Friday, July 31, 2009

Disgusting, racist anti-reform crap

Ordinarily I ignore political emails full of idiocy, but this time I've had it. I've received this image in the email three times. It makes me puke, and so do the people who've sent it to me.

You really have to wonder who put this together. Clearly it's from the Republican side of the house, and clearly it's racist, and clearly it's either air-headed or (if it's not from an air-head) it's from someone who has a brain and is using it for raw, racist, BS propaganda.

Against health reform.

Putting Obama's face on a jungle denizen's body, then attaching a Communist hammer and sickle, and attaching it to the health reform subject, is purely hateful. It disgusts me.

Really, think about it: who put that together? What was their motivation?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Customer Service in Healthcare (not):
An All-Too-True-Story

Cross-posted from my day-job blog

exasperated woman

What is wrong with these people???

I've been having a pain lately, in an arm that shouldn't be having pain due to a past condition. The orthopedist who took care of my bones said to get an x-ray at some local shop and send her the CD. (She's happy to save me the time of driving into Boston, and she knows local clinics can make a good x-ray.)

So I called the radiology department of a well-known, highly rated clinic in nearby Burlington – let's call it Elsie – to make an appointment.

(You know about appointments. They help customers get served quickly and conveniently, and help managers plan their resource utilization. The win-win thing.)

Me: "Hi. My doctor says I should get an x-ray and send her the CD. Can I do that? -- Good, I'd like to make an appointment."

Elsie staff: "Oh, you don't need an appointment. Just come right in. I mean, you can have one if you want, but you don't need one."

Me: "Cool!"

Me to my manager: "I'm going over to Elsie to get an x-ray. They said I can walk right in – should be quick."

I get there, find my way through their campus (the directions were perfect), and find radiology.

The line to check in goes out into the hall. And at the front of the line, the sign on the desk says the current wait time is 30 minutes.

I look at my watch, conclude I don't want to wait 45 minutes (or even 30) for a "no appointment needed" x-ray, and leave.

The parking machine wants money for my ticket. I talk to the cashier and the information counter; saying I wasn't able to get my appointment so I don't want to pay. (I've been there less than 10 minutes.) Both people look at me like I'm crazy and say there's nothing they can do. A third person says maybe security will validate it. They gladly do.

On the way out I call again.

Me: "I want to make an appointment for tonight."

Elsie staff: "Oh, you don't need an appointment. If you want to make one for sometime tomorrow you can."

Me: "I can't make one for this evening so I don't have to wait?"

Elsie: "No…" (sounding rather uncertain about why I'd be asking)

It's clear to me that my time is not the slightest consideration to this clinic. I've been hearing this about healthcare in general, but I know of places where they do care. (My own hospital is one of them, and I know there are others.)

I just wonder, what on earth is so complicated? I happen to know first-hand that an appointment system for a few workstations is not at all expensive. (I work for TimeTrade Appointment Systems.) Instead, they have a line of people out into the hall – sick and injured people, typically – and they cheerfully (genuinely cheerful) say "Oh, you don't need an appointment."

Right: just show up and wait. We'll get to you when we get to you. Reminds me of the t-shirt that says "I don't have a drinking problem. I drink, I get drunk, I fall down. No problem."

Methinks the world of healthcare is (mostly) so wrapped up in its own importance that it doesn't even occur to them to respect their customers' time. And that's gotta change.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Terrific Apollo 11 photos

This is a small break from our usual health-related fare, for good reason. (I say so, and it's my blog, so my opinion rules.)

The Boston Globe's site has a terrific series of 40 photos about the Apollo moon landing 40 years ago. Most are pictures I've never seen. I encourage you to go look.

Amidst all the world's cynicism and uproar today, this story continues to inspire, and for good reason.

My favorite pair: Neil Armstrong before the launch...

...and after he'd walked on the moon:

These astronauts were all tough-guy military test pilots, but I recognize that smile: I knew an awful lot of hippies who had exactly that same grin on their faces back then, albeit for different reasons. It's called, approximately, a spit-eating grin.

Call me a fool, but humanity continues to inspire me. That was forty years ago, people. Think what more we will achieve.


A tip of the hat to fellow alum Mike Laird for this.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

BIDMC's Dr. David McDermott on medical options for kidney cancer patients

In May I posted an interview with Dr. Andrew Wagner, the surgeon at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who removed my cancerous kidney (and adrenal gland) in March 2007. In that interview we discussed the surgical options available to kidney cancer patients.

Here's the second in what I hope will be a series of podcasts for kidney cancer patients. This time it's oncologist Dr. David McDermott, of the famous Atkins-McDermott team.

Doctors McDermott and Wagner head the renal tumor program at BIDMC, which is an integrated "solution shop," a term used in some of the latest views of how to design healthcare delivery systems. More on that, another day. But for now, here's the interview.

p.s. Yeah, I know 40 minutes is too long. But y'know what else? Concerns about things like that are what keep people from trying things. And for better or worse, I just ain't the kind of guy who's afraid to try. Having been through this twice now, I can see a LOT of things I hope to do better in the future.

So hey, what are YOU not trying because you figure you gotta first know what you're doing?

Next in this series, Sept. 1, 2009:
Dr. McDermott discusses MDX-1106, an experiment treatment

Or, view all my podcast posts.