The phrase from the Roman poet Virgil, ‘Sic vos non vobis’, means ‘This you do, not for yourselves’. As patients we have an opportunity to create our own transformation resulting in improved healthcare and not just for ourselves, but also for all patients.
Essentially, we are all patients at some point in our lives and with that comes the ability to make a big impact to improve healthcare for all. Here are a few examples that represent where patients could have an impact: clinical, general technology, and healthcare fraud and abuse.
There are numerous clinical technologies used by providers that can reduce medical errors and allow information to be shared more easily. These tools have important capabilities that help physicians know more about you as a patient but can also reduce errors. As a patient, do you select healthcare providers that embrace technologies such as electronic medical records or electronic prescribing?
Also, how important is quality and cost to you as a patient? Before selecting a provider, do you review the information available about doctor quality ratings or ask how much the cost will be? A recent article in Health Populi, based on a survey by Altarum, discusses how patients are becoming proactive health care consumers, indicated by the growing use of technology for medical shopping and health engagement.
Beyond the clinical side, there are the other general inefficiencies that contribute to the rising cost of healthcare. Do you seek providers that allow you to schedule appointments online, or pay your bills online? Nearly 80% of US population uses the Internet, and rightly so based on convenience. Based on the fact that Facebook has 900 million active users indicates that we are technology to interact and connect with the world. How much would healthcare change if those same 900 million people insisted on their healthcare providers providing technology solutions?
The last area to consider is around Healthcare fraud and abuse, which is an over $100 billion, a year problem. Duplicate billing or excessive and inappropriate testing contributes to this problem and an area that patients can potentially help. While it is not practical that we all become experts in medical billing, we can easily ask your doctor if certain tests are necessary. Finally, reviewing the charges submitted to insurance to confirm they were services that we received is another direct way to contribute to the universal health care costs that affect us all.
These choices and decisions will not transform on their own but as we know from other industries, consumer voice does matter and as a patient we should challenge the status quo, not just for ourselves, but also for the benefit of all.