Keeping score. Seeking a grand equation for health with theoretical physicist, Laurence Jacobs, PhD.

Name: Laurence Jacobs, PhD

Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Specialty: Theoretical physicist and health data researcher

If you’re still around in the year 2061, two things will be true. You’ll enjoy seeing the next passing of Halley’s Comet, and your life insurance company will enjoy having collected four more decades of your life insurance premiums, without a payout. Standing there that day you and your insurance company can be grateful for the work of one man, the exact same man that comet is named for. The English astronomer, mathematician and physicist, Edmond Halley. Why you ask? Well, not only did Halley develop the calculations to predict the comet’s periodicity, he is also developed the early mathematical tools for predicting human longevity, known very well to your insurance company as actuarial science.

Today’s guest, like Halley is also a physicist, a theoretical physicist to be exact. And like Halley he sees no need to limit his research interests to one academic domain. Laurence Jacobs began is career at MIT pursuing some of the broader mysteries of our universe. Today he’s pursuing another ambitious project, quantifying all of the measures, signs, risk models, data sets, bio-wearable monitoring outputs, health history, genomics and more into (perhaps) one single accessible number. Something you may have heard called a health score. Something that promises to refine our ability to predict longevity, and even improve it.

This was an amazing conversation and not a short one. The potential benefits of developing these tools are huge, but so are the challenges and dizzying complexities. Many of the answers will likely come from surprising and unexpected places. To quote one of our past guests, Dr. Robert Gale, the American physician at Chernobyl, “Progress is often made by those who investigate the boundaries of several areas, instead of having laser-like focus on a single discipline. That’s where many of the answers in science reside.”

That’s exactly where we find Laurence Jacobs today, in Zurich Switzerland where he continues to develop the main concepts and the risk models that underlie the Dacadoo Health Score and the remote disease monitoring and management system, remsmed / EMMA Care.

With that said, let’s get started..

Trading Places. Do Doctors Make Better Patients? MIT Economist, Jonathan Gruber, PhD.

Name: Jonathan Gruber, PhD

Location: Cambridge, MA. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Specialty: Economist. Public Policy Advisor.

All right welcome back. If you could pick the ideal patient population, armed with the best knowledge, fluent in medical jargon, generally healthy and willing to comply with recommended treatments, who would you pick? How about doctors? Doctors may not be perfect patients but at least they should outperform similar non-clinicians, right?

Surprisingly, little to no research has actually been done comparing the care, compliance and outcomes of doctors to comparable groups of non- physicians. For reasons we’ll soon see, this is actually a difficult question to tackle, but it’s a very important question with broader implications.

Today’s guest is MIT economist, Jonathan Gruber. He recently co-authored a study using a unique data source to examine just how good doctors and their family members are when they find themselves in the patient seat. Spoiler alert, obviously if the results aren’t surprising, we probably would not be here talking about it.

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Meditation Head-On: Neurosurgeon and Buddhist Priest, Dr. Patrick Codd

dr patrick codd- peerspectrum podcast

I actually find it easier to do an endoscopic brain surgery than it would be to sit and meditate for that long…”

-Dr. Patrick Codd

Name: Patrick J. Codd, MD

Location: Duke University Medical Center. Durham, NC

Specialty: Neurosurgeon. Professor of Neurosurgery. Ordained Buddhist Priest.

Keith and I have long considered doing an episode on meditation. What held us back was our goal (as it is with every episode) to answer these two questions: how would the episode specifically benefit you, the physicians and medical professionals in our audience, and how would we avoid simply rehashing a well worn topic explored elsewhere? As you know, we’re not big on chasing trends here. So we tabled it, until just recently, when we came across today’s guest.

Dr. Patrick Codd earned his M.D. in the Harvard Medical School/MIT Health Science & Technology Program. He then completed his residency in Neurosurgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Patrick then served as the Director of the North Neurosurgical Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an Instructor in Surgery at Harvard Medical School before joining the neurosurgery staff at Duke University Medical Center where we find him today.

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