Posts Tagged - ‘physicians’

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Is Ego Responsible For U.S. Healthcare Woes?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Image: Chris Schroeder under CC 3.0

In the Boston Globe, an opinion editorial by Douglas S. Brown has an interesting viewpoint regarding the problems that have faced the American health insurance system for decades. His view is that ego and hubris from all sources (hospitals, doctors, insurers, medical school professors, and even patients) has stood in the way of improvements.

He acknowledges that our nation is deservedly proud of technological innovations that increase the length and quality of life. However, we are behind several other developed nations in efficiency, quality, and access–although many refuse to acknowledge it. For example, there are too many preventable medical errors each year. Many hospital boards, meanwhile, are more concerned about flashy cosmetic improvements and additional facilities.

Physicians are trained as independent craftspersons, and have historically had little interest in teamwork. However, current compensation from health insurance plans–as well as the best outcomes–depend on cooperation. Brown feels that we can learn from our errors in order to truly become the best health care system in the world.

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Do You Trust Sitting Doctors More Than Standing Ones?

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Image: clevercupcakes under CC 3.0

Strange but true: many people do. A recent study from the University of Kansas found that patients are significantly more satisfied with the quantity and quality of health care they receive when their doctor sits by their bedside, as opposed to standing.

Cost and timing pressures–due to health insurance and other issues that encourage quicker turnaround times–have unfortunately resulted in shorter doctor’s appointments. The act of sitting doesn’t cost any more money or take any more time, but makes patients feel that physicians are paying attention to them more. Maybe that’s actually true.

When patients feel more comfortable and less rushed with their doctors, they’re more likely to speak freely about their symptoms and compliance. This will allow doctors to better diagnose and treat them, while requiring fewer expensive tests. The result: cheaper health insurance plans!

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How Would Doctors Lower Health Insurance Costs?

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

(Image: Seattle Municipal Archives under CC 3.0)

Whether or not healthcare reform ends up reducing health insurance costs, it is clear that it will not do so alone. Medical expenses make up one-sixth of the U.S. GDP. Doctors are on the front lines of this predicament; so what are their suggestions?

  • Some believe that health savings accounts (HSA plans) should be more prevalent; similar to auto insurance, they mainly insure catastrophes instead of routine care. However, the bill goes further in the other direction.
  • The specter of medical malpractice lawsuits hangs over many doctors, causing them to order unnecessary tests. Despite receiving little notice, there is a provision in the health insurance reform bill that encourages states to develop alternatives. It’s not the tort reform some have called for, but it’s a start.
  • Paying attention to the prevention of conditions before they get worse (and more expensive to treat): nipping childhood obesity in the bud before those children grow up to become obese adults with health problems, and counseling on nutrition.
  • Educating patients on the downsides of overtreatment, whether they are healthy or near the end of their life
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