“The ICU may soon become a much healthier place to be sick” is how The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Landro begins her June 25 article about hospitals that are harnessing Big Data to improve care. Their IT systems are culling through “years of medical records and information from multiple sources — including data sets that may never have been linked in a single analysis before” to identify “correlations no one knew existed.” Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, for example, is collecting data on surprising things like the rate of admissions or the percentage of nurses with less than a year of experience in the ICU to come up with a “risk score” that’s displayed on a dashboard for staff to view in real time on monitors and handheld devices.

Showing PowerPoint slides at a meeting? Please don’t read them outloud to the room. “Most people have not enjoyed being read to since childhood” admonishes Luanne R. Stout, chief governance officer of Texas Health Resources, who advises instead to add color commentary, real-life examples and useful perspective and let everybody else read the slides for themselves. Stout spells out 10 tips in a June Trustee column on how hospital leaders can energize their board meetings. The tips apply to any kind of meeting, really; I won’t spell them all out, but my favorites are “Get to the point in one minute” (amen!) and “apply the 20/20/60 rule”: 20 percent about the issue at hand, 20 percent about why it is that way and 60 percent about what you’re doing about it.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce does a lot of useful advocacy on behalf of businesses here and abroad, but a New York Times report on Tuesday might give health care professionals pause. Based on interviews with U.S. and overseas government leaders, lobbyists and others, the article asserts that the chamber and its affiliates are quietly but doggedly fighting efforts by foreign governments to enact antismoking regulations. It’s worth noting that the World Health Organization estimates tobacco use kills 5.4 million people worldwide every year and, unchecked, will cause 8 million deaths a year by 2030. On top of that, the loss of productivity and the cost of medical coverage are enormous, which is one reason a growing number of businesses here at home impose a so-called smoking tax on smokers via their employee health plans.

There are a lot of high achievers in health care, but Michael Brennan stands out. He’s about to retire as an ophthalmologist in Burlington, N.C., to prepare for a lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut. In 2017, as reported by the Greensboro News & Record, Brennan is slated to be one of the first passengers on Virgin Galactic’s commercial suborbital spaceflights. Here’s what he’s done to get there: graduated from West Point, piloted Army aircraft into North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, earned a master’s degree in aeronautics from Stanford, went back to teach at West Point, received a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Texas, completed his residency in ophthalmology at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, served as chief of surgery at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and went on to treat patients for nearly 30 years at Alamance Eye Center in that state. Though Virgin Galactic has experienced some serious setbacks, including a crash of one of its aircraft, executives say SpaceShipTwo is on schedule to leave Earth in two years. During the five-hour flight, it will hit three-and-a-half times the speed of sound, and crew members — Brennan among them — will experience weightlessness, before the “spaceplane” re-enters the atmosphere and lands back on the runway.