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Medicaid Payments for Office Visits Impact Cancer Screening Rates

HBNS STORY | November 20, 2014

New research in the journal Cancer finds that Medicaid recipients are more likely to undergo cancer screening tests when their doctors receive higher reimbursements for routine office visits rather than for the tests themselves.

Some Psychiatric Patients Are More Frequent Users of Hospital ERs

HBNS STORY | November 13, 2014

New research in General Hospital Psychiatry finds that homelessness, cocaine use, being on Medicare, having a personality disorder or having liver disease appears to be a predictor of frequent ED use by people with a psychiatric illness.

We Don't Ration Health Care in America. Or Do We?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 29, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

As narrower insurance networks begin to limit where we can get our care and contradict the American notion of abundant choices, I thought about the Canadian health care system and rumors of its long waiting lists that grab U.S. headlines. Yet, narrow insurance networks, sky-high deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays are ways of controlling our medical expenditures. Instead of rationing with waiting lists, America rations with price...

Fecal Blood Test May Save More Lives Than Colonoscopy

HBNS STORY | October 21, 2014

Colorectal cancer, or CRC, is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. State public health programs could screen nearly eight times as many individuals and prevent nearly twice as many CRC cases by using fecal immunochemical testing, or FIT, instead of colonoscopies, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Many Women Receive Unnecessary Pap Tests

HBNS STORY | September 30, 2014

As many as half to two-thirds of women who’ve undergone hysterectomies or are older than 65 years report receiving Pap tests for cervical cancer, despite recommendations against it, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Only Half of U.S. Adults Over 45 Are Screened for Diabetes

HBNS STORY | September 25, 2014

A new cross-sectional study in American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that only half of adults in the U.S. were screened for diabetes within the last three years, less than what is recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Online Social Networking Linked to Use of Web for Health Info

HBNS STORY | September 16, 2014

The use of social networking sites like Facebook may have implications for accessing online health information, finds a new longitudinal study from the Journal of Health Communication.

Sexual Risk Behaviors of Hispanic Youth Vary by Language, Place of Birth

HBNS STORY | September 2, 2014

A new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that the sexual risk behaviors of young Hispanic people living in the U.S. vary considerably with their degree of acculturation.

Clever Hospitals Find Another Way to Snag New Patients

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 13, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

As I sat on a New York subway one sizzler of a day, an ad for an ice cream cone grabbed my attention. After a closer read, I realized the ad was not touting ice cream but the Center for Advanced Digestive Care, a part of New York Presbyterian, one of the city's most prestigious hospitals and well known for its TV ads designed to cultivate brand recognition. The ice cream cone was an effective attention-grabber. So was the message…

Mental Health Screening in Primary Care Helps Veterans

HBNS STORY | August 12, 2014

Veterans who receive mental health screening during primary care visits are generally getting adequate follow-up treatment, but the process for acquiring care could be improved, finds a new study in General Hospital Psychiatry.

Ingenious Hospitals Find a New Way to Snag Patients

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 29, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A mother takes her teenage son to an urgent care center that is part of her insurance plan's network. A clerk quickly refers him to the emergency room, across the street, which just happens to be part of the same hospital system as the urgent care center. Is this UCC sending some patients to its related hospital ER, clearly a place of high-priced care, to gin up revenue for the system's bottom line?...

Cervical Cancer Prevention Program Saves Lives

HBNS STORY | July 15, 2014

A federal screening program markedly reduced death and illness from cervical cancer in underserved, low-income women but reached just 10 percent of the likely eligible population, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Don't Forget the Hefty Price We Pay to Engage in Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like lower fat/salt recommendations have become complicated as old truisms are overturned by new evidence. So I'm asking: To whom should I turn for meaningful guidance about modifying my risk for illness and boosting my health?

Cancer Screening: Understanding 'Relative Risk'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 3, 2014 | Kenny Lin

I have offered before a few reasons for eligible patients to consider not getting screened for lung cancer. I concede, however, that reasonable people might conclude that the potential harms are outweighed by the benefit of reducing one's risk of dying by one-fifth. The next critical question that needs to be asked is: one-fifth of what?

