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Giving People Across The World The Best Medical Care They Can Get

Guatemala is a developing country, with great natural beauty, hard-working people and many challenges.  Most Americans look at places like Guatemala and see only the challenges.  Some see opportunity.

I’ve just returned from Guatemala, where I met with our business partners, government officials, and others.   And I can tell you a universal truth.  People across the world want the best medical care they can get.  They aren’t looking for the latest technologies and drugs and treatments – or, rather, they aren’t looking only for those things.  No, what is most important to whoever I meet, no matter where they live, is that they are able to get the right diagnosis, and the right treatment.

It’s a harder thing to get in some places than in others.  Americans don’t realize that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Do Patient Surveys Measure True Medical Quality?

There was an extremely popular game show where several times each episode the emcee would shout out, “Survey Said!”. Of course, this was just a game, not real life.  Now, several times each week I am asked to respond to surveys.  They pop up uninvited on the internet and are often veiled advertisements for products and services. They are on the back of receipts from coffee houses and doughnut shops.  Is it worth 10 minutes of my time clicking through the doughnut survey for either a free chocolate frosted doughnut or the chance to be entered into the grand prize drawing months later?  Hotels I stay at routinely follow-up with e-mail surveys for my feedback.  I suspect most folks delete these instantly, which skews the customer base to those who do respond. (Remember, disatisfied folks are often more motivated to give feedback than the rest of us are.) How often do we call a restaurant, a retail store, a bank or even a doctor’s office to offer hosannas about great service?

Medicare recently released fascinating patient-survey data that raises interesting issues. In over 120 hospitals, patients rated the hospitals very highly, despite high death rates for heart disease and pneumonia. So, who do we believe here, the patients or the death rates?  I wonder if the patients’ survey results were more optimistic since only the live ones were available to complete them.

Surveys are now serious bu$ine$$. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*

The Age Of Medical Disconnect

It’s the age of medical disconnect.

The disconnect describes the emotional and intellectual detachment that physicians feel from their patients and patients from their doctors.  This disconnect is the result of a confluence of factors, some from within the profession itself, others are more broadly social and economic.

To understand the disconnect you need look no further than your neighbor or your parents.  Dissatisfaction is evolving as the norm.  Patients feel increasingly marginalized in their experiences with physicians.  Shrinking length of visits, indifferent attitudes, poorly coordinated evaluations, difficulty obtaining test results, an institutional feel to the patient experience, and the overall sense of not feeling at all important.

The truth is that many of us are really not aware of the disconnect. Most of us have been born into a system of dysfunctional provider relationships and we know nothing else.  As physicians we’ve been trained to be detached.  As patients we’ve been conditioned to live happily detached.

Of course there are plenty of physicians who Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Wait Times For Medical Care: How The US Actually Measures Up

Yesterday, I borrowed liberally from Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You Will Go” to describe the “weirdish, wild space” – The Waiting Place – in which we now find health reform.

This got me thinking about The Waiting Place in a different context: the time it takes to get an appointment with a physician. Anyone one of us who has had to wait weeks, or even months, for an appointment would agree that The Waiting Place is, as Dr. Seuss described it, a “most useless place” to be.

Critics of the pending health reform bills, like Conservatives for Patient Rights argue that they will lead to longer wait times for appointments. Their argument being that “government-run” health care, as exists in Canada or the United Kingdom, has been demonstrated to result in long waits for medical appointments.

I would dispute the premise that the reforms being considered by Congress are akin to the systems in place in Canada or the United Kingdom. Read more »

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

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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