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Latest Posts

Major Boston Health Care System To Acquire Local HMO

Kingkong.jpg (480×320)Partners Health Care (the dominant provider network in Greater Boston) and Neighborhood Health Plan (a local mostly-Medicaid HMO) just announced that the former intends to acquire the latter, and maintain it as a separate operating entity.  No money will change hands between the parties, but an unspecified amount of money will be given by Partners as grants to community health centers where NHP members receive much of their health care services. Gary Gottlieb, CEO of Partners, graciously allowed that it would not seek to interfere with the current referral patterns of NHP members to the two local safety-net hospitals (which get disproportionate share hospital payments; Partners hospitals do not).

The deal is contingent on several layers of regulatory review, including Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

How Psychiatrists Approach Wrist-Cutting Cries For Help

When Roy and I were on Talk of the Nation this past week, a called phoned in to ask about her sister. The question was about care in the Emergency Room/Department, so it was a perfect Roy question and he fielded it. I’ve been playing with it since, and wanted to talk more about this particular scenario, because the scenario was very common, and the question was more complicated than it seems.

From the transcript of the show:

ANN (Caller): Hi, thank you very much. I would like to ask Dr. Roy (oh, I gave him his blog name here) a question: My sister was admitted to emergency when she cut her wrists, and the doctor on call pulled me aside and said, do you think she was trying to kill herself?

And I said – because my sister is very intelligent – I said, if my sister really wanted to kill herself, she would have done it. I think she’s asking for help.

And so he said – and so he had her see the psychiatrist who was on call, or on duty. And she spoke with him for a while. And he sent her home, saying: Well, if you need me, I’m here.

What I would like to ask Dr. Roy is, what protocol was going on there? Why did they allow that to happen? And what would you change, if you could? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Rationed Care, Denied Treatment, And “Death Panels”

One of the canards slung at the Affordable Care Act is that it creates “death panels” that would allow the government to deny patients lifesaving treatments, even though two independent and non-partisan fact-checking organizations found it would do no such thing.

I don’t bring this up now to rehash the debate, but because the New York Times had a recent story on Arizona’s decision to deny certain transplants to Medicaid enrollees — “death by budget cuts” in the words of reporter Marc Lacey. His story profiles several patients who died when they were unable to raise money on their own to fund a transplant. Lacey quotes a physician expert on transplants who flatly states: “There’s no doubt that people aren’t going to make it because of this decision.”

Arizona Medicaid officials told the Times that they “recommended discontinuing some transplants only after assessing the success rates for previous patients. Among the discontinued procedures are lung transplants, liver transplants for hepatitis C patients and some bone marrow and pancreas transplants, which altogether would save the state about $4.5 million a year.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

We Need More Linchpin Doctors

Images-1I just finished Seth Godin’s Linchpin. Seth makes the case that in a hypercompetitive world the stakes are higher than ever to make an indispensible contribution to something you care about. The linchpin is the essential element, the piece of a wheel or organization that is absolutely irreplaceable.

Seth references business, but he might as well have been talking about obstetricians or internists. We need more linchpin doctors.

Modern patient care is progressively marginalizing physicians. Care that is increasingly “managed” and dependent upon automated diagnostics is leaving physicians as powerless cogs in a system of mechanical patient care.  Patients have become naturally detached as they search for solutions of their own.

Physicians have to be remarkable to remain relevant. Physicians have to offer something not available anywhere else. Physicians need to make a difference and in their own way and serve as real leaders and innovators in their relationships with patients and their communities. Physicians have to be linchpins. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Why Efficiency Is Bad For Health Insurance Companies

DrRich is pleased to note that events have so quickly confirmed the explanation he gave, in his last post, regarding what the health insurance companies are up to by choosing to massively increase insurance premiums at this critical juncture.  The insurance companies, to repeat, are willfully embracing their assigned role as “villain,” in order to get apparently stalled healthcare reforms back on track.

A mere few hours after DrRich had posted, Kathleen Sibelius issued a press release angrily documenting several additional requests for large rate increases by health insurance companies all across the land, and pointedly reminding us regular folks that healthcare reform would prevent these greedy companies from committing such abusive and harmful acts. And thus has the administration now officially established runaway health insurance premiums as the crisis of the moment. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*

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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