“In our survey, 41 percent of respondents reported that they had not asked questions or told their doctor about medical problems, because the doctor seemed rushed or they were unsure about how to talk to him or her.”
From the Health Affairs study referenced on June 07, below.
It’s a challenge to get good results from health care without telling the doctor what your problems are, and without asking questions. Imagine trying to buy a house without telling the real estate agent what you need and without asking any questions about the houses she suggests. It’s a similar issue in health care. Unlike Santa Claus, who may be expected to mysteriously divine what a child’s wants and needs are, doctors depend on you to tell them what your biggest problems are and to work with them to address your needs.
“Variation — in quality among health care providers, the evidence base regarding therapies, and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treatment options — is a well-established fact of the health care delivery system, documented extensively.”
From the Health Affairs article cited on June 07, below.
Translated into simpler language, the authors are saying that some doctors get better results than others; some treatments have a lot of evidence about how well they work and some don’t have much at all; some treatments work better than others; and some deliver a lot of benefit for the money they cost, and some don’t. While children expect perfection from Santa Claus, people will be disappointed if they assume the same of health care.
Myth or fact? “More is better.” Any seven-year-old who observes Christmas will tell you that getting more from Santa Claus is better than getting less. Is the same true of health care?
Fact: With health care, it turns out, “more” is often “more likely to kill you.” See, for example “Supply-Sensitive Care,” The Dartmouth Atlas Project Topic Brief, downloaded 20 June 2007, http://www.dartmouthatlas.org/topics/supply_sensitive.pdf. “Patients . . . in high-spending areas had 82 percent more physician visits, 26 percent more imaging exams, 90 percent more diagnostic tests and 46 percent more minor surgery. Compared to low-intensity regions, patients with hip fractures, colon cancer and heart attacks . . . in high-intensity regions had higher mortality rates and worse ‘scorecards’ on measures of quality.”
After reading new research about the beliefs people have about health care, I’ve concluded that there are a lot of similarities between those beliefs and beliefs in Santa Claus. This week’s blog will highlight some of these.
The research in question is reported in Health Affairs, posted online 03 June 2010, titled “Evidence That Consumers Are Skeptical About Evidence-Based Health Care,” by Kristin L. Carman, Maureen Maurer, Jill Mathews Yegian, Pamela Dardess, Jeanne McGee, Mark Evers and Karen O. Marlo.