A colleague recently sent me a link to the American College of Cathopathic Physicians a new organization whose mission “is to protect the professional autonomy and advocate for a full, broad scope of practice for DNPs as a ‘cathopathic physician’ completely equal in every way to our MD and DO counterparts.” I was, I admit, so stunned by the statement that I thought the whole thing might be an elaborate joke. It was only ...

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I am a terrible coder. I think I am a pretty good doctor, but when it comes to coding, the process of figuring out which billing code to pick to assign to a bill for an office visit, I am hopeless. No matter how many times I have had the rules explained to me, or how much feedback I have been given about specific visits, or which “pocket guide” to ...

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When I was a cardiology fellow back in the 1980s, I learned about a variety of early tools for evaluating heart health that had been displaced by the modern standards of electrocardiography (ECG, or EKG for the Deutschephiles) and echocardiography. One such technique – ballistocardiography – stuck with me, and may be making a comeback. Ballistocardiography is based on the observation that the mechanical action of the heart leads to subtle ...

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Every clinician knows that “framing” -- how we present information to patients -- has a big impact on decisions they make about their care. Even something as simple and apparently transparent as talking about survival versus mortality is important, with “a 90 percent chance of living” sounding a lot better than “a 10 percent chance of dying” even if both phrases convey the same estimate of risk. Things get even dicier ...

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Physician burnout has received a lot of well-deserved attention lately. Characterized by emotional exhaustion and professional frustration, it's tied to an array of adverse consequences, from physician suicide to poor patient outcomes. Organizations are waking up to the need to measure its prevalence and ameliorate its impact. There seems to be two broad schools of thought about the causes — and by extension, the fixes — of physician burnout. The first focuses ...

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A recent story in Crain’s New York Business cited the difficulty small independent medical practices face coping “with declining reimbursement rates from insurers, rising overhead costs and a torrent of new regulations that have come into play in recent years.” According to the article, only 26 percent of New York state physicians now own their own practice, compared with national rates of physician ownership of 76 percent thirty years ago. ...

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Policy makers who are responsible for shaping how the federal government (the country’s biggest payer of health care services) pays physicians are pushing CMS on a rapid path away from traditional fee-for-service (FFS). As I discussed last year, CMS intends to have 50 percent of its payments flow through “alternative payment models” such as ACOs and bundled payments by 2018, with nearly all of the rest of the ...

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The idea that we have to “change incentives” for physicians is all the rage. Oceans of ink are being spilled over the transition away from the traditional fee for service payment model to a menagerie of value-based ones. At the core of much of the discussion about how to make the transition is figuring out how risk-bearing organizations like large physician groups, health systems, ACOs and the like are going ...

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The first posting on my blog explained why I chose to name it “Auscultation.”  I wrote that I wanted to promote a conversation, and that listening was essential to doing so. I went on to write: “With an obvious nod to my being a cardiologist, I believe auscultation has long been an act that defines us as physicians and connects us in a profound way with our patients. The act of ...

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I spent a couple of hours today discussing a topic that has become increasingly important in the world in which we live, and which would have completely mystified an earlier generation of physicians. The subject was attribution. Simply put, how should one decide which patients “belong” to which doctors? On a more technical level, what algorithms should be employed to connect patients, or episodes of care for those patients, or ...

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