Yale Cardiologist Taps Data To Shape Health Decisions : Shots - Health News Dr. Harlan Krumholz has helped make the careful measurement of how patients do after treatment into a belatedly hot field.
NPR logo Yale Cardiologist Taps Data To Shape Health Decisions

Yale Cardiologist Taps Data To Shape Health Decisions

If you want a face to put on the movement to base medical decisions on hard data, you could do worse than Dr. Harlan Krumholz.

A Forbes profile by Matt Herper calls Krumholz, a 52-year-old cardiologist at Yale, the "most powerful doctor you never heard of."

What's the big deal? Well, for going on 20 years Krumholz has been asking big questions about what works best, and then why doctors aren't making sure it's done.

"Every day millions of patients are being treated, and the lessons from their experiences are lost because there is no systematic effort to learn from them,"  Krumholz tells Forbes. "If I'm sitting down with a patient, I should be able to take advantage of everything we have learned up until yesterday to treat them."

He's looked at the rates of heart attack patients getting aspirin, time from hospital admission to angioplasty, and lately hospital readmissions for heart failure patients.

A few months back Krumholz brought his message to the masses, or at least to a bunch of folks inside the Washington Beltway, with an op-ed on the value of finding treatments that don't work. "Rather than a letdown, the failure to find an advantage in an expensive strategy opens the door to doing less and spending less without worsening patient care — and in some cases improving it," he wrote in the Washington Post.

Here's a video that features Krumholz (after Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steve Nissen) talking about the symptoms of heart attack: