How To Discourage a Doctor | The Health Care Blog

A modern parable.

RICHARD GUNDERMAN, MD

Not accustomed to visiting hospital executive suites, I took my seat in the waiting room somewhat warily.

Seated across from me was a handsome man in a well-tailored three-piece suit, whose thoroughly professional appearance made me – in my rumpled white coat, sheaves of dog-eared paper bulging from both pockets – feel out of place.

Within a minute, an administrative secretary came out and escorted him into one of the offices. Exhausted from a long call shift and lulled by the quiet, I started to doze off. Soon roused by the sound of my own snoring, I started and looked about.

That was when I spotted the document on an adjacent chair. Its title immediately caught my eye: “How to Discourage a Doctor.”

via How To Discourage a Doctor | The Health Care Blog.

ACEP Now still silent on EM President interviews.

Which is terrible, yet predictable.
ACEP Now | The Official Voice of Emergency Medicine.

Yeah, it’s completely devoid of interviews or conversations with the purported future leaders of Emergency Medicine.

What a surprise.

Again, if you’re running for President of ACEP but abide by the Gag Order, you aren’t worthy, and we (as a specialty) shouldn’t support them.

My professional college beclowns itself

A fisking of a paranoid, ill-considered and frankly stupid idea a 9th grader would be ashamed to put forth. From the American College of Emergency Physicians ‘leadership’.

ACEP Clarifies Campaign Rules

By James M. Cusick, MD, FACEP

Chair, Candidate Forum Subcommittee of the ACEP Council

ACEP is a member-driven organization with a representative body of our peers – the ACEP Council – chosen through component bodies, including our chapters (1 representative per 100 members), our Sections of Membership, and other aligned organizations.

There follows some boilerplate language designed to get you to tune out.

None of this is aimed at the author, BTW, I have no doubt he was asked to write this and didn’t make this decision. This is about the College and a terrible decision that reflects poorly on it.

In addition, protections were incorporated into the rules to keep candidate interviews in ACEP publications. Our goal is to avoid candidates being put in the position of commenting on College policy without adequate preparation and to ensure that the campaign process is fair and equal for all candidates.

Wait, what? Candidate interviews for ACEP positions can only be in ACEP house organs? Is Stalin in charge? And for the rationale of “…being put in the position of commenting on College policy without adequate preparation and to ensure that the campaign process is fair and equal for all candidates” means ‘we intend to cover up for the candidates we really want to win, and the gaffes from the unworthy will be published in bold print, but rest assured if you’re our selection it’ll totally be glossed or even left out’.

Count on that. And that’s bollocks.

It’s the biggest horse shit this college has dumped in quite a while, and that isn’t how I want my college to represent itself because that’s how it represents me. Really, if you’re running for President of ACEP, you should be able to handle a non-coddled interview. Seriously, you’re going to say they’re too fragile to be interviewed ‘without adequate preparation…’ and then expect them to deal with legislators and their staffs who are dealing with skilled negotiators and people who know what they are there for? No thanks, I’d rather know the warts and all right up front, not filtered through the ACEP info-seive.

Certain candidates may unfairly benefit from coverage in non-ACEP publications, while some may be disadvantaged. In order to ensure a fair election, campaign questions and the vetting of candidates is the responsibility of ACEP, its Council and its Council Committees.

Umm, no, it’s the right of all of ACEP to know who’s running for office, what their unfiltered views are, and how they handle themselves with tough questions from tough questioners. It’s called campaigning, it’s not the pinewood derby. The very idea that ACEP can make an election totes fair by limiting the questions and answers to their own publications is laughable, were it not so tragically and pathetically sad. If you’re worried someone has an unfair advantage, Editorialize in ACEP Now, and their 150 avid readers can spread the word. But this entire approach is insulting to the intelligence and spirit of ER docs in our great nation.

(Any of you ER docs want to make sure your patients are only presented one at a time, with discreet illnesses and injuries, with a pre-selected choice card of correct diagnoses? No? It’s because we live and work in the real world, and that’s an absurd proposition, like this).

