Academic medical journalism leader joins blogosphere

i-4e31e3302f259b9de2bdafb14cd8ed2c-T_Linden_120.pngI'm happy to report that physician-journalist, Tom Linden, MD, has begun blogging over at Dr Mike Magee's Health Commentary.

Dr Linden is currently Glaxo Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Medical Journalism and director of the Medical Journalism Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill J-school. As an example of the visibility of the program, one of Tom's current students, Kelly Rae Chi, just had an article posted at The Scientist on the history of the biotech industry in San Diego.

Tom recognized early the power of the internet for health information and in 1995 co-authored, Dr. Tom Linden's Guide to Online Medicine, one of the first Web guides for the medical consumer. Docs might also recognize Tom's voice in his role as medical anchor for Journal Watch Audio from the Massachusetts Medical Society, publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr Linden comments on profiteering in the American health care system in his inaugural post, Putting Common Good Above Private Gain. Tom has a great way of putting issues in perspective as evidenced by his discussion of former United Health CEO, Dr William W. McGwire, who recently forfeited some backdated stock options:

I assume Dr. McGuire worked hard to make UnitedHealth the largest health insurer in the country, but you have to question the equity of a system that gives Dr. McGuire stock options worth $800 million, an amount that would pay annual health insurance policies for about 69,000 families of four, assuming an annual premium of about $11,500.

Public health has been suffering and those benefiting financially from the status quo are deeply entrenched in Washington. In suggesting that the only plausible remedy to the system is legislative, Dr Linden urges us to investigate the positions of US presidential candidates on health care reform. As we have registered our support for presidential candidate debates on science and technology, health care reform is an obvious practical and high-impact issue that would emerge from such forums.

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