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November 2013

From physician to provider: Can doctors put the genie back into the bottle?

This HND piece examines the devalued currency of the medical profession, and it all starts with destroying the language.

Patients are no longer patients, but rather "customers" or "consumers." Doctors and nurses have been transmuted into "providers." No doubt, these verbal cosmetics are part of an overall effort to reduce costs. But, that's not where it stops. The term "provider" is deliberately and strikingly generic, designating no specific role or type or level of expertise.

I explain why the docs accepted this, and what can be done to put things right.

Read the complete article.

Obamacare's ultimate pitfall

No, it's not that millions will lose their insurance. No, it's not even that your doctor or hospital might not be on your new plan. Rather, it's the consequences—both intended and unintended—of the breathtakingly stupid forced rush to electronic health records (EHRs), an integral part of the Affordable Care Act.

EHRs have long been touted as some sort of magic bullet that, all by themselves, would revolutionize health care. Imagine! You can replace those outmoded paper records with modern digital ones. Records would be available instantly, and could be shared as needed. Since doctors hate charting, the automated features built into EHR systems would streamline that miserable process, making it more reliable.

Backup systems would assure that records could not be lost or misplaced, and for so many more reasons...patient care would be drastically improved! In fact, one of the principal findings behind Obama's promise that the average American's health insurance bill would drop by $2500 per year was that merely by having EHRs in place, there would be a savings to the health care industry of $120 billion annually.

No, I did not make that up. Of course, the study "proving" that contention was financed by Cerner Corporation, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, and Xerox—all major suppliers of EHRs.

Still, why complain? The Feds established a slush fund of more than $20 billion in incentives to those health care providers who could demonstrate so-called "meaningful use" of EHRs. And since virtually all providers are under the gun financially, there was no shortage of eager candidates for the cash awards.

At the time that the incentive program was announced, there were voices mocking the proposed savings, not the least of which referenced the expensive unmitigated failure when such a large rollout was tried in the UK with its National Health Service. And, please remember that the NHS has been, well, nationalized for decades, and should have been a textbook environment for a perfect rollout.

Meanwhile, in our own country, there are more EHR horror stories than can either be adequately followed, or even suppressed. Cost overruns, such as the University of Arizona's well-publicized spending of more than $100 million on a still very troubled system, abound. In some cases, EHR failings are brought to the attention of hospital administrators, and are not only ignored, but whistle-blowing staff are being threatened.

More serious is that scores of deaths have occurred, based on EHR failings. Link1 Link2.

Of course, one of the primary "advantages" of EHRs is that they take decision making out of the hands of the physician. Charted treatment modalities are limited to what's on the pull-down menu, and I have little doubt that many of the deaths resulted from the inflexibility of the system, not allowing human override.

Just think. Your health care is now in the hands of soulless bureaucrats, computer geeks with no life experience, and rapacious third party payers. What could possibly go wrong?

There's more wrong with health care than just the website

This HND piece spotlights three issues that have been overshadowed, in the wake of the Obamacare meltdown:

1.     Health insurance is not health care

2.     New recommendations to lower risk of cardiovascular disease

3.     There are thousands of problems with electronic health records

While the point of the first topic is self-explanatory, the second refers to a sea change in recommendations--but maybe less of a change than it should be.

The third topic details the utter fiasco that electronic health records have become, and tells the tale of what $100 million will do for you--courtesy of Scot Silverstein, MD.

Read the complete article.

Sverige speaks: We've found the best diet

The Swedes have done it again! As detailed in this HND piece, after two years, and a review of 16,000 studies, the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment concluded that the best diet is Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF).

As I point out, this is only news to those Kool-Aid drinkers who have clung to the High Carb Low Fat (HCLF) dogma, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, HCLF is being blamed for such ills as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease itself. We also take a trip down memory lane with Erik cigars.

Read the complete article.

The problem with health insurance

This HND piece traces the history of health insurance, and demonstrates why will never work--as in becoming self-sustaining.

You'll discover who the father of government-controlled universal health care really was, and I think you'll like my conclusion:

A system based on the shakiest of actuarial foundations, in which hard choices will have to be made that can only destroy individual rights, operating in a platform whereby the core component values are unknown. What could possibly go wrong?

Read the complete article.

Heart of the matter

Leave it to the Aussies to shred the cholesterol/saturated fat theory of heart disease.  In a special two part edition of Catalyst, Dr Maryanne Demasi investigates the science behind the claims that saturated fat causes heart disease by raising cholesterol.

The above web page not only gives you great videos from experts, including good guy cardiologist Ernest Curtis, there are more than two dozen other resources available for download.

Bravura job!  Perhaps Demasi's effort will hasten the death of this awful theory.