Melinda Beck

Melinda Beck is a veteran reporter, writer and editor for major publications, currently writing freelance articles and pursuing book projects.

New Gadgets That Could Give Telemedicine a Boost

Telemedicine offers patients the chance to meet with a doctor, 24/7, without leaving home. But many physicians are wary of participating because they can’t peer into patients’ ears, look down their throats or listen to their lungs remotely. A new genre of home diagnostic devices aims to address those concerns by giving patients some of the same tools that doctors use during in-office exams. Think part Star Trek Tricorder, part Harry Potter Extendable Ear.

Meanwhile, back on the farm

It spans only about an acre at the north end of campus, but the Yale Farm brings a world of food experiences, issues, and ideas to the Yale community. Student interns and volunteers learn to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers, care for honeybees and free-range hens, and manage soils for long-term health. Russian literature classes come to thresh Ukranika wheat, a variety much like a kind of wheat mentioned in Anna Karenina. Moreover, the farm serves as a forum for studying the complexi

“We wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t looked.”

“We wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t looked.” A fund at Yale is jump-starting new research on gender and health. WHRY director Carolyn M. Mazure with the center’s recent undergraduate fellows. Left to right: Dhikshitha Balaji ’18, Kaveri Curlin ’19, Mazure, and Haleigh Larson ’18. View full image Compared with men, women recovering from bypass surgery had lower levels of functioning, more pain, higher rates of infection, and more than twice the rate of rehospitalization. This WHRY-funded discove

Eating at Yale has changed. Drastically.

Alumni who remember Salisbury steak with brown sauce might not recognize Yale dining today. The cafeteria steam tables have been replaced with “action stations,” where chefs in white coats prepare dishes such as Kogi Beef Tacos and Jerk Chicken Skewers with Mango Drizzle in front of waiting students. The introduction of spa water, infused with fruit slices and prominently displayed in glass canisters, has brought soda consumption down. Trays are gone. Students carry individual dishes to their s

No time to lose

Michael Wishnie ’87, ’93JD, was just leaving a Celtics game in Boston when he got the emergency phone call. It was Friday night, January 27, and President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees and halting immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries was only a few hours old. Rebecca Heller ’10JD was on the phone. A former student of Wishnie’s, and director of the nonprofit International Refugee Assistance Project, she had learned that an Iraqi man her group was helping had been separ

With Direct Primary Care, It’s Just Doctor and Patient

There’s no waiting room at Linnea Meyer’s tiny primary-care practice in downtown Boston. That’s because there’s rarely a wait to see her. She has only 50 patients to date and often interacts with them by text, phone or email. There’s no office staff because Dr. Meyer doesn’t charge for visits or file insurance claims. Patients pay her a monthly fee—$25 to $125, depending on age—which covers all the primary care they need. “Getting that third-party payer out of the room frees me up to focus on p

Review: “Keep the Damned Women Out”

Melinda Beck ’77, a longtime columnist and editor at the Wall Street Journal, is a writer in New York City. As yet another male president takes the oath of office this month, it’s bracing to recall that once, gaining entrance to the nation’s elite colleges was also a struggle for women. “Keep the Damned Women Out”—as one alumnus implored the Dartmouth trustees—is a meticulously researched, deftly written look at how coeducation happened at Yale, Princeton, Harvard, and elsewhere in the 1960s

Can a Death-Predicting Algorithm Improve Care?

Health-care experts often lament that one-quarter of all Medicare spending—$150 billion annually—goes to treating patients in their last year of life. But identifying those patients in advance and cutting back on futile care has been difficult. Can an algorithm help? A startup called Aspire Health says that it can predict which patients are likely to die in the next year and reduce their medical bills substantially by offering them palliative care at home, keeping them comfortable while avoidin

Patients May Still Get a ‘Surprise’ Bill After an In-Network ER Visit, Study Finds

According to new study by Yale economists, an in-network emergency room visit may result in a bill from an out-of-network doctor. Two dueling ads highlight the impasse between insurance companies and physicians regarding the matter. Image: Cigna/ACEP Patients who get emergency care at a hospital in their insurance network have nearly a 1 in 4 chance of being treated by an out-of-network ER physician who may send a “surprise” bill, according to an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Mail-Order Tests Check Cells for Signs of Early Aging

Your cells might be aging faster than you are, and new tests purport to help you find out. A few companies are offering mail-order testing to measure the length of people’s telomeres, the protective caps of DNA on the ends of chromosomes that have been likened to the plastic tips that prevent shoelaces from fraying. Telomeres gradually shorten as people age and eventually may disappear, leaving cells vulnerable to disease and death.

The Challenge of Health-Care Innovation in Developing Nations

Creating a low-cost innovation to solve a global health problem isn’t easy. Getting it scaled up, financed, distributed, culturally accepted and actually used is harder still. The PlayPump, a merry-go-round powered by children that pumped water from the ground, was a classic case. Despite substantial funding and global acclaim, many of the 1,000 PlayPumps installed in Africa sat idle because groundwater wasn’t accessible, they were difficult to maintain and villages didn’t want to require child

Where Does It Hurt? Log On. The Doctor Is In

Telemedicine services are increasingly embraced by Americans as a convenient alternative to a trip to the doctor's office. WSJ's Melinda Beck examines several services and the concerns that exist among medical professionals. Photo: American Well Can downloading an app, and describing your symptoms to a doctor you'll never meet, take the place of an office visit? Can sending a "selfie" of your sore throat help diagnose strep? Those are some of the issues state and federal regulators—and the med

How to Bring the Price of Health Care Into the Open

It's a simple idea, but a radical one. Let people know in advance how much health care will cost them—and whether they can find a better deal somewhere else. With outrage growing over incomprehensible medical bills and patients facing a higher share of the costs, momentum is building for efforts to do just that. Price transparency, as it is known, is common in most industries but rare in health care, where "charges," "prices," "rates" and "payments" all have different meanings and...

Testing the Limits of Tipsy

How much alcohol does it take to reach a blood-alcohol level of .08%, the legal intoxication level in all 50 states? Since Alcohol clearly affects some people more than others, Melinda Beck looks at whether that affects their blood-alcohol level? How much alcohol does it take to get intoxicated? Many people figure a few beers at a ballgame or a couple of glasses of wine with dinner won't put them over the legal limit for driving. But how alcohol affects people is highly individual, with a numb