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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"Health care costs are sky-rocketing!" "The percentage of the U.S. GDP devoted to heath care costs is the highest in the world." "The cost of Medicare is unsustainable." For most of us, the cost of health care (i.e., the dollars required by the system to produce and deliver care) isn't what brings us the most anxiety. It's when we're patients or helping a loved one find care that so many of us are deeply ...

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Patients have gone online, digital natives are entering medical schools and regulatory bodies, like the General Medical Council in the UK, are scrambling to respond to the impact these changes are having on medical professionalism. The possibilities for enhanced learning, better communication and higher quality care are vast. Social media, which has been described as the greatest revolution since the Gutenberg printing press, can provide patients with faster and easier access to ...

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Among other misassumptions in medicine, we apply standard economic principles to healthcare and often assume consumer rationality in the utility maximization of health care. So why have we seen so much “market failure” in healthcare? Why are consumers of health care not making “smart” decisions for health care as they do for their choice of hotels and restaurants? Why have we not seen the expected benefits from ...

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