Also, and some may not be aware, but this is most likely a reaction to the excellent challenge by Dr. Greg Henry, ACEP Past-President and fixture asking for a robust questioning in his April 28, 2014 article ACEP, let’s set a real agenda. Read that article, and the kind of questions he wanted to ask, then you’ll see this in-house gag order for what it is: cover for their chosen.

If you’re a candidate for president and you buy into these rules, I know you’re not ready for the job.

If there are specific questions you would like asked of the candidates prior to the election, please send them to communications@acep.org. The Candidate Forum Subcommittee will consider them, the selected questions will be posed to candidates and their responses will be made public.

Really. You’re not only going to vet the answers and decide what goes out you’re going to control the questions, too? Here are a couple for you: a) boxers or briefs, and b) puppies or kittens?

I for one would like to have someone bathed in the knowledge of fights won and lost ask our presidential candidates hard questions about the tough choices facing ACEP, but we will absolutely not get it with this format. On purpose.

Hell, we’ll be lucky to find out if they like puppies.

 

via ACEP Clarifies Campaign Rules « The Central Line.

You Can’t Yelp Your Doctor – The Daily Beast

Some of the country’s best doctors have the worst patient satisfaction scores. Here’s why.Part of being a doctor is learning to suppress your feelings. You get good at being what people need you to be. But it slowly transforms you into something you couldn’t have foreseen—a sort of Stepford doctor—pleasing everyone with your perfect smile and agreeable demeanor, hoping that your patient satisfaction survey will be favorable, no matter the cost.

Press Ganey is one of the top providers of patient satisfaction surveys, according to the Forbes article, Why Rating Your Doctor Is Bad For Your Health.The government has bet big on these surveys, as a recent article in Forbesnotes. Armed with the idea that “patient is always right,” Washington figured that more customer satisfaction data “will improve quality of care and reduce costs.”

That turns out to have been a bad bet.

via The Mask Your Doctor Hides Behind – The Daily Beast.

Read the whole thing, but it’s what your doctors, especially the hospital based ones, have been saying since day 1.

Healthcare Reform Update: Doc employment won’t lead to lower healthcare spending, research shows | Modern Healthcare

You don’t say.

Market share and prices tend to climb among hospitals that employ doctors but not for hospitals with looser contracts with independent physicians, according to newly published research. The findings, the authors say, suggest that integration itself does not produce the savings that many health system executives and policymakers promise from closer coordination between hospitals and doctors.

Hospital prices, according to the study, increased 2% to 3% each time physician-employing hospitals’ market share increased by one standard-deviation. The results were drawn from an analysis of roughly 2 million hospital bills submitted to private insurers between 2001 and 2007. Overall spending on services at the hospitals that employed physicians grew, while the utilization of services at those hospitals didn’t change.

via Healthcare Reform Update: Doc employment won’t lead to lower healthcare spending, research shows | Modern Healthcare.

All Trials | All Trials Registered. All Results Reported

Many thanks to Steve in the comments on the last post for alerting me to this movement:

It’s time all clinical trial results are reported.

Patients, researchers, pharmacists, doctors and regulators everywhere will benefit from publication of clinical trial results. Wherever you are in the world please sign the petition:

Thousands of clinical trials have not reported their results; some have not even been registered.

Information on what was done and what was found in these trials could be lost forever to doctors and researchers, leading to bad treatment decisions, missed opportunities for good medicine, and trials being repeated.

All trials past and present should be registered, and the full methods and the results reported.

We call on governments, regulators and research bodies to implement measures to achieve this.

via All Trials | All Trials Registered. All Results Reported.

I signed the petition, and hope others will as well.

Realistically, this will require either a mindboggling scandal (even worse than the ones we know about) leading to group self-regulation, or more likely, intrusive and poorly thought out legislation.

I know what I’d bet on.

Stolen laptops lead to important HIPAA settlements

In case you wondered why your IT department isn’t reasonable about security, it’s because the penalties aren’t reasonable.

