Thursday, December 10, 2015

Health Care “Value” from the Consumer’s Point of View

One of my favorite websites is The website features health care experts trying in vain to cut through the health reform clutter among the health p0licy chattering class.

The experts asks questions like:

Is HIT (Health Information Technology) “humanistic” or merely technological documentation geeks gone amuck?

Are EHRs (Electronic Health Records) worth the $32 billion the Obama administration has devoted to them, or simply a waste, distraction, and busywork for clinicians and consumers?

As the late Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969) said, “ A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” With our national debt of $18.5 trillion, it would be a trillion dollars here and a trillion dollars there.

Bit I digress. Speaking of consumers, Paul Keckley, Managing Director of Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, in a recent healthcareblog “ The Meaning of ‘Value’ in Health Care,” poses this question.

Why not toss aside ill-defined and nebulous terms expended in the name of the “volume” to “value” movement, such “quality,” “outcomes,” “cost,” “population health management,” “disruptive innovation,” “meaningful use,” and, of course, the granddaddy of them all, “Value,” with a capital “V” and replace them with answers to the following questions of what consumers consider to be “value” when they go to see the doctor?

These questions revolve around 4 issues.

Accessibility: “Can I get what I need and want from you?”

Service: “Is dealing with you a pleasant experience?”

Effectiveness: Is what you’re providing going to satisfy my needs and wants?”

Costs: “What’s the cost to me and my family and is it worth it?”

Maybe we ought to find the right answers by asking the right questions from consumers rather than finding the wrong answers from experts who are asking the wrong questions.

And maybe, just maybe, we ought to ask the doctors and them part of the health reform conversation.

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