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Latest Posts

Why The Term “Patient” Is So Important In Healthcare

An online friend, col­league, and out­spoken patient advocate, Trisha Torrey, has an ongoing e-vote about whether people prefer to be called a “patient,” a “con­sumer,” a “cus­tomer,” or some other noun to describe a person who receives healthcare.

My vote is: PATIENT. Here’s why:

Providing medical care is or should be unlike other com­mercial trans­ac­tions. The doctor, or other person who gives medical treatment, has a special pro­fes­sional and moral oblig­ation to help the person who’s receiving his or her treatment. This respon­si­bility — to heal, hon­estly and to the best of one’s ability — over­rides any other com­mit­ments, or con­flicts, between the two. The term “patient” con­stantly reminds the doctor of the spe­cialness of the rela­tionship. If a person with illness or medical need became a con­sumer like any other, the rela­tionship — and the doctor’s oblig­ation — would be lessened.

Some might argue that the term “patient” somehow demeans the healthcare receiver. But I don’t agree: From the prac­ticing physician’s per­spective, it’s a priv­ilege to have someone trust you with their health, espe­cially if they’re seri­ously ill. In this context, the term “patient” can reflect a physician’s respect for the person’s integrity, humanity and needs.

*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*

What Is A Patient? A Doctor’s Perspective

What is a patient? What do they do? What’s their role in the doctor’s office?  Are they chassis on a conveyor belt? Are they puzzles for doctors to solve? Are they diseases? Are they demographics? Are they a repository for applied science?

Or are they consumers? Are they paying customers? Are they the ones in charge? Are they employing physicians for their own needs?

It depends. It depends on the situation. It depends on perspective.

Some physicians are very offended when the “consumer” and “customer”  labels are applied to patients. They see this as the industrialization of healthcare. We are no longer professionals, we are made into “providers” — sort of smart vending-machine made out of flesh.

Patients, on the other hand, get offended when doctors forget who pays the bill. They see the exam room as a right, not a privilege. They think they should be the most important person in the exam room, being treated with respect rather than having to bow at the altar of doctor knowledge.

Who’s right? It depends. Read more »

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

Some Good Things About Healthcare Reform

The large healthcare bill has some very good elements in it that should help the average American.

One is a provision that will kick in in 2011 that says all health insurers will need to spend 85 percent of the premium dollar on actually providing care. This means people may actually receive benefits they pay for. What a concept! Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

The Timeline Of Healthcare Reform

As the dust settles on the Great Healthcare Reform Bill of 2010 passage in Congress, it’s time to ask what we got for the effort. No matter what people thought of the bill before, like it or not, it’s here.

Still, few people really understand what the bill contains and when the benefits and costs for the measure will be incurred on a year-by-year basis. Given the bill’s complexity and tortuous path though Social Security and IRS tax codes, this really isn’t a surprise, I suppose.

So here’s my simplified broad-brush overview, broken down by year, culled from several sources as referenced. Read more »

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

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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