A recent poisting on the Better Health blog recommends four books to better understanding the US healthcare system:
- Overtreated – Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer - a description why much medical treatment is created by inappropriate economic incentives, despiration to treat an illness, inappropriate marketing, government inventives and others.
- How Doctors Think - a fascinating description of the thought processes and factors that affect the conclusions and actions of physicians when treating patients.
- Better – A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance - one of Atul Gawande's excellent books on the practice of medicine and how it can be improved.
- Innovator’s Prescription – A Disruptive Solution for Health Care - a look at the "distuptive innovations" that may change the way that healthcare is delivered
Reviews of these books can be read on the Better Health blog and on the Amazon websites linked above. Of the four, I felt that "How Doctors Think" was exceptionally helpful not just in understanding how doctors think but in how all of us make decisions. It describes our natural thought processes, the types of errors in judgement that we can make based on our own experiences, and the ways in which these errors can affect our subsequent actions. Given this knowledge, it then presents some thought processes that we can follow to reduce the possibility of the types of errors that the author describes. It's an interesting book on human psychcology as well as physician thought processes. "Better" is the second of Gawande's three excellent books, the others being "Complications" and "The Checklist Manifesto". All of these describe his experiences as a surgical resident, and later as a practicing surgeon, and his quest to eliminate errors and improve the quality of medical care. He is a frequent author in The New Yorker and other publications, and his articles on "The Hot Spotters" and "The Bell Curve" should be required reading for everyone involved in healthcare - they are thoughtful and practical looks at significant problems in today's healthcare system. To this list I would add the following:
- Chaos and Organization in Healthcare - the best overall reference on the healthcare system that I've read, written by two physicians who run the Partners Healthcare System in Boston
- Population Health - Creating a Culture of Wellness - a new compendium of articles about managing the health of a population, as opposed to treating patients.
- Overdiagnosed - Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health - a description of effectiveness - or lack thereof - and costs and negative health effects of the overuse of diagnostic and other preventive health measures.
More detailed reviews of these and other books can be found on my LinkedIn page.