Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

And Olympic gold for a health care system goes to, well, not us

August 5, 2012

Tags: Olympic gold for a health care system, NHS, Olympics Opening Ceremony, doctors, health insurance

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in Print: 08/04/2012

I always learn a lot while watching the Olympics. During the parade of nations, I'm routinely educated about the existence of at least two countries that have, until then, escaped my awareness. I often discover that an otherwise ordinary capacity of the human body has been associated with some type of ball to create a new Olympic sport. And with each Olympics, I am freshly reminded that I am months or years behind in my personal fitness program.

But late last month, I was thoroughly stunned to learn from the 2012 Opening Ceremonies in London that real doctors can actually dance! The spectacle of British physicians and nurses kicking up their heels swept me off my feet. And it provided reassuring proof that medical office parties need not always be flat-footed events.

Watching an octogenarian Queen parachute into the stadium was unremarkable compared to witnessing happy doctors performing the Lindy Hop, keeping time and rhythm, having fun, receiving cheers from an appreciative public. In contrast, on this side of the pond, doctors are more likely to be doing the hobble, dancing as fast as they can, trying to work a somewhat cheerless crowd.

In the tradition of Olympics host countries, the Brits set out in the Opening Ceremony to showcase their unique history and culture. Homage was paid to the industrial revolution, the Beatles, the World Wide Web, multiculturalism, Mary Poppins, and, yes, the "NHS" -- the country's health care system.

The National Health Service is Britain's taxpayer funded, government-run health care system (akin to our country's Medicare program) (more…)

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Ode to Watson: A supercomputer, 'Jeopardy!' champion, doctor, paper-pusher, and scribe

September 18, 2011

Tags: Watson supercomputer, Jeopardy! champion, ICD-10, health insurance, doctor, paper-pusher, scribe, pecked to death, ICD-coding

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in Print: 09/18/2011

Sherlock Holmes famously partnered with his Doctor Watson to help solve the most baffling mysteries of his day. Soon, doctors in clinics will be partnering with another famous Watson, ostensibly to help solve diagnostic conundrums for patients.

Last week, IBM and health insurer WellPoint Inc. jointly announced that supercomputer Watson -- best known for trouncing human contestants on the TV game show "Jeopardy!" -- was being put to work as a doctor's aide. Or as an insurance agent. Maybe both. It's hard to compute just yet. (more…)

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The Big 'C'-- the cost of health care

October 8, 2010

Tags: Big C, cost of health care, rationining, insurance coverage decisions, Scannell, health insurance

By Kate Scannell MD, Contributing columnist Bay Area News Group

"THE BIG C." It's always been difficult for doctors, hospital administrators and health care executives to "spell it out." It terrifies American politicians. Patients tend to confront it only when it afflicts them or their loved ones. Everyone is so afraid of discussing the Big C, that we prefer to remain silent all the while it eats like a cancer through our national economy and health care infrastructure.

I am referring to health care "Cost." Today I'm writing about a new study that raises the specter of the Big C in a manner we can ill-afford to ignore. It also forces this question: When we pay for health care, just what are we buying -- with our pocketbooks, our downward salary adjustments for increasingly expensive insurance benefits, and our taxes funding government-sponsored health programs like Medicare? When does a costly new drug or medical device become worthy of its expense to us? (more…)

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