Europe used to be a community of values (II)

What makes (should make…) Europe unique is that we all support shared values. That is especially true for the historic arch enemies England, France and Germany. Today’s terror act shows once again that the United Kingdom is part of Europe. Every humanist in Europe must not just think about how we can protect refugees, but also (and maybe even more) how we humanists can protect ourselves from those who trample all over human rights. Probably, we’ll have to choose the lesser evil.

If humanistic societies don’t protect themselves, nobody will be there to protect everybody else.

The United Kingdom is part of the EU and should stay with the EU. Together we are strong. ONLY together.

(ed. note: There’s also an initial blog entry “Europe used to be a community of values” that is not yet translated to English)

Car on Demand

God’s Abacus” by Today is a good day / Flickr

My favorite news magazine, The Economist, features a special report “on the future of the car”. The report covers great topics, but – to my surprise – the analysis is missing a key topic: car sharing. This is even more surprising in the light of a box titled “Distant peak car” – because we may experience that a whole lot faster than we think, thanks to the combination of driverless cars and car sharing. Here’s how and why:
Continue reading “Car on Demand”

What is quality in medical treatment after all?

The German online magazine “Spiegel Online” is reporting on calls for more transparency in health care. I’m tempted to say: … for even more transparency in health care. The article “Patientenrechte: Experten fordern gläsernes Gesundheitssystem

All measures (note the ambiguity!) suggested in the article are interesting, but I’m missing a definition of quality. As a physicist, I know: the more you measure, the more likely you are to measure what doesn’t matter. (German: Wer viel misst, misst viel Mist)

Most quality schemes (such as the infamous ISO 9000) don’t measure the outcome but the repeatability of the procedure. The underlying idea is: if we precisely repeat the procedure, we will get precisely the same results. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for health care. Every case is different, and it is neither useful nor practical to create equal starting conditions for everybody first.

Quality is usually what you find afterwards, but a lot of the information used in quality “measurements” is not available up front to the treating doctor (i.e. before the treatment).

The outcome? – cover-your-ass treatments as we can see them emerge already in the US and GB. Doctors who primarily tune their treatments to minimize compensations for damages instead of maximizing the benefit for patients. Doctors sticking to standard procedures “just to be safe”, and these standard procedures may fit to the individual case in question, most often they even will – but sometimes, they won’t.

The actual quality of treatments may even go down, but the trap is: because everybody is acting within the procedures of the quality standards, the assessed quality will still go up.