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Friday, June 30, 2017

Free Speech is needed to understand Medical Treatments

Free people who live in free countries enjoy free speech. Free speech is something to rejoice about. It's a basic human right. We, who live in countries with free speech are very lucky. People benefit greatly from free speech.

There is more to free speech than just being able to talk about people or talk about ideas. Free speech also includes the the freedom to to talk about products before we buy them. In economic terms, we have price transparency and product transparency.

Sadly there is very little "useful" free speech about medical treatments. Right now it's like going into a grocery store and seeing cans without labels. We pretty much have no idea what's in the can! Close your eyes and imagine walking into a grocery store and seeing row after row of cans without labels. That's the situation in healthcare today! There are no labels are on least not any understandable labels.

We need to start using our basic human right of free speech to start putting product transparency on medical treatments!

Why don't we already have labels on our cans? Why don't we already have product transparency for medical treatments? Why don't we know whether that chemotherapy is 90% effective for patients like us or 1% effective for patients like us? Why don't we know if that treatment for insomnia is 99% effective or 30% effective?

The problem is that those who consume medical treatments (patients) don't understand medical statistics. In addition, studies show that those who provide medical treatments (physicians) mostly don't understand treatment effects either. We have the blind leading the blind!

Thus, when it comes to medical treatments there is very little treatment transparency. It's UNACCEPTABLE! We must fix treatment transparency for patients, doctors, and nurses.

We need to help patients!

Patients and patient advocates DESPERATELY need these five horrendous problems solved:

  1. There is an 88% health illiteracy rate among patients (
  2. 60 to 80% of physicians don't understand treatment effects (CMAJ)
  3. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCORI) team says, “Every day, patients and their caregivers are faced with crucial health care decisions while lacking key information that they need.”
  4. PCORI also says that we need to translate “…existing scientific research into accessible and usable formats…”
  5. The majority of medical guidelines are written by authors with conflicts of interest (British Medical Journal).

We have created the solution for all five problems; we produce Treatment Scores. The Treatment Score = the net treatment benefit for the patient. It’s a way to summarize information to help patients understand medical treatments.

Patients are suffering from health illiteracy, medical scams, under-treatment, over-treatment, mistreatment, and being lied to with statistics. It’s horrible.

How to explain Treatment Scores? Well, every year we figure out our “gross income” and “net income” when we do our income taxes. So, we simply figure out the “gross treatment benefit” and the “net treatment benefit” for patients as digested from the medical literature. Did you see the movie "Moneyball" about Sabermetrics starring Brad Pitt? Treatment Scores are "Sabermetrics for medicine."

Treatment Scores put a graphical user interface (GUI) over evidence-based medicine (EBM). In the early days of the computer, you had to know how to use machine language to use a computer. Once Windows and Apple put a GUI over machine language everyone could use a computer. With Treatment Scores everyone can do EBM.

Every step within Treatment Scores can be validated and verified. Treatment Scores are the opposite of cookbook medicine. Patients get what they want: understandable information. Physicians get what they want: Evidence-Based Medicine in a format that saves time. Bloggers and writers can stop lying with statistics.

When you do evidence-based medicine (EBM) with a graphical user interface (GUI), and you quantify the effects of medical treatments, you can make some astonishing discoveries.

A colleague looked at the trend not to give antibiotics to children under 2 years of age who present with ear aches (otitis media). He calculated a Treatment Score of 10% for symptom resolution for giving amoxicillin. He was surprised, because he thought the Treatment Score would be much higher. On the other hand, why withhold any treatment that has a “net treatment benefit” of 10% for resolving symptoms? It should be up to the patient. Patients want to know all the choices and all the information about each treatment; they want shared-decision making, because personal preferences can change the Treatment Score.

The Ebola epidemic in Africa was not optimally treated. Hundreds of patients probably died unnecessarily. With Treatment Scores, you can see who was more logical, Doctors without Borders, or one physician at the World Health Organization who saw in the data what we saw with Treatment Scores.

Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir) is a major advance in treating a subset of hepatitis C, having a Treatment Score of 95% (as in 95% cure rate), compared to the old interferon based protocol that has a Treatment Score of 40%.

