Our view: White House can't kill medical innovation by banning words like 'evidence-based' and 'transgender'

Our view: White House can't kill medical innovation by banning words like 'evidence-based' and 'transgender'

Abortion and gender reassignment surgery are technological advancements and medical breakthroughs – not everyone likes that fact, but it is true. And so is the reality that next-gen healthcare will be far superior to the status quo because of science- and evidence-based standards of care.

So even in this political climate, where something shocking happens almost every day, it was surprising that the Trump administration on Thursday reportedly banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using seven words: diversity, entitlement, evidence-based, fetus, science-based, transgender and vulnerable. And it came as a great relief that on Sunday CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, publicly countered that on Twitter: “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs.”

I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs.

— Dr Brenda Fitzgerald (@CDCDirector) December 17, 2017

Whether Fitzgerald has just started a war with President Trump – on Twitter, his preferred battleground – or put a prompt end to this controversy remains to be seen. 

Even if the banter continues and the CDC is ultimately forced not to use those phrases, however, history will view this as a minor nuisance to progress, if as anything at all.

Forgive my use of the well-trodden William Gibson cliché here, but the future of evidence-based medicine is already here, it’s just not yet evenly distributed. Data science? It exists.  

And it is what's driving advances in precision medicine, population health management, alternative shared-risk and value-based payment models, which are exactly where healthcare is headed, regardless of politics. 

Physician groups, hospitals, networks and academic medical centers have made tremendous investments and big strides in these areas. Science-based research is enabling doctors, nurses and family caregivers to practice evidence-based medicine that saves the lives of more and more sick people – including those already convinced they’re going to die until a genetic test pinpoints a rare biomarker blocking a treatment’s pathway and, in turn, their doctors personalize a therapy that eradicates cancer in short order.

That’s just one example of how the more scientific rigor applied, the more data and evidence collected, the better off and healthier we will all become. Every person, each of us individually and together as the human race, should understand that we will continue to die from curable and preventable illness until we use information and technology to deeply understand what’s making us sick and what we can do about it. 

Cancer kills Democrats, Republicans, Independents and non-voters alike. Billions of practitioners of the five major world religions are no more immune to disease than atheists, agnostics or even heretics.

Regardless of what fate those seven words might meet at the CDC, doctors, nurses, clinicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, health IT vendors and tech titans currently moving toward healthcare such as Apple, Amazon, IBM, Google, Microsoft and countless others are going to make important contributions based on scientific evidence.

Everyone working in healthcare will use those seven words, as if the White House’s decree never happened. Because science, evidence, information and technological advancement are concepts impervious to assassination by politics or policy.

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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