Healthy Reads

Our Favorite Articles

Posted by Charleen McManus, Membership on May 2, 2019
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We read a lot of articles about the state of healthcare in the U.S. today. Occasionally, we find articles that not only reflect our philosophy, but also back it up with scientific data. 

The following articles explore a variety of topics that are part of the PartnerMD experience: the importance of primary care to health and longevity, prioritizing the relationship between a patient and their doctor, integrating physical and emotional health, and a true partnership between patient and physician. 

Tell us that you think in the comments and be sure to recommend any articles we missed. We will be keeping this page updated with new articles as we find them. 

Enjoy! 

Primary Care & Increased Longevity 

Study: Primary Care Doctors Increase Life Expectancy, But Does Anyone Care? (10 min)

A study published 25 years ago concluded that the more primary care physicians serving a particular population, the better the health outcomes for that population. Primary care focuses on disease prevention, and the data from this study define a clear correlation between primary care, better health, and longevity. 

Despite this scientific evidence, the number of primary care doctors is dwindling. When looking at the overall U.S. population, the density of primary care physicians declined by 11% between 2005 and 2015. The article makes the case that health and government leaders aren't, but should be, creating incentives to increase the number of primary care physicians in the U.S. 

Robert Pearl, M.D., Forbes, April 8, 2019

Treating Patients as People 

Getting to Know Our Patients (8 min)
Listening to patients is a critical part of a doctor’s education

Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, director of the leukemia program at the Cleveland Clinic, shares a personal story about a medical student who wanted to learn a better way to give bad news. The story illustrates the importance of seeing patients as people with full lives outside of the hospital as opposed to an interesting scientific study. Making time listen to patients, get to know their families, and paying attention to the details results in compassionate and personal care. 

Mikkael A. Sekeres, M.D., The New York Times, April 24, 2019

The Link Between Heart Health and Emotional Health 

How Emotions Can Affect the Heart (12 min)

Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, a cardiologist, argues that the field of cardiology needs to devote more attention to the emotional factors that can influence heart disease. Studies have shown that people who feel socially isolated or chronically stressed by work or relationships are more prone to heart attacks and strokes. Yet most of the time, doctors focus on more quantifiable symptoms, such as cholesterol levels, than emotional and social disruption. 

According to some studies, doctors give their patients about 11 seconds on average to explain the reasons for their clinical visit before interrupting them. Since writing the book, Dr. Jauhar has a newfound appreciation for letting patients talk about the things that are bothering them so he can better understand their emotional lives as well as their physical symptoms. 

Anahad O’Connor, The New York Times, October 30, 2018

The State of Modern Healthcare

Why work has failed us: Because you can have a job and still not afford the doctor (15 min)

This article explores the history of employer-provided healthcare benefits from its inception around WWII through today's healthcare delivery system before wading into the current debate about how best to deliver care in the future.

The author uses the experience of one physician who left the system to set up a practice outside of the insurance network. The personal story she shares illustrates how some physicians perceive modern primary care and the emphasis they place on prevention, encouraging healthy behaviors, and personalized care. 

She had just 15 minutes with her patients to check vital signs, talk to them about their problems, determine what was wrong with them, dole out prescriptions, and hand them off to specialists.

“The things that mothers of young kids and elderly people and younger people, everyone I saw, needed just wasn’t another prescription,” she says. “They weren’t suffering from a deficiency in a high blood pressure medication, they just needed to change they way they ate, moved, and lived.

Ruth Reader, Fast Company, September 7, 2018 

Treating The Individual 

Value-Based Healthcare Models Demand Inclusion And Individuality (7 min)

Healthcare is about the patient in the room, but the current system is built in a way that makes it hard for institutions to see and treat people as individuals. The healthcare industry is changing, but a big challenge is how to shift entire enterprises that are organized around a volume-based, fee-for-service model to a model that rewards providers for keeping people healthy. Changes to the U.S. population demographics and the explosive growth of personalization in other areas of their lives are also changing patient expectations for healthcare delivery

This article explores the barriers to full adoption of this new paradigm and the benefits for patients and health-related businesses that do make the shift. 

Glenn Llopis, Forbes, September 6, 2017

A True Partner In Health 

A Co-Design Approach To Treatment Advances Individuality In Healthcare (8 min)

How can we keep people well if we don’t even know them? This might be one of the biggest, hardest – yet most effective – steps toward introducing individuality into healthcare: seeing and treating patients as partners in their treatment.

“People want to know that you have a little bit of background about what their culture or their gender or their age group might consider important. And then they want you to sit down with them as a partner, let them know what their options are, and help with a shared decision about what the best care looks like for them.”

The author cautions that making healthcare more inclusive will become extremely disruptive because it involves shifting the balance of power from hospital and physician to the individual patient and consumer.

Glenn Llopis, Forbes, September 10, 2018

More Personal Care Saves Money And Lives

Trying To Put A Value On The Doctor-Patient Relationship (28 minutes) 

In its push for profits, the U.S. health care system has made it difficult for patients to get personal attention from doctors. But what if hands-on medicine actually saves money — and lives? The author explores the personal and financial impact of a strong doctor-patient relationship.

The results of a study taking place in Chicago support the theory that strengthening the relationship between patients and their doctors can decrease medical costs and improve patient health. Its centerpiece is a primary-care practice that consists of 5 physicians, a small staff and, at its peak, 1,000 high-risk Medicare patients. The low patient-to-doctor ratio ensure the doctors have time to develop close relationships with their patients.  

After a year in this clinic, patients have 20% fewer hospitalizations than their control-group counterparts. Because hospitalizations make up the greatest portion of these patients’ annual cost to Medicare, that reduction is worth several thousand dollars per person in the first year, or a combined several million dollars; by comparison, the doctors’ annual salaries add up to less than $1 million. 

Although the financial numbers are necessary to provoke change in the healthcare system, the article also dives into the level of care that is possible when a high level of trust is created between the patient and doctor. 

This is a very long article, but so worth the time. Bookmark it for when you have half an hour or so to take it in. 

Kim Tingley, The New York Times Magazine - Health Issue, May 16, 2018

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PartnerMD is redefining the expectations for the healthcare experience. By taking time to listen, to understand and to build rusting relationships, we provide individuals, families and businesses with the most advance, progressive and personal primary care. What are you waiting for? Request free consultation with a PartnerMD physician today. 

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