Like most everyone else, I took a break from my evening chores the past few nights, and watched Jeopardy! IBM's super-computer, Watson, was taking on Jeopardy! phenoms Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.  [SPOILER] The computer won handily. After watching, I began to study for my upcoming board re-certification exam. But, then, I wondered.  Why? In the New York Times, applications for Watson are ...

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There are plenty of reasons why medical students aren't choosing primary care as careers. Lack of role models.  Perception of professional dissatisfaction.  High burnout rate among generalist doctors. Long, uncontrollable hours. But what about salary? Until now, the wage disparity between primary care doctors and specialists has only been an assumed reason; the evidence was largely circumstantial.  After all, ...

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The recurring narrative among health reformers is that hospitals that provide more care raise health costs, but don't necessarily improve quality. This has lead to a backlash against so-called "aggressive" hospitals and doctors, with upcoming financial penalties to match. But the situation, as always, appears to be more nuanced than that. In her column in the New York Times, Pauline Chen looks ...

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Abdominal pain is the bane of many emergency physicians. Recently, I wrote how CT scans are on the rise in the ER.  Much of those scans look for potential causes of abdominal pain. In an essay from TIME, Zachary Meisel discusses why abdominal pain, in his words, is the doctor's "booby prize."  And when you consider that there are 7 million visits annually by people who report abdominal pain, that's a ...

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Health reformers propose the proliferation of integrated health systems, like the Mayo Clinic or Kaiser Permanente, which, according to the Dartmouth Atlas, lead to better patient care and improved cost control. To that end, Accountable Care Organizations have been a major part of health reform, changing the way health care is delivered. Never mind that patients may not be receptive to the new model, but the creation of these large, integrated ...

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Female doctors make less than male physicians. That conclusion gained major media traction recently.  A recent post on KevinMD.com by medical student Emily Lu had some great conversation discussing some reasons why women make less money in medicine. To recap, the study from Health Affairs concluded that,

newly trained physicians who are women are being paid significantly lower salaries than their male counterparts according to a new study. The authors identify ...

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In a guest post last year, physician-author Richard Reece commented that the individual mandate may collapse health reform. Those words came to mind as Judge Vinson not only ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional, but the entire Affordable Care Act, as well. Nobody likes to be mandated to do anything, least of all purchase health insurance, and this was always the sticking point with the current iteration of health reform. So, what ...

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I recently pointed to a BMJ study concluding that pay for performance doesn't seem to motivate doctors.  It has been picking up steam in major media with TIME, for instance, saying, "Money isn't everything, even to doctors." So much is riding on the concept of pay for performance, that it's hard to fathom what other options there are should it fail.  And there's mounting evidence that it will. Aaron Carroll, a ...

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Electronic medical records and pay for performance are among the ways health reformers are going to improve patient care. It's a fundamental shift in how doctors practice, with more practices adopting expensive EMRs. And with the advent of Accountable Care Organizations, doctors will soon be compensated in part by quality measures. But will they work? Well, the jury's still out. Two articles caught my eye recently. The first, from the WSJ's Health Blog, reports ...

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Did you know that one-third of the country's physicians are over the age of 65? That's right, there's a good chance that your doctor is on Medicare.  That's a concern, because physicians aren't immune to the ails of aging, and are just as prone as patients to succumb to the effects of Parkinson's or various types of dementias. Not comforting if you're about to undergo an operation, for instance.  And absolutely frightening when ...

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