Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: laboratory tests

DIY Medicine Gets a Step Closer

As with other industries, the Do-It-Yourself movement has come to health care—and it’s getting stronger.

Unlike engine repair, craft brewing, or laying sheetrock, the barriers to entry for DIY-ers in health care are higher. The main barrier, medical knowledge, is lowering fast as autodidacts have more tools and information than ever before—as but two good examples, seeĀ Khan Academy or what’s known in the Twittersphere as #FOAMed–“Free Open Access Medical Education.”

Another big barrier has long been established by those that pay for health care–in the U.S., primarily insurers. They’ve had rules mandating that diagnostic testing be ordered by physicians, who then ‘control’ the results.c767d9a6

Last week, in a victory for self-motivated patients, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a ruling giving patients the right to obtain lab resultsĀ on their own from freestanding diagnostic labs–without needing the interpretation or control of information from a medical provider.

This is not likely to have a huge impact, as many if not most medical practices have adopted electronic health records and it’s now common practice to share test results directly with patients.

But for laggards that have not implemented secure data-sharing policies, a major incentive is now there as patients will be able to collect data back from the lab on their own. Much better from the provider perspective to get out in front of an ‘abnormal’ result.

How about you? Do you get your results from your doctor automatically, or do you wind up having to hunt them down? Does this new ruling make you more excited to take control of your own health information?

Help Wanted: DIY Medicine

Taking medical care to the self level.

First there were contractors. Then came Home Depot.

Once we had accountants. Along came TurboTax.

Stockbrokers? E-trade.

Printers? Soon we had Kinkos, er, FedEx.

Even venerable old lawyers are being outsourced and replaced by do-it-yourself manuals and online services.

Which brings me to my profession. Medicine.

I’m researching a new frontier in health care: do-it-yourself medicine. As more information is available online, patients are empowered like never before.

The rise of the e-patient movement is one such example. But now, with direct-to-consumer lab testing and radiology, people are able to access medical services and consume them like any other commodity.

I’m interested in learning about people that obtain these services without the consultation of a medical professional.

Caveat: a lot has been written about cyberchondria, google-itis, and patients advocating for themselves and their loved ones with their doctors.

I’m looking for people out there that self-diagnose and treat but make every effort to steer clear of the medical establishment.

Are you such a person? Do you know one?

All information and stories will be held in strictest confidence. We’re trying to gauge the prevalence of this phenomenon in the world.

Comment on the blog or send tips/inquiries to GlassHospital [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bloodletting, Vol. 1

I’ve just finished a month “on-service” as a teaching attending for a general medicine team here at GlassHospital. This means I served as the physician of record for every patient admitted to the team.

You might find it interesting to know that patients admitted to the hospital’s general medicine service get assigned to their teams by random assortment. Since there are five teams, one team takes call every fifth day. In true “general” fashion, this allows for assortative distribution of diagnoses, so that the doctors-in-training experience as much as possible over the course of their three year residencies.

I’m now a decade out of my residency, and reflecting on the distance, I find that the biggest constant in hospitals over that time is change.

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