Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

More information does not equal better care

 Chalmette, LA, December 16, 2005 – A patient describes his symptoms with a nurse at the Primary Care Clinic in St. Bernard Parish. The facility located in a triple-wide office trailer offers free medical care to area residents, staffed by personnel from the U.S. Public Health Agency and FEMA Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). Robert Kaufmann/FEMA

A wise, sobering post on the limits of medical/health related information.

Technology is increasingly used to collect and store personal health and medical data. While the amount of personal stored data is rising, this does not necessarily translate into better care. For example, the information stored in electronic medical records is only as good as the data entered.  Medical devices (as imaging and gene testing instruments) generate data that may or may not be useful depending on why they were ordered and how they results are interpreted.

The use of the data is also troublesome. As this post states, medical test results are often misused by the diagnostics industry in over testing.  This leads to unneeded treatments which divert money and resources.  Health care providers, especially those in primary care have less time to listen to and counsel patients.

The money spent on unnecessary treatments is a burden not only on individuals, but also health care facilities and government agencies. Health care facilities become caught in a spiral of justifying diagnostic equipment through marketing and at some point they will find it nearly impossible to recoup their investments. Medicare and Medicaid funds are not used wisely to diagnose and treat, resulting in ever more increased costs to the system.

As this post points out, health care providers would be wise to take a deep look at their role and be realistic about their expectations.
The same can be said about those who consult with health care providers.

From the 1 November 2012 article at KevinMD.com

I have found that this concept is hard for non-healthcare people to really grasp – that a less aggressive testing approach knowingly misses disease, but makes no difference in the overall prospects of the patient. It is crucial that the U.S. culture fights the prevailing scare tactics of the diagnostics industry, or we’ll never lower the rate of over testing. Any administrative tricks to lower testing rates will be subverted by both physicians and patients who assume more tests equal better care unless the underlying culture and conventional beliefs are changed.

The change required is deeper than administrative rules. It has to come from a more humble attitude on the part of doctors, patients, employers, and insurers that just because a patient could be labeled as having a disease, there is nothing to be gained by doing anything about it. More information does not equal better care.

Our American culture proclaims, “Just Do It.” To reclaim resources from the healthcare industry and return them to the general economy, we must proclaim, “Don’t just do something for the sake of doing something, stand there.”

 

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November 7, 2012 - Posted by | health care | , , , , , ,

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