Steve Jobs (of Apple) allegedly had stage 1, neuroendocrine, pancreatic cancer found by accident. No doubt, such a smart, wealthy CEO would immediately undergo the "best treatment" for this most curable form of all pancreatic cancers, right? No! Remember, there is an 88% health illiteracy rate among patients ( Even “the genius” Steve Jobs wasted precious time, apparently 6 months or more, doing treatments that were not backed by clinical evidence. How many times did the tumor double in size over the 180-day delay? Doubling time can be as low as 62 days (Pancreas, 2001). Would Steve Jobs still be alive today if he had simply had immediate access to a list of all possible treatments with Treatment Scores? His disease reportedly became metastatic and he passed away.

Patients want a complete list of treatments. Recently, a man told me about being diagnosed with hives (urticaria of unknown etiology). He went from doctor to doctor without ever finding a cure. He was working from a list of treatments that included antihistamines and steroids, and all the sub-classes of those medications orally and topically. He was also taking four showers per day for itching. The treatment that finally cured him wasn’t even on any of the typical lists of treatments. I have heard this same story many times about many different diseases. Did you know there are 130 treatments for insomnia? Did you know there are 57 treatments for an acute migraine headache? Why can’t we give patients a complete list of every treatment in the literature for every disease, and a Treatment Score for every one of those treatments? Not to say what patients must do, but to say here is what you can do, and here are how the Treatment Scores change depending on your personal preferences.

Patients want to know about all treatments whether they are Western medicine, Eastern medicine, herbal medicine, naturopathic medicine, Ayurveda, or any other type of alternative medicine. Patients spend $34 billion dollars per year on alternative medicine. You can give patients what they want with treatment lists and positive Treatment Scores, because sometimes excellent clinical studies do exist. Or, you can tell them when the Treatment Score = 0, because studies do not exist or the treatments don’t work. You can even tell patients when the Treatment Score is negative (harmful).

Health writers don’t need one more thing wasting their time. EBM advocates need something that will save them time, and help them do what they love, which is learn and teach. Treatment Scores do both.

We are looking for a person (or a group of people) who can help with treatment transparency using Treatment Scores. We are looking for people passionate about helping patients. This will be a great educational opportunity (over the Internet).

The essays you write with Treatment Scores will be seen by a wide audience. We have over 100,000 followers on Facebook, over 9,000 followers on Twitter, and we hold all top 10 positions on Google search. As I write this, we are growing by over 1,000 followers per day on all our social media accounts combined. Patients clearly want better treatment transparency. You can also write for your hometown newspaper or for major publishers. Everyone needs Treatment Scores.

What will Treatment Scores give you besides worldwide and local publicity? You will receive an extraordinary education in evidence-based medicine. You will discover amazing revelations currently hidden in the medical literature. You will find scoop after scoop that can “go viral.”

If you are interested in Treatment Scores, please email:
Feel free to send your LinkedIn profile, CV, or any other information.

There is a 1 minute explainer video about Treatment Scores on YouTube:

There is an explanatory essay about Treatment Scores and Smart Phones here:

Bradley R. Hennenfent, MD
Physician & Economist (Retired)
Florida, USA

Treatment Scores was started by an anesthesiologist, an emergency physician, a physician programmer, and Dr. Hennenfent. Brad Hennenfent graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in economics, graduated medical school from the University of Illinois, and did his Emergency Medicine residency at the UIC Affiliated Hospitals Emergency Medicine Residency Program. After two years as a practicing emergency physician, he became director of an inner-city emergency department in Chicago. Then, he went into business and became the director of over 10 emergency departments and urgent care centers. Dr. Hennenfent has had five uncles with prostate cancer. He became an advocate, and, while working with a medical non-profit, helped get over $20 million dollars of federal funding released for medical research to the National Institutes of Health. He also helped get over $100,000 worth of grants in kind or donations year after year. In his retirement in Florida, he has become very interested in medical statistics and treatment transparency for patients. He believes patients should be more informed and more powerful. Dr. Hennenfent likes to combine the mathematics of economics with the mathematics of medicine.

To support Treatment Scores and the treatment transparency movement:



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You must always see a licensed physician for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment Scores are only an educational exercise. Death or disability can result if you don't see your own medical physician, call an ambulance, or go to the emergency department immediately for your medical issues.

Copyright © 2017 Bradley R. Hennenfent, M.D. All rights reserved.