The following are four suggestions to address some of the obstacles in the medical field for both physicians and patients.
- Invest in public health: Personal health typically reflects a person’s lifestyle and socioeconomic status. Investments in public health by communities, schools and the government could lower future healthcare costs. Physicians are frustrated by their inability to affect social factors that cause stress and poor lifestyles.
- Shift from fee-for-service to value based care: It is a lot cheaper to make lifestyle changes and avoid an episode, rather than be treated for one after the fact. Nonetheless, physicians would prefer to accept the large sum of money that they would receive for performing a procedure, rather the lesser amount that they would receive for counseling on preventive care. Private payers would prefer to invest in preventive care, but these investments could take five to ten years to have an impact on an individual, resulting in a negative return on investment. The creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and integrated systems are examples of models that will pave the way to value based care as they share risk and work together effectively. ACOs are rewarded for physicians preventing serious illness and coordinating care for patients with chronic illnesses.
- Reform our medical malpractice system: The current medical malpractice system benefits lawyers rather than patients, and causes doctors to practice defensive medicine, which results in doctors ordering excessive testing. Today’s system gives the lawyers as much as 40% of dollars won by the patient to the attorney.
- Unlock access to patient information: Electronic health records (EHRs) have been essential to the improvement of medical treatment. For example, in integrated systems, EHRs allow all physicians to see the treatment plans for a patient. However, the EHR systems are limited by their difficulty to use and lack of interoperability. The EHR systems slow down physicians’ workflows because it requires more time to enter the data and can be inefficient. Meanwhile, the absence of interoperability can be attributed to EHR manufacturers refusing to allow third party developers access their programs, so one interface is not being developed.
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