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

Latest Posts

Healthcare Reform Requires A Recognition Of Socio-economic Inequities

I was part of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism’s “Health and the Blogosphere” conference/brainstorming session last week.  Bloggers and other health writers were invited to give input on a new professional training program, and I was honored to be a part of that group.

I took away so much more than I contributed. An unexpected focus (for me) was the idea of taking the blogosphere dialog about our own health (”my health”) and expanding that into a discussion about the health of our communities (”our health”).

But haven’t we’ve been doing that for the last year, health care reform having been debated ad nauseam?

Well, no. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*

An Alternative View Of Healthcare Reform: What If The Problem Is Poverty?

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has addressed seven key health care reform questions and offered answers that capture today’s consensus. No surprises, but good clear analyses. But what if the underlying conceptual framework is not an excessive use of services by wrongly incentivized providers but the tragic over-use of services by the poor? Here are seven “what ifs” plus an eighth question.

1. Is health care too expensive?
What if health care is the economy, the major source of jobs and the basis for America’s worker productivity? And what if the problem is an unfair insurance system and inequitable distribution of fiscal responsibility?

2. How much too expensive is it?
What if regional variation is not a manifestation of excessive spending but of income inequality and the intersection of wealth and poverty? And what if differences in price and economic development, rather than waste and inefficiency, differentiate costs among countries? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at PHYSICIANS and HEALTH CARE REFORM Commentaries and Controversies*

Does Poverty Help To Explain Medical Practice Variation?

MilwaukeeIs poverty the major factor underlying geographic variation in health care? It assuredly is. There is abundant evidence that poverty is strongly associated with poor health status, greater per capita health care spending, more hospital readmissions and poorer outcomes. It is the single strongest factor in variation in health care and the single greatest contributor to “excess” health care spending. It should be the focus of health care reform but, sadly, many provisions in the current bills will worsen the problem.

Much of this is discussed elsewhere on this blog and in our recent “Report to The President and The Congress.” In this posting, I would simply like to tap into your common sense. We all know that poverty is geographic. There are wealthy neighborhoods and impoverished ones, rich states and poor ones, developed countries and developing ones.  Sometimes poverty is regional, as in Mississippi, but sometimes it’s confined to “poverty ghettos,”  as in the South Bronx. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at PHYSICIANS and HEALTH CARE REFORM Commentaries and Controversies*

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 »