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Posts Tagged ‘health care’

What’s right and what’s wrong with the U.S. health care system? Does it need a major overhaul or a few tweaks?

In a two part episode, I discuss the cost of the U.S. health care system with Dr. Robert Berenson, a health care policy expert who has served as a practicing physician, the manager of a large health plan and in senior government positions, including being in charge of Medicare payment policy and private health plan contracting in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Dr. Berenson describes how incentives need to change to get control of our medical costs.  You can hear both of these episodes and others on my online podcast radio program, Getting Better Health Care.

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I recently returned from a trip to a national medical meeting at which I was invited to speak in a session titled, “Managing Your Online Reputation.”  The first guest speaker talked about personal experiences of being skewered online, and the second speaker talked about doctor rating sites in general and how those sites are a jungle of mean-spirited, libelous trashing of physicians.  Worse yet, the audience had come expecting that kind of discussion about online sites and desperately wanted to know what could be done to put an end to online doctor rating.

Now that’s my kind of audience!  I’m not someone who wants to preach to the choir.

My presentation went very well.  I started by explaining why I, a doctor, would start an online doctor rating site. I explained  the value of getting feedback from patients and described how that feedback has made me a better doctor. I also demonstrated how transparency actually helps improve doctors’ reputations in the community.

I think I won over most — if not all the doctors — to the idea that DrScore does online rating the right way and is a positive development for both patients and their doctors.  (At least I know I convinced those doctors who came up afterward to tell me what they thought of the talk.)  Some of the doctors who attended the session decided to sign up to use the DrScore.com patient satisfaction reporting service as a way to get feedback from their patients.

It is heartening to know that doctors can see the value in getting patient feedback and that at DrScore we’ve created an easyk inexpensive way for doctors to get that feedback as a tool to assist them in improving patient satisfaction.

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One of the big efforts to improve the quality of medical care in the United States is the implementation of electronic health records. By putting our medical charts into electronic media, doctors will have more uniform access to our health histories, can be given ticklers for important screening tests, and can be told of potential drug interactions with medicines that were prescribed by other doctors, along with many other potential benefits. You can learn more about the advantages [and disadvantages] of electronic health records on my Getting Better Health Care radio program: “Will the electronic medical record revolutionize health care?.

These benefits may help improve patient satisfaction, too.

However, electronic health records have the potential to negatively impact patients’ medical experiences.  DrScore.com research has shown that the No. 1 factor that drives patients’ satisfaction with their doctors is the patient knowing he or she is seeing a friendly, caring doctor.  If patients find their doctors buried in a computer screen, punching buttons and typing, it could take away from the sense that the doctor is providing the patient personal attention.

There are some things doctors can do to manage the situation.

  • First, don’t put the computer on one side of the doctor’s chair and the patient on the other.  If you do place things that way, the doctor has to  turn their back to the patient to see the chart, and that is simply not good for patients’ impressions of their doctor.  I know, because that’s how things are arranged in my new office!
  • The other thing that doctors can do, especially if their office is like mine, is to acknowledge the problem to the patient. Tell the patient, “These new electronic health records are helpful in so many ways, but one thing I don’t like about them is that I have to turn my back to you to look at your chart.  I hope you will understand and don’t mind.”  Comments like these let patients clearly know that they are being seen by a physician that cares about them and about their feelings.  Letting patients in on one of these little secrets about medical office functioning also lets them feel like they are a part of the process. And they are part of the process — they are the very center of it.

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Two judges have ruled the massive new health care law unconstitutional.  Two other judges have ruled that the law is constitutional.  What does this mean?

Dr. Mark Hall, Professor of both Law and Social Sciences & Health Policy at Wake Forest University explains the implications of these rulings, their underlying basis in constitutional law and what happens next in a wonderful article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Don’t wait around for a better health care system.  You can facilitate better medical care yourself just by following some  advice from Dr. Alan Ettinger, author of The Essential Patient Handbook.  You can hear Dr. Ettinger talk about some of the highlights on Getting Better Health Care.

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Here is the latest press release from DrScore.com …

DrScore.com’s Four Friendly New Year’s Resolutions to Improve
Your Health and Patient Satisfaction

These resolutions for doctor visits are easy to keep!

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (December 28, 2010 ) — Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, exercise longer, lose weight … it’s time to make those annual New Year’s Resolutions. This year, the patient satisfaction and online doctor rating website DrScore.com suggests a few resolutions to improve your health and patient satisfaction — and these resolutions are easy to keep!

 

“One way to improve your health is to have a better relationship with your physician or health care provider,” said patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D., founder of DrScore. “We want patients to make resolutions to empower them so they can be better advocates for their own health and well-being.”

 

Resolution No. 1: Bring a list to doctors’ appointments. Having a written list of all your medications, your past illnesses, your current problems and your questions with you every appointment provides vital information the doctor needs and helps you remember the questions you need answered. “By listing your problems, concerns and questions, you will be better prepared for your visit with the doctor, and the visit will go much more smoothly,” said Dr. Feldman. “Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. Doctors appreciate patients who have organized their information and have done their research.”

 

Resolution No. 2: Speak up. If you are unsure about a situation, speak up and ask about it. “Doctors and medical office staff should be keeping you informed about what is going to happen during the office visit, what tests are being run, etc.,” Dr. Feldman said. “If you feel like you don’t understand something, are unsure about what is happening or are upset about how you are being treated, speak up and try to address the situation in a positive, non-threatening way.”

 

Resolution No. 3: Get written instructions. At the end of the visit, make sure you have written instructions on medications and treatment plans, and find out how and when you will get results from any tests. “The end of the visit is a critical time where the doctor writes prescriptions, gives you the best advice on how to take care of yourself or treat your illness, and talks about test follow-up,” Dr. Feldman said. “The details of medical care are common knowledge for the doctor, but it may be new information for you. Ask for your treatment plan in writing so you don’t forget anything.  Missed test results can also cause problems, so make sure you are proactive in finding out how the office will get the results to you.”

 

Resolution No. 4: Give your doctor feedback. Take the time to let your doctor know how the visit went either by telling him or her, communicating to the office staff, writing a letter or participating in an anonymous patient satisfaction survey at DrScore.com. “Don’t ever be afraid to give your doctor advice on how to be a better doctor,” said Dr. Feldman. “When you give your doctor feedback — whether it is positive or negative — you are giving them a gift. And then your doctor will know what New Year’s resolutions he or she needs to make to be a better doctor!”

For more information on patient satisfaction and improving your visit to the doctor, check out “Great Medical Care: The Handbook for Making Your Visit to the Doctor Better,”, written by Dr. Feldman. Or, visit the DrScore Blog, Thoughts on Patient Satisfaction.

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Podcasting on the rise.

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