Getting Good Care: 'I Wish It Were More Newsworthy. I'm Afraid It's Not.'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 21, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Unfortunately, the nitty gritty of getting good care is not really newsworthy, unless we're talking about how poor it is. However, there are opportunities for journalists and writers to report "news you can use" that would be very helpful to many people, and there is a big gap in reporting on most of these necessary tasks...

How Much Is a Patient's Peace of Mind Worth?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 12, 2014 | Anne Polta

If something is medically useless, does it still have value if it gives the patient (and perhaps the clinician as well) some peace of mind? To many patients, this is no small thing. Unfortunately, it's also often abetted by consumer marketing that plays up the peace-of-mind aspect of certain tests while remaining silent about the limited benefit, the possible risk and the clinical complexity that may be part of the larger picture...

Public Health Centers Deliver Equal or Better Quality of Care

HBNS STORY | April 28, 2014

A new study in Health Services Research reports that patients who get care at federally funded health centers have fewer office visits and hospitalizations, and receive similar or a better quality of preventive care when compared to similar patients of non-health center primary care providers.

Shared Decision Making: Blending Beliefs and Attitudes With Evidence

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 7, 2014 | Don S. Dizon

My patient, Mary, was a 28-year-old woman who had completed chemotherapy for stage II breast cancer. After discussing surveillance, frequency of follow-up and ASCO guidelines, I recommended against further testing or imaging. Mary was well aware of the evidence, but she had different plans...

The Goldilocks Approach to Our Health Knowledge: How Much Is Just Right?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 26, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Most professional health care stakeholders believe that the more we patients and caregivers know about our health and diseases, the better our outcomes will be. When faced with the facts about our health risks and dangerous habits, they think we will rationally change our behaviors and correct our misunderstandings. As a patient, I want to know: At what point do I know enough to reap these hypothetical benefits?

The Other 'F' Word

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2014 | Jackie Fox

At my six-month checkup yesterday all was routine, other than my blood pressure being 131 over something when it's usually in the 115 range. Ten years ago I wouldn't have shared my fears at all, but thanks to early-stage breast cancer it's hard for my mind not to immediately go to the worst-case scenario...

Simple Waiting Room Test Can Help Diagnose Depression and Anxiety

HBNS STORY | February 25, 2014

A new study in General Hospital Psychiatry finds patients visiting the hospital for a variety of ailments can be easily screened for depression and anxiety as they wait for care.

Health Inequalities Seen in Gays and Lesbians

HBNS STORY | February 11, 2014

People who identify as homosexual have several health disparities relative to their heterosexual peers, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

NBC Vastly Exaggerates the Potential Benefits of Lung Cancer Screening

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2014 | Gary Schwitzer

When we talk about a consistently clear pattern of news stories that exaggerate or emphasize benefits while minimizing or ignoring harms, we are talking about stories exactly like this one...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 5): Do You Need a Yearly Checkup?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 30, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

In part five of our series, we look at the yearly check-up and offer resources for people who are trying to decide which preventive care services are right for them...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 1): Getting Covered

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 23, 2013 | CFAH Staff

In part one of our series, we look at the basics of picking a health insurance plan that's right for you, your family or a loved one. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources can help you find the best coverage at the best price for your health needs...

Significant Economic Losses When Young Women Die From Breast Cancer

HBNS STORY | December 12, 2013

In 2008, breast cancer deaths in women under age 50 cost the economy $5.49 billion in productivity and resulted in an estimated 7.98 million years of potential life lost, finds a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Massachusetts Residents Healthier After Health Care Reform

HBNS STORY | December 12, 2013

Residents of Massachusetts saw small gains in health status following the enactment of a state-wide health insurance mandate in 2006, finds a new study in the Milbank Quarterly.

Seven Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier About Cancer Survivorship

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 4, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

It is challenging, in the years following a cancer diagnosis, to assemble health care that protects us from the lingering effects of the disease and its treatment and that alerts us to a recurrence or new cancer. I hope these reflections will help those who've been diagnosed with cancer live as long and as well as they can...

