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Physicians Feel Reform's Tight Scrutiny

   June 19, 2014

Thanks to healthcare reform, there are now more eyes on how doctors treat their patients and more opinions on how they should be treating them. But one physician leader says the pressure doesn't necessarily mean that doctors have to be on the defensive.

All working professionals, from writers to physicians, have a preference for the way their work gets done, but a doctor's penchant for how he or she cares for a patient is increasingly coming under scrutiny.

First, there are cost and quality pressures from hospitals, health systems, and payers as a result of the value-based healthcare transition that affects how physicians practice, not to mention public pressure on how much physicians get paid with the recent release of Medicare payment data.

Then there are the efforts to standardize patient care among providers in hospitals, group practices, and health systems in an effort to improve quality.

All of it leads to more eyes (and opinions) on how doctors care for patients, which can be uncomfortable.

Kevin Wheelan, MD, chief of staff and co-medical director of cardiology for Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, a joint venture hospital within Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health, says the pressure doesn't necessarily mean that doctors have to be on the defensive, or have an adversarial relationship with leaders.

Rather, Wheelan looks at the issue through a different lens. Without uniformity of care, quality can suffer, and patients leave confused. "Ten different sets of discharge instructions sets up [the hospital] for inconsistency," he says. "If the patient doesn't leave the hospital with a well-articulated game plan, that could lead to an unscheduled visit to the ER."


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Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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