In the world of health care, as in most enterprises where we must interact with one another for mutual benefit, we need words to describe one another. And the words we have for us people who use/need/want health care frankly don't cut the mustard. We need a new one. The French gave us tasty food, the Statue of Liberty, and the wonderful phrase, "le mot juste." Translated literally, it means "the exact ...

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Recently, both my husband and I came away from a conversation with my doctor positive that we understood my new weight gain plan. Funny thing: Each of us recalled a different plan. I am always struck by how our memories of the words spoken by my doctor can be so dissimilar. No, not all of them, but enough of them to be wary of going to any appointment without a ...

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I hate being told what to do.  I will scratch and claw when ordered around.  It takes a conscious act of will to smile and say, “sure, I’ll get going on that right now.” This is a problem since, as an anesthesiologist, I get told what to do all the time.  My kids order me around all the time.  When I was a nurse I used to bristle at the term ...

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Norman Rockwell never imagined a world where visiting a doctor could be compared to a trip through a Starbucks drive-thru. The days of shooting the breeze with patients and family members have been relegated to the “Good ole’ days” museum right next to Rockwell’s paintings portraying the doctor as more than just a healer, but a trusted friend. What happened to those days? With challenges like increased patient volumes and ...

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One of my doctors always asks if he can examine me before he starts. He identifies each body part he is going to touch as a question. I feel like I can always say, "No ear exam today, thank you." Or alternately, "I've been having a little pain in my left ear. Can you check it?" Tiny point. Subtle. But by merely asking me, my doctor signals that I am not ...

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Patients continue to teach me new things about medicine and a woman named Bonnie has been one of my best teachers yet. I met Bonnie last month in an online community where she was sharing with other ovarian cancer patients her decision to transition to home hospice. While explaining that this is of course an intensely personal decision, she wanted her community to understand this option, which we physicians are often ...

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The fundamentals of healthcare itself are similar in most developed countries. Evidence based guidelines are shared by international professional societies. Digital technologies have transcended cultural and geographical divides. Once someone is brought to the attention of a healthcare provider, it is the start of a rocky road, not all downhill by any means. Navigating the healthcare landscape as a patient and caregiver has never been more difficult, even for an "insider" ...

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Trust: A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Technology, technology, technology. It is all we hear. Ugh. Let’s change the focus from “technology” to the useful and meaningful processes that technology enables:
  • knowledge
  • sharing
  • communication
  • trust
Technology is only an enabler, much like the social graph. They are tools, they are platforms, and if properly utilized, they may enable “disruption” or transformation. It is the few individuals, and I do mean a few, ...

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I love to-do lists. I depended on them when I was working outside the home. I’ve depended them since my bed became my office. The one difference is that, pre-illness, I had fancy notepads and appointment books in which to keep my lists. Now I scribble them on any random piece of paper I can find. A few weeks ago, I realized I could benefit from a not-to-do list that would ...

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I met Dr. Stulbarg when I was twenty-two, and had just moved in with my boyfriend Stephen. Stephen had cystic fibrosis, but he’d been unusually healthy until now, when his lung collapsed on the way to a party. Then, in the hospital, his lung collapsed a second time. We sat on his bed together, talking with Dr. Stulbarg about what would happen next. Stephen had told me about Dr. Stulbarg already. ...

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