GlassHospital

Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: prescription drugs

“Crowding,” and Other Items

The stock market is up. But the economy sputters along–it grows, but only slowly.

The health care sector has been an exception to the trend of slow growth. It continues to employ more Americans than ever before, without much sign of slowing down.

[Correction. Here’s a sign of some slowing.]

The health care industry has become so huge that it comprises nearly 1/5 of the economy. Now 1/9 American workers are somehow in health care (think medical coders, billing specialists, and various administrators). It’s astonishing. Whole cities (Hello Cleveland, Pittsburgh, etc., etc.) rely on health care as their #1 sources of jobs/income/investment.

[For a superb treatment of this phenomenon, read Chad Terhune’s piece here.]

A while back I read a great essay by a health care pundit who talked of health care spending “crowding out” other forms of public investment.

Think of it this way: a government collects taxes. If it spends an increasing amount on health care goods and services each year, there is less available for education, roads, infrastructure, etc.

It may not quite be a zero sum game, but it’s darn close.


Don’t You Just Love Those Drug Ads on TV?

I wrote new essay for NPR’s health blog, Shots, in honor of the 20th anniversary of drug ads appearing on TV in the U.S.

You can click on the box below to have a look. It ran with more great collage art by @KatStreeter.

Med Reconciliation

The recently signed health care reform bill was passed through a process called reconciliation. This was a bit controversial politically, because the unified Republican opposition wanted to prevent the bill from becoming law. In this context, reconciliation meant negotiating a compromise to the House and the Senate versions of the bill through budget negotiations to achieve implementation of the law.

Medication reconciliation is altogether different, in that there’s no controversy. We ALL need to be doing it, according to JCAHO (the Joint Commission on Accreditation of HealthCare Organizations, pronounced “Jay-co”) the IHI (Institute for HealthCare Improvement, brainchild of Dr. Donald Berwick, recently appointed-but-as-yet-unconfirmed head of CMS, the government’s Medicare and Medicaid entity), and virtually every other person and organization involved in improving the quality and safety of health care for patients.

Reconciling medication seems too basic to even think about, but it’s a much more complex task than it appears at first glance.

What is it?

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