Healthcare Archive


Should you hire a medical wingman?

When navigating the health care system becomes challenging, a number of professionals can help. Some, such as home care aides or certified nursing assistants, can assist with errands such as getting to the doctor and picking up medications. Others, such as Aging Life Care Professionals or patient advocates, can develop and run a person's overall care plan, negotiate with insurance companies, arrange to pay medical bills, research treatment options, hire and manage home care helpers, and more.

What is an annual wellness visit?

The routine yearly medical check-up is now more often referred to as the annual wellness visit, which allows people to formulate detailed health goals with their doctor and design plans to meet them, as well as assess the possibility of life-changing events, like heart attack, stroke, and cancer.

Decoding the price of heart tests and procedures

Prices for six common heart tests and procedures at top-ranked U.S. hospitals showed surprisingly wide variations, according to a 2022 Harvard study. There was a 10-fold difference in the median prices patients pay for a heart ultrasound, and even larger disparities for procedures such as implanting a pacemaker. The differences may reflect power dynamics between hospitals and insurance companies. For both entities, factors such as location, size, and popularity influence that dynamic — which, in turn, affects the market dynamics that dictate costs.

The rise of computational medicine

Harvard Medical School has created a large department dedicated to developing and teaching young scientists about the emerging field of computational medicine. This field uses new mathematical techniques to make sense of the thousands of numbers generated in experiments measuring various molecules. Analyzing such "big data" was once unimaginable. Now, scientists have the tools to do it, and to compare tissue of people with and without a disease to find out which molecules are different.

Why is it so challenging to find a primary care physician?

An adequate supply of primary care physicians is essential for our health care system to function properly, but it's becoming more and more difficult to find one. Rates of burnout are high among PCPs, and many are considering cutting back their work hours or leaving altogether.

A care quarterback for older adults

Geriatricians offer health guidance and treatment to adults 65 and older. The specialty centers on health concerns increasingly common with age, including falls, hearing loss, incontinence, memory problems, and the need to juggle multiple conditions and medications. Among other goals, geriatricians aim to optimize drug dosages and prevent medication overlap or dangerous side effects. They also coordinate each patient's care with other specialists who help manage chronic conditions. Geriatrician visits are typically longer than those with general practitioners.

What to do when a diagnosis is elusive

Medically unexplained symptoms, which are not easily deciphered account for many visits to primary care doctors and specialists. Individuals seeking answers should work with closely with their primary care doctors.  Strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help people manage stressors that affect physical health.

Navigating "doctor speak"

Doctors around the world use standardized medical terms for a common frame of reference. Laypeople don't always know what that medical jargon means, which can lead to poor health outcomes. When a patient doesn't understand what a doctor is saying, it's important for the patient to ask for clarification. It may help to prepare a list of questions in advance and bring it to the medical appointment; bring a friend along who can take notes and ask questions; and repeat the doctor's advice before the end of the appointment, to make sure it's understood.

Apps to accelerometers: Can technology improve mental health in older adults?

The adoption of technology has grown rapidly among older adults, and with it have come potential benefits to mental health, daily functioning, and quality of life. Those who want to help an older person in their life might suggest one of the many options available.

Opioid addiction and overdoses are increasingly harming Black communities

The ongoing opioid epidemic in the US has been perceived as an issue that mostly affects white people in rural areas, but a recently published report from the CDC shows that the epidemic is now disproportionately affecting Black people.

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