Take 'Healthcare 101' and See the Doctor
The accredited patient
I ran the concept by John Santa, MD, MPH, director of Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, publisher of hospital ratings. "It’s an interesting idea," he says. "It sounds like you think folks should have to get a healthcare license to get healthcare."
Yes, in a hypothetical, modest proposal sort of way, that's where I'm heading. An accreditation process for the patient.
Santa then started to play off the idea. "Imagine if a health system or a government organization asked you: In return for a better benefit, we want you to understand how the system works. Look at this booklet. Take a drive through your healthcare system to make sure you understand what to do in an emergency. How do you prevent disease."
Some of this activity might happen through the soon-to-be-launched healthcare insurance exchanges. "Do you want to drive on the health exchange highway? Well, you need a license," Santa jokes.
The difficulty, he says, is that when he was in medical practice in Oregon, he realized many of his patients "are more comfortable placing their total faith in their doctor...They say 'I don't want to think about anything but that I have the best doctor and he or she is doing the best thing, and this will all turn out well.'"
The truth is, I think, that patients don't feel competent to learn what they should, or they just don't feel up to it.
The other concern, of course, is that many doctors paternalistically think many of their patients can't absorb this information, and they don't have time to explain it anyway. Maybe it’s a version of the phrase spoken by Col. Nathan R. Jessep in A Few Good Men: "You can't handle the truth."
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