The Takeaways: Week 18 of 2022

A periodic review of articles, newsletters, and podcasts that I found interesting, inspiring, or otherwise worth remembering.


John Cutler, The Beautiful Mess. TBM 20/54: "You're Making This Too Complicated" (May 5, 2022)

If you are a mess explorer, consider whether it helps you to expose all of the mess in public. Are you overwhelming people? Is it helping your cause? Can you be more empathetic with your approach? If you love to get moving right away, consider if you’re giving team members time to process and get their bearings. Is it helping your cause?


Marynia Kolak, STAT. Adding social determinants gives public health maps a sense of place and time (March 31, 2021)

To improve public health outcomes from Covid-19 and other nonpandemic concerns, social determinants of health must be more than an industry buzzword. They must guide the science that generates public health data.

For the US Covid Atlas project at the University of Chicago, which I direct, our team works to bring these factors into perspective. We start by making data available from state and county scales, from multiple sources, and across the entire time of the pandemic. We include statistical hot spots, historical place-based filters, dozens of community characteristics, and overlay other resources, like federally qualified health centers, for exploration. A viewer could investigate, for example, how the pandemic spread in counties with varying food insecurity, income inequality, or life expectancy rates; explore spillovers across state lines as residents took advantage of different stay-at-home policies; or track vaccine trends alongside access to mass vaccination centers.

Megan Messerly, Politico. Oregon, Kentucky dust off an Obama-era policy to expand health insurance (April 30, 2022)

Oregon and Kentucky, despite their wildly different politics, are pursuing an Obama-era policy that uses federal dollars to establish a health insurance plan for people who make too much money to qualify for their state’s Medicaid programs. The goal is to provide residents who find Obamacare plans too expensive a less costly option, while smoothing insurance gaps for people teetering on the edge of Medicaid eligibility.

Earlier this year, Oregon health officials found that more than a third of Oregonians who were uninsured pre-pandemic said losing their Medicaid coverage was a main reason they didn’t have health coverage, even though they should have been eligible for subsidies on the exchange.

“We’re talking about folks who, their income is fluctuating between Medicaid and the marketplace, but they actually aren’t going between Medicaid and the marketplace. They’re going between Medicaid and being uninsured,” said Jeremy Vandehey, director of the Oregon Health Authority’s health policy and analytics division.

Allan Richarz, Atlas Obscura. Why Japan’s Rail Workers Can’t Stop Pointing at Things (March 29, 2017)

Known in Japanese as shisa kanko, pointing-and-calling works on the principle of associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations to prevent errors by “raising the consciousness levels of workers”—according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan. Rather than rely on a worker’s eyes or habit alone, each step in a given task is reinforced physically and audibly to ensure the step is both complete and accurate.

Peter Weinberg and Jon Lombardo. Marketing Week. Forget personalisation, it’s impossible and it doesn’t work (May 6, 2022)

So let’s recap the case against personalisation:

  1. You can’t personalise, because third-party data is extremely unreliable.
  2. And wouldn’t personalise, even if you could, because marketing works by reaching everybody with the same message to create shared associations.