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Health IT And Job Security

Hospitals nationwide are racing against the clock to ensure their health IT systems meet meaningful use guidelines. The incentive? Money, of course. Systems that meet certain criteria make doctors eligible for up to $44,000 in bonus money from the government.

As mentioned on this blog previously, implementing an electronic health system is difficult. The usability of the current generation of electronic health records (EHRs) is still relatively primitive, especially when compared to other industries, and the disruption in workflow is undeniable. Worse, there seems to be a lack of trained IT professionals to do the job.

In a recent piece from American Medical News:

60% of hospital IT executives believe tech staffing shortages, which some estimate to be a shortfall of 50,000 qualified IT professionals, will definitely or possibly affect their chances to achieve meaningful use.

It’s a problem. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Cardiologist Job Security

All it takes to assure you’ll keep your local cardiologist employed is 19 strips of bacon and an egg and you’ve got yourself one heck of a solid bacon burger:

Having read about the difficulties people making such burgers have had keeping them together, I decided to add one large egg to the food processor along with the 19 slices of bacon. I ground the bacon and the egg together, then, using my hands, pulled the mixture out and used a hamburger press to make a burger. It is possible that my hands have been greasier at some point in my life, but if so I have (fortunately) forgotten it. I was not quite prepared for the raw burger to look like pure fat, and I must admit that it didn’t look very appealing. But it was for science, so I soldiered on!

I put the burger on the rack-Pyrex assembly and slid it under the broiler. Having learned a lesson from last week, I turned the stove exhaust fan to high immediately. I peeked in on it as it cooked, and it seemed to be cooking nicely, with tons of little fat bubbles sizzling on top. After seven minutes or so, I took it out to turn it over, and was pleased how easily it flipped. Five minutes later, it looked done, so I took the temperature of the inside (you need to be careful with pork, of course), and it registered at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so out it came. Now it looked like food, and smelled delicious.

My family and I thank you, America!

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

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

“Am I Having A Heart Attack?” A New Self-Test Kit

Home-Heart-Attack-Self-Test-Kit“Am I having a heart attack?” From the files of the strange and unusual comes this self-test kit for myocardial infarction, otherwise known as a heart attack.

For the lay people out there, a heart attack occurs when bloodflow to the heart muscle stops, usually because of a blockage in the arteries around the heart (coronary arteries).  (It’s what happened to Bill Clinton, although his heart muscle didn’t die, as it likely had collateral bloodflow from other arteries.) When bloodflow stops, the heart muscle dies. When the heart muscle cells die, they release compounds into the bloodstream which can then be detected on blood draws.

That is the basis for detecting a heart attack by drawing blood. There are some compounds that are specific to the heart, such as troponins that will only go up when the heart muscle is dying. Other enzymes, such as the CK go up with any muscle damage, including the heart.

That is the basis of this new self-test kit for heart attack testing from China Sky One Medical that tries to answer the “Am I having a heart attack?” question at home. It was approved in China in 2007 and recently received European Union clearance as well. Read more »

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

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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