Dr. Google Is Our Ally

“Please do not confuse your Google search with my medical degree.” The quote’s been making the rounds online lately. The funny thing is that this is something I would have expected in 1997. At the time, we were adjusting to the idea of information as the third party in the exam room. Patients had a heady sense of power; doctors had to adjust to a shifting relationship.

Patients now seem to have a more mature connection with information. In my daily practice most seem to recognize that information can’t be equated with knowledge or wisdom. We all seem to have a good sense of where information fits into our dynamic. Read more…

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We Need More Time with Patients, Less with Computers

I was dining at a friend’s house recently after a long day in the hospital. He has just bought a beautiful new home with his rapidly expanding family, and like anyone who has just moved into a new house, his spare time is invariably spent working on getting everything in order and undertaking small upgrades to make the new place as perfect as possible. He’s quite DIY-oriented (unlike myself) and was spending a lot of time doing minor construction work. Read more…

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On the Joy of Missing Out

As I type these words, a soft pale light envelopes my toasty curled up kittens and me, and sheets of a very fine but persistent snow dance past the window, lightly obscuring the otherwise peaceful stark beauty outside.

Most of the East Coast has been brought to a standstill by a snowstorm so large it’s clearly visible in photos taken by astronaut Scott Kelly from his perch in the International Space Station. I am taking advantage of the opportunity to settle into my comfiest chair with the collection of inspirational and stimulating online lectures, podcasts, and articles I have been accumulating for quite some time. It has been bliss. Read more…


How Doctors Say Things Matters

Most physicians will be thrust into the role of patient or caregiver at some point during their careers. Unfortunately, it’s not until this occurs that many become fully aware of the finer points of excellent care and communication. Take for example, the simple act of reporting test results to a patient. We do this every day, but may not realize that how we frame the information is as important as the data themselves.

I came to realize this on a recent hospital visit when I was in the role of healthcare proxy for a loved one with heart disease. Not only did various physicians present information with different degrees of optimism, but individual doctors presented things differently on different days, depending on (I guess) how tired/hurried they were. Consider these different messages with the same ejection fraction and angiogram test results. Read more…


Most Doctors Want to Be Uber Drivers

Having spent over a decade working with doctors of all specialties, I’ve watched the profession shift is fundamental ways. How has this changed the mindset of the modern physician? Here’s what I’ve concluded: most doctors just want to be Uber drivers.

Okay, so not exactly. What I mean is that (like many of us) many doctors want to perform the job they signed up for – medicine. They want an overarching system to deal with everything else. Read more…


Patients Front and Center at CES 2016

At the 2016 Digital Health Summit, co-located with the 2016 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, there was more than enough technology on the convention floor. The challenge now for health is to make connections between the islands of devices, and generate meaningful data and culturally contextual information and support for consumers (patients, caregivers, people) and healthcare providers.

Much of CES revolves around the broad supply side of the equation – for health, that means digital health tools, wearables, remote health monitors, personal emergency response systems (the “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” stuff), food tracking, sleep management, and increasingly more medical-oriented tech to help people manage chronic pain, diabetes, respiratory conditions, and other more disease-targeted devices. Read more…

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Why the Medical Profession Deserves our Faith

The daughter of the patient walked out of the room livid. She was convinced that the nurse had no business taking care of patients. She seethed as she recounted all the supposed injuries and mistakes that had occurred. I took a deep breath and paused for a moment, trying to collect my thoughts.

The daughter didn’t know that I had watched this same nurse successfully perform CPR on a man the day before, and her quick thinking was one of the factors that save his life. She had once recognized a rare side effect of a medication, and solved a clinical mystery that had hounded doctors, hospitals, and pharmacists for months. Read more…


Mindfulness at Work: Bringing Joy to the Practice of Medicine

Recent news stories have catapulted the value of providing “mindfulness” and the health community is paying attention. Clinically introduced by Dr. John Kabat-Zinn in 1979, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) brings together mindfulness meditation, body scanning and simple yoga postures over an eight-week training program. Participants are taught that they can decrease their response to stress through “moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness.” Compelling research studies published in 2015 show MBSR is effective for veterans with PTSD, relief of depression and anxiety among patients with cancer, a better quality of life for individuals living with inflammatory bowel disease, treatment of insomnia, alleviation of depression in the elderly living in nursing homes, and decreasing chronic low back pain. Read more…


Ten Medical Innovations Poised to Change the Healthcare Game

Technology is poised to shake up just about every aspect of healthcare – from diagnosis to care delivery, from payment to purchase, from care providers to caregivers and, most importantly, care consumers. Within the next 5 to 10 years, we can expect significant improvements in consumer experience, cost of care, and health of populations (the Triple Aim) as a result. Here the ten technologies that I think are most likely to revolutionize care. Read more…


The Conversation We Must Make Time for

Sitting in my office, Tim appeared no different than your average middle-aged man. He was complaining of knee pain. His knee hurt when he woke up, and it would be stiff if he sat still for a while and then tried to get up. He didn’t ask much from his knees – he had given up the activities he loved years ago.

Like many, Tim was too busy. Too busy to exercise, too busy to walk at lunchtime, too busy with meetings, too busy to make time for himself. He wasn’t particularly overweight by today’s standards, but he could lose 20 pounds. He noted that his primary care doctor had just started him on medications for pre-diabetes and hypertension. He wasn’t sleeping well, something he blamed on stress. Read more…