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Latest Posts

Referral Communication: What Happens To Handoffs Between Primary Care Physicians And Specialists?

Far more primary care doctors report detailed referrals than do specialists report receiving them. The same applies in reverse. Specialists report returning quality consultations, while primary care physicians report receiving them far less often.

Researchers reported in Archives of Internal Medicine that perceptions of communication regarding referrals and consultations differed widely. While 69.3 percent of primary care physicians reported “always” or “most of the time” sending a patient’s history and the reason for the consultation to specialists, only 34.8 percent of specialists said they “always” or “most of the time” received the information. And, while 80.6 percent of specialists said they “always” or “most of the time” send consultation results to the referring physicians, only 62.2 percent of primary care physicians said they received it.

So where are the reports going? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

5 Clinical Resolutions For 2011

Jenni Prokopy (aka Chronicbabe) put us to the challenge for this week’s Grand Rounds by asking for our 2011 clinical resolutions. I have to admit that I’m not one for resolutions because I can never take them seriously. But admittedly there are things that I need to tighten up. So here goes:

1.  Clear my chart rack every afternoon. This is key because my creative mind operates better when my charts are done. Of course this means no more tweeting “47 charts” or “33 charts” when I’m behind. Had I made this resolution for 2009, this blog wouldn’t have a name.

2.  Cultivate innovative communication channels with my referring docs. While I need to be consistent and compulsive with my referral letters, I want to improve mobile, real-time communications between me and my referring docs. For example I’d like to get my local community on Doximity so that I can launch a quick, HIPAA compliant, encrypted SMS messages on my iPhone the second I see a patient. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Does It Matter What The Hospitalist Thinks?

I read this article about a young child with heterotaxy syndrome with great interest. Not because I find heterotaxy syndrome something of great fascination, but because of the lack of communication — on both ends of the spectrum:

Even though 5 other Dr. all came in and listened to his lungs and said that he didn’t sound like he was wheezing and that his lungs sounded really good. But because this hospital is overly political, process driven, bureaucratic, and in a constant state of litigious fear they are unable to make any conclusions based on actual medicine and patient care. Common sense is blown out the window when you  have a system were a hospitalist one year out of medical school has an opinion that is as valuable as a cardiologist with 25+ years experience.

But in fairness, they all had to “really consider her opinion.”

So they went and got a pulmonologist to evaluate him, which Scott and I were very happy about because there was nothing in the world that would’ve made me more happy in that moment than to have her proven wrong. Which she was.

The whole article is a case study in stress, distrust, and legalism. Read more »

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

Doctors Twice As Likely To E-Mail Another Provider Than A Patient

Only 6.7 percent of office-based physicians routinely e-mailed patients about clinical information in 2008, according to an issue brief from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Only 34.5 percent of office-based, ambulatory care physicians reported that information technology for communicating with patients about clinical issues via e-mail was available in their practice in 2008. Of that third, 19.5 percent routinely e-mailed patients, or 6.7 percent overall, while the rest were split between occasional use or non-use. The study sample was restricted to 4,258 office-based physicians and the response rate was 62 percent.

In contrast, twice as many physicians spent at least some time each work day e-mailing physicians and other clinicians. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Accountable Care And Doctor-Patient Communication Go Hand In Hand

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) figure prominently in the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The concept behind ACOs is that by tying both physician and hospital compensation to outcomes via a bundled fee (say for pneumonia) we can expect to see an improvement in quality and value.

In principal, accountable care makes a lot of sense. Practicality speaking, however, doctors and hospitals must address a huge challenge before they can expect benefit financially. Before doctors can be held accountable for the care they deliver, they must first be held accountable for the quality of their communication with patients.

Take hospital readmissions, which are a big healthcare cost driver today. According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, 20 percent of all Medicare patients discharged from hospitals were readmitted within 30 days, and 34 percent percent within 90 days. The Joint Commission and others rightly believe that inadequate communication between physicians — as well as between physicians and patients – is a major contributing factor. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*

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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