The Costs of Being a Patient and a Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2013 | Jane Liu

My ultrasound came back "likely benign" with the recommendation that I follow up in six weeks to be sure. Over the next few weeks, I received one bill after another that totaled $1,000. Unable to pay, I felt abandoned by the system to which I had committed my career and did not call to schedule a second ultrasound...

Race a Bigger Health Care Barrier Than Insurance Status

HBNS STORY | November 7, 2013

Blacks, Hispanics and Asians are less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to visit a health care professional, even with health insurance, finds a recent study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

Quelling the Tide of Over-Testing

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 24, 2013 | Conversation Continues

Lately it seems that more health care insiders are advocating for a "less is more" approach for some screening tests. Cancer, dementia and kidney disease are a few examples. But will we just say "no"?

Five Years Later: Zigzagging Toward Acceptance

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 8, 2013 | Kathi Kolb

"Your biopsy is positive." None of us ever forgets when we first heard some version of that phrase. I heard it five years ago today...

Women in Appalachia Have Higher Rates of Late Stage Breast Cancer

HBNS STORY | September 26, 2013

Older women living in the most deprived areas of the U.S. Appalachia had higher rates of late stage breast cancer than women in more affluent areas, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Cancer Survivors Not Receiving Preventive Care

HBNS STORY | August 6, 2013

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that some cancer survivors do not always have the best access to primary care and that the type of health insurance they have—or don’t have—may be a factor.

Unemployment Linked to Reduced Use of Preventive Health Care

HBNS STORY | July 23, 2013

Fluctuations in the unemployment rate affect people’s health care choices, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Men Say They Want Prostate Cancer Test, Despite Risks

HBNS STORY | July 9, 2013

A survey of men age 40 to 74 found that 54 percent said that they would still opt for a popular prostate cancer screening test despite recent recommendations that the test not be performed, finds a new study in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Emergency Departments Still Missing Signs of Pelvic Disease in Teens

HBNS STORY | June 13, 2013

Despite government efforts to expand diagnostic criteria for pelvic inflammatory disease, ER doctors are not identifying the condition any more often in adolescent girls, finds a new study in Journal of Adolescent Health.

Doctors Don’t Provide Sexual Health Info to Teens

HBNS STORY | June 11, 2013

Most sexually active teens don’t get information about sexual health from their health care providers, finds a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

False Alarms and Unrealistic Expectations in Preventive Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 28, 2013 | Kenny Lin

Shortly after we moved to Washington, DC, my wife and I purchased a basic home security system, the kind with a programmable keypad, multiple door alarms and a motion sensor. All things considered, it's hard to argue that the benefits of this preventive measure have outweighed its cumulative harms.

Too Much Medical Care: Do We Know It When We See It?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 11, 2013 | Kenny Lin

If I didn't object to receiving what I recognized as too much medical care, it should not be a surprise that, according to one study, many inappropriate tests and treatments are being provided more often, not less.

Screening Decisions Are Better Informed When Risk Information Is Personalized

HBNS STORY | February 28, 2013

Patients’ ability to make genuinely informed choices about undergoing disease screening increases when the risk information that they receive is related to their own personal risk, rather than average risks, according to the results of a Cochrane systematic review.

Half of At-Risk Older Adults Aren’t Getting Routine HIV Screening

HBNS STORY | January 29, 2013

Almost half of older adults visiting a public health clinic where HIV/AIDS was prevalent were not screened for the disease in the past 12 months, finds a study in The Gerontologist.

Uncovering Your Health Risks

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Seek Knowledge About Your Health

You could be at risk for disease based on your age, health behaviors or family history. Here’s how to find out.

Talking About Medical Tests

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Communicate With Your Doctors

Doctors run tests to check your health or to figure out what’s wrong. Here are some basic questions you should ask about medical tests.

Do You Need a Yearly Checkup?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Get Preventive Health Care

Checkups are good for establishing a relationship with your primary care clinician and for screening tests. Here are resources with more on what tests you might need to stay healthy.

Seek Knowledge About Your Health

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Seek Knowledge About Your Health

Find accurate information that helps you with choices about your health.

