Startups: The Other Health Technology Revolution

These days my physician colleagues and I are up to our necks in a health technology revolution.  To be honest, its not as captivating asPinterest or socially-engaging as a Google Huddle but to be sure your life will depend on it.  The revolution ushered in by electronic health record (EHR) is less about the technology than the widespread impact it will have on patient care.  Rather than digging through stacks of paper charts, your doctor will have ready access to all of your health history on a digital device.  And not just your health history, soon I will be able to combine it with the history of other patients in my practice: the digitized data will allow me to track the childhood obesity rate in my clinic and trend it over time with just a click (or tap).  But look out, there are glimmers of another emerging health tech revolution.

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Under Addressing the Factors That Cause 70% of Disease

While in residency, I took care of a toddler who was hospitalized following an anaphylactic reaction.  During a diaper change at home the child suddenly developed lip swelling and severe difficulty breathing for no apparent reason. The child was urgently brought to the hospital by ambulance and initially treated in the emergency room. By the time I met her on the inpatient floor her breathing and swelling had significantly improved. The first thing I noticed, however, was the child’s bumpy and irritated red skin which was covered with a thick layer of ointment. While I examined her she would claw and scratch at her skin with little relief. She looked miserable. Her mother had been suspecting food allergies and described a frustrating process of selective food avoidance and various skin treatments with little to no improvement.

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Finding the Truth in North Korea

In 2006, I traveled to North Korea.

The “other half” of my ethnic heritage had been a long held fascination. The American media had presented images of laughable authoritarian figures, strange rituals, and helpless suffering. My parents had instilled a fear of “the other” that they were taught as children in South Korea. So I went to find the truth.

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From Invisible to a Player: The Poor in the New Health Care System

37 years ago, at the very tail of the civil rights movement, my community health center (CHC) was established in Oakland to fill an unmet and urgent need. A growing population of immigrants were settling in downtown Oakland and had few choices for health care. Community surveys conducted by local leaders confirmed that residents received significantly less health care than the rest of the population largely due to a shortage of providers and limited English proficiency. And so a group of volunteers and students opened a make shift clinic with a volunteer doctor and an optometrist available for two days a week. As demand grew this little clinic expanded hours and added staff one at a time. Almost four decades later, the clinic has grown to 40+ doctors seeing 20,000 patients who speak any of 10 different languages.

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Medicaid Matters to All of Us

What if I were to tell you that Washington is trying to balance the budget by making cuts to a program that covers 70% of the nation’s nursing home costs and 43% of all births in California? Well they are.

The rancorous debate over how to balance the federal budget includes drastic cuts to Medicaid. And while this program may seem distant to people in power and the general public, the reality is that cuts will effect far more people than you expect and may even impact you or someone you know.

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Filed under Health, Health Policy

Play More Video Games

“I don’t study because it gets in the way of my video game time”, 15 year old patient.

Sorry mom and dad, video games are here to stay. In my clinic, this is a topic of discussion every day……actually every hour:

“How many hours of screen time does Mikey get every day?” I ask.
“Tell the truth”, Mom says looking at Mikey.
“brmfbr mbbrm”, says Mikey looking away.
Mother turns to me with the familiar look that telegraphs, “Please tell him something because he will listen to you!”

But what if we could turn the powers of video games for “good” rather than “evil”? How do we manipulate the seductive power of video games to get our kids (or even ourselves) to do things we know are good for us but somehow never gets done?

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The Top 5: Better Care for Less Health Care $

[Originally posted at SFGate: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/rchoi/detail?entry_id=89596]

 Ok, I confess. I have contributed to the $2.3 trillion that our country spends on health care every year. As a patient I want the best possible care for my family and me. As a physician I am the gatekeeper to expensive procedures, medications, and diagnostic tests. However, by several indices including life expectancy, infant mortality rate, and satisfaction with the health care system, we are not getting our money’s worth.

As discussed ad nauseum during the health reform debate, we can point the finger at any number of parties for the high cost of care: hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies, and patients. I would also add to that list health care providers.

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