Fact Checking

The most retweeted statistic from Transform 2010 (watch the videos!) was this one. "Receiving healthcare is the third leading cause of death in America." The statistic was part of a presentation by Jill Morin and Jim Rasche from Kahler Slater Experience Design. I was a little skeptical that this could be true, or at least I questioned how receiving healthcare was defined, so I thought I'd take a cue from Esther Dyson, another speaker at the conference, and do some fact checking. It turned out to be a pretty fascinating trip down the research rabbit hole. So I thought we'd do a fun experiment. You are invited to come down the rabbit hole with me.

Over the next few days, I'm going to walk through the article most commonly associated with this claim and show some of the trail of research that led to the summary statement "receiving healthcare is the third leading cause of death in the US." It is a powerful, educational lesson about data, definitions and narrative in medical research. What ended up as a startling, pithy, shareable critique actually began as many thoughtful attempts to shed some light on a disturbing and little understood reality of our healthcare system. It seems to me that some important concepts were lost in that evolution.

Join me here tomorrow and we'll work together to figure out what we are really saying when we say receiving healthcare is the third leading cause of death in the US. And maybe if we are lucky, it will inspire us to do something about it.