Six Simple Reasons Why I Feel Healthcare is Getting Better
Whether or not new technology has revolutionized the distribution of healthcare is a subject of much debate. While the process will take much longer to resolve, one thing is for sure; patients are taking more control of their healthcare decision and in choosing doctors. This is what I am experiencing in the greater Houston community, where I have been practicing over 17 years.
- Vanishing Gatekeepers: In the past the primary care providers were “Gatekeepers” especially in the HMO model of healthcare delivery. Now faced with more patient awareness and marketplace demand, as a patient one could see a specialist directly without a “Gatekeeper” referral.
- Preventive care : The biggest change in the healthcare arena has been the emphasis on preventive care. Preventive care, like Screening for Colon Cancer, has been made more universally available and some insurance providers have boosted the coverage up to 100% to encourage compliance. Prevention is always better.
- The more information, the better: Tools like the internet and web have made information widely available for anyone. While there are downsides to unedited and unrestricted information, especially on healthcare, it is largely more positive than negative, in my opinion. Although there are reports of less than happy or intimidated physicians, I find that a tech savvy and well researched patient is a big plus for me because I can get across the complex idea of treatment and medical care to them easier, as opposed to others who are disinterested in such endeavors.
- Autonomy and efficiency: Using services like Zocdoc, websites, and emails, patients can now make their own appointments without spending time in prolonged phone conversations. This has made it much easier for patients to reach and communicate with their physicians and in scheduling appointments.
- Health tracking devices and better patient records: Small health tracking gadgets that one can buy are replacing the old style “Written Patient Journals” that was very difficult and cumbersome for the patients to comply
with. These electronic devices are making the data, and quality of information, much more reliable compared to the past.
- Know thy physician: I always believed that a good and caring physician should be open and transparent to his patients. Healing is also connecting with your doctor, emotionally and at the level of basic humanity. Today’s websites, blog posts, and Facebook accounts, are just a few tools to achieve this. On our blog sites (www.yourgicenter.com/blog) and Facebook accounts (www.facebook.com/yourgicenter) I not only post updates on medicine, but also post my personal stories to share with my patients. Many of my patients have come to me already feeling connected as a result. Today, social media provides a greater opportunity to get to know and connect with your doctor.
In summary, in my own Gastrointestinal practice, I am totally convinced that the technology explosion leading to changes in healthcare are all positive. I view the changes in patient attitude and empowerment also as a positive change. In the days of reduced reimbursement and increasing scrutiny by the regulatory agencies, this is welcome good news. I love to see my patient’s tech savvy and taking control of their own healthcare needs and be an active decision maker to choose their own specialist.