Clare Krusing

One of the best parts of working in health care today is the constant state of fascinating reporting, podcasts and commentary that can keep your reading or podcast list full for weeks on end. Even if you’re a loyal Pulse / Vitals / Health202 / KHN Morning Briefing/ D.C. Diagnosis reader (and secretly guilty of waking up at 6am for the early versions – even on vacation), now is the time to check off some of the must-read and must-listen health care titles from your list. Whether you’re heading to the beach, taking a road trip or jet-setting out of the country, we’re bringing you some of the best health care reads for your August break.

Best Beach Reads: Crisis in the Red Zone and Born to Run

If you’re looking to tackle the New York Times’ best-seller list, Crisis in the Red Zone will have you locked in your beach chair from sunrise to sunset. The story highlights the international response to the Ebola epidemic across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in 2014-16. The Wall Street Journalhad a great review of the book here. Unfortunately, the threat of Ebola is ever-present today, but we’ve learned valuable lessons on how to prevent and contain these epidemics moving forward. For those looking for a lighter read – and maybe a little motivation to exercise on vacationBorn to Run will have lacing up your running shoes in anticipation of your next half marathon. I loved this book for a number of reasons – one of the most interesting narratives throughout the book was the shared evolution between our environment, modern medicine and the physical boundaries we can aspire to and push every day. It’s a great reminder how important exercise is as part of building and strengthening our own immune systems – and how we can do more to make sure our communities are more active moving forward. 

Best Book for Your International Flight: Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Could Cure the World

When Mountains Beyond Mountains was released 2003, it coincided with the broad shift from fee-for-service to a population-based approach to care across the U.S. health system. Many of the experiences captured through the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains represent the early foundation for addressing social determinants of health – the environmental and societal factors that play an outsize role in the health of patients and communities across the globe. For many, Mountains Beyond Mountains redefined the meaning of value-based care. Just as Dr. Farmer and the Partners in Health teams identified the importance of employment and transportation in how patients and their families view and access care, many health plans, providers and biopharmaceutical companies have embraced similar programs designed to meet patients of all background and socioeconomic statuses where they are.

Best Podcast for a Road Trip: The Dropout

Who hasn’t been mesmerized by the Theranos saga? I finished John Carreyou’s page-turning bookBad Bloodwhich chronicles the epic rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ blood testing company in a weekend and couldn’t get enough. For those Bad Blood fans, check out ABC News’ The Dropout, a seven-part series that goes beyond Carreyou’s reporting and provides never-before-heard interviews with Holmes and other major players in the Theranos downfall. Here’s what I loved the most: Carreyou and ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis balance the policy wonkiness (hello CLIA regulations!) that the Reservoir team manages on a daily basis with in-depth interviews from folks on the inside and around the industry. If you’re like me, you will likely make circles around the block until you finish all the episodes. 

Best Quick Reads (& Listens) for the News Junkies

If staying plugged in during vacation is part of your summer M.O., check out these “greatest hits” – the coverage and interviews driving today’s news cycle. With the surprise billing debate heating up as part of August recess, the full scope of Sarah Kliff’s coverage of the exorbitant charges facing patients in ERs is a must-read. Need to get caught up on what’s ahead for health care in 2020? Sync up your podcasts for the latest Pulse Check, where POLITCO’s Dan Diamond interviews all the newsmakers behind health care legislation moving on Capitol Hill and dives into the advances driving innovative care delivery across the health system.