Book Reviews

The Endangered Medical Record: Ensuring Its Integrity in the Age of Informatics

So far, the debate within the medical profession over "electronic health" has centred mainly around the issue of privacy. But a new book, The Endangered Medical Record – Ensuring its Integrity in the Age of Informatics, raises another critical element – accuracy and reliability of the information recorded. … This book is an American study but its central message is equally applicable to Australia. .. Much of the book is a technical analysis of medical information and statistical systems. But its basic message, crudely stated, is the old adage, "garbage in, garbage out". The growth of vast, inter-linked computer data bases, monitoring, analysing and judging clinical practice according to "evidence-based medicine" seems inexorable. But how confident can we be in its products? .. Its analysis of the category coding of AIDS is one example

A Women’s Guide to Menopause and Hormone Replacement Therapy

To take HRT or not to take HRT. This is a question that looms large in the minds of premenopausal women. Lorraine Dennerstein and Julia Shelley draw together contributions from medical and alternative disciplines in order to enable women to make an informed decision regarding this issue. – March 2000

Remission Impossible – The Future of the Australian Health Industry

When Williams wrote his 1992 book, health services in Australia already involved over 400,000 health professionals, 1000 hospitals, and 1400 nursing homes. Health care activity provided revenue for several hundred Australian and overseas suppliers of pharmaceuticals, equipment and health products. Several thousand health department bureaucrats, health corporation and insurance executives, university academics, medical scientists and others depended on it for their incomes. … Williams’ book is now out of print, but it is available in some State and university libraries. It is stimulating reading, even when one is in disagreement with parts of it. It deserves to be updated and republished. It would help warn the medical profession not to overlook the wood for the trees when rushing to put out spot fires. It is all too easy to miss the big picture and the real forces behind the stream of controversial “single issues” that pre-occupy health care politics. One thing Williams does particularly well is focus readers’ attention on identifying the fundamental dynamics of change in the health system and where they are taking us.

Market Driven Health Care: Who Wins, Who Loses in the Transformation of America’s Largest Service Industry

Australian observers of the American health system reform have learnt a simple lesson: politicians will go along with any health reform that promises to save money. Whether this preserves the freedom of choice of one’s doctor, or affects the quality of health care is not relevant. In the last decade, the US experience of cost downsizing was achieved, first, by a reduction in standards of care, and second, by increased productivity, which meant that doctors were pressured to see more patients for shorter time. … Against this background, Professor R. Herzlinger, a professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, offers a vision of the future that on first reading seems compelling: a market driven health care to replace the current costly and flawed managed health care system. Her book is organized in four parts: Part 1, What Consumers Want: Convenience and Master; Part 2, What Payers Want: Quality and Lower Costs; Part 3, What Works: Health Care Focused Factories and Medical Technology; and Part 4, How to Make it Happen.

Terminal Consent

The plot is simple. A corrupt for-profit health insurance company weaves a tangled web of intrigue, corruption and murder. The riveting story documents the cost of human suffering paid by families to provide the health insurance industry with huge company profits and CEO salaries; the erosion of patient rights; the sinister corporate deals made on the megabucks diseases of cancer, heart disease and strokes; and how the allotment of contracted care becomes part of profiteering schemes.