Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.

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Palliative Care: Easier Said than Done

Conversation Continues | February 1, 2013

If we want our end-of-life wishes to be properly carried out, we have to prepare in advance and our clinicians must also be prepared to help us realize them.

Measuring Meaning: Tough to Track Important Talks

Jessie Gruman | January 30, 2013

We do better when we have meaningful conversations with our clinicians about our health care. Proposals to require and document that such conversations take place at strategic points are growing. Here’s a cautionary tale.

Getting Your Operation at a Cut-Rate Surgery Center

Trudy Lieberman | January 29, 2013

Consumerism in health care is coming to mean patients must shop around for the best price — for a doctor’s visit, Cipro, health insurance and maybe even your next operation.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Jeffrey Carroll, Host of HDBuzz

Jeffrey Carroll | January 28, 2013

As a community, our focus is on the discovery of disease-modifying treatments. This is the burning desire of everyone in the [Huntington’s disease] community.

5 Steps to Building a Great Partnership with Your Doctor

Leana Wen | January 24, 2013

The last time you went to your doctor, did you feel like he listened to you? Or did you feel ignored and left with more questions than answers?

Does the U.S. Get Value for Its Health Care Dollars?

Trudy Lieberman | January 23, 2013

It’s hardly a secret that the U.S. is spending close to 18 percent of its GDP (or $8,362 per person) on health care — more than any other country. So it’s fair to ask exactly what we’re getting for our money.

Take My Damn Data. Please.

Jessie Gruman | January 23, 2013

Many people assume that their test results will be automatically sent to the right doctors and don’t bother to request that it be done.

Hospitals: Are We All Talking?

Elaine Waples | January 22, 2013

Complications from my cancer sent me to the hospital again recently. The news that I was in trouble came unexpectedly from my oncologist’s office on Thanksgiving eve, following a routine blood test. “Your liver numbers are out of whack.” My response was “Really?” as if I’d been notified that my driver’s license had expired.

Does Knowing Change Behaving?

Carolyn Thomas | January 17, 2013

One of my blog readers recently told us about why most of those self-tracking health apps may not in fact be particularly useful: "Fundamentally, sick people are the LEAST likely to be self-quantifiers. We, in fact, relish the thought of NOT obsessing about our health, to take it for granted like we do, say, gravity."

What the Next Fiscal Showdown Has to Do with Health Care

Trudy Lieberman | January 16, 2013

The New Year'??s Day deal between the White House and Republicans postponed the long-awaited debate over cutting Social Security and Medicare. But in the next few weeks, Beltway talk will again turn to slicing these interrelated social insurance programs.

Medical Errors: Will We Act Up, Fight Back?

Jessie Gruman | January 16, 2013

We've been warned about the impending patient revolution. We will not be ignored. And we'll force meaningful change. After all, as the recent documentary How to Survive a Plague reminds us, the gay community and others mobilized themselves during the AIDS crisis to great effect. The same thing is possible today, right?

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Helen Haskell, Founder of Mothers Against Medical Error

Helen Haskell | January 15, 2013

Comparative effectiveness research will be transformational if done properly. The critical thing is that it be done without built-in bias.

It's Not Complaining if It Helps

Patient Perspectives | January 14, 2013

In this roundup, patient bloggers Barbara Kivowitz, Warm Socks and Kelly Young explain the difference between complaining and whining.

Helping Patients Do the Work: Minimally Disruptive Medicine Tries to Right-Size Health Care

Janice Lynch Schuster | January 10, 2013

My husband is an insulin-dependent diabetic who has accumulated an array of chronic health conditions. I confess to days in which I play the role of diabetes cop'?¦I hate it when I do this, and yet it seems to be a role I have fallen into. But I had never thought of living with a chronic condition as a form of work until I interviewed Dr. Victor Montori.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Marge Ginsburg, Executive Director of the Center for Healthcare Decisions

Marge Ginsburg | January 9, 2013

In many ways, this country is a victim of its own successes. While medical research and technology has brought phenomenal benefit to many patients, we have grown indiscriminate in when and how we adopt new medical miracles.

Hospitals Under the Microscope: Another Way to Check Out Your Hospital

Trudy Lieberman | January 8, 2013

The nation'??s hospitals are now officially on notice that the federal government is looking closely at the kind of care they give'??so closely that Medicare will be giving them a financial bonus or a penalty depending on how well they do.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Ellen Stovall, Former President and CEO, Currently Senior Health Policy Advisor of the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship

Ellen L. Stovall | January 7, 2013

CER is particularly important in the age of personalized approaches to making decisions about cancer treatments and things like genomic testing. Doctors and patients alike are realizing that there are inadequate studies to assess the clinical utility of new interventions.

Prepared Patient: Taking Charge of Your Health Records

Health Behavior News Service | January 2, 2013

Prepared Patient: Watchful Waiting: When Treatment Can Wait

Health Behavior News Service | January 1, 2013

In today'??s fast-paced world, waiting '?? whether it'??s at the doctor'??s office, in line at the grocery store or for an Internet connection '?? is rarely considered a good thing. But when it comes to certain medical conditions, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease '?? a strategy doctors refer to as '??watchful waiting,'?? active surveillance or expectant management '?? may benefit some patients more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.