If you haven’t read Joseph Kvedar’s blog posts before, you’re missing out. I’m always intrigued by his insights into what’s happening with healthcare. His latest post, “The Tower of Babel and Consumer Confusion,” is no exception. Here’s an excerpt from the article I really enjoyed:
This reminds me of a time, about 25 years ago, when this new thing called disease management sprung up. Payers were frustrated by the cost of managing patients (members) with chronic illness. They got no help from providers, so they took matters into their own hands, hiring call centers staffed with nurses to contact patients/members with tips on how to manage their illness, and often sent generic brochures about high blood pressure and other conditions. Payers may have influenced the care of some patients/members, but no one was ever able to prove that this was an effective strategy.
There were numerous stories about patients receiving conflicting advice from these ‘disease managers’ compared to their own doctor’s advice, leaving patients confused. Doctors would get faxes from these same disease management companies and (perhaps arrogantly) throw them in the waste basket without reading them. As a result, the disease management industry collapsed in the middle to latter half of the last decade.
In the meantime, we now have workplace wellness programs, virtual visits offered by your health plan, retail clinics, virtual visits offered by pharmacies and — dare we forget — advice your doctor gives you, which should be more in tune with prevention now that providers are taking on risk.
He is totally right that the consumer is starting to get confused. It’s a messy world. Whenever my kids have some issue I literally have to sit down and take a few minutes to sort through all of the available options. I’m on a high deductible plan and so I want to be selective about when, where and how I and my family get healthcare. Making the wrong choice can be an extremely expensive option. As healthcare gets more proactively involved in keeping me healthy this could definitely get worse.
I think Joseph’s comparison to the Tower of Babel is a good one. The solution to all these new healthcare modalities is to make sure that everyone is speaking the same language. It doesn’t solve all of the problems, but it does help everyone get on the same page. I just hope that the business interests of many involved in healthcare don’t get in the way of this goal.