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Latest Posts

Patient Follow-Up: What Doctors Can Learn From Dentists

I have to give my dentist credit. He and his staff know when I am due for a cleaning and call me to schedule an appointment without fail. They also call to remind me the day before an appointment. Many dentists, I understand, do similar kinds of things for their patients.

As a patient, I like being reminded — it’s a great service. I also like the fact that someone’s looking out for me. From a business perspective it makes a lot of sense as well. Fewer “no shows,” more cleanings, more billings, and so on.

It’s too bad that more physicians don’t routinely follow up with their patients, particularly when it really counts. Read more »

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

How To Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates In Poor Cities

The Philadelphia Inquirer had an interesting piece Monday about a successful initiative in Camden, NJ (one of the poorest cities in the U.S.) that has dramatically reduced ED visits and readmissions. Among other things, a coalition of primary care providers has banded together to get more patients to see PCPs instead of going straight to the ED. (Appropriate patients are referred from the ED to these providers, for eg). Open-access scheduling, electronic prescribing and chronic disease registries also further the goal of preventive medicine that keeps patients from getting to the point where they need to go to the ED, or need to be admitted to the hospital.

The result? Monthly ED visits down by 32%, hospital admissions–and charges–down by 56%. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Legislating to Reduce Readmissions – Safety Net Hospitals Will Be Cut First

According to MedPAC, 18% of hospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries resulted in readmission within 30 days, accounting for $15 billion in spending. Since treatable chronic illnesses are responsible for many such hospitalizations, it is assumed that they represent failures of the health care system. MedPAC claims that 84% of readmissions are potentially preventable. However, as will become evident, most readmissions reflect differences in co-morbidities, poverty and other social determinants, all of which deserve attention, including better transition care, but few of which are under the control of hospitals. Nonetheless, health care reform assumes that regulators can accurately adjust for such risks and estimate the “excess.”

Both the House and Senate bills include reductions in payments to hospitals with “excess” readmissions. Payment would be reduced 20% for “excess” readmissions within seven days and 10% within fifteen days. Hospitals with 30-day risk-adjusted readmission rates above the 75th percentile would incur penalties of 10-20%, scaled to the time to readmission. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at PHYSICIANS and HEALTH CARE REFORM Commentaries and Controversies*

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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