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Latest Posts

Trust Is Critical To Strong Doctor-Patient Relationships

Often the simplest solutions to problems are the best.  So it would seem when it comes to the impact that increasing patient trust in physicians could have on many of the intractable challenges that face the health care industry everyday like non-adherence, lack of involvement, poor health status, dissatisfaction and so on.

I explore the link between patient trust and outcomes in the following infographic I curated and designed.  What surprised me is how a patient’s level of  trust in their doctor, like so much of what I talk about in this blog, boils downs to the patient’s perception of the physician’s ability to communicate: Read more »

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

Empathy: Anderson Cooper’s Giggling Makes This Psychiatrist Embarrassed

If you haven’t seen Anderson Cooper catch a case of the giggles on live TV, you can still watch it on YouTube.  I missed the first showing, but saw Mr. Cooper replayed it on his own Ridiculist List.  But what’s this doing on Shrink Rap?

I watched the re-run, and I found myself laughing out loud.  Only, it wasn’t a good, happy, hearty laugh, it was an embarrassed and uncomfortable laugh, and I realized I’d taken on the feelings of the newsman.  If I were a psychiatrist (oops, I am, even in August), I might say that Anderson Cooper Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Great Clinical Care And Excellent Bedside Manner: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

The New York Times recently published an article titled, Finding a Quality Doctor, Dr. Danielle Ofri an internist at NYU, laments how she was unable to perform as well as expected in the areas of patient care as it related to diabetes.  From the August 2010 New England Journal of Medicine article, Dr. Ofri notes that her report card showed the following – 33% of patients with diabetes have glycated hemoglobin levels at goal, 44% have cholesterol levels at goal, and a measly 26% have blood pressure at goal.  She correctly notes that these measurements alone aren’t what makes a doctor a good quality one, but rather the areas of interpersonal skills, compassion, and empathy, which most of us would agree constitute a doctor’s bedside manner, should count as well.

Her article was simply to illustrate that “most doctors are genuinely doing their best to help their patients and that these report cards might not be accurate reflections of their care” yet when she offered this perspective, a contrary point of view, many viewed it as “evidence of arrogance.”

She comforted herself by noting that those who criticized her were “mostly [from] doctors who were not involved in direct patient care (medical administrators, pathologists, radiologists). None were in the trenches of primary care.”

From the original NEJM article, Dr. Ofri concluded Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

New Program At USF Health Hopes To Mold More Empathetic Physicians

Can we teach empathy to the next generation of physicians?  The University of South Florida Health thinks so and they’re putting it on the line this week with the launch of the SELECT program, a new curriculum intended to “put empathy, communication and creativity back into doctoring.”

The SELECT (Scholarly Excellence. Leadership Experiences. Collaborative Training.) program will offer 19 select students unique training in leadership development as well as the scholarly tools needed to become physician leaders and catalysts for change. During their first week on campus, instead of the old-style medical school tradition of heading to the gross anatomy lab, SELECT students are immersed in leadership training centered in empathy and other core principles of patient-centered care.

The hope is that this program will prepare the next generation of departmental chairmen, CMOs and physician thought leaders through more intense, non-traditional preparation.

Students will Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

What Makes A Great Oncologist?

I had a WOW experience yesterday when I accompanied my wife to interview a new doctor for her.   As some reader may know she is being seen by specialists at MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston for Stage IV lung cancer.   She has not had a local oncologist for the past 6 years…but she does now.   And we both love this guy!

You need to understand that I have been very underwhelmed by the local oncologists I had met up till now.   I am sure they were clinically proficient…but as a group not a one could muster a smile….or any sense of interest or curiosity in my wife’s medical condition.  I held out little hope that this new doctor would be any different.

After being ushered into the exam room, a Physician’s Assistant came into the room to get smart about my wife’s history and records (which she brought).   Three things surprised me about the PA.  1) She was incredibly thorough actually reading the radiology reports and reflecting with my wife on what she learned, 2) her empathy – as she read the reports she actually used terms like “bummer” when she read how my wife developed pneumonia during her treatment, and 3) she faithfully summarized the results of her review to the doctor before he came in.  In other words – the PA listened and heard what my wife shared with her!

Now enters the doctor.   He has a warm smile on his face while he extends a hand to my wife and me.  He says just enough for us to know that he has talked to the PA.  He asks my wife to sit on the exam table and does a physical exam (also a rare event these days). Read more »

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

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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