Medical Economics

Magazine has information and advice for physicians on how to manage their practices and current healthcare landscape.

Articles from Vol. 74, No. 4, February 24

A Bad Habit Nearly Killed Me
The habit: ignoring his body. If you're like many doctors, you do the same. You may stop after reading this. I 've got cancer." "What did you say?" asked my wife, who was on the other end of the phone line. "I've got cancer," I repeated. "What did you-?"...
Answers to Your Tax Questions
Q We've postponed tax every time we've sold our home and have built up a total profit of $240, 000. After selling our $300, 000 home last year, we bought a smaller place for $165,000. How much of our gain can we shelter, assuming we take advantage of...
Be Suspicious of Very Low-Cost Systems
Maybe you don't really need all the sophisticated gadgetry that's available today. No problem. At a RadioShack store, for example, you'll pay around $200 or $250 for a basic wireless system you can install yourself. You can expand that with more detectors...
Bond Funds That Defy Gravity
Interest-rate climbs deflate the value of bonds. But here are seven income funds that are nearly puncture-proof. Every so often, bond funds get clobbered. When interest rates rise, prices of previously issued bonds drop as investors flee to new, higheryielding...
Can a Health Plan Deselect You "Without Cause"?
Maybe not much longer. In a landmark case, a physician arbitrarily terminated by an HMO has won the right to contest his dismissal in court. New Hampshire surgeon Paul J. Harper's ongoing battle with an HMO has produced a legal ruling that could protect...
Can Pontiac Compete with the New Camry? You Bet!
The impressive Grand Prix shakes up the family sedan market. But the Camry, now redesigned, is no pushover. The choices are distinctly richer this year for anyone looking to buy a new family sedan. One of the best-regarded models ever to take the road,...
Continuous Quality Improvement: A Crash Course
Continuous Quality Improvement consists of a series of problem-solving steps that health plans and hospitals are using to improve the quality of their health care. If you apply it at your practice, follow these steps: Be alert for warning signs. Improvements...
Don't Be So Quick to Write: Cleared for Surgery
Do you always know the patient's history and current drug regimens well enough to jot that down ? This doctor has reason to doubt it. It was early afternoon when I walked into Mrs. Braxton's room at the University Surgical Center, where she was awaiting...
Don't Expect the Lowest Airfare, Even If You Request It
Travelers rarely get the cheapest available airfares when they book flights themselves or even through travel agents, according to a study from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The consumer group, based in Washington, D.C., surveyed five airlines...
Drug Stocks: Expensive but Worth Every Penny
The stocks have been zooming for a decade, and there's little reason to think they'll slow down soon. Analysts name their picks. You write prescriptions, talk to sales reps, and know the trends in drug development. Why not use that insight to write a...
Firming Up Weak Spots in Your Patients' Care
Why are medical groups across the country applying Continuous Quality Improvement? As this doctor discovered with his cancer patients, it really works. I'm not fond of meetings. As a surgeon, my milieu is the operating room, not the conference room....
For Me, Kevorkian Has Become a Referral Option
The author was strictly opposed to physician-assisted suicide. Then Mr. Stanley became one of his patients. The word "pain" appeared after Thomas Stanley's name (we're not using real names) on my patient roster. Nothing unusual about that. At the time,...
Here's the Ticket to the Trip of Your Dreams
What's your fantasy vacation? Taking the whole family to Cozumel or the Caymans to frolic in surf and sand while the unfortunates back home shiver in the deep freeze? Or just the two of you, wandering the streets of Paris or Hong Kong in search of unforgettable...
How an HMO Doctor Determines "Medical Necessity"
The process can be more informal-and less arbitrary than you think. At least, that's this physician 's experience. The fact that I had no experience with managed care didn't seem to faze the HMO that hired me as its medical director. There wasn't much...
Income the IRS Can't Touch
Tens of thousands can stay out of Uncle Sam's reach if you take advantage of these quirks in the law. Maybe you own a vacation home that sits empty much of the time. If so, you've got the makings of income Uncle Sam can't get his hands on. Just rent...
It's a Mistake to Ignore Japan
Do sudden shifts in the stock market worry you? They should. Big corrections can occur without warning. To prepare for the unexpected, diversify your portfolio. A proper mix should include assets that won't necessarily sink when the Dow Jones averages...
Letters to the Editors
