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Latest Posts

Check-In Kiosks At Your Physician’s Office: It’s All About Efficiency

The airline industry was a lot like physician practices several years ago.  Costs were  rising all around them while stagnant revenue caused declining margins.   Well, this is America, not North Korea.   How did the airline industry survive and thrive (except for American Airlines)?

  1. Efficiency
  2. Add on revenue opportunities

Physician offices are just now catching on.  What can doctors learn from the airline industry?  Here’s picture proof of efficiency in action.

Text from Sister Happy: Here’s how I just checked in at my orthopedists…it’s all by kiosk now.  Have to say…they were faster and nicer than many receptionists.  Only problem is… Read more »

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

Does Communicating With Patients Take Too Much Time?

I recently participated in a Twitter Chat about physician-patient communications. A common refrain from some of the providers in the group was that “there isn’t enough time” during the typical office visit for physicians to worry about communicating effectively. What’s up with that?

The goal of patient-centered communications is to engage the patient in their own health care. While most physicians endorse the concept of patient centered communications, many seem reluctant to employ such techniques in their own practice.  Why?  I suspect that many fear that too much patient involvement will increase the length of the visit.

Take the patient’s opening statement aka “patient agenda” in patient centered lingo.  This is where the doctor asks the patient why they are there.  The resulting patient narrative is an opportunity for the physician to obtain valuable information to help assess the patient.  Patient centered advocates recommend that physicians use open-ended questions like “what brings you in today” to solicit the patient’s concerns and agenda.  Active listening by the physician and paying attention to the patient’s emotional cues are also hallmarks of patient centered communications.

The reality is that regardless of how they are asked, patients are often not able to complete their opening statement.   Read more »

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

Medical Ethics: Why They Should Matter To Patients

Medical ethics has properly gained a foothold in the public square. There is a national conversation about euthanasia, stem cell research, fertilization and embryo implantation techniques, end-of-life care, prenatal diagnosis of serious diseases, defining death to facilitate organ donation, cloning and financial conflicts of interest. Nearly every day, we read (or click) on a headline highlighting one of these or similar ethical controversies. These great issues hover over us.

We physicians face ethical dilemmas every day in the mundane world of our medical practices. They won’t appear in your newspapers or pop up on your smartphones, but they are real and they are important. Here is a sampling from the everyday ethical smorgasbord that your doctor faces. How would you act under the following scenarios?

– A physician has one appointment slot remaining on his schedule. Two patients have called requesting this same day appointment. The first patient who called has no insurance and owes the practice money. The second patient has medical insurance coverage. Neither patient is seriously ill. Who should get the appointment?

– Two hours before a doctor is to see a patient, her husband calls to relate private information that he fears the patient will not share with the physician. Should the physician disclose this conversation to the patient? What is the risk if she discovers at a later time that a confidential conversation occurred? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*

“On Hold” With The Doctor’s Office: Is Pop Music Doc Music?

So I’m calling a referring physician’s office the other day when their telephone answering message puts me on hold. And wouldn’t you know it — Kelly Clarkson was blasting in my ears. When the doc came on the phone, I asked him if he was a Kelly Clarkson fan. He had no idea what I was talking about.

But it got me thinking. So I asked him how their office chose their telephone answering message. He said he didn’t know. He figured the music was being fed from a local radio station.

You may not realize it, but having a well-thought-out telephone answering message can be a vitally important part of a doctor’s business. It’s the first contact patients and colleagues have with an office. It sets the first impression.

I’m sure there are consultants out there who get paid a lot of money to teach this stuff. Should you have hip hop music? Big band music? Perhaps a little disco? Maybe some talk radio? How do you decide what type of telephone answering message to set up in your office?

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

Electronic Medical Records: What Is “Meaningful Use?”

Quiz:  What does the term “meaningful use” mean?

A.  Using something in a way that gives life purpose and leads to carefree days of glee.

B.  It depends on your definition of the word “term.”

C.  It’s not mean. It’s really nice.

D.  A large number of rules created by the government to assess a practice’s use of electronic medical records (EMRs) so that they can spur adoption, give criteria for incentive rewards, and have physicians in a place where care can be measured.

E.  Job security for those making money off of health IT.

The answer, of course, is D and E. Read more »

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

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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