Decision Aids Sway More to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

HBNS STORY | November 6, 2012

People who are given tools to help them decide whether to have a colorectal cancer screening test are more are likely to request the procedure, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Even With Personalized Assessments, Many Underestimate Disease Risks

HBNS STORY | September 11, 2012

People with a family history of certain diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, often underestimate their risk for developing them, even after completing a risk assessment and receiving personalized prevention messages, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Do You Need a Yearly Medical Check-Up?

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

We've all heard about well-baby visits, but if you're a healthy adult, you probably have no plan to see a doctor. When there's nothing to complain about, many of us go years without a comprehensive medical check-up.

Fast Food Medicine: A Missed Opportunity for Shared Decision Making

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 13, 2012 | Sarah Jorgenson

Though I may want fast food health care when I'm healthy, I don't want it if I'm sick or have the potential to be sick. People want to have the opportunity for a dining-in experience, not just fast food.

Selling Screening Tests

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 8, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

A few weeks ago, a letter arrived from the Life Line Screening company enticing me to come in for a 'simple, potentially lifesaving screening' to assess my risk for strokes and other vascular diseases.

Three Fears May Discourage Colorectal Cancer Screening

HBNS STORY | April 30, 2012

New research about why people forego colorectal cancer (CRC) screening suggests that three fears play a significant role; fear of embarrassment, fear of getting AIDS and fear of pain may make some seniors skip the potentially lifesaving tests.

What Does it Mean if Primary Care Doctors Get the Answers Wrong About Screening Stats?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 22, 2012 | Elaine Schattner

Recently the Annals of Internal Medicine published a new report on how doctors (don't) understand cancer screening stats. This unusual paper reveals that some primary care physicians a majority of those who completed a survey don't really get the numbers on cancer incidence, 5-year survival and mortality.

Doctors in U.S. Overuse Pap Smears

HBNS STORY | March 20, 2012

A new study finds U.S. physicians are performing Pap smears far more often than needed to prevent cervical cancer.

Will We 'Just Say No' to Screening Tests?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 7, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

Will we - you and me and our parents and neighbors - be a significant force in quelling the tide of over-testing for the early detection of disease?

Young Adults Taking the Health Care Reins

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

Your parents still might be willing to do your laundry, but if you’re over 18, they can’t make your medical decisions. Are you ready to navigate the adult health care system?

For Diabetics Not on Insulin, Self-Monitoring Blood Sugar Has No Benefit

HBNS STORY | January 19, 2012

For type 2 diabetics who are not on insulin, monitoring their blood sugar does little to control blood sugar levels over time and may not be worth the effort or expense, according to a new evidence review in The Cochrane Library.

Recommended Services Not Always Given During Patients’ Annual Exams

HBNS STORY | January 17, 2012

New research finds that patients may not always receive all of the screening tests and counseling services that are due during their medical checkups, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Mammogram Rates Lower for Mexican Women in U.S.

HBNS STORY | December 20, 2011

Mexican women in the United States are less likely to get mammograms than white women, black women and other Latinas, according to a new study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Racial Disparities in Colon Cancer Screening Persist Despite Insurance, Access

HBNS STORY | December 12, 2011

Public health researchers have long attributed the disparity in colonoscopy rates between whites and minorities to a lack of health insurance or access to doctors. Now, a new study in the journal Health Services Research suggests the reasons for the differences are more complex.

Routine Follow-up Mammography Benefits Breast Cancer Survivors

HBNS STORY | September 28, 2011

After breast cancer surgery, a follow-up regimen that includes regular mammograms offers a survival benefit over a follow-up regimen that does not include mammograms, according to a new systematic review.

Health News: Proceed With Caution

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 15, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Recent posts at Health News Review highlight how the over-simplification of medical journalism leads to misinformed, over-treated patients.

We Interrupt This State Fair for a Little Prostate Cancer Screening

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 7, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer

There are a few things a man should think about seriously before rolling up his sleeve for the supposedly "simple" blood test. 'But here, prostate cancer screening is hawked in the same setting as the modern-day carnies pitching their slice-'em-and-dice-'em devices and inventions you only see at the state fair - "only at this price today!"

