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Tips For Hospitals: Hiring Locum Tenens Physicians

This post originally appeared on The Barton Blog.

It’s both expensive and time-consuming to obtain temporary coverage for a hospital or medical practice. Locum tenens clients have every right to expect high-quality care from the locum tenens providers they hire; but even the very best locums may not perform to their full potential if their onboarding isn’t carefully planned.

As a locum tenens physician with licenses in 14 states, I have much experience with the onboarding process. Here are 12 tips for facilities eager to encourage smooth transitions, foster good provider relationships, and provide excellent patient care.

1. Arrange for provider sign-outs.

Since lapses in provider communication is a leading cause of medical errors, you can protect your patients by organizing a face-to-face (or phone call) report between the current provider and the locum who is going to be assigned to their census. Studies have shown a 30% decrease in error rate when physicians hand off their patient panel in person.

2. Allow for at least one day of training overlap, if possible.

The incoming provider will adapt best to your unique environment and care process if he or she has the chance to “shadow” the current provider for a day. Various questions will naturally arise and be answered during real-time patient care. In emergency fill situations, this will obviously not be possible; but it will help ease transitions in cases where it can be done.

3. Get your IT ducks in a row before the locum tenens provider arrives.

Electronic medical records (EMR) systems are difficult to master, and attempting to learn how to navigate in a new one (or newer version of one) in the middle of a full patient caseload is a recipe for disaster. Logins and passwords should be set up long before the locum tenens provider arrives. EMR training needs should be discussed and planned for in advance. If an IT professional is available to sit with the locum during his or her first round of documentation attempts, so much the better.

4. Plan for a day or half-day of orientation.

A facility tour, combined with an in-person meeting of key hospital players, is extremely important. The following people should be included:

  • Unit medical director
  • Nursing and therapy supervisors
  • Risk management staff
  • Human resources
  • Medical records staff
  • Coding and billing staff
  • Pharmacy staff
  • Laboratory staff

5. Prepare a welcome packet in advance.

This packet should include important information about the organization, the assignment, and the facility, including:

  • Site maps
  • Parking instructions
  • Orientation day schedule
  • Door key codes (if applicable)
  • ID badge instructions
  • EMR login and password
  • Dictation codes
  • Cafeteria location and hours
  • A hospital directory with key phone numbers highlighted

Make sure the locum knows who signs their time sheets and where their office is located. A coding “cheat sheet” may also be appreciated.

6. Invite the locum tenens provider to lunch or dinner at some point during their assignment.

This is a friendly way to show that you appreciate them, and you want to get to know them. Being on the road can be lonely, and most locums appreciate opportunities to socialize.


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Research Points Out The Down Side Of Chasing Success

Bill Gates once said:

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

It’s clever, and it seems right.  Now there is science to prove it.

In a study published last week, scientists studied special imaging scans of doctors’ brains as they made simulated medical decisions.  Those doctors who paid attention to their mistakes made better decisions than those who were more interested in their successes: Read more »

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

Being An Entrepreneur In Health Care: How To Set Yourself Up For Success

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur in health care?

Twice in the last two weeks I had the honor of speaking at Northeastern University’s Health Sciences Entrepreneurs Program. It’s a terrific program, dedicated to fostering the creation of health care businesses by helping the people who build them figure out how to do it. That it exists is a testament to how strong the American spirit of entrepreneurship really is – and how the 21st century economic engine is going to be health care.

But the hundreds of students and alumni who attended the events already knew this. What they wanted to know were the answers to more practical questions – Read more »

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

Setting SMART Goals To Make Lasting Healthy Changes

Each year, countless people vow to get healthier: Lose five pounds. Exercise every day. Quit smoking. Unfortunately, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones usually isn’t easy, and many ambitious attempts often fall short. But you’re more likely to succeed if you start by choosing the right goal.

Choosing a goal seems simple enough. If that muffin top is bothering you, you should plan to lose those extra 10 pounds, right? Not necessarily, says Dr. Edward Phillips, Director and Founder of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine and assistant professor of the Harvard Medical School’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. If you tackle the goal you’re most likely to accomplish—rather than the goal you think you should make—you’re better able to achieve it and build up a head of steam to tackle tougher goals.

Listen to Dr. Phillips’ advice on how to make a healthy change that will last: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

The Right Attitude Can Save Your Life

Day in, day out, it’s like a broken record. Patient comes in with uncontrolled diabetes. Patient gets sick. Patient gets patched up. Patient could care less about their health. Patient goes home to live another day, before coming back in a month. Everyday you just accept the reality of reckless self destruction, do your best to help them while they pretend to care and then send them on their way.

Except when a patient actually shows some interest in their health. Let me give you an example. I was asked to consult on a woman with shortness of breath, unbearable heartburn, aches and pains, low energy and sleep apnea. This woman weighed close to 400 pounds. Her husband was close to that as well. Together I sat them down and talked to them for darn near an hour. We talked about all the complications that come with folks in their age group. I asked them if they had a plan for success. What their motivations were. What their goals and expectations were.
They talked about how their exercise regimen. When I tried to pin down exactly what they were doing and how much and how often, it turns out that the twice a week walk around the lake was their idea of trying. They swore up and down about the their appropriate food choices, until they admitted that their biggest problem was not what they eat, but how much they eat. For an hour I heard about how hard it was. About how frustrating it was not to see any success. About how life wasn’t fair.
And then I met their polar opposites. A man and his wife both pushing 300 pounds. He was admitted with cellulitis of the leg. But both had lost a combined 220 pounds in just seven months. I was floored. 220 pounds? That put the biggest smile in the world on my face that day. I congratulated them probably 20 times.
I asked them, “I have so many patients who just can’t find a way to lose weight. How and why did you do it?” The answer was exactly what I expected.

“We had to. We were always tired. I was always hurting. I could barely walk. My wife could barely move. We considered gastric bypass but they wouldn’t do it without first doing six months of diet and exercise. Now I’m not even considering surgery. We went through our cupboards and we got rid of all processed foods. We eat healthy. We control our portions.”

Their motivation was their own. They realized they didn’t want to live their current reality. They took the initiative to make positive change in their lives and were basking in the glory of their success. What was the difference between these two couples? It was their attitude. One couple chose to make excuses for their plight. The other was doing something about it.

*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

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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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