Phong Huynh

Cohort 5

The Patient Promise

There’s ample evidence that the way doctors look, feel and behave may affect the way they treat and advise their patients.  Studies have shown that many doctors and nurses fail to promote healthy behaviors in their patients, particularly if they are themselves poor health role models with unhealthy eating and exercise patterns, as well as stressful lives. The converse is also true: research suggests that if clinicians are healthier, they are more likely to talk with their patients about lifestyle choices and patients in turn may feel more comfortable getting and following their advice.

The Patient Promise is a project created by two JHU medical students who saw the need to lead by example for patients.



Epic Lunch

Lunch with the church family. Gorgeous day in city.


I received the call at 2:58PM. I clutched my phone, stood up from my chair, and yanked my headphones out to answer the call.

“This is Phong speaking.”

Then it happened. An offer. Acceptance. Words went through one ear and out the next. I froze for a couple of seconds before coming to my senses and accepting the offer. It sounded more like this:

*pause* *pause* “Yes! I would love too!”

I’m not sure if what I said was coherent.

I started making way towards my boss’ desk. I looked her straight in the eyes. She knew what was happening. She stood up to hug me. Tears streamed down her face.

I didn’t know how to react. Very little emotion showed across my face and I was terribly calm. It was such a surreal moment.

The news spread throughout the office and everyone was clapping and cheering. And I just stood there in utter shock.

I was shaking hands and giving hugs. I walked towards another person in the office who is my mentor and advisor. We hugged and she started tearing up. We did it!

I stepped out of the office to call my parents. My Dad picked up and I delivered the good news. Sheer happiness. His voice cracked. I knew how emotional he was.

I asked to speak to my Mom. She completely broke down. My Mom has waited so long for this moment. My family has sacrificed so much to give me this wonderful opportunity to pursue my dreams.

A lot of text messages, phone calls, tweets, Facebook messages were sent out in the next few hours. It only made sense that everyone celebrated with me because I could not have done this in isolation.

I’m thankful to God. I had some incredibly bold prayers and He saw me through. It took a ton of trust.

I’m thankful for my family for all that they do. Words cannot begin to describe everything they have done and what mean to me.

And I’m thankful to my friends for their encouragement and support.

I’ve been waiting for this for over 12 years. It has been a long journey and I could not have done it without everyone’s help.

There is much more to be done but I will do my best to relish this opportunity now. The journey ahead is scary but I have to stick to the same formula that got me here in the first place. And I can’t wait to help others reach their goals too.

Waking up at 4:30AM so I could study before work. All those long nights in a 55 degree corridor in CHS, up until the wee hours of the morning and taking naps with my body sprawled out on 2 chairs placed face to face. Countless hours spent in nearly every library on campus. Eating ramen, Socko’s Subs, Subway, and Trader Joes pre-packaged meals. Entire weekends spent studying at coffee shops. Juggling various roles and responsibilities. Doing focus groups to earn extra cash. Plus a slew of other memories.

Finally, hard work paid off. And boy was it worth it.

A Long View on Health Care: Think Like an Investor

We think of health care as an expense, but we really should be thinking of health care as an investment. We want to invest where we have the greatest return. I would put prevention in that bucket.

But the way we do it now, no one has an incentive to invest in things with a long-term return.

Healthcare from an economist’s perspective.

What Makes a Community Healthy?

Dr. Frumkin: There ought to be places where the inhabitants of a community can thrive and do well. That’s your metric of success. People need certain things in order to thrive. They need some privacy, but they also need contact with other people. They need clean air, clean water and healthy, uncontaminated food. They need contact with nature, and they need beauty and inspiration. We could go on and on, but most of us would probably agree with what that core list of needs looks like. And then you can work with the community members to ask whether their community provides those needs for people, and we haven’t been doing that well over the last 50 years.

Also check out the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps website.

Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program

An image of the William H. Glover Shaving Parlor (1920) from USI's Evansville African-American Community image collection.

The goal of the program is threefold: Screen for diabetes and hypertension; educate about symptoms and prevention – diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle; refer to local providers who offer free or low-cost health care. In rare cases, according to the program’s website, men have been sent directly to the emergency room because of abnormal findings.

Releford ticks off the health statistics: Forty percent of African American men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease, compared with 21 percent for white men. African American men are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites. The program’s website provides additional information: Black men have the highest rates of prostate cancer of any racial group and die from HIV/AIDS at five times the rate of white men.

Great article about the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program in San Francisco. This Saturday (May 12th, 2012), BBHOP will be doing screenings at over 100 black-owned barbershops throughout California. Over 1500 African American men will be screened for both disbates and high blood pressure.

Please check out the BBHOP website and spread the word about May 12th!

20-Year Obesity Forecast: 42% of Americans Obese by 2030

Today, just over a third of U.S. adults are obese. By 2030, 42 percent will be, says a forecast released Monday

Worse, the already obese are getting fatter. Severe obesity will double by 2030, when 11 percent of adults will be nearly 100 pounds overweight, or more, concluded the research led by Duke University.

Data presented Monday at a major CDC meeting paint something of a mixed picture of the obesity battle. There’s some progress: Clearly, the skyrocketing rises in obesity rates of the 1980s and ’90s have ended. But Americans aren’t getting thinner.

Open Data in Action: What is an API?

HIV/AIDS Service Provider Locator

HIV/AIDS Service Provider Locator

In the past, information or data sharing typically required a fee or specific agreements. For example, if you wanted to get content from a news article, you had to buy a newspaper. Technology has changed how we share information: it has removed barriers and created incentives for open data sharing.

APIs make data more accessible by making them “machine-readable,” in a format that is downloadable, free, and easy to find. The U.S. government is making more and more health data available so “innovators can turn it into public data that…improves health.”

The field of medicine and research has a lot to learn from the open source software community. Having API’s and open standards will help drive medical innovation. Upcoming technology (such as mHealth) can empower patients to take control of their own health. It’s very exciting to see a push towards open data and health API’s. Currently, so many programs (e.g. EHR) are so isolated and proprietary. I’m hoping for a dynamic ecosystem to aggregate and analyze data, to improve health outcomes and foster evidence based care. The needs of the patient come first!

Take Control of Your Data, to Take Control of Your Health

The vast majority of the problems we face in health are complex and multilayered. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and autism are not simple problems but often convergences of genetics and lifestyles. Data about the individuals who suffer those diseases holds enormous promise to advance our understanding and to intervene effectively with treatments or prevention, but if we buy into the same model of data trading that applies in commerce we are unlikely to realize the full potential of the data we can create and capture. We need a new model for health data, one that comprehends the fundamental character of inquiry and research that we wish to accelerate.

Patient-driven health data can lead to evidence based care. We need an open and collaborative infrastructure to allow safe and dynamic exchange of data.