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Showing posts from September, 2011

Patient Centered Outcomes Research--a good start

The affordable care act, in its 2000 plus pages, provided for many projects with the potential to improve health care delivery in the US. The most actively debated part of the bill, the mandate to insure just about everyone, may not turn out to be the most important piece. The problems the affordable care act attempted to address are the fact that American health care spending is too high and buys too little, including poor outcomes for those who do get health care and the fact that too few people who need health care actually receive it. All of these issues are addressed in some way or another in the myriad provisions of the bill.

One rarely advertised provision of the bill is the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  This is a private institute, publicly funded, which includes a huge diversity of players, from patients to providers and sundry others, who are charged with figuring out exactly what Patient Centered Outcomes Research is, and then making it happen and d…

Physician non-compete clauses--another way to gut rural health care

Lately I have been dealing with the painful process of separating from my medical group. I have been part of this group since its inception, about 12 years ago. It serves two small towns in adjacent states and has about 30 employees and 12 providers, mostly located in the larger of our two clinics, in which I do not work.  We originally came together from 3 primary care practices in order to share resources and reduce overhead. Cultures and values were somewhat different, but we did all care about delivering good quality medicine, letting our physicians have autonomy in decision making, and about making sure that each one of us could have lives that were humane, valuing family time or outside interests and covering each others' patient's needs so that care would not suffer.

When we came together we wrote a contract which was longer and more formal than any I had signed before and had various elements that made me somewhat uncomfortable. One was the "buy-in". This was…

Who wants me?

Today was filled with the usual stuff, which is actually never the same from day to day. My first patient of the day dropped in because she was having a stroke. She was actually my partner's patient, but I knew her pretty well from a previous visit and was happy to be able to help her out. I was also wickedly late for my first scheduled patient who just needed a preventive physical exam. Both were good interactions, understanding people with commendable patience (especially the one who waited an hour) and despite being clearly way behind for the rest of the day, it was what I love to do.

I have been more late, of late, because all of my routine appointments involve an explanation of what I'm doing when I quit my job next month, a recommendation for what to do for any health care needs, including a pretty exhaustive review of all of the doctors in the community who might be appropriate matches and some kind of heartfelt recognition of the length and depth of our doctor-patient …

Walk, sing, practice medicine

I have worked as a primary care internal medicine doctor in a small university town for the last 17 years and have loved it more each year. I like my office, I feel at home and appreciated at the hospital across the street where I care for patients I know and for some who I eventually get to know through doctoring them. I can do intensive care medicine, take care of patients with delicate social situations and pick up the medical pieces with patients who have surgeries or injuries. It is never dull and it only rarely makes me feel sad or frustrated. I know the nurses well, count on them and am almost never disappointed. My relationships with my fellow physicians are warm and I respect them.

On October 31 of this year I am quitting my job. I am not old, so I am not retiring. It's just time to do something else. Various things happened which were the universe's way of telling me that I needed to do something different. My nurse practitioner partner with whom I shared an office, …