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Latest Posts

Nation’s Largest Tele-Health Network Launched

California launched the nation’s largest tele-health network, a $30 million public/private project to bring broadband access designed to reduce the cost of followup care by 40 percent and overall costs by 6 percent. The network seeks to connect more than 800 California healthcare facilities, including rural, underserved, and Indian health facilities, to a statewide network of healthcare and emergency services. (Healthcare IT News)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Heart Attacks Are Killing Fewer People: Why?

Heart attack mortality fell by nearly a half a percent last year at 4,500 hospitals that treat Medicare patients. And, facilities with the lowest and highest death rates saw similar declines, according to a new hospital report card by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Heart attack mortality fell from a national average of 16.6 percent last year to 16.2 percent, with a range among all facilities from 14.5 percent to 17.9 percent. CMS released the data as part of its hospital report card effort to spur better quality and outcomes through public reporting of recommended treatments. The agency added heart attack and heart failure mortality to the report card three years ago.

At issue now is what’s driving the figures: public reporting of hospital data driving improvement, or faster door-to-balloon-treatment times. Areas that do need to improve include lowering readmissions and getting people to the hospital faster when they have a heart attack. (USA Today)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Emergency Care’s Ambiguity In The Affordable Care Act

There’s just so much hidden and buried in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that it’s like trying the find all the goodies in an Easter egg hunt. ACEP News pointed out one hidden goodie, nicely illustrated in this article from Kaiser Health News:

Under the new health law, insurance companies must extend several new protections to patients who receive emergency care. One of the biggest guarantees: Patients who need emergency treatment will have their costs covered at the same rate, regardless of whether they are treated at “in-network” or “out-of-network” hospitals.

The law also bars health plans from requiring prior authorization for emergency services. And it mandates that plans follow the “prudent layperson” rule. For example, if a person goes to the ER with chest pain, but ends up being diagnosed with indigestion, the claim has to be covered because going to the hospital under those circumstances made sense.

The provisions go into effect for every health plan issued after Sept. 23 – six months after the law was enacted — that offers emergency coverage.

This is potentially quite significant. As with so many things, the devil is in the details, and the implementation is not yet actualized. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Google’s Approach To Serious Health Searches

Now that Google has become a near-universal information provider for many people, it’s finding itself answering questions that need a little more of a nuanced approach.

Apparently prodded by a mother who was looking for poison control contacts in an emergency, Google is now providing relevant phone numbers at the top of search results for a few specific queries. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Police-Escorted Paramedics?

This isn’t really my story, but in a sense it belongs to all South Africans. It’s our shame and may be part of our downfall.

We are a people at war. We war against ourselves and we war against peace. Each fights for himself and bugger the rest. But who heals the fallen? It seems in South Africa that quite soon it may be no one.

Recently a story made the news. It was shocking, but it actually gives an inclination of how morally decayed South African society has become. An ambulance was despatched to some informal settlement after a household fire burned a child. The caretakers of the child brought the child to an intersection that the ambulance would actually be able to find. quite soon the paramedics were hard at work stabilising the screaming child. At about this stage, two armed thugs turned up. They threatened the child’s caretakers with their lives and forced them to flee. Then, while the child continued to scream in pain, they raped the female paramedic. They were not caught. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

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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