Replacing transcriptionists with physicians is a fools bargain My general internal medicine practice is equidistant from the three academic institutions and a Veterans Administration facility, and thus I have patients who receive primary, secondary and tertiary care at each of these institutions. The notes I receive back from one of these organizations are hands down the best of the four institutions. These notes are personal, concise, precise and clear. If ...

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It is a trade secret among patients of many practices: If you’d like to be seen by your personal physician with no waiting and without an appointment, just ask for a free blood pressure check and then mention to the medical assistant that you are not feeling well at all. They can’t send you home without being seen and they don’t have enough to go on to call an ambulance; ...

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How do you really know if your doctor, surgeon or hospital is good, bad or somewhere in between? I frequently speak with large audiences, ranging from CEOs to Stanford business school students. I often start by asking participants to raise their hands if they receive excellent health care. Each time I ask, about 90% of the hands in the room shoot up. But all the hands come down when I ask, “How do ...

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The world is asunder.  Iraq is sinking into a sectarian abyss.  ISIS, a terrorist group, now controls a larger territory than many actual countries.  Russia has swallowed Crimea and has her paw prints all over eastern Ukraine.  China is claiming airspace and territories in Southeast Asia increasing tensions with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.  The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is in another deep freeze.  Terrorists in Sudan and Nigeria are kidnapping ...

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FiveThirtyEight had a provocative article: "Patients Can Face Grave Risks When Doctors Stick to the Rules Too Much." The subsequent comments have debates over the value of guidelines. Guidelines are like a box of chocolate, you never know what you are going to get. Many clinical questions yield competing guidelines. We all know the controversies over breast cancer screening and prostate cancer screening. Recently blood pressure targets and lipid management have ...

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If you put ten physicians in a room, you will get nine different opinions.  It doesn't matter if you are discussing policy, diagnostics, or politics.  Indeed, medical training develops deep independent thinking. We often feel alone in the care of our patients, we picture ourselves the sole barrier between illness and well being.   We battle our fellow physicians, administrators, and insurers.  You can argue the pros and cons of ...

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I am responding to the article, “Frustrations of the primary care physician should be a wakeup call.” Having practiced medicine for 25 years as a primary care physician, and accountable primary care physician for the past 10, I understand the demands on PCPs’ time and the pressure to please patients, satisfy documentation/coding requirements, manage care teams, run a practice, and earn a living. However, there are some best ...

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The VA scandal over excessive waits for doctors’ appointments is an early warning of things to come. Over the last three years, the demand for primary care appointments at the VA increased by 50% while the number of providers rose by only 9%. With four hundred vacancies for primary care providers, the VA is facing a severe gap in its ability to care for its patients. It isn’t surprising that the ...

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Recently I went to a physician and left pondering the question: "What is health anyway?" This is an interesting question, especially one for a doctor to ask. But it's important because if we don't know what health is, how do we know if we've got it? If we don't know what health is, how do we know we've improved? As a doctor and medical writer, I'm finding it more and more difficult to write about ...

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Apple announced the company is working on a new app, called Health, that allows a user to store in one place all aspects of their health data, from heart rate to blood sugar levels, cholesterol measures and calories burned. The Health app, Apple says, will enable an exercise app to determine the number of calories you consume a day -- and, in turn, how hard you have to exercise ...

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