Thursday, February 26, 2015

Patient Centered Doesn't Mean Patient Directed

One thing I find annoying is when people talk about patient "choice" as if that is the fundamental principle in health care. We often try to simplify things so much that they are untrue. Health care is complex and trying to point to pithy sayings does more harm than good I think.

Patient focus matters but there are conflicts between what is the best care and what patients want. And there are conflicts between what those paying for care want and drug companies want and hospitals want and doctors want. These require difficult choices and in order to optimize results we need very well designed systems that take these issues into account.

Sadly I think the USA generally has very bad systems in place. The rest of the world isn't that great either, but by and large is better than the USA and much cheaper. Most health care providers care about patient care and often make heroic efforts to provide it. But the systems are just lousy.

Those systems that seem the most lousy to me around extracting cash from payers - it is absolutely horrible in so many ways in the USA. Sadly this creates hugh waste in the USA that is ripe for improvement (and has been for at least 30 years). Patient care also has plenty of room for improvement, but thankfully it isn't as messed up as the whole payment system is.

One of the things people ignore is that we are not talking about GM in the 1980s being pitiful compared to Toyota. When we look at how poorly the USA health care system does it is in comparison to other rich countries it isn't a comparison to "Toyota." It is more like being pitiful compared to 1980s Fiat or something. When you are twice as expensive with no better results than Toyota that is somewhat lame. When you twice as expensive as not very well run systems with no better results that is super lame. And then add on the top of it that you bankrupt hundreds of thousands of people a year, force people to avoid health care so they don't go bankrupt...

We need to have systems that are patient focused but that doesn’t mean patients dictate treatment. And we need to see a much wider system than we normally do. We need to be focused on healthy living not just disease treatment. And given the mess that is the USA health care system we need to focus on reducing the burden of coping with the horrible USA health system bureaucracy - that system does great damage to those having to deal with it (and it is nearly all waste that shouldn't be creating such hardship).

Response to: A Story About a Hospital Putting Safety First Over Patient Satisfaction

Related: USA Health Expenditures Reached $2.8 trillion in 2012: $8,915 per person and 17.2% of GDP - Our Failed Health-care System - Overview of 5 Nations Health Care Systems

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