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Latest Posts

Talk Therapy And The American Resident Project: How Can The Next Generation Of Physicians Improve The Healthcare System?

I have been an outspoken, and often times exasperated, patient advocate and student of healthcare reform. There is no doubt that the U.S. healthcare system is operating far below its potential in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and affordability. In fact, an entire industry of policy wonks and consultants have sprung up in both the public and private sectors – all with recommendations about how to “fix” our system. In my opinion, the most insightful suggestions will come from those who are currently doing the work of healthcare (i.e. clinicians) and change will be adopted and promoted most fervently by the young and freshly minted among them.

Medical students, residents, and physicians newly in practice now have a place to voice their opinions – The American Resident Project is an ambitious movement to promote fresh thinking from tomorrow’s physician-leaders. I am pleased to be supporting this effort here on my blog and in face-to-face meetings with fellows at medical centers across the country. I hope you’ll bookmark the website and join in the community conversation about how to innovate  in the midst of a broken system. This is more than a think-tank for change – the ideas and opinions of young doctors may be our best hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Stay tuned for some fresh ideas in the setting of some healthy talk therapy!

More Bureaucracy: Quality Healthcare Measured With Check Boxes

With the news that Wellpoint, one of the largest insurance companies in America, will cut off annual 8% payment increases to about 1,500 hospitals if they fail to “test” high enough on 51 quality measures, they have officially defined “quality” health care as checkboxes.

Yep, checkboxes.

You see how do insurers know if we offer each of our patient’s nutritional guidance or exercise counseling?

Well, they check to see of doctors have clicked on a yellow warning box advising we do this. If we have, then not only is that doctor a fine, “quality” doctor, but the hospitals (and it’s computer system and scores of administrative staff that compile and submit this data) are real, fine, “quality” hospitals.

That’s all there is to it.

Never mind if we don’t have time to actually perform the counseling.

* click * * check * * click *

Simple as pie. Efficient, too.

Beautiful bureaucratic quality.

Good luck with that.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Some Good Things About Healthcare Reform

The large healthcare bill has some very good elements in it that should help the average American.

One is a provision that will kick in in 2011 that says all health insurers will need to spend 85 percent of the premium dollar on actually providing care. This means people may actually receive benefits they pay for. What a concept! Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

WellPoint CEO Now Earns $13.1 Million A Year

Corporate Hall of Shame Award

With the United States undergoing the worst recession since the Great Depression and people everywhere worried about the cost of healthcare and how healthcare reform will affect them, isn’t it great to know that some special corporate executives got a 51 percent raise in 2009?

Angela Braly, president and CEO of health insurer WellPoint, got a nice bonus that raised her salary to $13.1 million from $8.7 million the year before. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Health Insurance Goes Up For Doctors, Too

Physicians aren’t exempt from the struggles with personal health insurance coverage, affordability, denied coverage, etc.  

When I finished my medical training and opened my practice 20 years ago, I had to buy individual coverage. All options included a rider that excluded coverage on my uterus and ovaries due to fibroid surgery during my training, so when I had my TAH & BSO a few years later, the entire cost came out of my pocket. Fortunately I knew how to ask for cost reductions, but still.

My husband and I are both small business individuals. I have always carried our health insurance under my name (office). Over the years we have gone to a health savings account with a high deductible to keep the cost reasonable. Fortunately, we have been mostly healthy. Last month we received a letter from Assurant Health. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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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