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Latest Posts

A Truly Useful EMR

I love computers. Really, I do. Despite my oft-repeated claims about the shortcomings of electronic medical records in their current form, I do believe that information technology has the potential to be of great help to me and other physicians in providing quality care to Americans.

Stop laughing. I really mean it.

I do not believe, however, that IT best serves the medical needs of our patients when used to create non-interactive silos of information sequestered in the offices and clinics of individual doctors. Even hospitals and large integrated health systems information remains stuck within that system, providing limited utility when patients travel, or even go to a doctor not affiliated with the system.

Although some (especially in government) seem to feel that expanding those kinds of integrated systems is the way to go, the problem is that not all patients want to get their care from Mayo Clinic clones across the country. Still, I have an idea for using currently available technology to vastly improve the way medical care is delivered anywhere in this country. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

Security Of Patient Records: The Weakest Link

The Queen of Soul famously wailed about being a link in a “chain of fools.” The lead story in the August 13th Boston Globe tells us about another sort of link in the chain — the weakest link in the chain of custody of patient records.

In brief, a pathology billing service bought out by another service apparently dumped all records more than a year old in a town dump. A Globe photographer taking out his own trash noticed that the paper records (which he was looking at because he thought they ought to be recycled rather than dumped) had identifiable patient data and represented at least four hospitals from across Eastern Massachusetts. Clearly, these records ought to have been shredded or otherwise destroyed before disposal. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

“E-Visits” With Patients: For Greedy Doctors Or Not?

Dr. Wes (a cardiology blogger whom all should read) wrote a very compelling post about technology and the bondage it can create for doctors:

The devaluation of doctors’ time continues unabated.

As we move into our new era of health care delivery with millions more needing physician time (and other health care provider’s time, for that matter) –- we’re seeing a powerful force emerge –- a subtle marketing of limitless physician availability facilitated by the advance of the electronic medical record, social media, and smartphones.

Doctors, you see, must be always present, always available, always giving.

These sound like dire words, but the degree to which it has resonated around the Web among doctors is telling. Read more »

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

Online Medical Records: Not All Patients Want All That

Anytime you come across a healthcare article that implies that every patient wants access to this or that — i.e. their medical record, patient-centered care, etc. — you can safely assume that the claim is wrong. Why? Patients are not a monolithic group –- they don’t all share the same motivations, preferences, beliefs or experiences when it comes to their health.

But let’s face. If you are trying to push an agenda, just saying some people want this or that is not the same as implying that everyone wants it.

Take the issue of patient access to physician notes in their medical record. Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) recently announced their OpenNotes study. The OpenNotes project will evaluate the impact on both patients and physicians of sharing, through online medical record portals, the comments and observations made by physicians after each patient encounter. Okay…so far, so good.

Things begin to fall apart, however, when RWJ cites “a recent study“ in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, as part of the basis for the OpenNotes research. According to RWJ, the study found that “most consumers want full access to their medical records.” Since when did six focus groups (64 people) constitute a representative sample, e.g. most people? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*

Medical Terminology Reasoning (Or Lack Thereof)

SpitballIt’s been a very long time since I did an “Ask Dr. Rob” post. It’s also been a long time since I shot a spitball out of a straw and hit someone behind the ear during social studies class. I realize that just because it’s been a long time since I’ve done something, it doesn’t mean the world is better off with me doing it again.

Still, there have been some interesting questions that have come up and I think it’s time they should be answered. They’re both along the same line:

Question 1: What’s the difference between health care and healthcare? I see that you contribute to the Health Care Blog, but you write about healthcare all of the time. What’s the deal?

Question 2: What’s the difference between EMR and EHR?  It seems that some people feel that it’s vile and uncouth to call it “EMR,” only accepting people who call it “EHR” into their secret societies of people who are smarter than everyone else. What’s the deal? Read more »

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

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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