Friday, October 22, 2010

Does the new USA Health Plan mean Higher Confusion or New Patient Savvy?

The new health reform law in the USA may have hidden benefits--- for patient diagnosis. How? By placing more pressure upon physicians, to elaborate treatment options. This is the conclusion of a new study.

A survey (of more than 3,000 US patients age 40 and older) reveals that many of their physicians often omit certain information when offering treatment plans to patients. The patients in the study reported that they want to "hear far more from doctors about the pros than cons of medications, tests, and surgeries."

Physicians tend to offer opinions, not options, the study's researchers concluded. But isn't this what they are trained, over so many arduous years, to do?

The overwhelming tendency among many physicians, to act, is based upon a crucial need to satisfy the patient's concerns and fears. Inaction means loss of patients, loss of income, and perhaps loss of self-esteem. Not to mention loss of life.

However, doctors also know well that action without real success means that health costs rise, while health issues remain in jeopardy. The study was funded by an org called the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making.

So what does this have to do with the new USA health plan?

One program (called for under the new health reform law) would develop information for patients to evaluate. The program would test and distribute educational tools, to help patients and their families fully understand treatment options. Information is always good, right?

But the biggest elephant in the room seems to be this--- an option rarely mentioned to patients--- that they can decide not to do anything!


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