Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Disability Insurance And The Differences Between The Payment Types

I have now completed three weeks at my new job with the Disability Determination Services office.  I sort of knew there were two types of disability payments under SSI:  Title II and Title XVI.  Now I understand the differences much clearer.

I would urge everyone who can afford it to purchase disability insurance.  As the person training me put it, “If you are disabled, you are still ‘costing’ your family in addition to not contributing to the family income.”

The big difference between the two (II and XVI) is that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

There’s Always Something New To Learn

There they were, little maroon flags outside three patient exam room doors. You could almost hear the game show host ask the question:

Will it be Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3?”

So I asked the medical assistant, “Who’s next?” and she pointed me to Door #2.

It was a new patient with a familiar problem, one I’ve seen probably a thousand times before. Another day, another case. Bada bing, bada boom. Nothing to it. You would think that all cases, and all people are the same in some ways. Certainly, those managing our health care system of the future would like us to believe it’s so simple: just another case of heart failure (what can go wrong?) or supraventricular tachycardia (love that one, there’s NOTHING hard about that!) or maybe a few PVC’s (Check). Read more »

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

The Best Doctors Are Constantly Learning

Monday’s New Yorker has a story, Personal Best, by Atul Gawande. It’s about coaching, and the seemingly novel idea that doctors might engage coaches – individuals with relevant expertise and experience — to help them improve their usual work, i.e. how they practice medicine.

Dr. Gawande is a surgeon, now of eight years according to his article. His specialty is endocrine surgery – when he operates it’s most often on problematic glands like the thyroid, parathyroid or appendix. Results, and complications, are tracked. For a while after he completed his training he got better and better, in comparison to nation stats, by his accounting. And then things leveled off.

The surgeon-writer considered how coaches can help individuals get better at whatever they do, like playing a sport or singing. He writes:

The coaching model is different from the traditional conception of pedagogy, where there’s a presumption that, after a certain point, the student no longer needs instruction. You graduate. You’re done. You can go the rest of the way yourself…

He wonders about how this might apply in medicine: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*

A Stethoscope App for the iPhone: Is It Better The Old Fashioned Way?

It’s out there. It makes a cool picture, but I wonder how many medical students realize how unimportant apps like this have become to today’s cardiovascular care. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to hear the difference between a systolic and diastolic murmur, or for the really talented, a diastolic rumble on physical exam. Recognizing the difference between mild and severe aortic stenosis is also very helpful. After all, the physical exam remains the most cost-effective instrument in medicine. 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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »