Turning the Tide on Physician Suicide

By Ami B. Bhatt, MD, FACC
June 14, 2018

Since the two very sudden public suicide deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, society has again recognized that we never know what is under the surface of another’s façade. As physicians, these tragic occurrences emphasize that our caregiving requires seeing the entirety of an individual’s many parts.

While we acknowledge that the façade is not fake—it is but one true representation of an individual, well-curated, like pages on Facebook or Instagram—no one mourns the corporate façade created for these individuals. We mourn the fact that despite feeling we know someone, we didn’t see it coming. This is that much harder when it is a loved one, and most frightening when you might see it in yourself.  Especially, if you are a physician. Continue reading “Turning the Tide on Physician Suicide”

Improving Health Outcomes by Healing Our Communities

By Ted A James, MD, MHCM, FACS
May 31, 2018

The Paradox of U.S. Health Care

We are not as good as we should be. Despite incredible technological advances and high-levels of spending, compared to other countries, the U.S. health care system fails to achieve superior outcomes on many key health indicators including life expectancy, infant mortality, and preventable disease. Although we are capable of delivering some of the most exceptional care in the world, we do not do so reliably or in a well-coordinated manner. According to recent studies from the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. tends to excel in doctor–patient relationships, wellness counseling, shared decision making, and chronic disease management. However, we operate in a system plagued with major disparities in access to primary care and gross social inequities. Innovations in our approach to health care are required in order to address these challenges and remove the barriers they present to providing reliable and sustainable care for all patients.  Continue reading “Improving Health Outcomes by Healing Our Communities”

What Does Trauma-Informed Care Look Like?

May 11, 2018

[The following post by has been shared with us by Harvard Health Publishing where it originally appeared in April of 2018. In light of increased emphasis on engaging patients in shared decision making, we invite you to add your thoughts about, and experiences with, trauma-informed care in the comment section after reading this post.]

Trauma-informed care: What it is, and why it’s important

by Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Contributing editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Many years ago, when I was a trainee, I helped take care of patients at a family medicine clinic.* One day, a school-aged brother and sister came in for their annual physicals. Continue reading “What Does Trauma-Informed Care Look Like?”

Transforming the Patient Experience of Health Care

By Ted A James, MD, MHCM, FACS
April 27, 2018

Leaders of health care organizations facing mounting administrative challenges and diminishing resources may question the importance of focusing on the patient experience of care. Improving patient interactions not only speaks to the inherent values of our profession in health care, but a growing body of evidence correlates improved patient experience with improved clinical outcomes and organizational performance, making patient experience a key strategic priority. I can also attest from my efforts developing patient-centered care models, as well as from my own journey as a patient, just how important the care experience is to overall well-being and satisfaction with treatment. Continue reading “Transforming the Patient Experience of Health Care”

Improving Physician Wellness by Addressing Decision Fatigue

By Ami B. Bhatt, MD, FACC
April 12, 2018

Physician burnout continues to be a significant concern for the medical workforce. Importantly, it can also affect patient experience (encompassing both quality and safety of care). Over half of United States physicians report at least one symptom of burnout including a decrease in empathy, decreased self-worth, and emotional exhaustion. Whereas the original research from several years ago suggested that front-line physicians in the primary care and emergency medicine space are at greatest risk, we now know that burnout is seen in many medical specialties. Not only do half of US physicians report being “burned out,” an equal percentage would not recommend a career in medicine to their children.1, 2 Continue reading “Improving Physician Wellness by Addressing Decision Fatigue”

Doctors and Patients—Treating Chronic Pain As a Team

By Peter Grinspoon, MD
April 5, 2018

[Part three of a three-part series.]

As a profession, we can best navigate this complex thicket by returning to a basic, simple principle: the patient comes first.

As an undergraduate philosophy major, I learned that a moral system was flawed if a situation could present itself where a person could do no right. When it comes to providing pain medications, and treating chronic pain patients, doctors can feel as if their moral universe is broken. We are assailed on all sides. Bureaucrats try to restrict our prescribing and intimidate or harass us into not prescribing opiates. Patients rage at us when we can’t or don’t prescribe these medications. The end result can be a rupture in the thing that most of us value above all else: the doctor-patient bond. Continue reading “Doctors and Patients—Treating Chronic Pain As a Team”

Addressing Physician Burnout as a Health Care Systems Issue

By Ted A James, MD, MHCM, FACS
March 29, 2018

Burnout is an all too common phenomenon that needs to be on the radar of all health care leaders. In addition to serious personal consequences, burnout poses a significant threat to patient care and negatively impacts organizational performance. Continue reading “Addressing Physician Burnout as a Health Care Systems Issue”