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A Man Is Not Equal To The Sum Of His Medicine Problems

I believe that those controlling the purse strings are steering modern medicine towards the practice of seeing patients more as the sum of their medical problems than as individual people. Patients have become streams of data as opposed to real human lives.

Consider the dynamics of a family: a wife may worry about her husband while their child adores a father she instinctively knows to be irreplaceable. Modern medicine, however, may only see a diabetic with hypertension and a cholesterol-level running too high. The computers programmed for those advocating the power of data to revolutionize medicine would boil this man down to his “meaningful” essence — numbers, for the above imaginary man: 250.00, 401.0, and 272.0. Read more »

Musings From A Member Of The Medical Class Of 2010

As a medical student in his last year, I can attest that my classmates and I would like nothing less than a crystal ball. Always a daunting time in a future physician’s career path, the direction we point ourselves as we launch out of medical school this year seems as arbitrary as ever.

As we examine the rolling seas of medicine and try to determine our individual paths, there seem to be more clouds than blue skies, and certainly more shadows than light. This may or may not be a feeling many prospective physicians feel, but for the class of 2010 it comes as a tough pill to swallow. In a profession at the heart of a national policy debate and with a storied history to examine, it’s extremely disconcerting to be faced with so many question marks. Read more »

How To Micro-Tweak Diagnosis And Treatment

A common problem in healthcare is the number of times that small adjustments are needed in a person’s care. Often for these little changes, a physical exam and face-to-face time have nothing to do with good medical decision making.

Yet the patient and doctor are locked in a legacy-industrialized business model that requires the patient to pay a co-pay and waste at least half of their day driving to and from the office, logging time in a waiting room, and then visiting five minutes with their practitioner for the needed medical information or advice.

Today I’d like to visit the case of a patient I’ll call “DD,” who I easily diagnosed with temporal arteritis (TA) through a 15-minute phone call after she’d spent four weeks as the healthcare system fumbled her time with delays and misdirection via several doctors without establishing a firm diagnosis. Read more »

Why Concierge Medicine Is Not The Solution To Primary Care Woes


My Practice Partners On A House Call

My friend and Better Health contributor, Toni Brayer, recently polled her blog audience about their opinion of concierge medicine. She describes concierge medicine this way:

Also known as “retainer” practice, concierge is a growing type of medical practice where the patient pays the physician an up front fee (retainer) for services. The fee can range from $100/month to $20,000/year, depending upon the practice and the services offered. The fee usually covers all visits to the doctor, phone calls, more prompt service and email access. Labs, tests, Xrays, referrals to specialists, and hospitalization are not included.

Her readers responded: Read more »

PECOS: A Back Door Way To Force All Physicians To Accept Medicare?

This upcoming January 4, 2010 will prove an important date for any physician who prescribes durable medical equipment for their patients to use in the home.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have implemented an internet-based enrollment process for Medicare termed PECOS, another progeny of the 1996 HIPAA legislation.  PECOS stands for Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System and was created in large part to prevent fraud.  Yet when I called the PECOS helpline, fraud was not a concern, and it was explained to me that PECOS is an internet version of my Medicare Application.

Since my practice makes house calls, we treat a variety of home-bound patients unable to make it to a doctor’s office without great effort.  We care for stroke patients, quadriplegics, those with end-stage pulmonary disease, and many simply weakened by the effects of advanced age.  Most need equipment like mattresses to prevent recurrent pressure sores, wheelchairs, nebulizer machines, or oxygen.  A patient depends on their physician’s ability to order anything necessary, and it is imperative this be done without creating an exorbitant financial burden or by denying them a Medicare benefit already paid for. But, according to our Home Supplier, if we haven’t enrolled by January 4 then our Medicare & Medicaid patients will have to pay 100% of the cost for any equipment prescribed. Read more »

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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