Saturday morning coffee [May 23 2015]

By | May 23, 2015

“I was out on a date recently and the guy took me horseback riding. That was kind of fun, until we ran out of quarters.” – Susie Loucks

So much happens each and every week, and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

MUG_SMC

Pitch Perfect 2 was #1 at the box office last weekend, easily outpacing Mad Max: Fury Road; $69 million vs. $45 million, respectively. Of the two I would much rather see Mad Max, but there’s no accounting for taste. Fortunately for Warner Bros, Mad Max will do well over seas. I don’t think it’ll have any problems surpassing the $300 million mark worldwide. I didn’t see Mad Max last weekend, but I finally managed to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was much better than I expected. Seriously, I was prepared to be disappointed. I’m happy to report that not only wasn’t I disappointed, I was thrilled. Great movie. Highly recommended.

The Daily Beast: “I get that throwing back a saturated fat soaked heart punch of pastry and chasing it with a Styrofoam-ensconced heavy cream and sugar caffeine calorie grenade isn’t good for you. But you know what? I don’t care.” – I can relate. I’m not really a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts, except for their Pumpkin Munchkins, but I do like their coffee – “I just had to find that Willy Wonka. I wanted to find the man who was making the coffee, and ask him what brand of crack was in it.” – I would love to visit the Dunkin’ coffee laboratory. I always grab a cup of Dunkin’s coffee when I’m traveling and there’s one nearby. You see, the closest Dunkin’ Donuts to me in more than an hour away.

Microsoft hit a homerun with the new Surface 3. It’s currently the best tablet on the market in my opinion. Make no mistake, it is a tablet. A wonderful pen-enabled, full windows tablet. Check this video below for some really cool tips and tricks with the Surface 3.

This week I’ve been writing with a Noodler’s Ahab Flex Fountain Pen filled with Noodler’s Forest Green ink. The pen is rather cool because it has a piston filling system, holds a lot of ink, and gives you the ability to lay down a little or a lot of ink, i.e. it has a “flex tip”. Noodler’s Forest Green is, well, green. Actually it’s a rather dark green, which I like. The one downside to this particular pen and ink combination is that the ink goes on too wet for my taste, especially when using my Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It takes too long for the ink to dry for quick notes and I end up with a lot of smeared letters.

The DEA was busy this week as they conducted raids on physicians and pharmacies in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi as part of a massive crackdown on the illegal distribution of controlled substances. According to The New York Timesthe raids came after a 15-month investigation by the agency [DEA], which focused on the illegal sale and distribution of painkillers including oxycodone and hydrocodone and the tranquilizer Xanax.” Actually Xanax (alprazolam) is an anxiolytic, but I digress. More than 200 people were arrested in connection with the investigation. Crazy.

The Scientist: “Using bacteriophages to deliver a specific CRISPR/Cas system into antibiotic-resistant bacteria can sensitize the microbes to the drugs, according to a study published this week (May 18) in PNAS.” – As a pharmacist I can’t tell you how big something like this could be. Antibiotic resistant bacteria is a major problem in hospitals. Having the ability to take a resistant strain and make it susceptible again would be huge. Besides that, don’t these phages look cool. They look like giant alien lifeforms attacking a planet.

phages (image credit: The New Yorker)

Forbes: “Digital health technologies can of course be helpful in a range of other ways, such as improving adherence, population analytics, clinical decision support, etc…. [however] the evidence base around digital health is incredibly shallow at this point, and generally lacks the rigor serious clinical studies require. … here’s the thing: the history of medicine is replete with examples of technologies and approaches that make intuitive sense but happen not to work.” – This is a really good read, and the author makes some great points. Do yourself a favor, go read the whole thing.

Current clinical trials are regarded as “too slow, too expensive, not reliable, and not designed to answer the important questions,” according to FDA’s new deputy commissioner for medical products &tobacco, Robert Califf.” – Yeah, that about sums it up. Califf wants to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical trials. Don’t we all? (source: Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine)

Controlled Environments: “Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). This nanosponge-hydrogel minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA – without the use of antibiotics.” – Nanotechnology is cool. Just sayin’.

Looks like Microsoft is working on a cloud-based clipboard called OneClip. It’s cross-platform and pretty cool. Check the video below. Side note: is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Microsoft is kicking butt and taking names lately? They’re killing it.

I receive daily digests from some of the ASHP forums. One of those forums – Pharmacy Practice Managers – had a question this week about whether or not pharmacies should allow music in the department. I was shocked at the number of respondents that either didn’t allow music in the pharmacy or thought it was a bad idea. Dude, that’s lame. Working in a pharmacy is seriously tedious and boring. A little music is nice. Some people cited music as a distraction. That one made me laugh. Everything in a pharmacy is a distraction. Pharmacists get interrupted multiple times an hour. Phones ring, calls have to be made, nurses come to the window, technicians ask questions, administrators walk through trying to look important, things need to get checked, problems need to get handled, orders have to be entered/verified, kinetics need to be performed, doses need to be adjusted, allergies need to get verified, and on, and on, and on. Music as a distraction? Are you for real? Let the staff have a little music. Don’t be such a curmudgeon.  Hey! You kids get off my lawn!

One of the supposid advantages of being part of a big hospital system is the ability to reduce costs. As it turns out, big hospital systems don’t reduce costs. In a paper by Burns, et al, the authors found that “membership in hospital systems is not associated with lower operating costs. A second major finding is that the lack of system effects has been fairly stable over time. Despite changes in information technology and vertical integration, most hospital systems have not improved their operating performance….We find that hospitals in smaller systems have lower costs than hospitals in larger systems…For two decades, researchers and consultants have argued the dual advantages of organized systems—the ability to standardize functions and centralize governance and other activities—which can enable them to achieve the triple aim. Our research suggests that many hospital … systems’ ability to contribute to lower cost health care is nonexistent or limited at best.” – Whoops!

This is a bit scary. According to USA TodayState and federal health officials privately urged the Food and Drug Administration nearly six years ago to alert hospitals about contamination risks from specialized medical scopes that have been tied to a recent series of deadly superbug outbreaks… In emails and a phone briefing, epidemiologists at the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the infections occurred because hospitals were having trouble cleaning the scopes properly.

Ugh, still more than 100 days out, but it’s getting closer.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone. Remember those that served. Have a BBQ hamburger and enjoy some downtime.

One thought on “Saturday morning coffee [May 23 2015]

  1. Ray Vrabel, PharmD

    Jerry, Thanks for the update on the Surface 3. If I needed a replacement for my laptop, that might just be it. You also made the following comment:

    Side note: is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Microsoft is kicking butt and taking names lately? They’re killing it.

    For the longest time, I have been using various third-party apps on my iPad and my Android smartphone for managing my threee different email accounts (One personal and one business Yahoo account and my Gmail account). The one I am using right now is from Microsoft: Microsoft Outlook for both iOS and Android. For someone who was spoiled using an Outlook business email account (before I retired), these apps for my iPad and Android smartphone are the best and they keep getting better. They also have a customer feedback mechanism where you actually get a response from a competent customer service person. And, the best part…it’s FREE…!!!

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