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Patient “Customer Service” Is Good Care

Gosh, a whole lot of huffing over a little word! “Customer.” Okay, now grab a paper bag and breathe slowly and steadily into it. I know it’s hard to hear that word. I am sorry to have caused such trouble.

Some folks misunderstood my last post, thinking that I thought patients should only be considered customers, or that they should be referred to as customers. I never said that, nor did I imply it. I simply said that patients are customers. They are. Medical care is not free, and it is being paid for by the patient (directly or indirectly). Medicine is a business that has been so mismanaged that we are now in a crisis over its financial side. The trouble is the cost of care. Cost implies money is used, and trading money for services or goods is what business is about.

We’ve been spending our dollars on healthcare like a person irresponsibly running up a credit card bill they can’t pay back. The pain doesn’t happen now, it happens down the road when the collectors knock. We can’t order whatever tests we want or prescribe gazillion dollar drugs without remembering somebody will have to pay the bill. Ignoring the business of medicine has gotten us into deep doo-doo. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Doctor Suing For Bad Ratings Online

Dr. Kimberly HenryI must say I think Dr. Kimberly Henry, cosmetic surgeon, has made a big professional mistake. She has filed a lawsuit to stop online reviewers from badmouthing her on the Internet. She is seeking injunctions against at least 12 reviewers from sites such as and Dr. Henry claims libel and defamation, invasion of privacy and interference with prospective economic advantage and is seeking $1million in general damages and $1million in special damages, etc.

Now I don’t know Dr. Henry nor do I know of her plastic surgery technique. I don’t know who the disgruntled patients are or if they are unfairly targeting her. What I do know is that the Internet is here to stay and there’s no place to hide if you don’t provide excellent customer service. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Will Physician Education Be Valued In The Future?

The future of American healthcare will not value physician education. Perhaps it’s time to abandon the medical school model and train millions of nurses instead at a fraction of the cost. This comment was left on my blog over at NP=MD:

I don’t even compare NPs and MDs. Their models differ. One is not better than the other. The schooling — minus the residency — is nearly equivalent in terms of time spent. The problem is that NPs don’t get a long enough residency. If you take a NP and a MD, both with 20 years clinical experience, the MD does not know more than the NP. Sure, he had a few extra classes 20 years ago — which he doesn’t remember — but that’s about it.

NPs aren’t trying to steal MDs’ meal tickets, they’re attempting to better serve patients. Read more »

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

Medical Receptionist Extinction?

Medical receptionists beware — your days are numbered.

This little gizmo was placed in one of our facility’s lobbies this week. (No, it’s not being used to get your boarding pass at the airport, but it’s amazing the parallels healthcare is taking with the airline industry.)

Instead, it’s used to check in patients presenting to have their blood drawn for prothromin times. Just swipe your credit card, confirm your appointment, sign your name, and away you go!

On seeing this, one doctor exclaimed: “But INR checks are my patients’ only chance to get out and socialize!”

Fortunately for now there are still human assistants there to help patients learn how to use the new device.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Is Your Doctor Running Late? Check It Out Online

I just read a Wall Street Journal article about a new web-based service called MedWaitTime that allows patients to check if their doctor is running late before heading to the office for their appointment – kind of like you can check to see if your flight is late before heading to the airport.


Nothing peeves me more than sitting in a doctor’s office reading 4-month-old tattered magazines on topics I care nothing about (saltwater fishing, seriously?), and not because the doctor had an emergency (when is the last time a dermatologist had to run out to save someone), but because the office staff routinely double books. I can’t count the number of times I walked out (my limit is 30 minutes unless I’m in agony) after giving the front office a targeted piece of my mind. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

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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