Have you ever felt that going to see your physician or going to the hospital is like stepping onto an assembly line?
Well, the metaphor of being a car (or a hamburger) is a pretty accurate one. Two articles I read this week discuss how health care leaders have been turning to the big manufacturers—Toyota, for example—to increase efficiency, production and profits.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) puts a positive spin on this trend:
As public hospitals…try to cut costs and make patients happier, administrators have turned to an unlikely ally: Toyota. They are adapting the car maker’s production system to
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“Cover-your-ass health care” or “save-my-ass medicine” are terms used to describe all the extra diagnostic tests (blood tests, CT scans, MRIs, etc.) ordered by physicians to rule out possible (but unlikely) life-threatening conditions.
Such as going to the emergency department with a headache and getting a CT scan to rule out an aneurysm or a brain tumor.
Or, as in this video example, being worked up for a heart attack when the most likely diagnosis is a simple case of heartburn. (Warning: video contains some bad language!)
The ER physician in the video is certainly … Continue reading
A picture (or a graph) is worth a thousand words.
We might be facing a physician shortage, but apparently not an administrative one. Top-heavy management is another reason health care continues to cost more and more, and physicians feel more crushed by bureaucracy and paperwork.
Related post: ICD-10 and crazy diagnosis codes
The graph is from Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a group that supports a single-payer or “Medicare for all” health care system.
I found it through a post on KevinMD that questions whether a single-payer system will really cut down the amount of administrative … Continue reading
Two recent stories from Kaiser Health News caught my attention because they underscore the burden placed on patients to understand exactly what services their health insurance does or doesn’t cover.
Of course everyone should know their health plan’s benefits, but with so many different types of plans, and the hair-pulling-out frustrations of narrow networks, it can be really difficult. Unfortunately, the financial consequences of making a mistake are heavier than ever.
The first story tells of a … Continue reading
A group of researchers out of the University of Pittsburgh did an interesting study. They looked at over 400 magazine and TV ads for cancer treatment centers to see how marketers tried to attract patients.
What did they find?
Clinical advertisements by cancer centers frequently promote cancer therapy with emotional appeals that evoke hope and fear while rarely providing information about risks, benefits, costs, or insurance availability.
By far the most used phrases were about “hope, life, survival, extension of life, or cure.”
If you have cancer and want to find the “best” treatment, you might be attracted to … Continue reading
There is a new book I can’t wait to read: The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital by Alexandra Robbins.
The author wrote a preview of the book for Politico this week.
If you want to know what’s really happening in a medical building, don’t ask a doctor. Instead, turn to the best-informed, hardest-working and savviest professionals in health care: Nurses.
Many nurses call their profession—3.5 million strong in the United States and more than 20 million worldwide—a “secret club.” In the years I spent going behind the scenes in hospitals, I
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I read a good post by an anesthesiologist: An informed patient is a safer patient
While anesthesia is safer than ever before, every patient scheduled for a procedure or surgery must have a serious conversation with their physician anesthesiologist about their anesthesia care plan. Advances in the science and research of anesthesiology have decreased the dangers of surgery and anesthesia substantially, but patients should be made aware of any risks associated with their procedure. Each of the more than 100 million operations and procedures performed on Americans every year involves the administration of anesthesia – but many people overlook its
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It’s another case in which the right hand of a behemoth government agency doesn’t know what the left hand is doing: In Cancer Wars, It’s Doctors vs. Hospitals
Colliding federal policies are fomenting a nasty money war that’s pitting community oncologists trying to treat patients in less expensive clinic settings against hospitals trying to woo patients in through costlier emergency departments.
The agencies under discussion are the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) [which both fall under the larger umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)], and their disparate … Continue reading
All around the country, and certainly in my own city (Seattle), hospital construction has been booming over the last ten years.
Billions of dollars are being spent, and not just for necessary upgrades. Hospitals are going for a more upscale look in the hopes that they can attract better paying patients (those with the best insurance coverage) and get better patient satisfaction scores.
And patient satisfaction scores are important because Medicare is basing some reimbursements on those scores—if the patient isn’t happy, Medicare won’t pay.
But a couple of recent studies have shown that patients don’t give hospitals better ratings … Continue reading
More and more frequently I come across stories of patients who have inadvertently received care from “out-of-network” providers. And it can be a costly mistake.
When you are billed for the costs that your insurance company has denied, that’s called “balance billing.”
My insurance company doubles the deductible for out-of-network care; instead of $10,000, our deductible becomes $20,000. But insurance companies aren’t required by law to put a limit on a patient’s out-of-pocket spending when it comes to out-of-network care. In theory, you could get hit with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills even though you have insurance.… Continue reading