PharmGirl just sent me this tip after I got out of a meeting but I see that some bloggers have already weighed in about Obama’s apparent selection of Dr Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General.
1. He knows firsthand the limitations of the US health care system, especially in poor rural and urban areas where access to care is a challenge even under normal circumstances. Gupta has also been on-site for several of the most challenging medical emergencies the US has faced in recent years, most significantly the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
2. Literally millions of Americans already trust him for health care information. Some may consider this a detriment but let me frame this in the context of the recent brouhaha between science bloggers and traditional science journalists: as accurate and influential as science bloggers or top-tier science journalists think we may be, the vast majority of Americans still obtain health information from television, again, in poor or rural areas where internet access is limited or too expensive. The Sanjay Gupta’s of television play an incredible role in dissemination health information to much of this country.
Be thankful Obama didn’t pick Dr Phil.
The primary question is how Gupta would use this position in the Obama cabinet to promote health care reform and improved access to care for the indigent and the increasing number of un- or underinsured. But he is an expert in framing messages and complex medical issues to a diverse audience. This could be very good, if the position is used wisely to effect health care reform and improved public health.
Addendum: My dear friend and colleague, Dr Val, levies her disappointment at Better Health.