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Latest Posts

Efforts To Improve Health Care Must Involve Patients

Here’s the bad news: We will not benefit from the health care services, drugs, tests and procedures available to us unless we pay attention, learn about our choices, interact with our clinicians and follow through on the plans we make together. And that “following through”part?  We have to work at doing that every day, whether we feel sick or well, energetic or tired out. And if we can’t do it, we’d best find a spouse or parent or friend or social service agency who can step in to do the things we can’t manage.

OK.  For some people, this is not bad news.  This is how we think it should be: “Nothing about me without me.” For others, our personal encounters with tests and treatments and illness have taught us that this is just the way it is.

But for many of us, this news – should we have reason to attend to it – is inconsistent with our idealized vision of health care that, tattered as its image might be, will step in, take over and fix what ails us. Most of us, after all, are mostly well most of the time and our exposure to health care is minimal.

Efforts to improve the effectiveness of health care and contain its cost have produced Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

Patients: Confused Tourists In The World Of Health Care

Being diagnosed with a serious illness is like being drop-kicked into a foreign country: you don’t know the language, you don’t understand the culture, you don’t have a map and you desperately want to find your way home.”

Eric Parker @

I wrote that following a cancer-related diagnosis six years ago that resulted in removal of a part of my colon. One year ago this week I was in the hospital longing for home while recovering from surgery for stomach cancer. Today I am traveling in Spain (feeling fine and minus the drop-kicked part) and am reminded of this analogy every day.

For example, I couldn’t figure out how to punch my ticket on the city bus. The driver told me in Spanish that I barely comprehend to turn the ticket over. No luck. His voice rose: “You put it in upside down.” Again, no luck. He shouted: “Use the other damn machine!”

Stupid tourist.

There’s a man who sits at the front desk at the clinic where I get most of my cancer care. He greets every person who walks past his desk as though Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

Why Hospitals And Physicians Should Get Serious About Patient-Centered Care

Health care professionals are a cynical lot.   We joke about the “fad or buzz word of the month”…usually some vague concept heralded by the powers on high.   Our job is to promote the idea…knowing full well that the “next big thing” is probably right around the corner.

Take “Patient-Centered”…it sure feels like a buzz word.   I suspect most hospital and physician executives, and their ad agency partners, would agree.  But this time things are very different.

Why Hospitals and Physicians Should Get Serious About Patient-Centered Care

Reason #1 – Patients Are Starting To Discover That Their Doctors & Hospitals Are Read more »

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

Improving Doctor-Patient Communication To Provide Patient-Centered Care

The first experience patients are likely to have with your hospital is not in an ER visit or inpatient stay.  A patient’s first experience will most likely be in one of your primary-care physician offices.  That because a person is 10 times more likely during a year to end up in the physician’s office for a routine visit than they are to require an overnight hospital stay.

As a hospital marketer or patient experience officer this should raise an interesting question. How well do your physicians–particularly your primary-care physicians–represent your brand?

Take “patient-centeredness.” Lots of hospitals these days are promoting themselves as providing patient-centered care.  You know … when the hospital and its staff try where possible to be sensitive to and honor the wishes of patients.   But when it comes to patient-centeredness, “walking the talk” is hard in physician offices and even tougher in the hospital.

The fact is that most physicians, with some exceptions, are Read more »

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

Take An Active Role In Your Own Health: It Can Save More Than Just Your Life

Sometimes you need a published study to tell you what should be obvious in the first place.

This time, researchers have discovered that:

When physicians have more personalized discussions with their patients and encourage them to take a more active role in their health, both doctor and patient have more confidence that they reached a correct diagnosis and a good strategy to improve the patient’s health.


But wait, there’s more. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First 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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