medicine could prevent more heart attacks


4 Star

Tailored medicine could prevent more heart attacks

Our Review Summary

The story addressed most of our criteria, but we felt it could have been improved a bit by even brief mention of the cost impact of implementing such a system, and a little more context on the Archimedes system and related research.

Overall, though, good job.


Why This Matters

Finding more cost effective and more efficient means of treating people with high blood pressure has great potential for health policy – as does the broader approach of using risk calculators in electronic medical records.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Couldn’t Dr. Eddy have commented on the projected cost of implementing his idea?  And certainly the projected cost saving impact of his Archimedes system has been the focus of past news coverage. So even a line about cost impact would have been appreciated.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


Mixed bag here, but we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt.

The benefits from the use of models to better fit treatment recommendations were described as relative improvements rather than absolute benefits.  That’s how the data were described in the abstract of the paper reported on; the predicted numbers were contained within the body of the article. Given the size of the population in question, we can look the other way on the use of relative risk reduction figures.

And, as already noted, the story injected some caution about real world benefits by quoting an independent expert:

  • “Now the looming questions are how to implement risk calculators in doctors’ practices — and, Owens said, whether that benefits patients’ health in the real world.”

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Applicable

We don’t know what the harms would be of the idealized “tailored medicine” approach described in the piece.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story did an adequate job explaining how the analysis was done.  And, through the words of an independent expert (author of an editorial accompanying the journal article), it injected some real-world cautions:

  • “Now the looming questions are how to implement risk calculators in doctors’ practices — and, Owens said, whether that benefits patients’ health in the real world.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The comments from the author of the editorial that accompanied the journal article were helpful.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The entire focus of the story was a comparison of a “tailored medicine” approach to existing guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure.

It would have been interesting to explore whether this is the only model for tailoring clinical information to arrive at better clinical outcomes or whether there are other models available for this purpose.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story could have been more explicit about the availability – or lack thereof – of the computerized risk calculator in question.

However, a reader should be able to deduce from the following hints that the idea is not in widespread use:

  • “risk calculators like the one in the study, could, eventually help doctors give patietns real numbers.”
  • “Eddy said that the calculator, or others like it, could be integrated into electronic health records.”
  • “A recent government survey found that the percentage of U.S. doctors using electronic health records is on the rise, but still fairly low. About one-quarter of surveyed doctors said they had “basic” electronic medical record systems in their offices. Only about 10 percent had a “fully functional” system that included extensive information on patients’ medical history.”

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story could have done a better job providing even a brief background on the Archimedes system and past reports about this or related research. A reader might think this was the very first news about this approach.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 7 of 9 Satisfactory


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