As a new physician, I find myself besieged by data about how happy patients are with the care we deliver. Press Ganey, HCAPS, Consumer Reports, US News and World Report were merely the beginning. Now, physician reimbursement is tied to how happy patients are after facing and overcoming, at times, life-threatening illnesses in our hospitals. Given the financial incentive, hospitals across the country are seeking the aid of companies like Disney: well-known ...

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We need fewer doctor MBAs and more doctor healers I read an article in the Boston Globe about how doctors are flocking to get Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees in record numbers. The prestigious program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, apparently now has more students from the health care sector than any other field -- accounting for almost 20 percent of the class. A large number of these ...

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In an effort to save on human resources costs, some hospitals have decided to make locum tenens* doctors and nurses line items in a supply list.  Next to IV tubing, liquid nutritional supplements and anti-bacterial wipes you’ll find slots for nurses, surgeons, and hospitalist positions. This depressing commoditization of professional staffing is a new trend in health care promoted by software companies promising to solve staffing shortages with vendor management systems (VMS). In ...

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If you read my articles, then you likely know about the scam known as pay-for-performance (P4P).  This program not only fails to deliver on its stated mission to improve medical quality, but it actually diminishes it. In short, P4P pays physicians (or hospitals) more if certain benchmarks are met.  More accurately, those who do not achieve these benchmarks are penalized financially. I do not object to this concept.  Folks who perform ...

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After I graduated from medical school, my very first real ward rotation as an internal medicine intern was at the VA.  Therefore, I can say with absolute certainty that all the stuff being said about the VA health system is true.  The place is a mess. Let’s start with the computer system.  The VA medical record system has been held up as an example of an effective EMR system, in which ...

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In 2010, I lost my mother to cancer.  She was a fighter and had survived well past her prognosis, but her hospital costs outlived her. Let me go back to late 2004. That was the year the doctors suspected she had cancer. My mother, who was not a smoker, was officially diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer early on in 2005. When the biopsy confirmed that the small lesion in the ...

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A physician I have known for many years recently told me about his decision to enter the world of concierge medicine. His reasoning was telling, saying that it came down to a very simple decision on staying independent or becoming a hospital employee. He liked being an independent solo practitioner, and that was his primary motivation: to maintain independence in a time of consolidation. Richard Gunderman, writing for the Atlantic, tackled ...

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Recently in one of the Johns Hopkins Hospital's intensive care units, a patient was dying from cancer and sepsis, and there was nothing that I, nurse Mandy Schwartz or anyone else could do to stop it. Yet as the patient’s family -- two daughters and a husband -- suffered at her bedside, Mandy saw their need for comfort, and she responded. Although she was busy with nursing tasks, she delved ...

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As I travel the country providing coverage for inpatient rehab units, I have been struck by the generally high quality of nursing care. Excellent nurses are the glue that holds a hospital unit together. They sound the first alarm when a patient’s health is at risk, they double-check orders and keep an eye out for medical errors. Nurses spend more time with patients than any other hospital staff, and ...

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I recently read the New York Times article on the ridiculous amount that insurance company executives and hospital administrators make. So the reason that American health care is so expensive is not because doctors earn too much, or drug companies charge too much or device manufacturers are making ever more expensive devices with ever expanded indications. Except that it is all of that and more. Hospital administrators and insurance company executives do ...

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