April 26, 2016
10 Reasons Why Healthcare Varies
by Craig Lack
What if healthcare came with a warning label? "Results vary. They can include hospital-acquired infections and premature death."
Imagine your recommended medical treatment came with this warning label: “Your results may vary. Your results are not guaranteed. Outcomes can include preventable complications, up to (and including) hospital-acquired infections, hospital readmission and premature death.”
Caveat emptor or, “buyer beware,” has never been truer than in today’s healthcare system.
The use of evidence-based medicine) protocols delivers higher quality, lower prices and improved outcomes throughout the country for many different treatments. Scientific studies have proven the efficacy of following best-practice guidelines. Achievable results include reduced premature mortality, improved quality of life and better clinical outcomes, which means faster recovery.
By no means is this a blanket assertion that the practice of all medicine can be reduced to a checklist, a differential diagnosis and a universal treatment regimen. The seven billion human beings on this planet each have trillions of cells and billions of possible variations. In addition, there are many social determinants of health, including social, economic and physical environmental factors.
The fact is, no treatment regimen works 100% of the time on 100% of the people.
However, there are proven, evidence-based strategies that effectively deliver higher quality and better outcomes with scale (which means lower costs). Therefore, it is incumbent upon healthcare providers and purchasers to live up to their fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the consumer and the insured employee.
So, what happens in the practice of medicine that results in so much variability in treatment?
Today’s medicine is part science and part art. Unfortunately, for too many years, perverse reimbursement incentives have clouded and conflicted an industry that requires incredibly nuanced judgment on conditions with many variables and possible outcomes.
Outcomes are largely determined by the skill and experience of a physician or team of physicians. Parity may exist in professional sports, but that is not the case in the practice of medicine.
As a result, the practice of medicine is significantly influenced by individual providers and their practice patterns, beliefs, biases, needs and preferences, what we call “10 Reasons Why Medical Quality, Price and Outcomes May Vary.”
See Also: Healthcare Costs: We’ve Had Enough!
Depending on your location, your level of engagement and your particular treatment, the quality, price and outcome are likely to be affected by the actual provider of services. The following list includes 10 reasons why the practice of medicine is driven by the attitude, behavior and skill of the provider:
The typical American healthcare consumer still believes he is a patient and acts accordingly to eliminate the illness, not always recognizing the role he plays in his outcomes. The irreversible change taking place is that individuals have to learn to become consumers of healthcare by becoming engaged and taking responsibility for both their life outside the medical system and the choices they make when accessing medical care. The risks are real.
Understanding the risk can empower recognition and awareness that acting like a consumer is in your best interest, and that might just save your life. For additional free assistance on avoiding wasteful, unnecessary or poor quality medical tests, treatments or procedures go to www.choosingwisely.org.