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Researchers are able to identify physician influencers, “network leaders,” simply by seeing which doctors are most “central” to a network, most connected by patient-sharing to other general practitioners, surgeons, and medical specialists. If “network leaders” can be found, then new medical information can be more easily disseminated among doctors, according to research led by Nicholas Christakis (pictured), a professor in the sociology department in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School.

Doctor knots

Researchers describe connections among physicians, explore possible effects

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Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital compared four measures of hospital-wide mortality provided by commercial vendors. "The results should not be interpreted as an indictment of any particular technique,” said Sharon-Lise T. Normand, HMS professor of health care policy.  “Rather, they call into question the concept of measurement of hospital-wide mortality, as four different methods yielded four different results. Thus, this may not be a good way to assess hospital quality.”

Mixed messages

Mortality rates are an unreliable metric for assessing hospital quality

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