Future of Health CareResearchWomen and Health Care
March 20, 2019

At the Heart of Gender Disparities in Health Care is Women’s Pain

Pain is a key symptom of injury or disease, and managing acute pain is usually one of the first services provided to patients. But if the patient in pain is a woman, the provider may require more convincing. Providers doubt that women’s pain is real and underestimate the level of pain for women. Substantial evidence shows that providers report higher levels of pain for men than for women. Gender stereotypes are so strong that in a recent pediatric study, participants evaluating a child’s pain reported higher levels when told that the child was a boy and lower if told it…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearch
March 6, 2019

If Not Now, It’s Too Late: Clinical Science Is Futile If We Study the Wrong Population

In 1936, the Literary Digest, a respected national magazine, undertook a public opinion poll. Who would win the race between Republican Alfred Landon, governor of Kansas, and Democratic incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt? Mock ballots were mailed to 10 million Americans. About 2.4 million responded—one of the largest survey samples ever created. Their prediction? Landon would carry the day. They were wrong—by a landslide for FDR. That’s because respondents were biased toward Landon and did not accurately represent the distribution of presidential preferences across all voters. Notably, George Gallop accurately predicted FDR’s victory using a smaller representative sample of about 50,000…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health CareWomen and Health Care
February 20, 2019

Providers, Take Note: Prepare for the Future Health Care of Older Women

Our review of women’s health care has called attention to disparities in risk factors and biological disease differences, treatment variances, and lack of adequate research. Gender and race have obscured perceptions of women’s symptoms, creating delays in diagnoses and treatments and even early death. A serious gap in gender-specific research and gender-analyzed data contributes to this profound lack of understanding of differential biology and treatment options. Even for conditions that are more specific to women, such as breast cancer and maternity, clinical care and research funding is heavy on front-end detection and prevention but fails to focus on women at…
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Consumers & PatientsMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
December 12, 2018

Conflict of Interest in Medical Practice Is Hardwired: Unless We Acknowledge It, Nothing Will Change

In philosophy class, we were asked to choose which of two children falling out of a boat, unable to swim, should we save. Kant believed all people share the same moral equivalency, and a choice cannot be made to save one or the other based on morality. They must be treated the same. This question was paired with a second question forcing a choice between sacrificing one to save others, or many to save one. Tough moral questions. However, both questions were moot if the one being saved or sacrificed was your child. No matter what moral principle studied, whether…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearchValue-Based Health Care
October 17, 2018

Wise Patients Really Can Make Medical Decisions

“The numbers in this blog are hard to believe. Why is the medical profession recommending shingles vaccine? It is one thing to say that patients should be their own advocates. But why would medical professionals recommend a vaccine to their patient that has such a paltry risk/benefit outcome? After all, we go to doctors because we presume that they know more about medical conditions, prevention and treatment than we do. If they don’t, what’s the point?” A wise patient reading my blog on the shingles vaccine made the above comments. The adjective “wise” has been defined as “able to make good judgments.”…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
October 3, 2018

Why ACOs Must Build Trust with Providers and Patients to Meet Goals

As ACOs develop approaches to Value-Based Health Care, they are struggling with a key issue: lack of trust. How can providers commit to collective cost reductions that could have potentially negative revenue consequences for themselves individually or on their practices? If they don’t believe that the other players or their ACO are operating in the best interests of all involved, how can they participate in the ACO’s goals? Conversely, how can the ACO create effective leadership and collaboration if physicians are unwilling to commit to making the model succeed? Likewise, ACOs have to work harder to earn patients’ trust. Ask…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
August 22, 2018

How ACOs Can Leverage Price Transparency To Create Value for Consumers

Health care consumers are being forced to assume a greater share of costs for treatment. But how can patients determine the value of health care services if they can’t compare costs? Lack of price transparency is a major obstacle to value-based medical decisions. In evaluating treatment options or services by different providers, consumers have no reliable means to monetize their choices. They are powerless to do anything about it—as yet. But that may well change as ACOs adapt to downside risk. Price transparency is a tool that exclusively benefits consumers, because health plans already, obviously, know the prices they negotiated…
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Consumers & PatientsMedical Decision-MakingResearch
August 8, 2018

Why Randomized Clinical Trials Are Essential to Informed Medical Decisions

I am not a card-carrying philosopher, although I did study philosophy as my undergraduate major. What I enjoyed most was epistemology, the theory of knowledge. We debated, hotly, from the standpoints of social interaction and humanism, “What is knowledge? What constitutes knowing?” But such philosophical debates are not relevant in medical care. Medicine is not a philosophical province. By that I mean that when we are ill, we are philosophically the same; debating differences is a waste of time. We have equal value; have the same rights to the same efforts and same actions to get us better. The essential…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
July 11, 2018

Create Value for Consumers by Leveraging ACO Provider Choice

Medicare and commercial insurers are adamant about moving providers from Fee-for-Service to financial risk for services, and CMS is losing patience over providers’ reluctance to embrace downside-risk ACOs. Why are providers so worried about accepting risk? Because, they say, provider choice will ruin their potential for savings. With an estimated 25 percent of patients seeking services outside the ACO—for 60 percent of attributed total costs—providers argue that they can’t control total expenses, yet are on the hook for savings. They blame lack of coordinated care, duplicate tests and differences in the standard of care. Coordinated Patient Care Inside the Organization:…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
July 4, 2018

Life, Liberty and Happiness Require Good Health: What Consumers Need to Get There

Independence Day reconnects us with our Founders’ values that “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” are our fundamental rights. There is a basic concept underlying this dream: While the country will provide the opportunity, its citizens will act to achieve it. But there’s a catch—citizens’ potential to realize the dream depends on good health. Health has never been as threatened as now. The epidemic of chronic disease, exacerbated by poor nutrition and life choices, is overwhelming a system running out of money. We keep paying more for health care and coverage, and getting less in health outcomes. Even worse,…
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