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Latest Posts

“Dr. Watson” And The 7 (Human) Qualities Of An Ideal Physician

After the computer known as Watson easily dispatched of the best two human Jeopardy! contestants in history, IBM announced that one of the first applications of their artificial intelligence technology would be in the medical field. We should soon expect virtual physician assistants in the exam room. At least one of my friends even speculated that the days of human doctors are numbered.

Is it possible that machines will replace humans in the doctor-patient relationship? I doubt it. According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic in 2006, the most important characteristics patients feel a good doctor must possess are entirely human. According to the study, the ideal physician is confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful, and thorough. Watson may have proved his cognitive superiority, but can a computer ever be taught these human attributes needed to negotiate through patient fear, anxiety, and confusion? Could such a computer ever come across as sincere?

I’m afraid some major calibrations might be needed to substitute artificial intelligence for an “ideal” physician. What do you think? Here’s an artist’s conception (read: farce) of how such an application in the examining room might play out. Click HERE to watch the medical cartoon.

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

Coronary Stent Thrombosis And Your Body Clock

you've been warned by Robert Couse-Baker via FlickrAdd coronary stent thrombosis to the list of cardiac events influenced by circadian rhythms, with more events occurring during the early morning hours and in a summertime window of late July and early August.

Coronary stent thrombosis joins several other adverse cardiac events that also follow a circadian pattern, such as stroke, unstable angina pectoris, acute myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death, according to researcher published in JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions.

Most studies that addressed circadian variations in cardiovascular disease were done before the advent of stents, so, researcher from Mayo Clinic-Rochester conducted a retrospective analysis of medical records and the clinic’s registry, finding 124 patients who presented with coronary stent thrombosis between February 1995 and August 2009.

Researchers determined the time of day, day of week, and season of year that the stent thrombosis occurred and recorded when potential triggers were present. In addition, the team categorized each stent thrombosis based on the number of days since the initial stenting procedure: early=0 to 30, late=31 to 360 days, very late=more than 360 days.

The association between the onset of stent thrombosis was lowest at 8 p.m. and highest at 7 a.m. (P=0.006). However, when the team divided the analysis into early, late, and very late stent thrombosis, only the association between early stent thrombosis and time of day remained significant (P=0.030, P=0.537, P=0.096, respectively). Day of week wasn’t associated, but stent thrombosis rates peaked between the end of July and the beginning of August (P=0.036). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

What If All Patients Were This Engaged In Their Health?

This video is an excellent testimony of what a truly engaged and knowledgable patient with diabetes looks and sounds like. Kudos to the Mayo Clinic for sharing this wonderful piece about shared decision making.

Pay particular attention to the fact that the patient in the video was treated for diabetes by her primary care physician for eight years before being referred to a clearly “patient-centered” endocrinologist. Also note her belief that a patient-centered approach to chronic disease management probably results in shorter, more productive visits in the long run.

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

Winterize Your Mind And Body

This is a guest post from Dr. Jennifer Wider.

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Winterize Your Mind And Body

During the winter months, certain health issues may arise that women should have on their radar. From mental health issues like stress, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), to physical concerns like skin care, the winter can certainly pack an extra punch.

Depression peaks during the holiday season, affecting more than 17 million Americans, according to the National Mental Health Association. On average, women are more vulnerable to stress-related illnesses like depression and anxiety than men. One study, conducted by Pacific Health Laboratories, revealed that 44 percent of American women report feeling sad through the holidays compared to 34 percent of American men.

“Depression of any kind is more common in females than males,” explains Greg Murray, M.D., lecturer and clinical psychologist at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. “A pattern of elevated depression in the winter months is more marked in women than in men.”

There are a host of different reasons why women may be more susceptible to stress during the winter than men. Women tend to be the primary caretakers of the family and often take on the extra burden of the holidays with gift buying, entertaining, and coordinating visits with extended family. For working women, the added responsibilities can be difficult to balance, especially if they are already balancing a family, job, childcare and eldercare duties. Read more »

Leading Healthcare Systems Collaborate On Best Practices For Common Conditions

Six of the nation’s leading healthcare systems will collaborate on outcomes, quality, and costs across eight common conditions or procedures in an effort to share best practices and reduce costs with the entire healthcare system.

Cleveland Clinic, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Denver Health, Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, and Mayo Clinic will to share data among their 10 million patients with The Dartmouth Institute, which will analyze the data and report back to the collaborative and the rest of the country, according to a press release.

The collaborative will focus on eight conditions and treatments for which costs have been increasing rapidly and for which there are wide variations in quality and outcomes across the country. The first three conditions to be studies are knee replacement, diabetes, and heart failure. They will be followed by asthma, weight loss surgery, labor and delivery, spine surgery, and depression.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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 Cartoon

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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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