Health Care Trends With a Social Media Twist
The Los Angeles Times’ For the Booster Shots Blog reported yesterday on a new study published "online first" on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine by four family medicine doctors at UC Davis who found increased patient satisfaction does not necessarily lead to longer life; quite the opposite in fact.
In today’s healthcare marketplace, some physicians treat their patients like “customers,” buying into all the health care rating sites and services out there – from CareChex to HealthGrades – that provide rankings of care and patient satisfaction. Patients may think it’s a good thing to have as much information at their disposal as possible in order to choose the best doctor but be careful about the numbers. They could just mean that a high score represents a physician is willing to do whatever the patient requests – from treatments and tests to the latest medications advertised during the nightly news or in the latest issue of a woman’s magazine.
Reporter Melissa Healy points out that in an invited commentary posted on Tuesday, Veterans Affairs physician Brenda Sirovich wrote that doctors have learned that they "will be rewarded for excess [treatment] and penalized if they risk not doing enough."
The study found that overall, the most satisfied patients incurred 8.8% more healthcare expenditures than did the least satisfied and spent some 9.1% more on prescription drugs than did the least satisfied, according to the blog. By contrast, though, the most satisfied patients were 26% more likely to have died than the least satisfied.
As patients, we are lucky to live in a world today where we have options but sometimes more isn’t better. Research is key but so is listening to one’s gut and performing reference checks. You wouldn’t leave your children with just anyone, just because they had a high ranking on Sittercity.com or Care.com so why would you choose your doctor on numbers that may not tell the whole story? I tend to ask my friends, colleagues or even other doctors for recommendations and then apply my own filter. How do you choose who will provide your care?