California needs to do more to combat prescription drug deaths than just relaunch drug database

The California Department of Justice program that gives physicians online access to a database of controlled substance prescriptions recently sent an e-mail blast to California physicians about a much-needed database upgrade. Continue reading California needs to do more to combat prescription drug deaths than just relaunch drug database

In a world full of drug ads and online advice, ‘Talk to your doctor’ is more than a cliché

I wish I had a nickel (well, maybe a quarter — thanks, student loans) for every time I’ve read or heard the words “Talk to your doctor” on advertisements for medications, supplements, and medical equipment; tucked at the bottoms of … Continue reading In a world full of drug ads and online advice, ‘Talk to your doctor’ is more than a cliché

Do male doctors put hospitals at higher risk for malpractice than their female counterparts?

In the current year alone, I have learned of three doctors, two of whom I personally know and one who was a year senior to me in medical school, being disciplined by the Medical Board of California. They are all men! Continue reading Do male doctors put hospitals at higher risk for malpractice than their female counterparts?

Going ‘out of network’ isn’t always a horrible wallet-eating trap

Between alarming stories about balance billing and out-of-network doctors in the in-network emergency room, more Americans with new health insurance under the Affordable Care Act are rushing to tuck themselves into in-network medical relationships. There, at least, the financial damage in the form of out-of-pocket cost is limited and predictable. Continue reading Going ‘out of network’ isn’t always a horrible wallet-eating trap

Amid season’s excesses, a doctor’s case for a dry January

Another new year has birthed itself on schedule, celebrated across the country with liberal portions of good old booze. Every year, bars and restaurants entice customers with “all-you-can-drink” specials, priced to imply that one must drink eight or more drinks … Continue reading Amid season’s excesses, a doctor’s case for a dry January

Are we bidding goodbye to the thoughtful primary care doctor?

Recently, a friend of mine had a checkup with his primary care doctor, a university-affiliated physician in a satellite family medicine office. He marveled at how quick and focused the visit was. “She just ran straight down the list … checked off whether I had been depressed, whether my smoking history had changed. I was in and out of there.” Continue reading Are we bidding goodbye to the thoughtful primary care doctor?

When getting birth control becomes as easy as ordering takeout, patients lose

At the 2015 Health 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., health care startup companies pitched valiantly for investors’ attention. Some were brilliant and some forgettable, but only one was worrisome, and for more than its odd name — Nurx. Continue reading When getting birth control becomes as easy as ordering takeout, patients lose

Understanding HIPAA, and how it can hurt health care

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the large, complicated Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. HIPAA quickly became synonymous with privacy protection for patient medical records, and “That could be a HIPAA violation” became a buzz phrase among medical professionals and, I was surprised to observe, patients. Continue reading Understanding HIPAA, and how it can hurt health care

A visit to Colontown shows potential of online patient communities

Is technology living up to its promise of empowering patients in new ways, beyond the ubiquitous WebMD search? Proponents of the “ePatient movement” believe so. The term refers to patients, often with complex medical conditions, who actively participate in their medical care. Continue reading A visit to Colontown shows potential of online patient communities

Ten predictions on how medicine will change in coming decades (Part 1)

While innovation will certainly bring about some permanent changes in health care, current trends may also create some unwelcome developments. Here, in no particular order, are my first five of 10 predictions on the future of medicine over the next couple decades. Continue reading Ten predictions on how medicine will change in coming decades (Part 1)