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How To Talk To Your Doctor: 3 Simple Steps

As a practicing primary care doctor, I continue to work incredibly hard on making my bedside manner even better so that patients feel heard. The other reason is because as most doctors learned in medical school 90 percent of getting the right diagnosis comes from taking a good history from a patient.

Unfortunately with shorter doctor office visits and doctors interrupting patients within 23 seconds of starting, you need to know how to get your concerns across. While I don’t believe this is the responsibility of patients, the reality is not everyone has access to doctors with great bedside manner.

How to talk to your doctor is quite easy if you follow three simple steps. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

What Do Doctors Know About Their Unemployed Patients?

Anyone who’s ever been downsized or otherwise lost a job knows the feelings: Personal loss (social, financial and routine), self doubt, and in some cases fear of what the future will bring. Unemployment and its cousin, underemployment, are not subjects that a lot of people are comfortable brining up in polite conversation — even with their doctor.

Given today’s tough economic environment, chances are that 15 to 20 percent of the people sitting in most doctors’ waiting rooms are out of work. Do you know who they are? You should. Read more »

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

When Diagnosing, Doctors Often Ignore Patients’ Social Factors

A recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that doctors often discounted a patient’s social situation when making a medical diagnosis.

Lead researcher Saul Weiner “arranged to send actors playing patients into physicians’ offices and discovered that errors occurred in 78 percent of cases when socioeconomic concerns were a significant factor.”

Evan Falchuk, commenting on the results, provides some context:

It’s hard to expect even the most gifted clinician, trying to make it through yet another week of a hundred or more patient encounters, to get these difficult decisions right. Too much of the context of a patient’s care gets lost in the endless churn of patient visits that the health care system imposes on doctors.I suspect this is enormously frustrating for doctors, although it’s worse for patients. What the researchers call a failure to “individualize care,” a patient might call “not being paid attention to.” It’s a dynamic that anyone who’s been ill has probably seen firsthand.

These findings are entirely unsurprising. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Why Patients Are Unsure Of The Primary Care “Medical Home”

Say the words, “Patient-centered medical home,” and you’re bound to get a variety of opinions.

On this blog alone, there are a variety of guest pieces critical of the effort, saying it does not increase patient satisfaction, nor does it save money. And that’s not good news for its advocates, who are pinning primary care’s last hopes on the model.

Medical homes hit the mainstream media recently, with Pauline Chen focusing one of her recent, weekly New York Times columns to the issue. She discussed the results of a demonstration project, showing some positive results. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Good Looks In Medicine: Does It Matter?

Handsome-Mechanic-Now-On-Duty-Sign-AdvertisementI found this sign while driving past a mechanic’s shop the other day. Of course, now I get it. How do women pick their mechanic? This sign explains it all. Just look for the “Handsome Mechanic ‘Now On Duty'” sign. I wonder if it works for doctors, too.

Be honest. If your doctor had exceptionally good-looking physical features by most people’s standards, would you be more likely or less likely to keep him or her as your doctor? Would you be more likely or less likely to think of them as highly intelligent? Would you be more likely or less likely to sue them when something goes wrong?

We know that babies respond to good-looking parents differently even as newborns. So why would we expect adults to respond to handsome mechanics and doctors any differently?

*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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