With the upcoming presidential nominations on the horizon, one of the go-to topics for candidates has been health care. What’s wrong with it. How we can fix it. Is it Obama’s fault? But there is actually one key piece of the puzzle missing which actually can create a win-win situation. It’s a very simple strategy: Pay doctors more. When the idea of paying doctors more money for their work is proposed, ...

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Part of a series. Here is a model for the delivery of primary care which offers certain rights balanced by responsibilities for patient, provider and insurer alike. First the rights of each party. As a patient, you deserve a high level of care in a satisfying manner without frustrations. The insurer and your employer want to see the total cost of health care come down. The physician wants the satisfaction ...

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Three (and a half) years ago, when I left my old practice, I was near burnout.  I was exhausted, not because of the amount of time I was spending -- it was actually about the same, if not less than I had worked before -- but because of an ever-increasing gulf between me and my patients.  I have always tried to give care that focused on the person with me ...

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Science, to use the term correctly, isn’t a body of knowledge or a bunch of facts written up on a whiteboard by a crazy-haired professor. It’s a method, or way of figuring out things. Thinking and reading and learning from experts are all important, sure. But real science relies on experimentation. First, make an educated guess about how something works. Then design an experiment to test your guess. (I’m oversimplifying here. ...

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You have a persistent cough and poor appetite, but for six months your doctor has prescribed an assortment of antibiotics after an initial chest x-ray showed a small pneumonia. Finally, short of breath, you go to the emergency room where a CT scan reveals untreatable lung cancer. Later you find your doctor has received a bonus from your HMO insurer for not ordering a CT scan earlier. Physicians count on experience ...

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Physicians today are increasingly viewed and treated as skilled workers instead of professionals. The difference is fundamental and lies at the root of today’s epidemic of physician burnout. Historically, there have been three learned professions: law, medicine, and theology. These were occupations associated with extensive learning, regulation by associations of their peers, and adherence to strong ethical principles, providing objective counsel and service for others. Learned professionals have, over many centuries, worked ...

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Hope is a tricky thing. On the one hand, false hope can lead patients to opt for painful, futile treatments at the end of life. On the other, unnecessarily bleak outlooks can lead to depression and inaction. When health is at stake, presenting information with the right amount of hope can guide patients away from both suffering needlessly and/or succumbing to treatable disease. I was reading a sad story ...

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Sometimes, it’s difficult to recall that single defining moment or person that sends you on the path you’re meant to take in life. I was fortunate in that I found that experience halfway through my undergraduate career at the University of California, Davis. I had recently lost my grandmother; although I’d wanted to help, all I’d been able to do at the hospital was translate for her. That overwhelming sense ...

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It makes me crazy when I hear things like, “Doctors are to blame for burnout. They need to just be tougher.” Are people really serious? This is like comparing us to people who are eating super-sized fast food meals daily, while complaining about their jeans being too tight. Not the same. Some will say that burnout is a given and just goes with the territory. Many debate whether this is something that needs to ...

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There’s been a push lately for more explicit labeling of foods -- to make sure that consumers know that what they’re buying is organic, or free-range, or natural, or GMO-free, etc. But these labels don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes, they’re outright lies. For instance, “organic” veggies still contain plenty of pesticides. There are the natural pesticides that ordinarily occur in food, plus the organic-OK chemical pesticides that are ...

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