Month: February 2015

National Board of Physicians and Surgeons: Rising to the Occasion

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Something is new this year, a silver lining among all the madness in healthcare right now. Practicing physicians finally have a choice. We have a voice again in medicine, and you will know who to thank for it in a minute.

A whole lot of fishy stuff has been going on for quite a while regarding physician board certification in this country, and it’s only fitting that the Ivory Tower is starting to sway under pressure. A medical license in the United States is granted by law, but board certifications are received from independent organizations– many of which now appear to be glaringly similar to country clubs with odd requirements and pricey dues.

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), essentially a subsidiary of the much larger American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), is one group in recent years that has generated astronomical revenues through certifying physicians. I’ve previously explained how certification might be the universal scam, but just know that more than 22,000 physicians have now signed a petition challenging ABIM’s practices.

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Looking for Craftsmen, Finding Red Tape

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I’ve got dozens of peculiarities with my personality. In fact, my wife might say that’s a conservative estimate.

I get frustrated when the collar of my polo shirt curls up in the humidity. I’m amazed that you can’t make a moisture-wicking white undershirt that doesn’t wrinkle, doesn’t fade to light gray with months of washing, and whose logo won’t show through a white dress shirt. If you find one of these, send me a message, and I’ll purchase a dozen.

I don’t buy the “off-brand” bottled water anymore, at least not the kind they sell at my local grocery store. Why? Does it taste different? Not to me. My taste buds are so bland, I probably wouldn’t know if I were drinking salt water. The reason is that 1 in 10 of the off-brand plastic bottles actually upsets me. The bottle upsets me, not the water. The wrapper just won’t stay glued to the plastic bottle long enough for me to finish drinking it. It starts to peal off, and yes, this bothers me. It’s just glue, and you ought to be able to get that right.

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The Parable of the Successful Businessman

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The following story was shared to me by a good friend. The author is unknown, but the perspective is clear. The ride is short. Relish it. Enjoy it now, and never forget to laugh often and much.

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A very successful businessman was taking a much-needed vacation in a secluded coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman pulled into the dock. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.

The businessman was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the local fisherman how long it took to catch them. The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.” The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish?

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Why I Don’t Buy The New York Times

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I’m a cardiologist. I’ve written one of the most transparent books about the U.S. healthcare system that you will ever read. Yet, if you believe the news, you will assume my entire medical speciality is shady and full of morally suspect physicians. Let me tell you WHY.

In the last month, two articles surfaced in the lay press, one published by The New York Times and the other by U.S. News & World Report. Like the majority of medical news that I’ve seen originate from these sources over the last few years, the articles provide no meaningful contribution to advancing quality standards in medicine or improving patient care. They are written by medical outsiders and fraught with errors. But, to their defense, the authors have been tasked with the impracticable job of interpreting a data dump of poorly understood numbers released to the general public by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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The Two Towers

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“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” –Genesis 11:4

With these words, so begins the biblical story of the The Tower of Babel. The tale was written, at least in part, to explain the origin of different languages. Essentially, a group of earth’s early inhabitants started to build a tower to the sky in order to see with their own eyes God’s heavenly home. Alongside grandiose intentions, they worked and worked, up until God finally put a stop to the project by confusing the language of the workers. The building of the tower ceased.

On a daily basis now, my medical colleagues and I have been hoping for a similar divine intervention to take place within America’s healthcare system. Literally, Stop the Babel! sums up our humble request. Babel means a scene of noisy confusion, which is the most accurate description that I can give you regarding the current administration of medicine in this country. The current tower of babel is being built with a myriad of uniquely shaped bricks, many of which I’ve previously described to you, including the poor management of healthcare quality measures by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the failure of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to provide value regarding physician certifications, the over-reliance on data in medicine, and the expanding beurocratic burdens that continue to move medical providers further and further away from being the centerpiece of healthcare delivery.

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There’s Neither Good News or Bad News, Just News

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I learned a lot of history from my father.

If you knew my dad, you might find that statement a bit obvious. After all, Dad was a college history professor. But, don’t get too far ahead of yourself. I’m not referring to what you think that I am. I’m talking about Dallas Cowboy history.

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