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Physician Visibility In Public: I See Patients, And They See Me

In the movie “The Sixth Sense,” there was that kid who saw dead people. I’m like that. But I see patients and their parents instead. They’re all around me.

They’re watching at the grocery store when my kids act up. We meet during anniversary dinners, at Christmas Eve service, and on the treadmill at the Y. I bump into parents when buying personal effects and even during the early morning coffee run in my oldest sweats. I see patients.

The follow-up dialog between the parents might go something like this:

Dad: “Marge, don’t you think Billy’s colitis might be better managed by a doctor capable of pulling himself together?”

Mom: “Don’t be ridiculous, Frank. DrV’s bedhead has nothing to do with his ability to care for Billy. And besides, I’ve heard that he can intubate the terminal ileum in under 10 minutes.”

It’s not that I necessarily mind being seen in the wild. I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin, even when it’s glistening after a workout. I’m bothered more by the fact that patients may be repulsed by my occasional bedraggled appearance. If I knew they were good with it, I might be less caught up with the whole matter. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Family Physicians: Are They Paid Well Compared To Other Docs?

Here’s an interesting article, talking about stuff that’s not new to anyone who has read my blog for the last three years. The current relative value unit (RVU) system is a scam, perpetuated by a super-secretive group of subspecialists each  inflating their own worth for the benefit of themselves, at the expense of primary care.

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, first read about RVUs explained. Then come back and read this article put out by the National Institute for Health Care Management. It’s titled “Out of Whack: Pricing Distortions in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.” In his essay, Dr. Robert Berenson shows how distorted primary care specialties are paid, relative to other specialties, in an all Medicare practice with the equivalent input of hours worked. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

How Preauthorization Impacts Care

The American Medical Association (AMA) had a press release [recently] announcing findings from their survey on the impact of insurance company preauthorization policies.

Surprisingly, they discovered that these policies use physician time and delay treatment. It’s funny, because preauthorization policies were designed to save money. And I imagine they do, for the insurer, but they cost money for everyone else. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Can Patients Choose A Good Doctor Online?

The following op-ed was published on October 27th, 2010 in USA Today:

When I ask new patients how they found me, frequently they say on the Internet through search engines such as Google.

Out of curiosity, I recently Googled myself. Numerous ads appeared, promising readers a “detailed background report” or a “profile” of me. Among the search results was information about my practice, whether I was board certified, had any lawsuits against me, and reviews from online doctor rating sites. Thankfully, most were favorable, but some were not.

Can patients reliably choose a good doctor online?

People already choose restaurants, movies, and their college professors based on what they read on the Internet, so it’s inevitable that many will research their doctors on the Web as well. But there are some good reasons consumers should be wary of the information they find online about doctors.

Random information?

An Archives of Internal Medicine study in September found that most publicly available information on individual physicians — such as disciplinary actions, the number of malpractice payments, or years of experience — had little correlation with whether they adhered to the recommended medical guidelines. In other words, there’s no easy way to research how well a doctor manages conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. That kind of relevant performance data are hidden from the public. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

American Medical News: “Welcome To Our Archives”

Via the American Medical Associations’s American Medical News article “Welcome to our archives“:

Now, our extensive online archive, paired with search and article collections by topic, puts thousands of stories at your fingertips.

Add to that a growing collection of Web-only content, such as our interactive tool for tracking health-plan earnings and a “Vault” page that will take you directly to articles and multimedia on topics of enduring interest (www.amednews.com/vault).

Most of that older content has been behind an access-control wall. By knocking down that barrier, we are making available 10 years of full content and several years more of selected earlier articles. All told, about 15,000 articles now can be searched and read.

We invite our readers to visit the archives and link to our articles from their own sites, blogs and posts.

Thanks, AMedNews! I suppose an I told you so would be rude, so I won’t.

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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