Stolen laptops lead to important HIPAA settlements

Two entities have paid the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) $1,975,220 collectively to resolve potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules.  These major enforcement actions underscore the significant risk to the security of patient information posed by unencrypted laptop computers and other mobile devices.

via Stolen laptops lead to important HIPAA settlements.

1.7 Million dollar fine.

Top 5 Reasons Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Is Wrong | Alexander Kjerulf

Top 5 Reasons Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Is Wrong | Alexander Kjerulf.

Correct!

Medicare Payments to Providers in 2012 – WSJ.com

Medicare Payments to Providers in 2012
Newly released Medicare billing data show total payments to more than 880,000 medical providers in 2012, totaling $77 billion.
Search the database by provider name, specialty and location to see the types and number of procedures performed and the amounts paid to each provider by Medicare. Related article.

via Medicare Payments to Providers in 2012 – WSJ.com.

Use your new powers for Good.

Why the Zero Defect mentality will never work

At least, not in real life:

The idea that “failure is not an option” is a fantasy version of how non-engineers should motivate engineers. That sentiment was invented by a screenwriter, riffing on an after-the-fact observation about Apollo 13; no one said it at the time. If you ever say it, wash your mouth out with soap. If anyone ever says it to you, run. Even NASA’s vaunted moonshot, so often referred to as the best of government innovation, tested with dozens of unmanned missions first, several of which failed outright.

Failure is always an option. Engineers work as hard as they do because they understand the risk of failure. And for anything it might have meant in its screenplay version, here that sentiment means the opposite; the unnamed executives were saying “Addressing the possibility of failure is not an option.”

via » Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality Clay Shirky.

Healthcare has this idiocy. It’s a disconnect between the doers, who will tell you what’s possible, and the managers, who either don’t know or don’t remember.

Leaders, by the way, would know the difference.  Need more of those.

Grading a Physician’s Value — The Misapplication of Performance Measurement — NEJM

NEJM realized the PQRS Emperor has no clothes.

Perhaps the only health policy issue on which Republicans and Democrats agree is the need to move from volume-based to value-based payment for health care providers. Rather than paying for activity, the aspirational goal is to pay for outcomes that take into account quality and costs. In keeping with this notion of paying for value rather than volume, the Affordable Care Act ACA created the “value-based payment modifier,” or “value modifier,” a pay-for-performance approach for physicians who actively participate in Medicare. By 2017, physicians will be rewarded or penalized on the basis of the relative calculated value of the care they provide to Medicare beneficiaries.

Although we agree that value-based payment is appropriate as a concept, the practical reality is that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS, despite heroic efforts, cannot accurately measure any physician’s overall value, now or in the foreseeable future. Instead of helping to establish a central role for performance measurement in holding providers more accountable for the care they provide and in informing quality- and safety-improvement projects, this policy overreach could undermine the quest for higher-value health care. Yet the medical profession has been remarkably quiet as this flawed approach proceeds.

via Grading a Physician’s Value — The Misapplication of Performance Measurement — NEJM.

How many tens of thousands of hours are spent jumping through hoops like these that turn out to be more meaningless (or worse) ‘government work’?

Spin in the cancelled-policy articles

All the articles about cancelled Individual Insurance plans have some variation of this spin in them:

For some who have received the letters, the new plans being offered are more expensive, but for others — especially those who qualify for a federal subsidy to bring down the cost of the premium — their insurance bill will go down.

via Canceled health insurance plans add to angst of change | Local News | The Seattle Times.

Emphasis added.

Here’s the thing: people (like me) in the Individual market don’t have IBM or Exxon sitting across the table from an insurance company, dealing from a position of some strength. We’re individuals. We’re independent Contractors (me), self employed and scraping by, or doing well. We looked at our options, bought plans we could afford, and realized there are tradeoffs from a cost/benefits standpoint. Not a lot of people in that group bought a soup-to-nuts expensive plan (some did, most don’t).

The emphasized thing above is pure spin on the part of the writers. I have no doubt they’ve been told this over and over, but I have yet to see one article about someone in the Indy market that got a ‘better’ plan that dropped in price. There will be a few, but most if not all will see their costs go up.

Just so you see it for what it is.