Does medical practice have to be fun? Virtually all the physicians interviewed for "Which doctors are quitting medicine?" [Dec. 9] chose retirement because their jobs were no longer fun. I take exception to such doctors. They trivialize what physicians...
Malpractice Consult
When to reveal a patient's HIV status If have a patient who tested HIV-positive. What obligation or liability do I have to the patient's wife? Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to this straightforward question. Like so many legal issues, the answer...
Money Management
Two ways to postpone tax on a vacation-home sale Now that the kids are on their own, I'm planning to sell the vacation home I've owned for many years. Since I'm over 55, can I use the $125,000 exclusion to reduce my taxable gain? If not, is there any...
Other Legal Battles against No-Cause Terminations
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of surgeon Paul J. Harper's suit against Healthsource New Hampshire, the state Supreme Court decision represents a breakthrough for physicians worried about arbitrary dismissal by HMOs. Until this case, they haven't...
Patients Who Ruin My Day
One type uses ink to circle all the bumps on her skin that she wants checked. Another type.... We all have our share of exasperating patients. Consider the guy who's been coughing for the last two weeks, then decides at 2 a.m. that it's time to drop...
Practice Management
Including your office manager in sensitive employee decisions Our four-doctor family practice has decided that we can't afford to replace a staffer who resigned (to be a stay-athome mom) and that we must lay off an additional worker. Should we notify...
Securing Your Office
In a commercial location, after business hours, thieves may not worry about noise the way they might in a residential neighborhood," points out Officer Eladio Padron, of the Miami Police Department's Alarm Unit. "So a burglar who wants to get into your...
Six Steps to a Successful Practice Buy-In
Ownership isn't automatic anymore. But the opportunities are still there if you look hard and proceed carefully When Robbin Hansen joined Springville Pediatrics, a rural three-doctor group 30 miles south of Buffalo, he was promised an option to buy in...
The Best Stock-Picking Strategy Yet?
Buy stocks that share certain characteristics and you can beat the market handily year after year, says this money manager. He has the data to back up his claim. Is there a simple way to beat the market? Yes, says James P. O'Shaughnessy, a money manager...
The Cream of the Competition
The Dodge Intrepid (base price $19,995*) and its companion models, the Chrysler Concorde and Eagle Vision, have been among the biggest and roomiest of midsized sedans. The Intrepid is a foot longer and four inches wider than the Camry, five inches longer...
The Strongest Heart in Texas
Can chili sauce help heal a cardiac patient? Yes. And it can do more, besides. A strange package came yesterday. Inside a giant packing box, tightly bound with a web of heavy cord, I found a series of ever-smaller boxes nestled one within the next like...
Today's Security Systems: Much More Than Burglar Alarms
They can alert you to floods or freezing pipes, babysit the kids, and yell "Fire!" Here's a guide to all the new features. While vacationing in Florida, Dr. Smith suddenly has a question about his home back in Buffalo: Did he turn on the alarm system?...
What about Service and Repair?
This analysis is by Bob Cerullo, a master mechanic with 30 years' experience. He's the author of the book, "What's Wrong With My Car?" "All-new" may sound splashy, and all-new cars often grab headlines. But an all-new auto engine is seldom worth a trumpet....
What It's like to Have a Kidney Transplant
Years ago, my father told me, "To be a good physician, you should be a patient-at least once." By that standard, my stormy recovery from a kidney transplant must rank me quite high in the medical profession. Despite all the setbacks I experienced, I...
What Managed Care Has Done to Practice Values
Your buy-in price should be set toward the end of your employment period, which typically lasts one to three years. The partners will hire an appraiser to put a price tag on the practice, and the portion you'll pay will depend on how many physician owners...
When Specialists Buy out Gatekeepers
Two big cardiology groups needed patient referrals. So they did the unthinkable: They merged with dozens of primary-care practices, effectively taking over their gatekeepers. The hours are long, but the money is good. And internists Kevin K. Kruse and...
When the Dead Patient Sat Up
The stabbing victim was all but gone, but the surgeons were suturing the hole in his heart anyway Then the unexpected happened It is early evening when I walk into the emergency room. On a Friday, this means just before the storm. In the reception area,...
Why a Lab Delivery Drew the Bomb Squad
Why did the parcel have no return address? Why did the delivery man leave it without ringing the bell? Police cars cordoned off my street as I left my mid-town Manhattan office one day last October. An armored vehicle marked "Emergency Services" parked...