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Patient “Customer Service” Is Good Care

Gosh, a whole lot of huffing over a little word! “Customer.” Okay, now grab a paper bag and breathe slowly and steadily into it. I know it’s hard to hear that word. I am sorry to have caused such trouble.

Some folks misunderstood my last post, thinking that I thought patients should only be considered customers, or that they should be referred to as customers. I never said that, nor did I imply it. I simply said that patients are customers. They are. Medical care is not free, and it is being paid for by the patient (directly or indirectly). Medicine is a business that has been so mismanaged that we are now in a crisis over its financial side. The trouble is the cost of care. Cost implies money is used, and trading money for services or goods is what business is about.

We’ve been spending our dollars on healthcare like a person irresponsibly running up a credit card bill they can’t pay back. The pain doesn’t happen now, it happens down the road when the collectors knock. We can’t order whatever tests we want or prescribe gazillion dollar drugs without remembering somebody will have to pay the bill. Ignoring the business of medicine has gotten us into deep doo-doo. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

The Business Of Healthcare And Chaos Theory

Chaos theoryNoun – The branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.

Alternative definition:

Chaos theory – Noun – The branch of healthcare that deals with making the payment system increasingly complex and ever changing. This complexity and confusion impact physicians and patients in such a way that appropriate services in care of the patient are subject to rules and regulations that are deliberately complex, making alterations from the momentary rules inevitable.  This exists so that even small alterations will free the insurance company from the responsibility to pay for said service.

I am no physicist, but I honestly think that a grasp and understanding of the first type of Chaos theory is more likely than that of the second.  Let me give a demonstration of the second chaos theory in action: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

The Business Of Medicine: Critical To Medical Education?

Most medical schools do a reasonably good job clinically preparing medical students to be future physicians.

But they can do better, especially in our fragmented health system where millions of Americans have to contend with costs as much as they have to with their medical conditions.

In her recent New York Times column, Pauline Chen cites a study showing that students exposed to more non-clinical topics, like medical economics, health policy, and the “business” of medicine, were more satisfied with their education. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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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