Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

First Report From The Society of Participatory Medicine’s Newly-Appointed Public Policy Committee Chair, David Harlow

In December, the Society for Participatory Medicine’s executive committee appointed health law attorney David Harlow to represent the Society in public policy matters. Regular readers of HealthBlawg::David Harlow’s Health Care Law Blog know what a patient-centered, participatory thinker David is. This is his first report.

David HarlowI am delighted to offer my first report as Public Policy Committee Chair for the Society of Participatory Medicine. I encourage all of you who are not yet Society members to join, and I encourage new and old members to consider volunteering to help with the wide range of public policy issues facing us today.

Over the past couple of months, the Public Policy Committee has gotten its sea legs. We are beginning to add the Society’s voice to the national discourse on patient engagement in a formal manner. As planning for health reform and related initiatives becomes more concrete, it is clear that patient engagement and patient-centeredness are key issues to be considered. For example, it was encouraging to hear Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Don Berwick speak about the “Triple Aim” at the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) workshop this fall, and explicitly link the achievement of the triple aim — better care for individuals, better health for populations, and reduced per-capita costs — to patient engagement and empowerment.

There will be many opportunities for the Society to engage with policymakers, payors and provider organizations as this work continues. CMS and its many related organizations, as well as many provider and private sector payor organizations recognize that without maintaining a focus on the patient at the core, health reform and related health IT initiatives cannot be successful. We’ve kicked things off on two fronts — ACOs and Stage 2 Meaningful Use rules. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at e-Patients.net*

The Twelve Days of Healthcare Reform

Today’s blog will be my last for 2010, as I will be taking a break to spend the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with family and friends.

In keeping with a tradition I started two years ago, I again have taken the liberty of mangling a beloved holiday song, story, or rhyme to give a humorous (I hope!) perspective on current politics. In December, 2008, I adapted “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to convey President-elect Obama as being a not-so-jolly old elf besieged by lobbyists demanding stimulus gifts. Last year, I depicted the GOP as the Grinch trying to stop “ObamaCare” from coming.

Today, I’ve re-written the “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol so that it is the government bestowing “gifts” (based on actual provisions of the Affordable Care Act) that the new Congress may later take away. (Of course, in the real world, the ACA’s changes won’t take place over 12 days, but over many years.) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Medical Marketing: More Money Wasted

There was a series of ads on the radio awhile back that went something like this:

When Mrs. Willis had a stroke, her husband never slept alone. Her daughter never had to go dress shopping for the prom by herself. And her son didn’t have to sit out the Mother-Son dance at his wedding. Why? Because she came to Hospital A…and she didn’t die!

There’s another ad for one of the big downtown hospital’s cancer center (sorry, “advanced cancer center”):

Every cancer, every stage. Your life depends on it!

Let’s see: No one ever dies at Hospital A. And the big downtown cancer center can cure any cancer. That’s certainly what those ads would have you believe. Even the little local suburban hospitals have taken to advertising: Billboards around the neighborhoods, kiosks at the outlet malls, mainly pushing the lucrative stuff like cardiac care and bariatric surgery.

Every time I see this stuff, I can’t help but wonder how much it all must cost. And how much medical care could have been provided to the uninsured instead of enriching the ad execs and billboard owners who are already rolling in dough. Clearly there is still plenty of money to be made in the hospital business, because these people aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t spend this kind of money on marketing unless there was plenty more to be made from it. I believe it’s a little business concept known as “return on investment.” Read more »

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

Healthcare Reform Law: State Courts Pose A Threat

Busted 300x200 State Courts Pose Threat to Health Reform LawFlush from their big win in the midterms, the Boehners are vowing to repeal and replace the Big O’s health reform law. They pose a legitimate threat, but an even larger one lies in the courts, where suits challenging the constitutionality of the law have been popping up like fireflies on a late August night.

In Virginia for example, Republican-appointed Federal District Court Judge Henry Hudson has indicated that the Individual Mandate — a key provision of the law that has been challenged in a suit filed in his court by the state’s Republican Attorney General — might not pass his sniff test.

Hudson said he’d rule on the matter this month. If he deems the provision to be unconstitutional, he might (it’s unlikely, but he might) enjoin the law altogether until higher courts rule on the matter. Holy Kazakhstan, Batman!

An official at Camp Obama, who spoke with the New York Times under the condition that his name not be WikiLeaked, acknowledged that Hudson’s thumbs appear to be pointing downward, indeed. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

Why Privatizing Medicare Is Highly Explosive

In response to my recent post where I averred that the cigarette companies were treated as scapegoats, I have had several cyber and actual conversations about personal responsibility. I believe that folks should realize the consequences and the benefits of freely-made decisions.

While we want American society to be compassionate, we do not want to punish success and reward failure. Our goal is to do all that we can to maximize everyone’s success. We should be ready to assist those who need and deserve our private and governmental assistance, but personal effort and responsibility are necessary elements of these interventions.

In our gastrroenterology practice, when we see patients who are in financial difficulty, my physician partners and staff will do all that we can to help them. While it is not our policy to do colonoscopies for free, we will make whatever adjustments that are necessary to make sure that the patient receives necessary medical care. However, when patients who owe us money hang up on our calls, or express their view of medical entitlement with foul language, then we forward these accounts to a collection agency.

There is also a self-interest angle to supporting assistance for those in need: One day we may need a boost ourselves. Recall the concept of privatizing social security, a sound proposal that was vilified and snuffed out during George W. Bush’s presidency. Antagonism against this modest proposal was seasoned with a large measure of arrogance, a splash of hubris and a dash of paternalism. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »