Monday, December 07, 2009

Empowering Patients

I always get sticker shock when I see an EOB (explanation of benefits) from my medical insurance provider and can't help thinking about those who have no insurance. The numbers are bizarre to say the least - seven minutes of a doctor's time and some a routine blood test was billed at over five hundred dollars by the doctor's office the last time I saw one of these. To call this a rip-off seems like an understatement. Whatever the underlying reasons for these numbers to be as ridiculously high as they are, there has to be a better, smarter way to get the job done at a cost that is reasonable.

Reading this
NYT article on how one engineer repurposed a cell-phone to work as a microscope gives me hope. It should not be in the too distant future that people can run basic tests from home using low-cost kits that can be hooked up to a cellphone. Potentially, they can patten match their readings against the public domain databases and understand their condition.

Thanks for the abundance of medical information online, people are already much better educated and informed about their condition than they had the ability to be in the pre-internet days. Having the tools for running diagnostic tests at home will only make this better. A patient can in the future consult with a doctor, fully armed with the data points needed to make a prognosis. What currently takes several visits and tests can happen over a single consultation. Besides the cost and time savings, the empowerment of the patient this would provide is of considerable value.

2 comments:

LIFE_REFACTORED said...

I hope you know that hospitals use different tariff cards for patients with Insurance and the ones without Insurance.
To state the obvious, the ones with Insurance get bloated charges. Its a nexus where the patients lose anyway. Higher charges from hospital mean higher premiums and more revenue for both the hospital and the insurance company depending whoever is luckier.
Guess who loses.. (hint: this is a trick question)

Heartcrossings said...

Life Refactored - You are absolutely right about the patients always losing out whether or not they have insurance. There is no scam quite like the health care system. But on the positive side, it probably gives us all a very strong incentive to stay healthy and fit as long as possible.