Patients Make the Best Decisions
I have written before about how our healthcare system tends to reward bad choices: too much medicine, too many procedures, not enough benefit. Now there is some indication that a simple solution might help solve this problem: giving patients better information to let them decide themselves.
An Atlantic article recently covered the hot topic of so-called “patient decision aids”—clear pamphlets or videos that give patients an informed summary of the various risks and benefits associated with their choices. This may sound like a simple idea, but in practice it is exceedingly rare: the vast majority of patients never get to see anything like this. Instead the standard process is that a doctor makes recommendation, a brief and awkward conversation ensues, and the decision gets made.
It turns out that patients who are trusted to understand their own medical issues tend to spend less money and achieve better outcomes:
As part of that study, Group Health Cooperative (an integrated insurer and hospital system) gave all 660,000 of their patients access to decision aids when they were considering any of a dozen preference-sensitive treatments. They also made all of the doctors and staff watch the decision aids, and kept physicians informed of how many of their patients were choosing surgery.
What happened? Patients saved over a thousand dollars each, with no adverse effects or diminished health. Amortized over the U.S. population, simple ideas like these could save billions on healthcare.
My LA sinus surgery offices take great pride in a principled approach to communication: we explain, listen, and collaborate with every patient on the best decision possible. To set up an appointment for balloon sinuplasty, septoplasty, turbinate reduction surgery or endoscopic sinus surgery today, please contact us here.