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THE DOCTOR CRISIS

HOW PHYSICIANS CAN, AND MUST, LEAD THE WAY TO BETTER HEALTH CARE

While the book gives outsiders a peek into the inner workings of a large medical group, its message is directed primarily at...

The executive director of the Permanente Foundation argues that physicians are the key to creating a health care system that is patient-centered, safe, equitable, accessible and affordable.

With the assistance of former Boston Globe journalist Kenney (Transforming Health Care: Virginia Mason Medical Center's Pursuit of the Perfect Patient Experience, 2010), Cochran draws on his years as president and chairman of the board of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in Colorado, where he developed and tested many of the ideas presented here. When he took over, the morale among physicians was low, and turnover was high; the group was losing members. Working with a team—he had not been a manager before and was learning on the job—Cochran set specific priorities for the group: preserving and enhancing physicians’ careers, optimizing the patient care experience and streamlining the care process. In detailing the obstacles and solutions, he makes clear that building a culture of collegiality and teamwork was essential. Nurses and clinical pharmacists were brought into partnerships with physicians, giving them greater responsibilities and career opportunities and freeing physicians to do the kind of work that only they could do. The author is especially proud of the methods he developed to rapidly set up a massive electronic health record system that increased the efficiency of patient care. Cochran calls on doctors, who have been trained to be healers, to expand their mission and take on a combination role of healer/leader/partner, and he insists that health care be a “learning industry.” Talented people from all disciplines—clinicians, researchers, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.—must work together and learn from each other to seek out the best practices and apply them to provide the best patient care.

While the book gives outsiders a peek into the inner workings of a large medical group, its message is directed primarily at members of the medical profession, more specifically, to those in management positions.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-443-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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