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Latest Posts

How Small Adjustments Via Telemedicine Can Make A Difference

Last week we examined how, in a typical practitioner’s day, he or she often needs to make adjustments in patients’ care to keep them on the path to getting –- or staying — healthy.

Usually a face-to-face physical exam isn’t necessary to make accurate changes to a patient’s care regiment. Instead, all discussions can be done via a form of telemedicine, such as a phone call, email, or video-conferencing. Unfortunately, it’s become standard that face-to-face time is required between patient and doctor, creating more hassle for the patient while not impacting the quality of the outcome.

I’d like to visit the case of a particular patient, Mrs. EE, and discuss how telemedicine allowed me to make small, ongoing adjustments to her medical regiment quickly and easily, and with very positive outcomes.

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How To Micro-Tweak Diagnosis And Treatment

A common problem in healthcare is the number of times that small adjustments are needed in a person’s care. Often for these little changes, a physical exam and face-to-face time have nothing to do with good medical decision making.

Yet the patient and doctor are locked in a legacy-industrialized business model that requires the patient to pay a co-pay and waste at least half of their day driving to and from the office, logging time in a waiting room, and then visiting five minutes with their practitioner for the needed medical information or advice.

Today I’d like to visit the case of a patient I’ll call “DD,” who I easily diagnosed with temporal arteritis (TA) through a 15-minute phone call after she’d spent four weeks as the healthcare system fumbled her time with delays and misdirection via several doctors without establishing a firm diagnosis. Read more »

How Direct Access To A Doctor Can Save A Person’s Life

At my front door stood my neighbor and his daughter making their annual Girl Scout cookie trek. “Should I make it a baker’s dozen?” the girl asked, knowing I wouldn’t refuse. Her father chimed in, “I was just at a wedding where I sat next to someone who said you saved her life. She said some very nice things about your medical practice.”

The name of the patient he was mentioning flashed me back. Mrs. BB (whose name has been altered to maintain privacy) was referred by a mutual acquaintance who already used our practice. This acquaintance felt that maybe I could solve Mrs. BB’s problem, specifically because all of our practitioners are paid for time, which means we can listen and communicate to determine how we can best help our patients.
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The Power Of Comprehensive Healthcare

Today, in a bold and not too distant place, 300 individuals who are at high risk for multiple health problems predictive of high mortality rates, are participating in a visionary experimental project for telemedicine and health monitoring.

Every day these individuals are tracked through GPS location. Their movement patterns and whereabouts easily can be observed by trained technicians who ascertain that the individuals are getting up and going about their daily activities in a normal fashion. Deviations in movements for any expected individual can be the earliest indicator that something has gone seriously wrong and might warrant an investigatory call or visit to look into a developing heath problem.
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Diagnosis And Care: Just A Phone Call Away

In my medical practice, I have a simple yet revolutionary idea: I get paid to answer the phone. Every one of my 3,000+ patients has my cell phone and email address so that they can reach me the instant they need help, which is no different than any of my friends or family who may be trying to reach me. Our practice motto: “Talk to your doctor anytime, anyway, anywhere.”

It’s not that I’m trying to not see you, or want to be impersonal or to practice risky healthcare. In fact, each of these common assumptions is pointedly wrong. By answering my phone, I can know my diagnosis and treatment worked (or not), or I can help someone avoid an ER visit or unnecessary office visit. My patients call me when they’re traveling, or at work, or from their car, at night and on weekends. There’ve been occasions that I need to see a patient NOW and I’ve come to the office a 2AM to keep someone out of an ER. No matter what, by picking up the phone to talk to my patients, I’m the first person in the healthcare system to know something is wrong, not the last.

Although good examples supporting the power of a doctor answering a phone occur daily, I have one I want to share with you. Read more »

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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