Here’s one good thing about the Polar Vortex that’s held most of the nation in its tight grip since January: A considerable jump in letters to the editor. Hopefully, our provocative content also had something to do with that.

So, let’s take a peek inside the mailbag:

As only he can, Ian Morrison wove together a discussion on wealth, the Persian Gulf and Pete Seeger. The column drew some praise:

Liz Clark wrote:

Interesting and thanks. The expansion of coverage to all guest workers is the key to Gulf health and to increasing outcomes. What's sorely lacking is prevention measures/health education and a competent clinical work staff to deliver care. Wouldn't worry about the percentage of spend per GDP because Gulf economies are not like the rest of the world (super rich with small populations — very skewed when comparing with the U.S. or Europe).

Mike Monahan chimed in with this,

"… and if only this we could believe, we still might be reprieved," Walking Down Death Row by Pete Seeger. Thanks, Ian!

New contributor Paul Keckley took a look at the impact retail clinics are having on the market and how (and why) some segments of the industry need to change their view of the trend. That drew this response from Ron Hammerle:

Paul, your wise advice should be heard by more healthcare professionals than just pediatricians.

More than a dozen years ago, family physicians were offered several opportunities to medically oversee community-based retail clinics — before CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and now more than a half dozen other "Stealthcare" companies saw the future and moved forward without them.

Similarly, local hospitals — and even three, big name, American medical centers — have been so narrowly focused that they passed up an opportunity to electronically "thread" their medical specialty services to and through hundreds of well-established, community-based, "patient-centered," retail clinics in the United States — not to mention thousands more that will soon be coming online in countries around the world.

One only needs to look at the fate of many family farmers, airlines, automakers, banks, grocers, hardware stores, hotels, restaurants, railroads, realtors, travel agents and a few dozen more service industries to see where customers will be taking health care.

David Ollier Weber’s most recent column suggested that a “just culture” can go a long way toward helping organizations improve patient safety.

Linda Galindo sent in this comment:

For the airlines, the cost of not reporting is far worse than reporting. The reporting process is a mixture of problem solving and consistent consequence if the behavior is repeated. In the name of patient safety, can the health care culture make the cost of not reporting too high for the person who committed the error and those aware of it? Everyone involved is accountable for the problem. Absent this mindset individually and collectively, the patient suffers the consequences. This is tough accountability, but when the stakes are this high, it should be tough.

Finally, Eric Topol, M.D., who is a regular contributor to our Connecting the Continuum series, examined why physicians seem slow to get on the mHealth bandwagon.

John Gallagher agreed with Topol’s assessment:

mHealth must continue to evolve, I agree. The patient will demand it. The fundamental way that docs manage their population must change and waste must be eliminated. The payer must recognize that the patient engagement value is higher than the traditional delivery methods and revamp reimbursement. As you say, it is inevitable that we will become digital doctors in the future. Patients are already there.

And Paddu G suggested that physicians look to other industries to understand how technology can make you a dinosaur.

Blockbuster never realized that Netflix can kill their traditional business. Book publishers never realized that Amazon could do a better job than they. Large enterprises never realized that cloud and other technologies are bypassing their IT departments and users are directly using mobile apps.

In the name of Privacy, HIPAA and Medicine, some doctors are still resisting the changes. I guess it is a matter of time before doctors come on board. Also, costs are driven down with new apps and mHealth devices. Unfortunately, consumers have to go with the existing practices until most of the doctors come on board, if not all. Hopefully it will not be too long.

Thanks for taking this up as a doctor. I heard that doctors listen to doctors!

Keep those comments coming. Comment: Twitter