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The rise of mechanized medicine: Does it provide a higher quality of care or is it a hindrance?


The last few years since the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 have led to many changes in our personal lives and how society functions. Lockdowns and masks have forever altered it, and the chaos is reflected in the political climate nationwide and worldwide.


One thing that has taken on a life of its own is technology's increased role in all aspects of our daily lives. What started as COVID-19 safety measures appears to be essential to reduce call volume and no-shows and make it easier for patients to manage their care. Patient portals, for instance, provide a convenient and secure way for patients to access their health information, schedule appointments, and communicate with their healthcare providers, empowering them to take control of their health.


The shift to automated registration and appointment-making for individuals has been a confusing and often failing method. In this circumstance, patients often lose the ability to communicate with actual people and experience distress due to repetitive automated messaging. As a result, they get caught in the cycle of never-ending phone calls. I have experienced this firsthand here in my hometown, Somerset, Kentucky . In a span of over a week, I received a total of 13 separate automated calls trying to register me for a medical procedure that my primary care provider had ordered. The first time I followed the process, I appeared to be registered; however, the calls continued.


I contacted the doctor's office directly and spoke to the actual nurse. She checked and there was no record with their office and I was not scheduled. She scheduled me, which I am confident that she did. Well, the next morning, at 9 a.m. (which seems like a designated time), I get another call wanting to schedule me. I asked the person if they had any record of my test being scheduled before we went any further. She said no. I said okay, fine, I then advised her to cancel the test and that I would not be there.


I told her that I would contact my doctor's office and discuss this issue further. I contacted my doctor's office, explaining what had happened. When I meet with Dr. for my follow-up, I explain my situation. Apparently the powers that be that own the local hospital have been bought out and have gone to this contract provider. This has also prevented the actual doctor's office from being involved in the scheduling of procedures. The departure from traditional medical care, has led to this. In the past, the actual doctor's office staff actually scheduled such appointments and contacted the patient back and told them where to be and when. This is an abrupt failure of medical care.


So has the failure of this system prevent medical care from being obtained? Has this progress made it harder for the less technically inclined to obtain or sort the way through a quagmire of heath technological issues.


What is a patient portal?

To begin each patient will get information from their specific provider to access the portal. Like most internet sites, it requires a registration process with a user name and then a password.


Patient portals are personal health records that allow patients to access and share their health information, communicate with their healthcare providers, and manage their health. There is generally favorable evidence regarding health outcomes from patient portals, and they have the potential to enhance the doctor-patient relationship, improve health status awareness, and increase adherence to therapy.


In theory that may be fine, however in application it is a failure. There are several issues with implementing this. First someone, or several individuals need to be responsible for check patient messages each business day. As there as several disclaimer that direct the patentit to call 911 if it is a emergency or to go to the local emergency room. That is a good start. With a system in pace to check messages regularly that is a good beginning.


What can you do with in the portal? Here is an example, as functionally some items mave have to authorized by the part


***Example of a portal patient selection


Patient engagement can make or break a medical practice.


While one would think that this additional method of access would increase patient engagement? Here's how it can make or break a practice:


Make:


Improved Health Outcomes: Engaged patients are more likely to adhere to treatment plans, follow medical advice, and actively participate in their own healthcare. This leads to better health outcomes, reduced hospital readmissions, and overall improved patient satisfaction.


Enhanced Patient Loyalty: Practices that actively engage with their patients build trust and loyalty. Patients who feel valued and heard are more likely to return for future appointments and recommend the practice to others, leading to increased patient retention and a larger patient base.


Efficient Practice Operations: Engaged patients are often more proactive in managing their healthcare, which can lead to fewer administrative burdens on the practice. For example, patients who schedule appointments online or use electronic health record portals can streamline administrative processes, reducing wait times and improving overall practice efficiency.


Positive Reputation: Practices that prioritize patient engagement tend to have a positive reputation in the community. Word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied patients can attract new patients and contribute to the practice's success.

Decreased Patient Satisfaction: Lack of patient engagement can result in decreased patient satisfaction. Patients who feel ignored, rushed, or uninformed may become dissatisfied with their healthcare experience, leading them to seek care elsewhere and tarnishing the practice's reputation.


Poor Health Outcomes: Patients who are not engaged in their healthcare may be less likely to adhere to treatment plans, leading to poorer health outcomes, increased hospitalizations, and higher healthcare costs for both the patient and the practice.


Missed Revenue Opportunities: Patients who are not engaged may be less likely to follow up on recommended treatments or preventive care, resulting in missed revenue opportunities for the practice. Additionally, practices that do not actively engage with patients may struggle to attract new patients and retain existing ones, leading to financial losses.


Legal and Regulatory Risks: Inadequate patient engagement can result in legal and regulatory risks for the practice. For example, failure to properly communicate treatment options or obtain informed consent can lead to malpractice claims or regulatory penalties

Patient engagement is critical to the success of a medical practice, as it directly impacts patient satisfaction, health outcomes, practice efficiency, and financial performance. Practices that prioritize patient engagement are more likely to thrive in today's healthcare landscape.


Medical Concierge Services


There has been an attempt to establish a concierge medical service for our area that has not been successful.


What is Concierge medicine?


Concierge medicine is an umbrella term commonly used to describe a relationship between a patient and physician in which the patient pays a monthly or annual fixed fee. Patients pay fees for conveniences like same-day appointments and 24/7 physician availability.


What is the difference?


Unlike traditional primary doctors, concierge doctors accept payment through their patient's insurance in addition to a membership fee. With CM, patients gain access to their doctor's direct phone line. They can speak to their doctor at any time, either by phone or in person, through same-day appointments. They claim this builds a stronger doctor-patient relationship. This is in part because patients who are comfortable with their doctor open up more. Moreover, concierge primary care physicians get to know their patients and their medical histories. As a result, they are able to diagnose and treat conditions effectively and accurately. A groundbreaking Journal of Health Economics study of primary care concierge medicine from LDI Senior Fellows Molly Candon, Guy David, and Adam Leive at the Goldman School of Public Berkley at UC Berkley finds that the model draws healthier patients, increases health care costs, and does not impact mortality:


Conclusion:


Ultimately, the impact of mechanized medicine on the quality of care depends on how these technologies are implemented, regulated, and integrated with human healthcare professionals. A balanced approach that leverages the benefits of technology while maintaining a strong focus on personalized care, ethical considerations, and appropriate oversight is likely to yield the best outcomes for patients.


 

References:


The study, “On Resource Allocation in Health Care: The Case of Concierge Medicine,” was published in July 2023 in the Journal of Health Economics. Authors include Adam Leive, Guy David, and Molly Candon.

 

This article was written by Michael R. Grigsby, one of the news editors for LCTI, LLC. Michael is passionate about the outdoors, photography, strength sports, and powerlifting, and he is dedicated to bringing you accurate and insightful news reports on a wide range of topics. He loves connecting with readers and is always happy to answer any questions you may have. If you have any questions about this news article, please feel free to contact Michael at lctillc@outlook.com or by leaving a comment below.

 

Copyright 2024 LCTI, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without attribution to the author.

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