If you put ten physicians in a room, you will get nine different opinions.  It doesn't matter if you are discussing policy, diagnostics, or politics.  Indeed, medical training develops deep independent thinking. We often feel alone in the care of our patients, we picture ourselves the sole barrier between illness and well being.   We battle our fellow physicians, administrators, and insurers.  You can argue the pros and cons of ...

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I am responding to the article, “Frustrations of the primary care physician should be a wakeup call.” Having practiced medicine for 25 years as a primary care physician, and accountable primary care physician for the past 10, I understand the demands on PCPs’ time and the pressure to please patients, satisfy documentation/coding requirements, manage care teams, run a practice, and earn a living. However, there are some best ...

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The VA scandal over excessive waits for doctors’ appointments is an early warning of things to come. Over the last three years, the demand for primary care appointments at the VA increased by 50% while the number of providers rose by only 9%. With four hundred vacancies for primary care providers, the VA is facing a severe gap in its ability to care for its patients. It isn’t surprising that the ...

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I have been writing a bit lately on the need for health care providers to talk with their patients about health care costs, if for no other reason than to enable patients to determine whether they can afford to pay for the healthcare that their doctors are recommending them to receive.  I have been criticized for this position, on the grounds that I am rationing care from people with ...

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I have a confession to make.  The purpose of a recent blog post was to set up this one.  What I questioned, at that time, is whether the future of primary care will come from outside change (business, politics, or even specialist physicians and administrators) or internally, hence creative destruction versus internal combustion. When I entered my first primary care practice in 2002, I had great doubts that the traditional ...

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All of the focus that CMS is putting on hospital readmissions via the Readmissions Reduction Program, and the financial penalties that readmissions can generate, is causing hospital administrators to look to the emergency department and emergency physicians to intervene and resolve the issues that interrupt recovery for post-hospitalization patients. In today’s world of budget-constrained financing of government health care programs and narrow hospital margins, the question of how best to ...

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A stark reality of the past year has been the ever-looming ICD-10 transition, which ultimately got punted on by the federal government to October 2015. With the deadline to make the transition to ICD-10 now more than a year away instead of six months (and who knows if that will even be the case next summer), I’d still wager that many health systems are working to keep their transitions on track ...

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Health behavior change is hard; if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But running a marathon is also hard, and lately it seems that just about everyone is doing it. The health care industry could learn a lot from the increasing popularity of the marathon about how to design programs that help people make positive health behavior changes. At its core, running 26.2 miles has much in common with the process ...

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As the VA scandal unfolds, with continued revelations of secret waitlists and delayed or denied medical care, calls have been building Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. He did just that, resigning because, “He had become a distraction as the department struggles.” President Obama, eager to show America that he was being proactive about the scandal, regretfully accepted the General’s resignation. But other than allowing the president to show that he is doing something about ...

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Mental health patients and their families already pay a hefty price with the stigma of mental illness and the emotional roller coaster they often face dealing with symptoms. But insufficient mental health resources across the United States also means that they must pay a financial price as well in the form of lost productivity, out-of-pocket costs for treatment and sometimes periods of unemployment. A recent USA Today special report estimates that benefits ...

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