A recent report from the Commonwealth Fund, which placed U.S. last amongst developing nations in health care, analyzed Britain’s high score on the management of chronic conditions. The authors attributed care coordination to the widespread adoption of health information technology in the National Health Service (NHS). That’s like someone saying Chinese food is tasty because chopsticks are widely used. Like quants so fastidious about decimal points they’ve missed the overall point. Where do ...

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The recent disagreement between Uwe Reinhardt and Sally Pipes in Forbes is a teachable moment. There’s a dearth of confrontational debates in health policy, and education is worse off for it. Crux of the issue is the more efficient system: employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) or Medicaid. Sally Pipes, president of the market-leaning Pacific Research Institute, believes it is ESI. Employers spend 60% less than the government, per person: $3,430 versus $9,130, ...

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“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on. “I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least–at least I mean what I say–that’s the same thing, you know.” “Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see!” The brilliant Lewis Carroll had a field day with logical fallacies in ...

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There’s a lot of talk about quality metrics, pay for performance, value-based care and penalties for poor outcomes. In this regard, it’s useful to ask a basic question. What is quality? Or an even simpler question, who is the better physician? Let’s consider two fictional radiologists: Dr. Singh and Dr. Jha. Dr. Singh is a fast reader. Her turnaround time for reports averages 15 minutes. Her reports are brief with a paucity of ...

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In a recent verdict a jury in Massachusetts awarded $16.7 million in damages to the daughter of a Bostonian lady who died from lung cancer at 47, for a missed cancer on a chest x-ray. The verdict reminds one of the words of John Bradford, the heretic, who was burnt at the stakes. “There but for the grace of God go I.” Many radiologists will sympathize with both the patient who ...

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My father who was a junior doctor in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) in the seventies would have been grateful for the match scheme, an algorithm that places medical students in residency programs in the U.S. The training in the NHS was unstructured. Physicians carved their own training by joining a patchwork of hospital positions in disparate places. Over a few years we lived in Yorkshire, East Anglia, Wales, East London ...

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While rotating through the local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital during my residency in radiology, I noticed a curious phenomenon. When the weather was pleasant a large number of veterans would not show up for their scheduled CT scan or MRI. When the weather was miserable or dangerous the attendance would be maximum. We named this phenomenon the "VA paradox": a paradox because this is the opposite of what usually happens. After deeper ...

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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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A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine lauded, albeit cautiously, point-of-care ultrasound that has risen to such an extent that it is now becoming an integral part of medical education. Could the availability of ultrasound revolutionize clinical medicine in much the same way Laennec’s stethoscope broke the acoustic barrier? Certainly this possibility can’t be ruled out. But I am not so sanguine. One thing I’m sure about: Indiscriminate ...

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A respiratory physician who I worked for had an uncanny ability of predicting the diagnoses the admitting junior doctor would fail to consider in patients presenting acutely with difficulty in breathing. He was using a checklist, which he developed after years of observing his housestaff. As a surgical intern I was once praised for my presence of mind in cross matching blood for a patient with a rare blood group who ...

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