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Meet Dr. Happy

August 2008

Published in the August 2008 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

HE MAY NOT BE THE ONLY HOSPITALIST BLOGGER, but he’s one of the most provocative.

His screen name is the Happy Hospitalist, an odd choice given that he tends to focus on the issues that give him the most grief as an inpatient physician. A member of a large private-practice group in the Midwest, he thinks a lot about problems like coding, reimbursement and the red tape that consume hours of his professional time.

While those close to him know his identity, double H would rather not publish his name on his blog or in this article. When you call things like you see them, after all, you may encounter more than your share of critics, many of whom aren’t exactly your biggest fans.

A self-described fiscal conservative, Dr. Happy often scolds people who don’t take personal responsibility for their plight in life and instead want someone else to make their situation better. He doesn’t like whining, whether it’s nurses who think that they know more than everyone else or physicians who complain that the health care system is unfair.

Problems with U.S. health care, in fact, are a particular focus of the blog. But rather than limit himself to listing the litany of injustices he sees on a daily basis, Dr. Happy prefers to talk about potential solutions.

“A big reason that I blog is that Medicare is going bankrupt,” he says. “I’m 35 years old, so figuring out a way to make the system last is imperative to me.”

When he started blogging, much of his focus was on the problems he witnessed at the hospital where he works. He didn’t hesitate to name names, whether it was a subspecialist or a hospital administrator.

When his hospital hired nurse specialists to comb through patient charts and leave suggestions on how to do a better job coding, for example, he barely disguised his disdain for the new process “even though, he says, he understands that “it’s necessary to play the Medicare money game.” One of the nurses found the post, and there were some hurt feelings.

These days, his entries are more likely to take on broader targets like Medicare. That means for the foreseeable future, at least, he’ll have no scarcity of material.

“I hate the politics of medical care, but eventually something will crack,” he says. “I’ll be there to write about it when it does.”

Find the Happy Hospitalist online at http://thehappyhospitalist.blogspot.com.