Nine Out of 10 of Us Like Health-Related Numbers

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 7, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

It is not just when we are seriously ill that numbers dominate our experience with health care. Advances in technology have made it possible to quantify and thus monitor a seemingly infinite number of physiological and psychological health-related states.

NBC Urges Women >40 to Ask About CRP Test

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 19, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer

After seeing the NBC Nightly News last night, a physician urged me to write about what he saw: a story about a "simple blood test that could save women's lives." Readers - and maybe especially TV viewers - beware whenever you hear a story about "a simple blood test."

Young Adults, Teens Prefer Rapid HIV Testing

HBNS STORY | May 17, 2011

Teens and young adults prefer rapid HIV testing that can deliver results in less than an hour, but some still worry about whether their tests will be confidential.

Watchful Waiting: When Treatment Can Wait

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

For some patients, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease may benefit them more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.

When Doctors Own or Lease MRI, Back Scans and Surgery More Likely

HBNS STORY | April 26, 2011

When doctors can self-refer for MRI, patients are more apt to receive scans – and even surgery – for low back pain.

Guest Blog: Overdiagnosis

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 3, 2011 | Harriet Hall

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch has written a new book Over-diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, with co-authors Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin. It identifies a serious problem, debunks medical misconceptions and contains words of wisdom. We are healthier, but we are increasingly being told we are sick. We are labeled with diagnoses that may not mean anything to our health. People used to go to the doctor when they were sick, and diagnoses were based on symptoms. Today diagnoses are increasingly made on the basis of detected abnormalities in people who have no symptoms and might never have developed them.

More Questions About Medical Tests

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 12, 2011 | Conversation Continues

CT Scans

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 7, 2011 | Inside Health Care

Our latest Prepared Patient, Medical Testing: You Need Answers, offers guidance on how to talk to your doctor about medical tests and what to consider before and after the test. Here are related thoughts from other blogs-Dr. John Schumann of GlassHospital, Dr. Michael Kirsch of MD Whistleblower, and Anna Sayburn on Consumer Reports Health Blog. Recent feature articles on medical tests from The Wall Street Journal & the ACPHospitalist are also included.

Why Medical Testing Is Never a Simple Decision

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 20, 2010 | Marya Zilberberg

A women goes from healthy to heart transplant patient in just a few weeks. Could this have been avoided? True positives, false positives, false negatives, true negatives'how can we understand and use our test results to make good treatment decisions?

Prepared Patient: Medical Testing: You Need Answers

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 20, 2010 | Health Behavior News Service

Deborah Lewis got a shock when her pain management clinic called about a recent MRI test: They told me I needed to see an oncologist right away, that I had tumors on my spine. An oncologist did a lot of tests even though he said the MRI report didn't indicate anywhere that I had tumors or cancer. In fact, Lewis just had benign tumors common to her chronic medical condition. After a lot of wasted money, time and a whole lot of fear, we learned to question all test results,' she says.

Talking About Medical Tests With Your Health Care Team

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

Whether you're healthy or ill, there are a variety of medical tests your health care team might recommend for you.

Programs Help More Blacks Get Needed Colorectal Cancer Screening

HBNS STORY | October 29, 2010

African-Americans are less likely than whites to be screened for colorectal cancer, and the disparity almost certainly contributes to higher mortality. A new review of studies identifies effective strategies for improving the situation, but suggests that work remains to be done.

Free Aneurysm Screenings: Not All K-Mart Blue Light Specials Are Bargains

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 28, 2010 | Gary Schwitzer

K-Mart, Medtronic, and a bunch of specialty medical groups are sponsoring a campaign called "Find the AAAnswers" - the AAA standing for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

More People Get Health Screenings When Deductibles Are Waived

HBNS STORY | October 15, 2010

Large Gap in Diabetes, Obesity Screening Among U.S. Health Clinics

HBNS STORY | June 22, 2010

The Perils of Consenting Adults

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 1, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Most of us like it when our health care decisions are simple and straightforward -- when the potential benefit of one option far outweighs the benefits and risks of the other. Should I smoke? No. Should I get a mammogram? Yes. However, advances in screening, preventive measures, diagnostic technologies and treatments have rendered our preference for the certainty of the simple choice obsolete.