Being sick is a horrible enough time without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost you. Unfortunately, the United States is unique among developed nations in not ensuring that the populace has a safety net that will protect them against exorbitant personal health care expenses. It’s a terrible thing to have to deal with as a physician. I went to medical school to learn how to take ...

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  Since finishing my residency several years ago, I’ve worked in almost every type of hospital up and down the East Coast, from big urban academic medical centers to more rural community outposts. Although I primarily practice hospital medicine, working with both smaller private groups and being a hospital employee, I empathize a lot with my independent practice colleagues and brethren. I almost certainly would have gone down the route of ...

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The mantra of striving for excellent customer service is a very American concept. I’m reminded whenever I travel around the world and experience general service expectations elsewhere — even in some very advanced nations in Europe — how far ahead we are in the United States. We totally take it for granted that we can expect high levels of customer care almost everywhere we go, and any complaints and feedback ...

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As health care increasingly propels itself into the world of corporations and big business, it may seem like the practice of medicine has entered an irreversible new era. Gone are the days of good old Dr. Wilson in his solo private practice around the corner, loved and respected by all his patients and the community. Nowadays, it’s all about mega multi-specialty groups, health care mergers and hostile corporate takeovers. Being someone ...

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Customer service is all the rage these days in most facets of our lives. America leads the world in this area (however much of the public here take it for granted). I’ve traveled all over the world, and the concept of customer service in many other parts of the globe, including highly advanced and prosperous other Western nations, still leaves a lot to be desired. It’s always reassuring to know ...

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One of the topics that I write most about is the interaction of health care information technology with frontline clinical medicine, which I believe to be among the most critical issues facing the practice of medicine at the moment. With statistics now suggesting that doctors (and nurses) are spending an absolute minimal amount of their day engaging in direct patient care — some research suggesting as little as ...

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Every health care system in the world is facing its fair share of challenges. Aging populations, the exponential increase in chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, expensive new treatments—all at a time when most countries desperately need to curtail rising health care costs to save their economies. At the two extremes, we have fully public-funded (socialized) medicine versus entirely free-market (private) health care delivery systems. I’ve written previously ...

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The election result shook the world. As the vote counts started to come in, most of the country descended into a state of collective shock and disbelief -- even Mr. Trump’s own supporters. Nobody seemed more surprised than the political pundits on all the cable news channels, who had for months incorrectly predicted the opposite result. Let me take a step back for a moment before I sound like somebody who ...

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I recently had the privilege of speaking to a group of high school students who were interested in becoming doctors. A large number of them were volunteering in my hospital, and their coordinator asked me if I could spare some time to chat with them about life as a doctor and what they should be doing to get into medicine. I remember as if it were yesterday when I was their ...

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There are so many insightful stories out there about what happens when physicians experience life as a patient or family member. They always make sobering reading for everyone in health care. Over the years I’ve heard dozens of these stories from fellow physicians, describing experiences when they’ve unfortunately been sick themselves. It’s an inevitable fact of life for everyone that they will be the patient one day, but it’s often ...

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