A version of column was published in USA Today on January 19, 2014. Over half of physicians today use electronic medical records, thanks to the federal government spending more than $22 billion dollars incentivizing providers to transition away from paper charts.  Supporters of digital records, including President Obama, say they improve patient care and reduce health costs.  Having navigated a transition from paper charts to electronic records in my own practice, ...

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Mammograms: Breast cancer screening as an individual patient decision In a major cancer screening development, a study from the British Medical Journal found that an annual screening mammography didn't result in a mortality benefit:

Women screened annually by mammography for 5 years had had a breast cancer mortality hazard of 1.05 compared with the control group during the screening period. During follow-up for a mean of 22 years, the mammography group ...

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A version of this column was published on January 26, 2014 in the New York Times’ Room for Debate blog. The president should invite someone crucial to the success of the Affordable Care Act: a practicing primary care physician. Obamacare admirably expands the opportunity to purchase affordable health insurance to the previously uninsured tens of millions, either by expanding Medicaid or through health exchanges like HealthCare.gov.  Yet without a strong primary care backbone, those ...

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A study from Science found that those on Medicaid in Oregon made 40% more visits to the emergency department. The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment included about 90,000 low-income people and assigned 30,000 of them to Medicaid by lottery. It's essentially a naturally-occurring randomized controlled trial. The result seems to have caught the public policy experts by off guard:

“I suspect that the finding will be surprising to many in the policy ...

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A version of column was published in USA Today on November 20, 2013. I once diagnosed a patient with high cholesterol, and prescribed him a medicine commonly known as a statin.   When I saw him months later for follow-up, he admitted that he didn’t fill the prescription. “I took red yeast rice capsules instead,” he said. When I asked him why, he told me that he was wary of statins’ long list of side effects ...

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New cholesterol guidelines: The statin decision lies with patients The release of the new cholesterol guidelines from the ACC/AHA is big news.  It represents a fundamental shift in how we prescribe statin drugs. As with many sweeping changes, there are some good, and some controversial ideas. I like removing non-statin cholesterol drugs from the recommendations, such as Zetia.  Many haven't been shown to save lives or decrease cardiovascular events. Also, removing LDL targets can simplify ...

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Google Helpouts will bring telehealth to the masses Google Answers was a service that was launched in 2002 where users would pay money to ask questions, and a Google-vetted researcher answer them. As many who have seen me speak know, I was a Google Answers researcher, where I answered health-related questions. Google Answers closed in 2006, but recently, version 2.0 of Google Answers was announced: Google Helpouts. This ...

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Why I recommend LinkedIn to physicians When I talk to physicians about dipping their toes into the social media waters, I advise starting with LinkedIn.  Spend about 45 minutes or so and create a LinkedIn profile, which is essentially a digital translation of your CV.  LinkedIn profiles get ranked highest among the social media platforms, and can push down the influence of negative ...

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HealthCare.gov doesnt need a tech surge, it needs better primary care The Affordable Care Act is off to a rocky start, to say the least. Attention has been focused on HealthCare.gov, where those without employer-provided insurance can shop for health plans.  Finger pointing abounds, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and contractors blaming each other. A story in the Wall Street Journal chronicles the debacle:

The contractors said each of their pieces ...

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In case you haven't heard, Malcolm Gladwell recently released his book, David and Goliath.  I'm just about finished reading it. Just as interesting as the book are its reviews.  In a recent post from Slate, Gladwell himself responds to the criticism.  He freely admits that his books should not be held as pinnacles of academic rigor, but should be considered "intellectual adventures stories." He further elaborates on the power of ...

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