AAPS Sues to Stop the Unlawful Revisions to ObamaCare

A constitutional argument. From docs:

The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS) has filed a lawsuit today in federal court to halt the unlawful revisions to ObamaCare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

The separation of powers required by the Constitution prohibits the executive branch—the Obama Administration—from rewriting laws passed by Congress. Yet that is what Obama has done by changing key parts of ObamaCare in order to implement it.

The AAPS lawsuit, which was filed today in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, asks the Court to enjoin the Obama Administration from imposing its “individual mandate” while delaying the “employer mandate.” The law that was passed by Congress in 2010 requires that the employer mandate go into effect at the same time as the individual mandate: Jan 1, 2014.

“The U.S. Constitution requires a strict separation of powers between the three branches of government, such that the executive branch cannot change laws passed by Congress,” AAPS’s lawsuit explains. By imposing the individual mandate in 2014 without the protection of the employer mandate, the Obama Administration has changed the legislation passed by Congress.

via AAPS Sues to Stop the Unlawful Revisions to ObamaCare.

Bizarre congress is super-cool with the executive branch picking and choosing the laws to bother enforcing.

Obamacare Is the Worst-Case Scenario | National Review Online

I’m not usually up this early. Ate a lot of carbs last evening, paying the price all night. And today. Probably tomorrow, from the course of events.

 

Enough about me. This is a nice summary of thoughts on Obamacare:

…What do we have to look forward to? Obamacare in effect outlaws traditional insurance and substitutes in its place a mandatory system of prepaid health care administered by the kind and gentle souls who run insurance companies, which is in fact in many ways similar to the mandatory health-savings accounts in Singapore — minus the property rights, wealth building, heritability, efficiency, and consumer choice. Likewise, Obamacare is in some ways similar to the Swiss system, but without the downward price pressure associated with high out-of-pocket expenses, and, as we have seen in recent weeks, also minus the competence and efficiency. As they say in Switzerland: Ich be chrank.

And it is worth remembering that under Obamacare there will still be millions of Americans with no health-insurance coverage, while many (and possibly most) of those added to the coverage rolls will simply be given Medicaid cards,…

via Obamacare Is the Worst-Case Scenario | National Review Online.

Speechless, I am.

Obama’s Broken Promise of Better Government Through Technology – Businessweek

The top part of the article is typical Klein (intent is all that mattered, not execution, which he only allows to one party), but his writing about government in general and government IT in particular is interesting:

The saga of healthcare.gov has been a symphony of government inefficiency. The effort, directly overseen by the IT department of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, involved no fewer than 55 contractors. The process was thick with lawyers and political interference. In violation of current best practices in the software world, the code was kept almost entirely secret; other engineers weren’t able to point out its flaws, and it wasn’t tested rigorously enough. The Obama administration has been assailed for not calling in Silicon Valley’s top minds to collaborate, but that misses the fundamental problem: The best coders in the Valley would’ve never agreed to work under such deadening, unpleasant conditions.

There are people in Washington who share Bracken’s views, but their struggle against bureaucratic inertia can seem Sisyphean. “Government becomes really afraid of failure, which is a bit ironic, as this ends up leading to failure,” says Clay Johnson, a technologist who was one of the White House’s presidential innovation fellows. “But that fear of failure leads them to only want to work with known quantities, and known quantities mean contractors who’ve done this work in the past. That puts them with a group of entrenched vendors who haven’t really had to compete in the world of technology.”

That fear of failure has been institutionalized in the way the federal government awards contracts. The complex, arcane process favors those companies that devote resources to mastering it and repels the Silicon Valley startups the government desperately needs. “I realized I could figure out how to develop these very complex, very new software programs, or I could figure out how to contract with the government,” says Trotter, who worked on health IT projects with the Veterans Administration. “And so I chose to do the thing that was innovative.”

via Obama’s Broken Promise of Better Government Through Technology – Businessweek.

The front end of the website will eventually get fixed, then the back end. Then we’re going to wait for the employer mandate to hit. All this market disruption was just the self-insured, a very small piece of the health insurance pie.