About Hyoumanity

The Persistent Non-Diagnosis Dilemma

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™dr-david-marcinko4

It is well known that computerized information systems [CIS] are increasingly being used to analyze the cost-effectiveness and quality of care given by medical providers. And, providers are slowly receiving clarity in the methods used to track their practice patterns, whether the tracking includes the cost of the practice, quality of care (such as frequency of preventive services that a practice provides), and/or outcomes monitoring.

Using information systems for such purposes is part of the growing field of medical informatics, which can be defined as the applied science at the junction of the disciplines of medicine, business, and information technology, which supports the healthcare delivery process and promotes measurable improvements in both quality of care and cost-effectiveness [Source: Medical College of Wisconsin, and www.HealthDictionarySeries.com].

Health Risk Assessment Data

Although HRA data are not generally used to profile care processes per se, such measures help to determine which members are at highest risk for chronic illness in the future, such as heart disease. And, according to our Business of Medical Practice print-book colleague – Brent A. Metfessel MD, MIS – patients usually fill out such surveys directly, as many Internet sites have sprung up which include free HRAs and calculation of risk scores. Included in HRA surveys are smoking history, dietary habits, general health questions, energy levels, emotional health, driving habits, and other parameters. Providers may use these results as guides to ascertain which members need the most intensive intervention and thus help prevent poor future outcomes http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=23759

None address the emerging problem of persistent non-diagnosis, however.

The Problem

Therefore, Bradley Kittredge of Hyoumanity suggests that a significant dilemma is emerging when addressing – or not addressing – HRA data relative to persistent non-diagnosis. In other words, the persistent non-diagnosis dilemma may represent a significant under-recognized and under-addressed emerging problem in our healthcare system today.

Not Iatric

This situation is unlike iatrogenic conditions which may be defined as those conditions that are physician induced [complications, “never-events”, allergic reactions, un-necessary treatments, interventions and/or surgery, etc]. More formally; iatros means physician in Greek, and-genic, meaning induced-by, is derived from the International Scientific Vocabulary [ISV]. Combined, of course, they become iatrogenic, meaning physician-induced. Iatrogenic disease is obviously, then, disease which is caused by a physician [www.iatrogenic.org].

The Definition

Blogger Kittredge – an MBA/MPH candidate for 2009 at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a Brian Maxwell Fellow – defines persistent non-diagnosis as:

“any patient who experiences clinical symptoms that five or more doctors are unable to diagnose.”

And, he opines that every day, thousands of Americans are desperately seeking answers to complex medical conditions that doctors are unable to diagnose.

Quality Improvement Initiatives

Findings ways to improve the process of diagnosis and the handling of these tough cases for both patients and doctors will reduce costs, improve health outcomes, and dramatically impact lives. It is the stuff of such medical quality improvement icons like Robert M. Wachter MD, Professor and Associate Chairman of the Department of Medicine at UCSF and my colleague and print-journal Foreword contributor David B. Nash; MD, MBA of the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA www.HealthcareFinancials.com


Currently, Brad is working to build an online tool to assist with complex and difficult diagnoses, which he considers among the biggest problems in medical care. His technical off-spring, Hyoumanity, is committed to improving awareness and understanding of the prevalence, causes, and implications of persistent non-diagnosis – and misdiagnosis – and to the development of tools to assist and empower patients and doctors to resolve complex cases [http://hyoumanity.blogspot.com]. We wish him well.


And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

Our Other Print Books and Related Information Sources:

Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=23759

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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One Response

  1. Brad,

    Doctors are paid via CPT® codes, just like stock-brokers are compensated based on the number of transactions. More transactions and code submissions; equates to more salary regardless of fiduciary responsibility for the brokers; or the quality of medical care rendered by the doctors.

    On the other hand, all too often, we blame “stress” to explain health problems that resist a clear diagnosis. We hate to say “I just don’t know?”

    Either way is bad medicine. Keep up the good work.

    Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA


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