Improving health care: Are physicians knights or pawns? How do we motivate physicians and other health professionals to work at their best? How do we create systems of high performance? Is it by a series of top-down highly specific mandates or by setting up general guidelines and providing tools? I believe it comes down to one’s vision of physicians. Are physicians knights to be empowered in their service of patients ...

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The process of becoming an excellent physician is one of mastery.  The passion of the child is replaced by the studiousness of the teenager, and the bottomless energy of the young adult.  The leap from decision to clinician takes decades.  Forged in the steel of experience, trampled by pain and tortuous repetition, ability accrues. The apprentice guards his knowledge closely.  He bows to the alter of the sacred skill that he ...

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Whether you are a veteran of not, the recent report of waiting lists, and possibly preventable deaths of veterans, has implications for all citizens. There is no large health system which functions perfectly. But I would say that the efficiency of any given system is inversely related to its size. If this is true, then the VA health system is, and has always been, a bureaucratic and wasteful mess. Like ...

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A Veterans Affairs hospital in Fort Collins Colorado, it was recently revealed, falsified its wait times for outpatient clinic appointments. In order to appear to meet the goal of clinic appointments within 14 days, the hospital taught its clerks how to falsify the appointment records to create the illusion that the appointment goals were being met. Many of the 6,300 veterans treated at this clinic actually waited months ...

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This post deserves a caveat — health care shouldn’t be a political issue. When someone comes into my office because they have chest pain, I don’t ask them, “What’s your political leaning?” before administering care. And now after reading about the recent delay of ICD-10 in Congress, I realized that my choice in practicing direct care was the most political and least political thing I could have done. According to
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If my car insurance isn’t linked to my employer, should my health insurance? A recent projection by S&P Capital IQ, a research firm in the financial industry, estimated that 90% of Americans will receive health insurance from government exchanges by 2020. If this estimate were to come to fruition, it would represent a monumental shift in the structure of the American health care system. For over half a century, employer-sponsored ...

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“If you insure them, they will come.” Those words might as well be the mantra of hospitals across the country, because they can expect an onslaught of customers thanks to the expansion of health insurance under Obamacare. A recent study published in Science showed increased emergency room use among people in Oregon who became eligible for Medicaid, compared to others who, literally by the luck of the draw, were not chosen to ...

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I had a silver-and-gold Passover. Hearkening back to the old Girl Scout song I learned from my mother:

Make new friends, but keep the old; One is silver and the other’s gold.
With no space or equipment to have a seder myself, I was nevertheless the lucky recipient of not just one, but two invitations. The gold was thanks to a quarter-century-plus friendship; the silver was from a family we met the week before ...

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While grappling with the costs and imperfections of our health care system in recent years, a multitude of experts in the field found it useful and enlightening to compare health care to a variety of more familiar industries, and to suggest that health care should adopt operational models that have been shown to work well in those other industries. From the financial industry, we learned that health care must be computerized. ...

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Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel F. Craviotto Jr. an orthopedist, made a plea to physicians to declare independence from third parties and emancipate themselves from servitude to payers, mandates and electronic health records (EHR). As rants go, this was a first class rant. But its effect was that of a Charles de Gaulle’s whisper to Vichy France rather than a Churchillian oratory at the finest hour. The article went viral ...

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