Following one of my recent articles on how physicians can improve their communication skills and ultimately help attain better patient outcomes, I received an interesting comment from a physician. It went something like this: “Sorry, but I’m not an actor.” This response typifies a small (but not insignificant) subset of responses I get when I’m discussing and promoting techniques that any doctor can utilize to better their skills in this area ...

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Fake news is a term that’s become notorious over the last couple of years. For notorious reasons perhaps. But there’s actually another serious arena where there is inadvertently an awful lot of “fake news” on a daily basis. And that is, well you guessed it: in health care throughout our nation’s hospitals and offices! Let me explain, and I suspect anyone who works in health care will be familiar with the scenario. ...

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As physicians, we are used to asking our patients lots and lots of questions. It’s our job to elicit information, listen, and then come up with a management plan. There’s a standard script every doctor goes through, based on the science of medicine, and we usually have this memorized to a tee. And that’s all very well and good. However, as with many things in life -- especially those that ...

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I was recently doing some home shopping in Target. It was peak time and fairly busy. After I was done, I walked towards the front of the store and approached the counter area to pay. But alas, there appeared to be hardly any manned registers. Lots of people were strolling up and down, trying to do the same as me: find a real person to help us check out. We ...

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When a patient is unwell and seeking help, a vast number of emotions could be going through their mind. Their whole life could have been turned upside down, they may have been fearing this moment for a while, and stressing over the implications of their illness. To physicians, it may sometimes feel like just another name on our list or almost become a routine mechanical interaction, but for the ...

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The doctor-patient interaction is the absolute core of clinical medicine. Maybe I’ll go much further: it’s the core of health care in general. I always try to remember, whenever I’m ever feeling frustrated with the system, the crazy bureaucracy -- and of course, the debacle of our clunky electronic medical records and their data entry requirements -- to separate myself from all of that when I’m face-to-face with my patient ...

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There are so many theories out there about what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our complex and fragmented health care system. We are facing a perfect storm of factors: an aging population, a huge increase in chronic disease, new and expensive treatments, and rising expectations of what care we should be receiving. All of this is sending costs spiraling out of control. As a nation, we spend almost ...

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I am a frequent traveler and spend a lot of time in a number of different cities. The one I’ve currently been spending the most time in is a place, quite frankly, I’m crazy about: New York City! Anyone who writes a lot is usually also by default, a keen observer of people, and there’s no place better to do this than a busy, crowded city. There’s an interesting habit that ...

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Health care has undergone innumerable changes over the last decade, and the pace of change only appears to be accelerating. At the crux of most of the changes we’ve seen is the central problem that the cost of our health care system is unsustainable, and we as a nation need to put the brakes on it. The costs to individual patients are also unacceptably high. Unfortunately, the prevailing philosophy has been ...

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It seems like every other day, there’s a new discussion or debate which emerges about the unique challenges that minorities face in America. This is, of course, a sensitive topic, because minorities in any arena will always have their personal story. Whether it’s because of your color, or anything else that makes you feel like you face extra hurdles -- there are indeed lots of ways in which society still ...

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