It’s very hard to find a product or service that is both lousy and unaffordable. Such expensive duds are usually quickly replaced by cheaper and better competitors. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, health care was becoming more expensive every year while simultaneously becoming less convenient, less personal, and less satisfying. In 2009, I wrote a series of four posts explaining how the health care marketplace reached such ...

Read more...

In October, 2013, at the launch of the Affordable Care Act, I predicted that the health insurance exchanges about to go into effect would grow in popularity and improve the health insurance marketplace, then so imperfect. Twenty months later, the exchanges are proving effective in reducing the number of uninsured and are beginning to provide the information people need to make an informed selection about which plan is best ...

Read more...

Now that we no longer have to worry about the SGR, we have a new worry. The law consolidates several measurement tools into one big tool. CMS has declared that it wants to pay for value. The law provides a blueprint for paying for value. The underlying assumption of this approach is that we can define and measure value through measuring quality components. Can we define health care value through measurement? ...

Read more...

Recently, the new surgeon general of the United States, Vivek Murthy, was officially sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden. Congratulations to him, it’s quite an achievement at the relatively young age of 37. Nobody can doubt the hard work, intelligence and passion that must have gone into reaching such a height. His nomination was first put forward at the end of 2013, and he faced something of an uphill political ...

Read more...

shutterstock_209415490 You gotta hand it to our health department. They are laser focused on this one. They want 85 percent of payments made to doctors by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to be linked to clinical quality measures within the next two years. Moreover, I suspect the health department is still giddy from Congress passing a new health care ...

Read more...

Inscribed on a plaque just below a statue of an eagle in front of my hospital is a famous quote from President Abraham Lincoln that begins, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle ...” It is the reason why the Veterans Affairs (VA) system exists. It is the reason why we VA physicians come to work each day. I am honored to care for our special patient population, ...

Read more...

It has been known for a long time that “health care” -- all the stuff that we do, prescribe and provide -- is a minor determinant of how “healthy” any of us is. Overall health, or more technically, the variability in health outcomes, is much more dependent on the combination of genetics, personal behavior (think smoking and seat belts), environmental factors and socioeconomic status than it is on health care. I ...

Read more...

shutterstock_151206914 A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about performance metrics in medicine.  People asked me:  “Well, if you don’t like the metrics, what would you use?”  So I thought about this, and the best way I can think of to explain what I mean is to use an example from a different field: education. Standardized testing has become ubiquitous in schools.  ...

Read more...

I just finished reading the Journal of Hospital Medicine article called “The highest utilizers of care: individualized care plans to coordinate care, improve health care service utilization, and reduce costs at an academic tertiary care center.” Using a multidisciplinary team of volunteers including members from hospital medicine, ER, psychiatry, ambulatory care, social work, nursing and risk management,  individualized care plans were developed for high utilizer patients.  These patients had multiple ...

Read more...

When I was a resident at the University of Virginia, my wisest mentors gave me one piece of advice that far exceeded all the scientific and statistical jargon that others expected me to swallow. Consider this: When patients walk into your room and sit down, shut up and look into their eyes. When they are done talking, have a conversation. The key word is conversation. The visit should not include a lecture or statistics ...

Read more...

Most Popular