Category: Opinions

A Clear-Eyed Approach to Reducing Costly Health Care Regulations

Johns Hopkins ophthalmologist Oliver Schein has found a simple way to save a half a billion dollars a year from our country’s health-care bill, with no negative effect on patient health. The only thing standing in the way is a stubborn government requirement. Seventeen years ago, Dr. Schein and colleagues published a study finding that cataract surgery patients who underwent routine preoperative testing — such as an electrocardiogram, blood tests and imaging studies — had no fewer complications than those with zero testing. The risks of this surgery are so small that they can typically be identified and handled...

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Breaking Down the Barriers to a Second Opinion

When patients receive life-altering diagnoses, face aggressive treatments, or have misgivings about a provider’s conclusions, they may wonder if they should seek a second opinion. A recent study by Mayo Clinic researchers suggests that patients who do get second opinions frequently end up with different diagnoses. Of 286 cases referred by primary care practices to specialists, 21 percent resulted in distinctly different diagnoses. In 66 percent of the cases, the diagnoses were better defined or refined. Yet, many patients may be reluctant to ask for another physician to review their cases. In this guest post, Charlene Rothkopf, a founding...

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Hospitals Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Safety

The moment that an accreditation team shows up unannounced can spike the pulse of even the most seasoned hospital executive. The next several days will amount to one big exam for the safety and quality of care, as surveyors meet with executives, managers and care teams, and watch first-hand as care is delivered. Make the wrong move or give a wrong answer, have them see rust on a ceiling sprinkler, and your hospital may get dinged. Get dinged too many times or have findings of serious patient risks, and your accreditation (and the federal funds attached to that) may...

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Lessons from Google Maps for Patient Engagement

Nowadays whether you are moving to a new city, taking a road trip or just dining with friends at a new restaurant, it is impossible to get lost along the way with Google Maps. This app has made the days of stopping at a gas station for directions or constantly updating your maps on your Garmin GPS device obsolete. Google Maps makes it easy, plug in an address or location name in your app and go. Google has made getting to our destination down to a science with always up-to-date street maps, 360 degree panoramic views, real-time traffic conditions...

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Why Surgical Volumes Should Be Public

Her voice cracked with strain. I could imagine the woman at the other end of the line shaking, overcome with remorse about the hospital where her husband had had esophageal surgery. Might he still be alive, she asked me, if they had chosen a different hospital? The couple had initially planned to have the procedure done at a well-known medical center, but when she went online to do her homework, she discovered that the hospital’s patient safety scores were poor. Another hospital in her community had stronger patient safety ratings, so they decided to have the procedure there. It...

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