For its many users, health care’s fee-for-service reimbursement methodology is like an addiction, similar to gambling, cigarette smoking, and pain pill abuse. Doctors and hospitals in the clutches of this flawed payment model have grown dependent on providing more and more health care services, regardless of whether the additional care adds value. I don’t use this metaphor lightly, nor wish to trivialize our nation’s growing problem with addiction. Rather, as a ...

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I am not a curmudgeon, but I am worried about the current plight of health care and the attack on the Hippocratic Oath. Bigger health care is sold as better and more efficient with the premise of lowering health care costs. The promised financial outcomes and efficiencies for the physician and their patients have not materialized. Instead, while physicians struggle with non-clinical demands on their time, patients are being pushed ...

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As policy experts cling to pay-for-performance (P4P) as an indicator of health care quality and shy away from fee-for-service, childhood immunization rates are being utilized as a benchmark.  At first, glance, vaccinating children on time seems like a reasonable method to gauge how well a primary care physician does their job.  Unfortunately, the parental vaccine hesitancy trend is gaining in popularity.  Studies have shown when pediatricians are specifically trained to counsel parents on ...

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Mark Letterman’s rheumatoid arthritis had been progressing unrelentingly despite popping dozens of pills each week -- eight methotrexate pills on Mondays alone. Letterman felt like he was 63 going on 93. If rheumatoid arthritis progresses unchecked, it is as debilitating of a disease as can be imagined. Don’t think garden variety arthritis that only interferes with activities like, um, gardening. Think: finger and wrist joints so inflamed it feels like your ...

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I want to talk about the word everyone seems to use: drama.  This word is used in many facets, to describe conflict, negative interactions with others, disagreements, or obstruction to a new idea. No one likes drama. Yet some people seem to instigate it, and others seem to have to deal with it on a rotating basis. We all wish we could ignore it, avoid it, and leave it for people who ...

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Hospitalists, doctors who only see patients in the hospital, almost always in a shift work model, are the fastest growing “specialty” in medicine, from nothing about 15 years ago to about 50,000 today. There were some studies that I won’t review much here that showed some benefits from hospitalists compared to “usual care” in highly controlled environments, outcomes such as a 0.4 per day decrease in length of stay with ...

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I was talking to a physician in my hospital several years ago, and he expressed his frustration that the annual well-child exams for his four kids were expensive. Puzzled, I stated that I found it odd that a doctor’s own health insurance plan had poor coverage for routine care, and he replied that his group jointly decided on a plan with considerable upfront out-of-pocket costs. Why would doctors buy bad ...

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I have been doing health care research and advocacy for over 20 years. I've seen a lot of passion, anger, and rhetoric around the issues. The health care crisis is simple in that everyone needs health care. The question is what to do about it and who should pay for it. It's not an easy answer. For starters, we have turned into a culture of entitlement. This includes health care. It ...

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We were once a nation noted for its achievements. We are now a nation that gets nothing done, unable to make even the slightest movement forward despite multiple national crises -- a desperately broken health care system, a horrifying opioid epidemic, sickening gun-related mass murders, the threat of nuclear war, and massive storms resulting from man-made climate change. In the face of such monumental challenges, when bold action is needed, ...

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Every now and then, when some people learn what kind of work I do, they say, “You’re doing God’s work. Thank you.” They mean well, so I accept the compliment, though I also tack on, “I also like what I do. It’s meaningful work for me.” So many of the people I see, whether in my current job or in my past jobs working in other underserved communities, have a lot going ...

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