Treating Patient as Partner
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In our annual Industry Survey, leaders cite patient noncompliance and lack of responsibility as the fifth-greatest driver of healthcare costs at their organizations. Naturally, labor costs, government mandates, and clinical technology top the list, but a quarter of respondents pointed to patients as among the top three cost drivers, ahead of health plan overhead, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and malpractice litigation. What do healthcare leaders need to do to effectively engage patients and get them to become responsible healthcare partners?
From an administrator’s perspective, to a great degree we don’t control what we are being made responsible for.
Whatever reimbursement methodology surfaces next, we are going to be responsible for providing a system of care for a given group of patients. Yet at the same time we don’t necessarily have the authority to say to them, “Never mind, you are not doing what you need to be doing so we are not going to provide you with care.” If we take that tack, our patient satisfaction scores start dropping and we’ll see less money. It is a vicious cycle.
It is going to require a couple of things at the government level. There is going to have to be some thought process developed by the government that says the beneficiaries need to understand their duties and responsibilities to be in this program. On the provider side, it is going to have to be all about education. We are going to have to work harder at it. We might end up creating more levels of clinical bureaucracy, more outreach coordinators, more community health workers. We are going to have to put more feet on the ground following up on noncompliant patients and finding diplomatic ways to get them to become compliant. This probably, hopefully, should result in us lowering healthcare costs across the board.
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