AMA News recently reported that patient visits to their physician have declined 4% since 2009 according to the Institute of Health Care Informatics. Some believe this trend will continue even with health reform. The decline is partially contributed to a down economy and increased insurance deductibles. This significantly impacts the bottom line for physician practices and various forms of businesses that support the health care sector. Will this trend continue?
I think the answer to this question depends on the future of our health care system and how it supports the patient or how well the patient thinks it supports them. Patients are cutting health care cost by planning less visits to their physician. On the contrary, the current health initiatives are depending on more patient compliance that results in prevention and early diagnosis of chronic conditions .The current trend of decreasing visits is not supportive of the preventative health model but it tells us one thing. Patients are in control of their care and often do not behave as they should. Or should I say behave as we believe they should.
The Health initiatives across this country are helping to update the technology and business operations of the Health Care Industry with an intent to have a patient centered system. However, the patient is a customer and the customer behavior is a key factor that sways and shifts depending on influences which occur outside the Health Care World. The impact of factors such as the economy can lead to patient decisions that can not be directed by even the best technology. These decisions may not be in the best interest of the patient’s health but it is their choice.
The behavior of human beings is unpredictable. Man has employed psychology, sociology, physiology, and ecology to understand his or her behavior but no one has been able to accurately predict. Fortune Tellers sometime get it right but what are the percentages on that? You be the judge but I think we have a long way to go before we can get these humans to behave.