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Choosing The Best Health Care For You: What Information Helps You Decide?

Our ailing economy has boosted the number of people who are unemployed, without health insurance or with minimal coverage. The popularity of high deductible health plans is soaring as employers and individuals look for affordable insurance.  Twenty-nine percent of bankruptcies are said to be caused by medical bills. Many of us now choose health care services and providers carefully, trying to stay within tight budgets.

The American people, long protected from the price of health care by insurance, are now forced to act as consumers.  This situation is a free marketer’s dream.  According to this model, we will rationally calculate the price/quality trade-offs of each doctor visit, procedure, test and drug.  We will stop overusing services. We will demand better care. And the result will be reduced health care costs for the nation while the quality of care and the health of individuals will remain the same, if not improve.

There’s nothing like a good theory.

But the theory can only be tested if a) It’s easy to find publicly reported, relevant quality information about the services we need, matched with what we would pay out of pocket; and b) We use that information as the basis of our health care decisions. Neither of these conditions can be met today.

A new Cochrane review Read more »

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

Heart Attacks Are Killing Fewer People: Why?

Heart attack mortality fell by nearly a half a percent last year at 4,500 hospitals that treat Medicare patients. And, facilities with the lowest and highest death rates saw similar declines, according to a new hospital report card by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Heart attack mortality fell from a national average of 16.6 percent last year to 16.2 percent, with a range among all facilities from 14.5 percent to 17.9 percent. CMS released the data as part of its hospital report card effort to spur better quality and outcomes through public reporting of recommended treatments. The agency added heart attack and heart failure mortality to the report card three years ago.

At issue now is what’s driving the figures: public reporting of hospital data driving improvement, or faster door-to-balloon-treatment times. Areas that do need to improve include lowering readmissions and getting people to the hospital faster when they have a heart attack. (USA Today)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

How To Choose A Great Doctor

As a practicing family doctor, it’s easy for me to figure out how to choose a great doctor. Let me tell you the secrets in finding the best one for you and what I tell my family and friends. Look for the following:

– Board certification
– Report card on quality
– Licensing/public reporting

As a doctor, I know many doctors who have great bedside manner but aren’t particularly reliable in giving the right medical care you deserve, and these traits separate the so-so doctors from the truly excellent ones. Read more »

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

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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