Tech­nol­ogy will help re­turn power to the pa­tient

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

The Oct. 12 ed­i­to­rial “Keep the Cadil­lac tax” (p. 26) in­cludes this state­ment: “The ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity for keep­ing health­care costs in check rests with providers, not pa­tients and con­sumers.” Why? Who as­signs any­one the re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­trol prices in the U.S. econ­omy?

And then there’s this ar­gu­ment: “When peo­ple get sick, they usu­ally don’t have the time to go shop­ping for care. When stuck in high-de­ductible plans, they are just as likely to elim­i­nate nec­es­sary care as un­nec­es­sary care.”

My guess is that peo­ple usu­ally do have the time. Most ill­ness is chronic, not emer­gent, and given a di­ag­no­sis we have time to se­lect ther­a­pies and in­ter­ven­tions, as well as time to take cost (usu­ally the de­ductible and co­pay­ment) into con­sid­er­a­tion. That con­sumers don’t have the time or don’t take the time is an as­sump­tion of­ten heard in health­care chat­ter. I have never seen any statis­tics sup­port­ing it and it runs counter to my ex­pe­ri­ence.

Tech­nol­ogy is en­abling em­pow­ered con­sumers. Read the works of Dr. Eric Topol. This ed­i­to­rial raises all of the is­sues of power and com­mand, and even­tu­ally tech­nol­ogy will put that com­mand into the hands of pa­tients, where the power be­longs. Best take gov­ern­ment and providers out of it as much as pos­si­ble, be­cause they’ll lose fo­cus on their own mis­sions and fo­cus on what they do least well: de­cide what’s good for some­one else.

Bill Baar Camp­ton Hills, Ill.

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